Kate Baldwin, the golden-voiced singing actor who plays widow Irene Molloy in the spirit-lifting revival of Hello, Dolly!, was dropping her son off at school the morning the Tony nominations were announced when her phone started buzzing in her pocket.
“I turned around and my husband Graham Rowat, who’s in Sunset Boulevard right now, had pulled up the Tony website on his phone,” Baldwin continued. “I was thrilled to see myself nominated with all those wonderful ladies.”
Baldwin, who was previously Tony-nominated for her performance as Sharon in the revival of Finian's Rainbow, is nominated this season for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, a category that also includes Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos), Jenn Colella (Come From Away), Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), and Mary Beth Peil (Anastasia).
About her current nomination, Baldwin said it's “encouragement. It feels like I chose the right career after all! You go through the ups and downs of this career, and it’s so much fun to celebrate the ups. It feels like I’m part of a community that cares. I care so deeply about new work and also spreading the lessons that shows like Hello, Dolly! can teach us, which is to persevere and seek out life.”
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Anyone who has been lucky enough to enjoy the revival at the Shubert Theatre knows that the Jerry Herman musical—and its superb leading lady, Bette Midler—elicit a wildly enthusiastic response from the sold-out crowds. Baldwin admits that the wall of sound can be jarring. “It’s a little overwhelming for us to hear those roars of cheers and to actually see people standing up at the end with tears streaming down their faces,” Baldwin said. “I’m trying to acknowledge them from the stage, but there are 38 of us on the stage trying to acknowledge all of it. It’s a lot, but it’s a wonderful thing. I’m always so thrilled when people pay a significant amount of hard-earned money to sit in the dark with strangers and be told a story, and open themselves up to being moved. I think it’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it. I’m so lucky and privileged to be in that room, too.”
And, how does it feel to play Molloy and get the chance to sing Herman's beautiful “Ribbons Down My Back” seven times a week? “It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do,” Baldwin enthused. “I’ve only ever wanted to do musical theatre all my life. I get to do it on a stage that is beautifully designed, in a dress that is beautifully put together, while surrounded by people who are doing their best work, with an orchestra that sounds so glorious, and in front of an audience that is rapt and ready to receive. There’s nothing better than that. It couldn’t be better.”
Look Back at the Playbill Covers of Hello, Dolly!
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