The Blue Bloods cast is celebrating a major achievement for one of their own.
Cast members soon congratulated Lauren Patten, who plays Officer Rachel Witten, for winning a Tony Award this weekend.
Yet the accolades come amid some controversy involving Patten and the show she won for.
What did Lauren Patten win a Tony for?
The character of Rachel Witten first popped up in the Season 8 episode Legacy as an officer who got in trouble when she was caught on video asking a jaywalker about his immigration status.
The public uproar forced Frank to fire Witten. But in Season 9, he came to her at her new job as a waitress to admit he’d made a mistake and offered her job back.
Shortly afterward, Rachel became Eddie’s (Vanessa Ray’s) partner, and the pair have formed a good bond since.
A veteran of Broadway musicals, Patten had been starring in Jagged Little Pill, a musical based on the Alanis Morissette album. Morissette herself provided new music with a book by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody.
Patten starred as Jo, one of a circle of friends involved in some complex romances. The show opened to solid reviews, but, like all Broadway productions, it was forced to shut down in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the delayed 2021 Tony Awards, Jagged Little Pill was nominated for 15 awards, and Cody (Best Book) and Patten ( Best Performance By A Featured Actress In A Musical) won.
The controversy around Jagged Little Pill
Sadly, Patten’s victory was overshadowed by the massive controversy growing around the musical.
In the original off-Broadway run, Patten’s character had been made out as non-binary. But when the show premiered on Broadway, Jo was now a cisgender female. This caused a backlash among critics and audiences.
Just hours before the Tony Awards broadcast, the Actors’ Equity Association announced it was launching an investigation after two of the show’s cast members, Nora Schell and Celia Rose Gooding, claimed that the production workplace was harmful to transgender and nonbinary people.
Schell alleges that some of the 42 producers listed for the show forced them to delay critical surgery while Gooding and co-star Antonio Cipriano announced they were leaving the show.
In her acceptance speech, Patten acknowledged the controversy and dedicated her win to trans and nonbinary actors.
“It is also a strange time for awards. We are in the middle of a reckoning in our industry. And first and foremost I want to thank my trans and nonbinary friends and colleagues who have engaged with me in difficult conversations that have joined me in dialogue about my character Jo. I believe that the future for the change we need to see on Broadway comes from these kinds of conversations that are full of honesty and empathy and respect for our shared humanity.”
However, social media reactions still criticized Patten, some going so far as to say she should have refused the award or even quit the show.
The Jagged Little Pill producers have announced they have hired an external firm to conduct its own investigation into the allegations.
Blue Bloods stars offer congratulations to Lauren Patten
Despite the controversy, the other cast members of Blue Bloods were ready to congratulate Patten for her victory.
Bridget Moynahan tweeted a photo of Patten in uniform with her congratulations.
Vanessa Ray shared a video of her and Patten on set with the crew applauding and the pair hugging in celebration. “This is what our entire crew is doing in spirit for our girl!”
Patten has now joined a club within the cast of Blue Bloods of Tony winners. Len Cariou, who plays Henry Reagan, won as a lead actor in Applause, A Little Night Music, and created the title role of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Gregory Jbara, who plays Garrett Moore, also won Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Billy Elliot the Musical.
Patten is expected to return to Jagged Little Pill when the show is scheduled to reopen on October 21. She’ll also be continuing as Witten on Blue Bloods in hopes of putting the musical’s poor press behind her.
Blue Bloods Season 12 premieres Friday, October 1 at 10/9c on CBS.