NEW YORK (AP) – When Jacqueline Spavi learned that he had been nominated for a Tony Award as the lead actor in “The Amazing Loop,” he was shocked. Not just for the usual reasons, but also for the statement she made.
“This is an industry that has never been like me in history. And when I say people like me, just to be specific, like fat, black, weird men who just had very overtly feminine energy. I’m not the most masculine man in the room, ”Spivey said recently in an interview with The Associated Press at an event dedicated to Tony Award nominees this season.
Debuting on Broadway, Spivey plays Asher, an overweight black gay, a homosexual trying to write a musical about overweight black, a gay man trying to write a musical, and so on – like a weird noose. Throughout the show, Asher, who works as an officer in “The Lion King,” is haunted by a chorus of six thoughts that challenge him in everything from being gay and unloved to challenging his blackness and choices in music.
Spivey says the show, created by Michael R. Jackson, tells a story “hard to swallow” for a key audience. He admits he did not expect the reaction the show has received since opening on Broadway and the 11 nominations for Tony that have since been nominated. This is a favorite participating in this year’s Tony Awards ceremony, which took place on June 12 and was broadcast on CBS.
“There are so many people who, I think, have turned away from artists because they don’t fit. And it is very easy to give up if no one encourages you, ”Spivey said.
Spivey recalls those abusive moments of rejection before getting the role.
“When you go into a room and people at the table are making fun of you and they roll their eyes, it’s obvious. You can see this before you sing your 16 bars. They throw you out. They don’t even care, ”Spivey said.
Jackson conceived the story more than 20 years ago, but didn’t have time to work on it until 2015. Along the way, the musical gathered an audience, opening off Broadway at Playwright Horizons in 2019 and then staging in 2021 at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, DC before landing at the Lyceum.
Jackson, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for this musical, admits that the story was influenced by his own life, up to working as a cameraman on the Disney show, although he says it’s not autobiographical. Jackson believes this story is more than his own experience involving anyone who has ever felt outsider or wants to know how it feels.
For some people, the “Strange Loop” is a mirror. And for other people, the “Strange Loop” is a window. And both of these experiences can happen in one place. And it only enriches the experience of being in the audience and a kind of participation in the cycle, ”Jackson said.
The name of the musical comes from Douglas Hofstadter’s novel “I Am a Strange Loop” in 2007 and a song by Liz Fair.
The play marks a turning point for Broadway when it comes to inclusion, which will feature more creators and actors of color. Spivey says for the time being it was inevitable, especially given the first regular season on Broadway since 2019.
“I think that after the pandemic and all the madness that was in the world, it is useful to know that you are not alone, and it is useful to know that you can go to the show and not just have fun, but can really go on a trip with someone and watch him go through all these trials and tribulations, and inspire you to do so, ”Spivey said.
Jackson sees the issue of inclusion more complex than having more color creators on Broadway.
“I think it will always be in the eyes of the viewer. I don’t know that there is always a fixed idea of what is enough, so I think it’s also very important to focus not only on who’s on Broadway, but also on what’s on Broadway, “said Jackson.
Among the actors playing the chorus are L. Morgan Lee, the first translator to be nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, and John-Andrew Morrison for Best Actor.
Morrison calls this role a privilege because the show can change someone’s life.
“I always think of this weird black boy, right? To have in the audience someone who just needs to know that he is not alone and that his life has value, and his feelings have value, and his humanity is important. So it’s nice to be in a show where it’s all done, ”Morrison said.
Stephen Brackett, who received a Tony rating for directing, had his say on the show’s universal message. “It’s not forced. It’s not like a forced awakening. This is not a performance. It’s just like that. This is their story. ”