Friday, May 26, 2017

PREDICTING THE TONYS - 2017





The 2017 Tony Awards will be broadcast live on CBS on June 11, with actor Kevin Spacey doing the honors as host.  


Actor Kevin Spacey to host 2017 Tony Awards


Spacey is best known for his movie roles in such fare as "American Beauty" and "The Usual Suspects," not to mention his portrayal of President Frank Underwood in Netflix's popular "House of Cards." But I am thinking he will be a good host. He has stage presence, confidence, and charm, and he certainly has earned his Broadway theater chops. 

His resumé includes Henrik Ibsen's GHOSTS (1982), with Liv Ullmann; David Rabe's HURLYBURLY (1984); Eugene O'Neill's LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (1986); Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS (1991), in which he won a Featured Actor Tony; O'Neill's THE ICEMAN COMETH (1991); and yet another O'Neill play, A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN (2007).  And while it's not Broadway, he is scheduled to appear for two days in the week following the Tony Awards in a one-man show about famed attorney Clarence Darrow (at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the U. S. Tennis Open!)

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In any event, it's time for me to commit to my Tony predictions. 

Even though I see something like 200 shows a year, and review about 2/3 of them for this blog and elsewhere, predicting the Tonys is not all that easy. 

Many of the voters (and I'm not a Tony voter) are concerned with the financial side of the business, long Broadway runs or the possibility of future productions at venues across the country and outside of the U. S.  So it is important to weigh these factors along with overall quality.  

First, let's look at the musicals.

BEST NEW MUSICAL  

Some shows, like The Great Comet of 1812 (my favorite, by the way) are loaded with amazing production values, so much so that it's hard to envision a stripped down version making the rounds. Its continued success may very well be dependent on its staying put in New York and pulling in Broadway audiences. A Best Musical Tony would certainly help. My thinking, however, is that the Tony will go to one of two popular, smaller shows:  Dear Evan Hansen, and Come From Away.

My Prediction:  Come From Away, the feel-good show of the year, in a year when we want very much to feel good


BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

My Prediction:  Come From Away, for the same reason


BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

My Prediction:  Gotta be Hello, Dolly!


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 

My Prediction:  My favorite, The Great Comet of 1812


BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

My Prediction: Gotta be Bette Midler for her star turn in Hello, Dolly!


BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

My Prediction:  Ben Platt will take it for Dear Evan Hansen


BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

My personal favorite is Stephanie J. Block in Falsettos, but ...

My Prediction:  Jenn Colella, Come From Away


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!) is looking good, but ...

My Prediction (and my favorite):  Lucas Steele, Great Comet of 1812 


BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL

Jerry Zaks just might take it for Hello, Dolly! but I'm going with my favorite and ...

My Prediction: Rachel Chavkin, Great Comet of 1812

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

Tight race here between Bandstand, Groundhog Day, and The Great Comet of 1812, but I'm going with my favorite, the very original choreography ...

My Prediction: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand

Best Orchestrations:

My Prediction:  The great arrangements by Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen for the jazz/swing inspired Bandstand


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And now the plays.


BEST NEW PLAY

Four excellent shows in close competition. My personal favorite is Indecent, but I don't think it will win. And while A Doll's House, Part 2 is garnering much well-deserved praise, and Sweat won the Pulitzer Prize this year ...

My PredictionOslo


BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

Four good options here, but generally comedies don't make it to the top. That eliminates Present Laughter and the quirky Six Degrees of Separation, and makes it a battle between Jitney and The Little Foxes  

My Prediction:  The Little Foxes

BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Good competition here, but I'll go with ... 

My Prediction: Laura Linney, The Little Foxes


BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

Although I said comedies don't often carry the day ... 

My Prediction:  Kevin Kline in Present Laughter

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Hmm.  Two from Sweat, and two from A Doll's House, Part 2.  I'm going to have to go with the singleton here and ...

My Prediction:  Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

Yet another strong category, but because he turned a featured role into a such an audience-pleaser while keeping it character-driven ... 

My Prediction: Danny DeVito, The Price


BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY

My favorite is Rebecca Tachman's very original and creative work on Indecent, but because he gave great clarity to the play and brought out such strong performances from his cast ...

My Prediction:  Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes

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Note:  I will look at the design elements in a separate entry.



Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.  






















OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS -- Selected Photos From 2017 Event at Sardis


Bette Midler:  Outstanding Actress in a Musical
(Hello, Dolly!)




Selected photos by
Howard Miller, at
Outer Critics Circle
Awards Event at
Sardis, May 25, 2017


Andy Karl, Outstanding Actor in a Musical
(Groundhog Day)



















Seated At My Table:  Christopher Fitzgerald, Presenter

Seated At My Table:  Andy Karl (Winner) and Katie Finneran (Presenter)
Behind them is Danny Burstein, who also was a presenter. 
Jenn Colella:  Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
(Come From Away)


Cynthia Nixon:  Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
(The Little Foxes)




Laura Linney:  Outstanding Actress in a Play
(The Little Foxes)




Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.  











Thursday, May 11, 2017

FOSSILS: Simple Props and Spot-On Storytelling Make For A Resplendent Theatrical Experience

Helen Vinten and Luke Murphy in FOSSILS
Photo by Carol Rosegg







A handful of simple props, a few fish tanks, some electronic music equipment, and moody lighting (by Joe Price) serve as backdrops for a compelling hour of theatrical storytelling that is as fully dramatic, mysterious, and tender as you could ever hope to see, in Fossils, a charming gem of a play now in performance as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters.  


  
Fossils, ingeniously directed by Nel Crouchis the work of the British theater company Bucket Club. It tells the story of three scientists, Vanessa (Helen Vincent) and her two assistants, Ph.D. candidates Dominic (Adam Farrell) and Myles (Luke Murphy). Vanessa is strictly business, as the trio focuses on their work studying "vertebrate adaptation to land through coelacanth whole-genome analysis."  I know, just the stuff to get an audience's hearts pounding. 


But wait.  There's more.





You see, there is a significance to all of this. The coelacanth has been referred to as a "living fossil," long believed to be extinct -- until a fisherman actually caught one. What Vanessa is secretly drawn to is the lure of another possible living fossil, a creature said to inhabit a lake in Inverness, Scotland.  You may have heard of it. People call it  the Loch Ness Monster.

Vanessa is intrigued -- not so much because she is caught up in the tales of sightings -- but because her long-lost father, also a scientist, disappeared a decade earlier while looking for "Nessie." Eventually, she gives in to her own seemingly fossilized emotions by setting out to track down whatever happened to her father, and heads off to Loch Ness, with Dominic trailing along.  


What happens during this search is truly what the play is about: Vanessa's unsettled longing for her father and her need to get on with her life, culminating in a reunion of sorts and a truly breathtaking encounter. 

All of this is accompanied by some wonderful electronic music, singing, and performances on the violin and the harmonium, an organ-like keyboard instrument  (credit David Ridley for the terrific original music and sound design).  

The lovingly-told story is a beautiful blend of brains and heart. Without much more than some simple plastic toy dinosaurs (the sort of thing you can pick up at the souvenir shop of a natural history museum), the three very talented cast members bring everything to commanding life for a marvelous hour of theater.  

   

Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.  





  

Monday, May 8, 2017

OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE 2017 WINNERS: Best of Broadway and Off Broadway




Kudos and Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Award for the best of Broadway and Off Broadway! 

The winners will be honored at the OCC Awards Ceremony at Sardis on May 25.

Here is the list of winners and other nominees in each category. 







Outstanding New Broadway Play
Oslo
A Doll's House, Part 2
Indecent
Sweat








Outstanding New Broadway Musical
Come From Away
Anastasia
A Bronx Tale — The Musical
Groundhog Day
Holiday Inn



Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play
If I Forget
Incognito
A Life
Linda
Love, Love, Love



John Gassner Award
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl
Men on Boats
Tell Hector I Miss Him
Vietgone
The Wolves



Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
The Band's Visit
Hadestown
Himself and Nora
Kid Victory
Spamilton








Outstanding Revival of a Play
(Broadway or off-Broadway)
Jitney
The Front Page
The Little Foxes
Othello
The Price






Outstanding Revival of a Musical
(Broadway or off-Broadway)
Hello, Dolly!
Finian's Rainbow
Miss Saigon
Sunset Boulevard
Sweeney Todd






Outstanding Actor in a Play
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Michael Emerson, Wakey, Wakey
Daniel Craig, Othello
David Oyelowo, Othello
David Hyde Pierce, A Life

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Danny DeVito, The Price
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes
Richard Topol, Indecent

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
Janie Dee, Linda
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House, Part 2


Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll's House, Part 2
Katrina Lenk, Indecent
Nana Mensah, Man From Nebraska


Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Tony Shalhoub, The Band's Visit

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
John Bolton, Anastasia
Jeffry Denman, Kid Victory
Shuler Hensley, Sweet Charity
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Christy Altomare, Anastasia
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit
Patti LuPone, War Paint


Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Caroline O'Connor, Anastasia
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Outstanding Solo Performance
Simon McBurney, The Encounter
Ed Dixon, Georgie: My Adventures With George Rose
Marin Ireland, On the Exhale
Sarah Jones, Sell/Buy/Date
Judith Light, All the Ways to Say I Love You


Outstanding Book of a Musical
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away
Terrence McNally, Anastasia
Itamar Moses, The Band's Visit
Chazz Palminteri, A Bronx Tale
Danny Rubin, Groundhog Day

Outstanding New Score
(Broadway or off-Broadway)
David Yazbek, The Band's Visit
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Anastasia
Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, A Bronx Tale
Tim Minchin, Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

Outstanding Director of a Play
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves
Jack O'Brien, The Front Page
Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes
Kate Whoriskey, Sweat

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
David Cromer, The Band's Visit
Darko Tresnjak, Anastasia
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

Outstanding Choreographer
Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly!
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn

Outstanding Scenic Design
(Play or Musical)
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812
Alexander Dodge, Anastasia
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Scott Pask, The Little Foxes
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page

Outstanding Costume Design
(Play or Musical)
Catherine Zuber, War Paint
Linda Cho, Anastasia
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along


Outstanding Lighting Design
(Play or Musical)
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre and Great Comet of 1812
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Donald Holder, Anastasia
Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
Kenneth Posner, War Paint

Outstanding Projection Design
(Play or Musical)
Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia
Duncan McLean, Privacy
Jared Mezzochi, Vietgone
Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions, Oslo
Tal Yarden, Indecent

Outstanding Sound Design
(Play or Musical)
Gareth Owen, Come From Away
Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, The Encounter
Nicholas Pope, Natasha, Pierre and Great Comet of 1812
Nevin Steinberg, Bandstand
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd

Outstanding Orchestrations
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
Doug Besterman, Anastasia
Larry Blank, Holiday Inn
Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
Jamshied Sharifi, The Band's Visit


Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.