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Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer in "Spamalot" on Broadway. She received a Tony nomination for the performance.
Wherever Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer is, that’s where the spotlight goes
Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

A Not-at-All Spammy Chat with Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer

The Broadway favorite tells us about her Tony nomination for "Spamalot" and referencing "Real Housewives" as the Lady of the Lake

Gertie Grable is Wondercade's Broadway correspondent, dishing on the juiciest gossip heard in the wings, the rehearsal rooms and her favorite booth at Sardi’s.

June 14, 2024 11:31 am

It’s the most wonderful time of year, darlings! The 77th Antoinette Perry Awards are gracing us with the best of Broadway this Sunday. And for the first time ever, the ceremony will be held at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. New venue, old razzle dazzle, as Billy Flynn would say. How silly of me — I’m of course talking about the Tony Awards, which will air live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT (and stream online). I call the awards show by its full name because — not to give your gal Gertie’s age away — I actually knew Antoinette back in the day. We gave our blood, sweat and tears to the Great White Way (these days, I stick to tears, which I shed from my red velvet seat in the audience).

Cliff! — that’s the bartender here at Sardi’s — another Gibson, in honor of Tony!

I need a fresh drink, because I’ve got another toast to make today: to Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, who — it’s hard to believe this is actually true — only just received her first Tony nomination this year. You’re telling me the actress who got her start on Broadway in the smash Hairspray, who originated the role of Serena in Legally Blonde, who Sondheim specifically wrote lyrics for, who brought down the house and brought audiences back to Broadway after the pandemic in Beetlejuice…this brilliant thespian is only now getting her first Tony nod? It’s about goddam time!

Ahead of the Tonys, I dialed up Leslie and had a wonderful little chat about the shenanigans she got into playing the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, her much-deserved nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for that role, and what you should see next time you’re in the Big Apple.

Gertie Grable: Congratulations on the Tony nomination, dear. Now, set the scene for me. How did you first hear the news?

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer: I was in bed with a cup of coffee and my little poodle. My husband was there, too. [laughs] When they came to my category and all the names came up, I screamed. Then my phone started blowing up, and I don’t think it’s stopped since. My husband was crying, I was crying, my dad was crying — he was on the phone from Pennsylvania.

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (left) as the Lady of the Lake in "Spamalot"
There are many Knights of the Round Table, but only one Lady of the Lake…
Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

GG: Many of Neil’s readers live outside New York, so they rely on the Tonys — and moi — to update them on the Broadway scene every year. Do you have a memory of watching them growing up? A performance that inspired you to tread the boards?

LRK: Faith Prince and Nathan Lane in Guys and Dolls. That production was hugely influential to me, Faith in particular. And this was way before my time, but Dreamgirls is still one of the top. If you’re in a bad place in your life, watch the Dreamgirls montage Tony Awards performance. It instantly puts me in a good mood.

GG: You know what instantly puts me in a good mood? Your most recent Tonys performance!

LRK: Performing with the Beetlejuice cast was great, because who knows if the Tonys will go back to Radio City again? I was singing live, starting in the basement of Radio City, walking along with my cast and then getting on the elevator — the stage that moves up on that hydraulic lift — in front of the world. I don’t think anything can touch that. Bucket list, check, done.

The Broadway cast of "Spamalot"
In this Camelot, they eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.
Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

GG: Let’s talk about Spamalot, which you were nominated for. I do expect it must be a bit bittersweet, since the show has closed and you can’t be with the cast and crew to carouse backstage.

LRK: Yeah, it’s a bummer. But I’ll tell you a funny story. Last night I went to see Cabaret — which is great, I had a blast — and a lot of the front-of-house staff that I knew from the St. James Theatre [where Spamalot played] was working that night. I was with a couple of people from Spamalot, and the staff remembered us and loved us, which felt nice…I felt like Dolly Levi walking into that place. But that’s our community, right? That’s how we roll.

GG: Looking back at Spamalot, what was different about doing that absolute sidesplitter of a musical — based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail — compared to other shows?

LRK: Being the female lead in Spamalot, having the agency to change the role into how I wanted it to be compared to previous versions, and having the creative freedom to write my material…it felt like The Carol Burnett Show. And that’s the dream. [Director and choreographer] Josh Rhodes really allowed me to do that. It’s a male-dominated show, and here’s a woman going out there thinking outside the box. That was a first for me on Broadway.

I also wrote bits and jokes [for Spamalot]. I would sometimes pre-plan them, and a lot of times I wouldn’t pre-plan them, and I never tell my cast what’s about to happen. The first time I ever did this bit where the Lady of the Lake’s ex-husband is in the orchestra pit — he’s a trumpet player who left her for a harpist who also was playing in the pit — I almost jumped into the pit and went after her. I quoted a line from Real Housewives. Teresa Giudice, she goes, “I’m from Paterson, bitch!” I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do that, and my entire cast was losing their minds on stage. The audience thought I was really going to jump in the pit. If you were there the first night, you would’ve been like, oh my God, there’s something electric. That’s Spamalot. By the way, I did ask permission if I could jump during the last show, because there is a safety net. The orchestra was all for it, they wanted it to happen, but I was told for a lot of reasons I was not allowed.

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer singing in "Spamalot"
Can you hear that? That’s the sound of Tony-nominated talent.
Jeremy Daniel

GG: Before I let you go, I must ask you, as a leading member of the Broadway community, what shows do you recommend our lovely Wondercade readers should see right now?

LRK: As I said, I saw Cabaret last night, and that was an unbelievably immersive experience. [The Alicia Keys musical] Hell’s Kitchen is totally different. Stereophonic is my favorite play of the season. I loved Appropriate. My girl Sarah Paulson — oh God, she’s so good. I loved The Outsiders. Oh, and Suffs was great, too. I’m still trying to find time to see everything.

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