The Latest: Cynthia Erivo says theater can handle big issues

Cynthia Erivo
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

Cynthia Erivo and Brian Tyree Henry say the theater is a perfect place to deal with social issues.

Says Henry, who is nominated for his work in “Lobby Hero”: “It’s happening right in front of your face.” He adds that something about the stage encourages tough issues to be worked on by strangers.

He says the cast and audience of a show go on a ride together and hopefully it creates a platform for discussion.

Erivo, winner of the best actress in a musical award for her work in “The Color Purple” in 2016, agreed: “People can see themselves live.” She says theater gives people a chance to express themselves freely.

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5:45 p.m.

“Frozen” songwriters Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, walked the red carpet at the Tony Awards on Sunday for the first time as equal nominees.

Robert Lopez co-conceived and co-wrote the smash-hit musicals “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon,” both earning him Tony Awards. “Frozen” marks Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s first nomination.

“I’m so proud of her,” her husband said. “She’s been here before as my plus-one.” His advice to her was “enjoy this thing.” It might be scary, but he calls it like a “prom.”

Anderson-Lopez admitted she was going to be nervous for the cast of “Frozen” and suspected that she would share their butterflies. Joked her husband: “She’ll be mouthing every word along with them.”

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2:45 p.m.

The Tony Awards dress rehearsal — normally with few actual stars in attendance — got a shock of A-listers this year, including Tina Fey, Kelli O’Hara, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Leguizamo, Tituss Burgess — and Bruce Springsteen.

The four-hour rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall allows producers to go through the show from start to finish before the Sunday telecast. Usually, stand-ins are used for Hollywood presenters, who prefer to hit the snooze button.

But the audience this time cheered loudly when Patti Lupone, Uzo Aduba, Ming-Na Wen, Melissa Benoist, Tatiana Maslany, Christopher Jackson, James Monroe Iglehart and Rachel Brosnahan showed up in the flesh.

The highlight was Springsteen, who walked onstage in a T-shirt and jeans, performed one song on the piano from his sold-out one-man show and departed to a standing ovation.

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12:15 a.m.

The Tony Awards kick off on Sunday night with a pair of first-time hosts, no clear juggernaut like “Hamilton” to cheer for, but a likely assist by Bruce Springsteen.

Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles face their biggest audience yet and a careful political balancing act when they co-host the CBS telecast from the massive 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall.

Getting buzz from appearing on the telecast can dictate a show’s future, both on Broadway and on tour. Broadway producers will be thankful this year that the telecast won’t compete with any NBA Finals or Stanley Cup playoff games.

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