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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Best Revival of a Play||Best Revival of a Musical|
|Death of a Salesman
||Porgy and Bess
|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
||Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur as Vanda
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical|
|Steve Kazee, Once as Guy
||Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess as Bess
|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
||Judith Light, Other Desert Cities as Silda Grauman
|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
||Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It as Duchess Estonia Dulworth
|Best Book of a Musical||Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre|
|Enda Walsh, Once
||Newsies, Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Jack Feldman
|Best Scenic Design of a Play||Best Scenic Design of a Musical|
|Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher
||Bob Crowley, Once
|Best Costume Design of a Play||Best Costume Design of a Musical|
|Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
||Gregg Barnes, Follies
|Best Lighting Design of a Play||Best Lighting Design of a Musical|
|Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
||Natasha Katz, Once
|Best Sound Design of a Play||Best Sound Design of a Musical|
|Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher
||Clive Goodwin, Once
|Best Direction of a Play||Best Direction of a Musical|
|Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman
||John Tiffany, Once
|Best Choreography||Best Orchestrations|
|Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
||Martin Lowe, Once