Marissa Jaret Winokur appeared on the Great White Way as two adorably chubby gals: Jan in the hit revival of Grease and Tracy Turnblad in the blockbuster musical Hairspray. Now she lives in Los Angeles and has been dancing her a** off (no, seriously: she hosted Dance Your A** Off, ended up in good standing on Dancing With the Stars and lost a bunch of weight!). Even though she now resides on another coast, Winokur remembers her big New York night like it was yesterday.
Which year did you win your first Tony?
1980, presented by Kermit the Frog in my bedroom. I wore a lovely Barbie night gown! Actually, 2003.
For which role and show?
Tracy in Hairspray (How quickly they forget--out with the old, in with the new!).
Where were the awards held?
What did you wear?
A dress designed for me by Zac Posen and many many diamonds from Harry Winston that I had to return! (And a 23 karat blue sapphire ring!)
Who was sitting next to you?
My boyfriend [now husband] Judah got my plus-one seat, but I bought Matthew Morrison and Cathy Trien tickets to sit next to me as well. Not to mention the fact that I bought 12 more so my entire family could come. It cost me a month's salary, but it only happens once.
Who did you think would win your category?
Everyone thought it was between myself and Bernadette Peters. I actually assumed Elizabeth Parkinson [Movin' Out] would kick both our asses!
What was the first thing that ran through your mind when they said your name?
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!" THEN, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!!!"
Did you forget to thank anyone?
Yes!!! Eric Vetro, my voice teacher! Also Rick Miramontez, who did all my press (Rumor has it I did a lot a press). Oh! My mom and dad... Margo Lion...Jack O'Brien...honestly, if I couldn't see them from the stage, I forgot to thank them!
Did you cry?
I still cry, even when I get introduced as "the Tony Award winning actress."
If you could relive that night, would you change anything?
I would thank Eric Vetro, who will never let me forget that I forgot him! Hell, when Hugh Jackman started studying with him I swear he made [Hugh] sign a contract saying if he won he would remember him!
Who were you most surprised to hear from after the win?
I still hear from people!
Did winning a Tony change your life? How?
I needed to come up with a new goal!
What's your biggest memory of the night?
Getting home at 4am and making [then-boyfriend, now-husband] Judah watch the entire Tony Awards on Tivo. (Yes, I played my speech in slow motion and cried all over again!) The other memorable thing is that I didn't pay my cell phone bill so at 12am, my phone was cut off and no one could call and leave messages or find me!
What's the best piece of advice you can offer for getting through Tony night?
Call in sick for your matinee and start getting ready. Also, drink a cocktail at noon! Don't worry about comfortable shoes. You won't feel a thing!
Where do you keep your Tony?
On my fireplace with a spotlight that hits it perfectly.