The echo of "thank you, five!" at theaters across the country could be heard as casts assemble five minutes away from the house lights dimming and audiences are on their way to be transported into the exciting worlds of brand new shows or revisiting a fresh new view of a beloved favorite title.
This season, we are asking some of this year's 2022 Tony Award® nominees, if they could give their own "thank you, five" to these five subjects, what would they be? Find out what they had to say!
First up, A.J. Shively, nominated this year for Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Owen Duignan in Broadway's Paradise Square.
1. Company Member
Which company member of your show would you like to shine a spotlight on that makes each show a fabulous experience?
All of our swings and covers have done unimaginably excellent work going on without rehearsal, keeping our show running during a pandemic. But, I have to spotlight Ensemble member Karen Burthwright who lifts our company every day with her brilliant, buoyant spirit and unshakeable positivity. It is a privilege to share the stage with KB!
Which family member or close friend offered so much support to you during the audition process or inspires you each night since the very beginning of your run in the show?
My University of Michigan classmates Darren Biggart and Olli Haaskivi helped me remember how to time-step before I started the first workshop of Paradise Square. Darren even gave me his tap shoes to use! I couldn’t have done that workshop without their help!
Was there a performer when you were growing up that influenced you into this onstage career and what was your first memory of encountering their work?
I saw Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime and knew I wanted to be an actor just like him. The show blew me away and changed the course of my life!
4. We all start somewhere!
What was the earliest performance of yours that was the moment you knew this was going to be what you wanted to do forever?
The first play I ever did was Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at the Columbus Children’s Theatre, and it was the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere.
5. Time To Relax
In the hustle and bustle of a week of shows, what is your favorite way or favorite place to decompress?
After a show my happy place is cuddling on the couch with my fiancée sharing a pint of ice cream. On a day off, you’ll find me walking through the woods in Prospect Park.