There are plenty of awards show clichés — “It’s just an honor to be nominated,” chief among them — but come the Tony Award telecast (8 p.m., CBS/2) June 11, Condola Rashad will likely have her hopes pinned on that other maxim: “Third time’s a charm.”
The actress has appeared in four Broadway plays and been nominated for a Tony (best featured actress in a play) three of those times: for the family drama “Stick Fly,” “The Trip to Bountiful,” and for her current performance at the Golden Theatre in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” a rousing, riveting and very funny new sequel to the 1879 Ibsen classic.
A little rusty on your Ibsen? No worries. The four characters — brash, liberated Nora (“Roseanne’s” Laurie Metcalf), her estranged husband (Oscar winner Chris Cooper), their daughter Emmy (Rashad) and a tough-talking maid (hilarious Jayne Houdyshell) — establish themselves, and what happened before quickly becomes clear. The show is up for eight Tonys — the most of any play this year — including best play, direction and nom’s for each of the four actors. The limited run just extended and will now play through Jan. 7.
Rashad, 30, daughter of Phylicia Rashad of “The Cosby Show” fame and football great Ahmad Rashad, is engaged to actor Sebastian Stenhøj, and stars in the Showtime series “Billions.” She spoke with Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio.
What’s intriguing about this show is the way you speak and behave in contemporary ways, yet are dressed in period costumes. Was it disorienting when you first put on the corsets and big dresses?
Well, we ladies were given our corsets early, to get used to moving in them. Laurie decided she’d move like a modern woman. But I kind of wanted to find this physical body for my character that feels more classical. Emmy speaks in quick unfinished sentences, like a fast-running train, so I had to put the corset on to figure out how and when I was going to breathe.
Is it hard to breathe with the corset?
At first, yes, but I’m used to it now. It’s funny — someone asked how we spend time outside the show, and normally I’m the one rounding everybody up to get a cocktail. Ask anybody in my “Romeo & Juliet” cast, they’ll be like, “Ohmygod, don’t run into Condola, she’s gonna make you go out.” But here, it’s so quick-paced, I have to take time every day to just be by myself. Be very quiet and slow down.
You’ve got quite a cast.
I’ve worked with Jayne [Houdyshell] before. I hold her so dear in my heart. Chris Cooper is just the kindest soul. And Laurie Metcalf is a force — we have so much fun out there.
And you’re all up for Tony Awards. Your third nomination.
It feels like the first. When I was first nominated — for “Stick Fly” — my show had closed and everybody was on to other projects. It was just me on my lonesome. I was a little bit broke back then and couldn’t afford my own publicist, so I missed this whole publicity circuit. When I was nominated for “A Trip to Bountiful,” that was an honor because I was there with Miss Tyson.
Ahh, I interviewed Cicely Tyson once. I thought, “This must be what it feels like to meet the Dalai Lama.”
Ohhh, yes. I was still kind of broke then so I still didn’t have a publicist. Now, this year, I’m happy to say I can afford a publicist. And so now I know what it’s like to be a nominee. But at the end of the day, you have to put it out of your mind and get to work. Because it’s the work that got you here.
Congrats, by the way, on your engagement. How do you star in a new Broadway play, a TV series and plan a wedding?
We’re still figuring that out.
I’m not sure the laws of thermodynamics would allow all three things to occur at once.
My character’s engaged, so whenever I say that onstage, I think, “Ha, it’s funny ’cause it’s true.” It’s one of those things where . . . how do I put it? We just have a really deep understanding of who we are as individuals. I was never in a rush to get married. Now we’re just enjoying being engaged. I actually bought my first bridal magazine. I thought, “This is great — I have a bridal magazine.” But as I flipped through it, suddenly I was anxiety-ridden. I realized, “There’s so much that goes into this. [She laughs.] So many decisions. And every single dress I saw I wanted. “Oh, I want that one — wait, I like those floral patterns instead. No — those . . . ”
And that’s just one issue.
I realized, I’m going to have to wait on this. Or else I’m going to order one of everything from that magazine.