A busy afternoon with Joshua Henry, Tony nominee

Joshua Henry
This Friday, May 16, 2014 file photo shows Joshua Henry at the 80th Annual Drama League Awards at Marriott Marquis Times Square, in New York. (AP Photo/Financier Patisserie, Mark Von Holden)

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s 11:30 a.m. on the west side of Manhattan and Joshua Henry is standing in a TV studio hallway, tucking his tie into his tan Army shirt.
He and fellow cast members of the Tony Award-nominated musical “Violet” are getting ready to perform on “The View.” Henry, who earned a supporting actor Tony nod, is not even close to halfway through his 18-hour day.
The live performance with Sutton Foster and Colin Donnell is just one stop in a busy day for Henry, and this is just one crazy day in a frenzied few weeks as theater award season ramps up in New York.
After singing, he’ll go to a gala lunch with fellow nominees, go home to memorize lines for a TV pilot audition tomorrow and get back to Times Square by 5 p.m. to rehearse for an outdoor concert the next day. There’s also, of course, his real job — performing at “Violet” tonight.
Henry, who rose at 6 a.m. on this day to get a workout in, has plenty more events in the weeks ahead since he’s also been nominated by the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League and the Drama Desk Awards. On top of all that, he and his wife are expecting the delivery of a new family member — a Labradoodle.
“I feel like I’m more scheduled than I’ve ever been these past two months,” the actor said last week with a smile in the midst of the frenzy. “I’m just trying to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.”
Right now, live TV is calling.
“Joshua, darling: Rock and rolling!” Susan Fallon, the show’s wardrobe supervisor sings out as she check his collar and ushers him down an elevator to the ABC stage where “The View” is shot.
Henry, Foster and Donnell wait backstage while singer Toni Braxton is on the couch talking about her new memoir with Sherri Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and guest co-host Terry Crews.
At 11:45 a.m., Braxton’s appearance is over. The TV crew takes away the couch and clears space for the singers and a six-piece band, while a projection of the show’s set is beamed on the back wall. The seconds count down and then Goldberg introduces “All to Pieces” to close the show.
Violet American Airlines Theatre Joshua Henry Sutton Foster Colin Donnell
This 2014 photo provided by Roundabout Theatre Company shows, front, from left, Joshua Henry, Sutton Foster, and Colin Donnell, rear, from left, Emerson Steele, and Alexander Gemignani, in a scene from the Tony Award-nominated musical “Violet,” at the American Airlines Theatre in New York. (AP Photo/Roundabout Theatre Company, Joan Marcus)

Henry, Foster and Donnell spent the previous week practiced the song, which has slightly different lyrics and staging to accommodate TV. The trio arrived at the ABC studio at 8:45 a.m. to get it down pat.
The song is one of the standouts from the show, about a scarred North Carolina woman in 1964 who goes on a cross-country bus trip hoping to have her damaged face healed by a televangelist. Henry and Donnell play soldiers who become love interests.
“I just feel like in a lot of ways he is the heart of the show,” says director Leigh Silverman. “Joshua understands how to have both the gravitas and the humor, and the mix of that.”
Henry’s latest Tony nod is his second — and he’s not yet 30. He was last nominated for his role in 2011’s “The Scottsboro Boys” and his other Broadway shows include “The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess,” ”American Idiot,” ”In the Heights” and “Bring It On.”
One difference this time is that his show is open. “The Scottsboro Boys” was closed by the time Tony season came around so this is the first time he’s juggled public demands and eight shows a week: “I do feel like I can appreciate it more. At the same time, I go from appreciating it more to ‘I have a million things to do.'”
Minutes after the performance on “The View,” Henry is in a chauffeured SUV inching toward Times Square for lunch. The appearance went well and he’s thankful he remembered the new lyrics and staging.
But now he’s got to erase every moment of it. “I’m telling my brain, ‘Brain, don’t remember anything that just happened’ because come tonight, I will look like a fool,” he says.
Henry said Goldberg stunned him by telling him he looked familiar after the cameras were shut off. Soon they both realized she had visited him backstage at “The Scottsboro Boys.”
Goldberg then turned to Crews and, speaking about Henry, told him: “This guy right here was incredible. Watch out for this guy,” Henry recalled. “It’s like everything went in slow motion after that.”
Back in the SUV, Henry opens his phone to check his messages. So many friends — some from as far back as his college days — have swamped his Twitter and Facebook accounts that they’re temporarily out of order.
“The Internet is broken right now,” he says. “That’s a good feeling.”
Mark Kennedy is at https://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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