Yesterday, William Ivey Long scored a 2013 Tony nomination for creating the magical costumes for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Long says his latest nomination is “lucky number thirteen” — he has racked up 5 wins his work on Nine, Crazy for You, The Producers, Hairspray, and Grey Gardens.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with Long, who is also the Chair of the American Theatre Wing and a member of this year’s Tony Administration Committee, to talk about his latest honor and the other costume design nominees.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on your 13th Tony nomination. How did you react when you heard the news?
William Ivey Long: It’s so exciting. I heard it in the house. Now that I’m in a new day job — the Chairman of the American Theater Wing — for the very first time, I welcomed the reporters to discuss the awards and…I was sort of nervously thinking “Soon Sutton Foster and [Jesse Tyler Ferguson] are going to read [the nominations], what if I’m not on it?” There were a few pins and needles because there I was in the catbird seat at the day job, and then nervous like anybody in the regular seats. You never know. They have a lot of integrity, those nominators. They really take it seriously, it’s like [their] life mission.
You’re in great company. What are your thoughts on the other costume design nominees?
There’s nothing like good competition. I’m very proud and they’re very good friends of mine. We’ve all been calling each other and wishing each other the best. It’s a very good group. It’s been a great design year. A great year for new musicals like Kinky Boots — Greg Barnes is so talented, and [so is] Cyndi Lauper — and Pippen, which was designed by a fabulous Cirque du Soleil designer [Dominique Lemieux]. Some actually bring a tear when you find out they’re nominated. I am so excited for the head of our business, the top costume designer working in the world today is Ann Roth. She did not one, not two, but three Broadway shows this year, and I’m wildly thrilled with her work. She was nominated for The Nance and she also did The Testament of Mary and I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers.
You told us previously that the types of “wardrobe magic tricks” you used in Cinderella are usually done by outside consultants for other play. How does it feel to be acknowledged for making those slight-of-hand moments happen yourself?
Usually they’ll bring on a magic or illusion consultant and then a smoke person. I really wanted a shot at it. It feels pretty good, but I [still] get nervous about it to this day. I’m seeing the show tonight because we have our first scheduled understudy going on. Every time I hear the music, I shut my eyes because I’m so nervous, or I’ll even take my glasses off so everything is a blur. I wait to hear if there’s any applause — that means it’s gone OK.
You’ve already got five Tony Awards, what would make a sixth win special?
I’m going to tell you the truth, one of the great [costume designers], Florence Klotz, is the winner and still champion of the number of Tony Awards. Six is what she had, so it would bring me [even with] her, for those who are counting…and who doesn’t count? She’s an amazing designer who has made amazing contributions to the theater. She designed such things as the original A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Follies. So that would be a huge honor, because she was a great hero of mine. Thirteen has always been a good [number for] me, so we shall see!
See the full list of Tony nominees for costume design below.
Best costume design of a play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy
Best costume design of a musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda: the Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
The 2013 Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, on Sunday, June 9th at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.