Tony Time: 2012

Well, it’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything. The primary reason being that life is too mundane for its own good. However, this past Sunday was a big evening for fine connoisseurs of theatre like myself, as it was the evening of the American Theatre Wing’s 66th-annual Tony Awards.

And hot damn wasn’t it disappointing.

Neil Patrick Harris is a god. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. However, he and an entire damn army of angels couldn’t save the evening from the unfortunate tug of what I can only describe as lackluster productions. I have been an avid Tony viewer for several years now; and I must say, this is easily one of the most forgettable years for theatre.

Well… one of the most forgettable years for musical theatre. But I’ll get to that later. In case you missed it, here’s a recap:Oncekicked everyone’s ass. You know, because there was competition.

And I do not say that with any particular affinity for Once. But it barely takes a glance at the nominee list to see what I mean. In fact, it reads more like an Academy Awards list than anything. Cudos to Nice Work If You Can Get It for… you know… not being based off of a film. And yet A) A Gershwin score does not an “original musical” make and B) I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t like Mathew Broderick. Perhaps his Inspector Gadget phase left a bitter taste in my mouth. But there it is.

But the plays! What a great year for plays! And what a great summer reading list! However, I was disappointed to see that Athol Fugard’s Road to Mecca did not receive the recognition I thought it would. I do love Rosemary Harris, and her performance (as well as the production as a whole) looked stunning. But I digress…

Perhaps I am becoming a picky-ass blob of a snob. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me. At any rate, here are some shows that got my attention, or at least made me think something witty.

ONCE

I have a personal vendetta against film-based movies, but I might make an exception for Once. It is amazing to me how far we’ve come in musical theatreland.  We used to spend so much time and effort making film based on theatre. Now we spend more time and effort and an even greater sum of money to do the reverse. I feel as though “original musical” is a stretch for shows like these. Although, I respect Once for taking its source material and actually attempting to do something with it. It left a very Spring Awakening taste in my mouth, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But given the recent string of Spring Awakening and American Idiot type shows, I can’t help but feel we’ve seen this before. But whatever. If it ain’t broke, keep repeating it until people get tired of it. And people apparently aren’t tired of it. Congratulations on the Tony. (I can’t say too much about about Once, I’ll be working with its playwright/ screenwriter, Enda Walsh, this year in college. And as I’ve come to understand it, he is a dear. Congratulations on the Tony, Mr. Walsh)

Oh. And Steve Kazee seems great. He won a Tony too. Best featured actor.

And best direction. John Tiffany. Can’t forget him.

…. here’s a list.

  • Best Musical
  • Best Book of a Musical
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
  • Best Direction of a Musical
  • Best Orchestrations
  • Best Scenic Design
  • Best Lighting Design
  • Best Sound Design

Damn.

NEWSIES

I am not saying that Alan Menkin and Harvey Fierstein are not legends. I mean, Fierstein has La Cage aux Folles and Torch Song Trilogy under his belt (and he’s a damn good actor to boot); and Menkin is a veritable Disney god. But… Newsies? Yes, because a somewhat obscure Disney flop is excellent source material for a musical. I don’t have much more to say about it than… Meh. It’s just a hot, steaming pile of meh.

LEAP of FAITH

It closed after 20 performances, and lost all $14,000,000.00 it cost to produce. Quality over quantity guys. That and… was the film Leap of Faith worth musical adaptation? Raul Esparza is such a force, we just need to get him another solid role. See him in the 2006 Broadway revival of Company to see what I mean.

NICE WORK if YOU CAN GET IT

I dislike Mathew Broderick for inexplicable reasons, and this wasn’t an original musical.

Keili O’Hara is great though. Loved her in South Pacific. Now THAT was a good revival.

PORGY and BESS

I’m going to go ahead and admit to being one of those people who hates to see the blatant broadwayification of a show like Porgy and Bess. I remember one comment during the evening being something to the effect of  “…they allowed us to bring Porgy and Bess into the 21st century.” I fail to see the irrelevance of the opera as it was, but if we must turn Porgy and Bess into Porgy and Bess: A New Musical, then so be it. Congrats on the Tony.

And Audra McDonald is stunning. She deserved every bit of her Tony.

FOLLIES

When you have Elaine Paige at your disposal, WHY DON’T YOU USE HER? I would’ve loved to see her perform “I’m still here”. But no… we can’t be too different now, can we? What a waste of perfectly good Sondheim.

EVITA

Andrew Lloyd Webber didn’t get much love this season… God forbid they perform the ONE NUMBER anyone actually remembers from this show. Another over-hyped production? I think yes.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Uninspired, uninteresting, and why the hell are those women wearing fitted sheets?(I can’t take credit for that last one.)

———

If you’re still reading, I’ll take a brief moment to say that there were some outstanding plays produced this year. Athol Fugard had several productions that I would love to see, Peter and the Starcatcher looks endlessly interesting (and it’s always nice to see substantial family-fare), Clybourne Park, Other Desert Cities, Stick-Fly, The Best Man, Masterclass, The Columnist, End of the Rainbow, Wit, and the list goes on. One Man, Two Guvners doesn’t count. The United Kingdom lays claim to that one. Anyway, it’s sad that none of them get much recognition. THANK GOD we had time to fit in a performance by the cruise ship cast of Hairspray (seriously, who were those skinny-ass people?). Instead, here’s a five minute montage of the season’s plays.

———–

I could go on about this over-hyped season. But there it is. It was over-hyped. I’ve written too much already. In a nutshell, revivals and movie-musicals have got to go. I’m sick of them. Anyone with enough sense to be sick of them is sick of them. Get it together Broadway.

In conclusion: here’s a NY Times article about last night’s ceremony, and perhaps the most aptly titled article I’ve read in a while.

-Isaac Y.

P.S.- Feel free to comment with your own opinions about the show, this year’s season, etc. I’m curious to know what you thought.

P.P.S.- Here are the nominees and winners, for those who missed it.

Best Play Best Musical
Clybourne Park

  • Other Desert Cities
  • Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Venus in Fur
Once

  • Leap of Faith
  • Newsies
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Revival of a Play Best Revival of a Musical
Death of a Salesman

  • The Best Man
  • Master Class
  • Wit
Porgy and Bess

  • Evita
  • Follies
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors as Francis Henshall

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman as Willy Loman
  • James Earl Jones, The Best Man as Art Hockstader
  • Frank Langella, Man and Boy as Gregor Antonescu
  • John Lithgow, The Columnist as Joseph Alsop
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur as Vanda

  • Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow as Judy Garland
  • Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities as Polly Wyeth
  • Linda Lavin, The Lyons as Rita Lyons
  • Cynthia Nixon, Wit as Vivian Bearing
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Steve Kazee, Once as Guy

  • Danny Burstein, Follies as Buddy Plummer
  • Jeremy Jordan, Newsies as Jack Kelly
  • Norm Lewis, Porgy and Bess as Porgy
  • Ron Raines, Follies as Ben Stone
Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess as Bess

  • Jan Maxwell, Follies as Phyllis Rogers Stone
  • Cristin Milioti, Once as Girl
  • Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It as Billie Bendix
  • Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde as Bonnie Parker
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher as The Black Stache

  • Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow as Anthony
  • Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors as Alfie
  • Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman as Biff Loman
  • Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park as Karl/Steve
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities as Silda Grauman

  • Linda Emond, Death of a Salesman as Linda Loman
  • Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner as Suzette
  • Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher as Molly
  • Condola Rashad, Stick Fly as Cheryl
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It as Cookie McGee

  • Phillip Boykin, Porgy and Bess as Crown
  • Michael Cerveris, Evita as Juan Peron
  • David Alan Grier, Porgy and Bess as Sporting Life
  • Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar as Judas
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It as Duchess Estonia Dulworth

  • Elizabeth A. Davis, Once as Réza
  • Jayne Houdyshell, Follies as Hattie Walker
  • Jessie Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever as Melinda Wells
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical as Oda Mae Brown
Best Book of a Musical Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Enda Walsh, Once

  • Douglas Carter Beane, Lysistrata Jones
  • Joe DiPietro, Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Harvey Fierstein, Newsies
Newsies, Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Jack Feldman

  • Bonnie & Clyde, Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Don Black
  • One Man, Two Guvnors, Music & Lyrics Grant Olding
  • Peter and the Starcatcher, Music: Wayne Barker, Lyrics: Rick Elice
Best Scenic Design of a Play Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

  • John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
  • Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
  • Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Bob Crowley, Once

  • Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
  • Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
  • George Tsypin, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Best Costume Design of a Play Best Costume Design of a Musical
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher

  • William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner
  • Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Gregg Barnes, Follies

  • ESosa, Porgy and Bess
  • Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
  • Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Lighting Design of a Play Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher

  • Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
  • Brian MacDevitt, Death of a Salesman
  • Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities
Natasha Katz, Once

  • Christopher Akerlind, Porgy and Bess
  • Natasha Katz, Follies
  • Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play Best Sound Design of a Musical
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

  • Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
  • Scott Lehrer, Death of a Salesman
  • Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
Clive Goodwin, Once

  • Acme Sound Partners, Porgy and Bess
  • Kai Harada, Follies
  • Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Direction of a Play Best Direction of a Musical
Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman

  • Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
  • Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
  • Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher
John Tiffany, Once

  • Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
  • Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Diane Paulus, Porgy and Bess
Best Choreography Best Orchestrations
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies

  • Rob Ashford, Evita
  • Steven Hoggett, Once
  • Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once

  • William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, Porgy and Bess
  • Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Danny Troob, Newsies

 

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Fangirls, Beware

The musical is a genre lately saved for pre to late-pubescent teenage girls and their one token gay friend. Moulin Rouge (shudder), Chicago, Hairspray, et cetera. Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd made an honest attempt at “dirtying” up the modern mainstream movie musical, but it too

fell victim to the veritable bacterial disease we call “fangirls”. Unfortunately for Mr. Burton, they follow Mr. Depp around like stray dogs follow ginger orphans. And regardless of how hard either one may try, Tim will eventually be forced to put Johnny in white face-paint, and the droves of ill-cultured (in my mind, at least) girls will continue to write bad fan-fiction.

…I lost my train of thought.Oh, right.

I doubt that if any of these… fans… were to see the original 1979 production of Sweeney, that they would be anywhere near as enthusiastic. How often do I hear them feign their best Bonham Carter Cockney in an attempt to prove that they know every word to “Worst Pies in London”? I’ll tell you how often. Very. Very often.

Venting aside, I find that in an attempt to please the “target demographic”, excellent source material is never quite given the respect it deserves (hence, Sweeney Todd). Now, I speak strictly of the movie-musical of the past decade. There was once a time when the genre flourished. Hell, there was once a time when a musical could win Best Picture (My Fair Lady, anyone?). Thank god we had a triumph like Moulin Rouge to bring the musical back to its former place of glory.

GOD I love sarcasm.

And now I come to the purpose of this post: the trailer for the new Les Misérables film was just released. And hot damn am I excited.

I have a self-professed love for Les Misérables, .and a self-professed hatred of the popular abbreviation, Les Miz. Amid the complexities of the orchestral score, it maintains a vocal simplicity. It is energetic, moving, and has a sort of childlike sensibility at times. It seldom does more than it needs to. It tells a story.

I feel that many productions overdo the piece. Any simplicity is lost in needless spectacle. I even feel as though the original production did not give the score the respect it deserves; and, quite frankly, I think it was too silly for its own good.  The closest any production has come, I feel, is the 10th anniversary concert. Little spectacle. Little nonsense. Just this group of people telling a story; allowing themselves to feel their way through the music… that is until the unsightly fireworks display at the end of the production. But that’s another quibble for another time.

The trailer provides some hope. I am very excited about Anne Hathaway’s interpretation of
“I Dreamed a Dream.” Simple. Simple. Simple. The cinematography looks absolutely stunning, I appreciate the distinct lack of Lea Michelle and Taylor Swift, and I love and respect Tom Hooper’s previous work. I am a little concerned about Helena Bonham Carter, though. Perhaps her unfortunate teenage followers will be put off by the lack of… paleness.

I hope that Mr. Hooper doesn’t get lost in the grandeur of it all, and manages to tell the story that both Victor Hugo and Claude-Michel Schönberg intended.

– Isaac Y.

P.S.- Colm Wilkinson plays the Bishop of Digne. That was nice of them.

P.P.S.- Here’s the trailer.

Copyright © 2012 Universal Pictures

Les Misérables is directed by Tom Hooper

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo and its stage adaptation by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean,
Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert
Anne Hathaway as Fantine,
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette
Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy
Samantha Barks as Éponine
Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier
Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier
Aaron Tveit as Enjolras
Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche

Now Is the Summer of My Discontent

I’ve always found myself leaning toward apprehensiveness in any attempt to commit to a blog. And I imagine my primary reasoning to be that “no one gives a hot damn about anything I might have to say, therefore I am better left keeping my mouth shut (or keyboard shut, as it were).” Another problem I face is an unfortunate sense of perfectionism preventing me from reaching any recognizable form of satisfaction with any work I accept as my own. ‘Tis a constant battle in the Young psyche, (although ironically not a major problem in the young psyche. See what I did there?) but I manage. This being the summer of my discontent, I feel a need to… reinvent myself, in a sense. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new, unrestrained me. A me who has freed himself from the shackles of f**k-giving, and who can manage to write simply for the hell of it.

There is a burning need to document life. Oddly enough, I have spent the past five hours tossing memory after memory in the garbage bin, for no other reason than my lack of space to keep them in. As it turns out, your average condominium closet can only hold X number of memories, before becoming a veritable… void. Luckily, I hold little value in material tokens. I once convinced myself that I would create video log (or “vlog” as the young’ns call them), and I had almost convinced myself that people would watch said log. However, after two years and five views, I decided that there were better uses of my free time. (In retrospect, there really weren’t). Here, I am starting my fifth blog in three years, and I wish I knew why I am any more convinced that people will read my tat now than I was this time three years ago. But, as a brilliant friend of mine once wrote me, “whtvs.”

And that is the approach I deem necessary for my blogging exploits to work. Whtvs.

————–

Now, what can you, the reader, come to expect from a lifelong commitment to Isaac Young Blogging Services L.L.C.? Surely, my life is not nearly exciting enough to warrant anyone’s time. I can safely say that I am a somewhat eccentric individual with a knack for self-depreciating humor, a series of (apparently) humorous medical conditions, and a borderline sick obsession with animated films and the circus arts. I own a purple homosexual puppet named Fuhnando, and I will soon be living in Dallas, Texas as I pursue my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting.

I hope I can keep you sufficiently entertained.

-Isaac Y.

P.S.- I think each post should have associated image. Being somewhat artistic, this will provide me with great joy. Here’s a picture of a bear sneezing, drawn for a distinctly different purpose than that of this blog.