Monday, April 15, 2024

Tony Awards: Neil Patrick Harris Has Lost 21 Pounds So Far Playing “Hedwig”


They do say the camera adds at least 10 pounds. So viewers at home for Sunday night’s Tony Awards (CBS, 8pm) may not be as surprised as I was last night when I ran into Neil Patrick Harris. NPH and partner David Burtka were among the many luminaries at the annual pre-Tony cocktail party where nominees mingled with newly presented Lifetime Achievement Award winners. Harris was in a great mood, accepting kudos from everyone for his nominated performance in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

But he is gaunt. It’s almost as if Neil Patrick Harris were playing Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, sucking in his cheeks. Someone call Doogie Howser. How much weight has he lost, I asked?

“Twenty one pounds,” Harris told me. Honestly, it looks like more. “John Cameron Mitchell told me this would happen,” Harris said of the show’s creator, who played Hedwig himself years ago. “And then, when it’s over, whomp, I’ll just go back to normal.”

Playing Hedwig for 90 minutes without intermission every night, sometimes twice a day, is beyond arduous. What will Harris do when the show does end? “Go home and play with my kids,” he said without hesitation.

Meantime, Tony nominees roamed around the Paramount Hotel’s basement, now converted into a ballroom for the interactive show “Queen of the Night.” Among them was the great LaTanya Richardson, who’d better win a Tony for her performance in “A Raisin in the Sun,” as well her two nominated co-stars Sophie Okenedo and Anika Noni Rose.

By the way, I asked: is Denzel Washington still on Broadway? “He’s there every night,” Sophie told me, “and he gives 1oo percent.” And the show is sold out to the rafters. They wrap up their knock out run on June 15th.

At another table, the two Best Supporting actor nominees from musicals– Nick Cordero, the playwright-gangster from “Bullets Over Broadway” and James Monroe Iglehart, the genie from “Aladdin.” It’s impossible to guess which of them will win, or if someone else in the very tight category (Will Swenson?) will surprise every one.

Also spotted at the party: Tony Shalhoub, plus Bryce Pinkham and Jefferson Mays from “Gentleman’s Guide,” Bryan Cranston (tipped to win Sunday night), the great Bebe Neuwirth, and, for some reason, Alec Baldwin.

Watch the Tonys Sunday night!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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