Tony nominee Jennifer Simard gets some love online

AP News
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Posted: May 10, 2016 2:39 PM
Tony nominee Jennifer Simard gets some love online

NEW YORK (AP) — Fans of a Broadway nun have turned to a higher power to get her some recognition — the Internet.

A Facebook and Twitter push to get Tony Award-nominee Jennifer Simard to perform at the Tony Awards next month has gained steam, attracting such celebrities as Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams, Wayne Brady, Laura Benanti, Will Swenson and Carolee Carmello.

They want CBS to let Simard show off why she earned her nomination playing a nun with a gambling habit in the goofy musical "Disaster!" despite the show's closing over the weekend.

"I truly am humbled by it. It's unbelievable to me," Simard told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "From the bottom of my heart, it's such an honor to be loved and respected by your peers. I cannot believe it."

It may be an uphill climb since the telecast usually reserves songs only for each of its best musical and best revival nominees. But exceptions have been made, including last year when "Finding Neverland," which earned no nominations, got a coveted slot.

A representative for the Tony telecast said producers had no comment Tuesday about the show's lineup.

In "Disaster!" — a spoof of 1970s disaster films like "Earthquake" and "The Poseidon Adventure" by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick — Simard played Sister Mary Downy, singing Gloria Gaynor's "Never Can Say Goodbye" to a slot machine like a former lover. She co-starred alongside Roger Bart, Faith Prince, Adam Pascal and Kerry Butler.

The online push started when Simard's friend and theater blogger Andrew Briedis watched a livestream of the last performance of "Disaster!" and tweeted that CBS should cut a commercial in order to feature Simard. He created the (hashtag)PutSimardOn and it caught fire.

"When 'Disaster!' opened, she was the person on the poster that people might not have known, and when it closed, she was the one that nobody could forget," he wrote.

A humble Simard only caught wind of the effort after saying goodbye to the show she calls the "greatest artistic pleasure of my life to date." She wants to thank all the people who support her but is much too modest to campaign to be on the telecast.

"I would be honored to perform but I'm just so touched. That's all. At the end of the day, I can't believe it," she said.

Simard is a veteran actress who has appeared on Broadway in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," ''Shrek the Musical" and "Sister Act." She started playing the nun role in "Disaster!" off-Broadway in 2013.

Since the show closed, she's shopped for dresses to wear for award events and hopes to treat her husband to nice dinners to thank him for all the sacrifices spouses of Broadway performers make.

On June 12, she will compete in the best featured actress category against Danielle Brooks of "The Color Purple," Renee Elise Goldsberry of "Hamilton," Jane Krakowski from "She Loves Me" and Adrienne Warren in "Shuffle Along."

Even though her show has closed, Simard found the bright side. "This is such a full season and that's the real winner here," she said. "Broadway's thriving, right? I think you have to be happy for your friends."

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits