Saturday, May 26, 2018

OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE celebrates the winners of the 2017-2018 Theater Season at Sardis

Yours Truly, Member, Outer Critics Circle

Celebrating the 2017-2018 winners of the Outer Critics Circle Awards at Sardis, May 24, 2018. Photos by Yours Truly, Howard Miller.

The Presenters

Jenn Colella
(2017 OCC winner for COME FROM AWAY)

Martha Plimpton
(2007 OCC winner for COAST OF UTOPIA)

Christine Ebersole
(2006 OCC winner for GREY GARDENS)

Jim Dale
(2006 OCC winner for THREE PENNY OPERA)

Outstanding Revival of a Play:  

Tony Kushner (center), Playwright

Andrew Garfield
(Prior Walter)

Nathan Lane
(Roy Cohn)

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: 

Lauren Ambrose
(Liza Doolittle)

Leo Norbert Butz
(Alfred Doolittle)

Bartlett Sher, Director

Outstanding New B'way Musical: 

Ethan Slater

Tina Landau, Director

Outstanding Actress 
and Featured Actress - -

Glenda Jackson

Laurie Metcalf  

From the Revival of CAROUSEL 

Best Featured Actress
(Carrie Pipperidge)

Jonathan Tunick, 

Justin Peck, 

Additional Winners

Tina Fey, Outstanding Book of a Musical

Billy Crudup, 
Outstanding Solo Performance

          Jack Thorne, Playwright
Outstanding New Broadway Play

Josh Harmon, Playwright
Outstanding New Off Broadway Play

Jocelyn Bioh, Playwright
John Gassner Award
for Outstanding American Play


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.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

ME AND MY GIRL: Encores! Production Looks Like A Pre-Broadway Trial Run. Maybe It's Time!

Christian Borle is "Leaning On A Lamp-Post"
Photo by Joan Marcus

The jokes fly fast and furious in the sparkly Encores! production at New York City Center of the 1937 musical Me and My Girl, the show that got everyone tapping their toes to the mother of all earworm showtunes ,  "The Lambeth Walk." If you are unfamiliar with that little ditty, you can find several performances of it on youtube, like this one from the exceedingly popular revival from the 1980s that saw an eight-year run in London and three years on Broadway. (LINK HERE

Cast members "Doin' the Lambeth Walk"
Photo by Joan Marcus

Here are just a few examples of the baggy pants humor that summon up the memories of the Marx Brothers movies, especially when delivered by the stellar cast:

Bill:  I live in a distant village called London.
Jaquie:  But what part?
Bill:  All of me.

The Butler: Aperitif, my lord?
Bill (pointing to his teeth): No, thanks. I got me own. 

Bill (examining a pot of soup):  What's this?
Cook: It's bean soup.
Bill: I don't care what it's been.  What is it now?"

So "Marx Brothers" it is, with the versatile Christian Borle taking on the "Groucho" persona as Bill, a happy-to-lucky Cockney from the London borough of Lambeth, who learns he is the only heir to a fortune and a title. He is, if you please, the 18th Baron Haveringland, High Steward of the Brandiston Estuary, Marshall Royal in Ordinary to the Marquisate of Snetterton and the 14th Earl of Hareford.  

Bill has been brought to the family estate, where he is to be tutored in how to speak and act like a "proper gentleman" by his Aunt Maria, the Duchess of Dene (Harriet Harris, who is marvelous in the role). If Christian Borle is channeling Groucho, then Harriet Harris is his comic foil, his "Margaret Dumont," if you will. 

Of course, there are romantic entanglements involved. Laura Michelle Kelly plays Sally, the "Girl" of the title and Bill's one and only love. Like Bill, Sally hales from Lambeth. Will Bill's new position as a member of nobility destroy their chance at happiness together?  What do you think? 

Sally and Bill having a heart-to-heart
Photo by Joan Marcus

Another couple is Gerald (Mark Evans) and Jaquie (Lisa O'Hare), also representing branches of the family tree. They are engaged, but the opportunistic Jaquie breaks it off and decides to go after Bill and his new-found wealth. Will she succeed?  What do you think?

The third couple is the Duchess and her long-time suitor Sir John (Chuck Cooper, who seems to be having the time of his life). Will they at long last find true love together?  What do you think? 

Amidst the great fun, you'll also find a rich lode of wonderful singing and dancing, all beautifully directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, who keeps things moving along at a zippy pace, just right for keeping it all floating in air.   

Between the performances, the 27-piece orchestra under Rob Berman's always exquisite leadership, Carlyle's direction and choreography (there are 20 excellent ensemble performers in addition to the 20 cast members), Allen Moyer's simple but effective set design, and Emilio Sosa's beautiful costumes, it's quite easy to believe that this production might just find it's way onto a Broadway stage for an extended run.  And why not?  

The three happy couples.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Bravo and kudos to all involved in what is assuredly among the most extravagant and richly produced shows in Encores! 25-year history.  Me and My Girl might be fluff, but it will assuredly put a smile on your face and a tap in your toes.  And these days, that's saying a lot! 


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 7, 2018


Here is my final set of predictions for the 2018 Tony Awards.  

Previously, I wrote about the categories representing the musicals (Link Here) and the plays (Here). Now let's take a look at the all-important design elements that absolutely affect your experience in the theater:  Set design, costumes, lighting, and sound.  

Nominees for Best Scenic Design of a Musical 

Dane Laffrey, Once On This Island
Scott Pask, The Band's Visit

Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young, Mean Girls
Michael Yeargan, My Fair Lady
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants

My favorite.
David Zinn for SpongeBob SquarPants. This is such a fun show, and the wacky design elements contribute immensely to the pleasure.  

Who I think will win.
Too close to call definitively, but I think that Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young are likely to get it because Pask's set design and Ross and Young's projection design for Mean Girls have been combined with this nomination. Really, though, there should be a separate category for projection design; it has become enough of a significant presence on Broadway to warrant its own category.

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Dane Laffrey's design for Once On This Island quite imaginative and very effective as part of the overall story telling.  

I don't think Michael Yeargan's traditional, if well designed set for My Fair Lady, or Scott Pask's simple but effective design for The Band's Visit will do it this time.  

Nominees for Best Scenic Design of a Play

Miriam Buether, Three Tall Women
Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and the King

Christine Jones, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Santo Loquasto, The Iceman Cometh
Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce, Angels in America

My favorite.
Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce's design for Angels in America is quite clever in its use of the expanse of stage space at the theater. It serves not only the story's content, but the overall surrealistic mood that threads throughout. 

Who I think will win.
Ian MacNeil and Edward Pierce.

(Good) Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Christine Jones. If the projection design team of Finn Ross and Ash Woodward had been combined with Christine Jones for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for this category, they would be a shoo-in. Nevertheless, voters may not distinguish between the set and the projection design and give the Tony to Jones anyway.  

Santo Loquasto is a terrific scenic designer, but the design for The Iceman Cometh is more serviceable than particularly creative or evocative. Jonathan Fensom's work on Farinelli and the King is quite similar to the design we saw during the company's last visit to Broadway a couple of years back.  Voters will remember and are unlikely to honor the repetition.

Nominees for Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Mean Girls
Clint Ramos, Once On This Island
Ann Roth, Carousel
David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants
Catherine Zuber, My Fair Lady

My favorite.
David Zinn. His hand is everywhere in this production, and everything is so very creative and imaginative.  

Who I think will win.
David Zinn. 

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Catherine Zuber's period costumes for My Fair Lady beautiful and appropriately evocative for the show and may very well garner a Tony.  

Clint Ramos' work on Once On This Island is on a par with Catherine Zuber's designs for My Fair Lady, but design elements for the smaller-scale production are less likely to win the Tony.  Ann Roth's work on Carousel is fits in well with the dark tone of the piece, but these costumes are not going to be competitive with the more eye-popping ones from SpongeBob SquarePants or My Fair Lady.  

Nominees for Best Costume Design of a Play

Jonathan Fensom, Farinelli and The King
Nicky Gillibrand, Angels in America
Katrina Lindsay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Ann Roth, Three Tall Women
Ann Roth, The Iceman Cometh

My favorite.
Katrina Lindsay. The costumes for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are imaginatively reflective of the world of witches and wizards, with appropriate "muggle" influences. The smartly-designed black outfits suggestive of fascism that appear in Part II are effectively disturbing. 

Who I think will win.
Katrina Lindsay. 

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Don't think so. 

Nominees for Best Lighting Design of a Musical 

Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Once On This Island
Donald Holder, My Fair Lady
Brian MacDevitt, Carousel
Tyler Micoleau, The Band's Visit

My favorite.
Brian MacDevitt. Nice job of using in Carousel to subtly provide a sense of the passage of time from night to day and back again, as well as to highlight or enshadow actions.  

Who I think will win.
Brian MacDevitt.

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer's lighting for Once On This Island is most effective in suggesting changes in the weather on an island that is subjected to hurricanes. 

Fine work by all of the other nominees, but not particularly "showy" the way the Tonys like 'em.  

Nominees for Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Paule Constable, Angels in America
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, The Iceman Cometh
Paul Russell, Farinelli and The King
Ben Stanton, Junk

My favorite.
Neil Austin's lighting design for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an integral part of the stage magic that is vital to the show's success.

Who I think will win.
Neil Austin.  

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Not really. No one matches the magic of Harry Potter.  

Nominees for Best Sound Design of a Musical

Kai Harada, The Band's Visit
Peter Hylenski, 
Brian Ronan, Mean Girls
Walter Trarbach + Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants

My favorite.
I thought the best sound design was the work done by Mark Salzberg for My Fair Lady, in which, for once, I could actually hear the performer's voices coming directly from them instead of being pumped through a soulless amplification system. 

Who I think will win.
Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, for handling the craziness of SpongeBob SquarePants sounding crisp and clear. 

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
No idea. 

Nominees for Best Sound Design of a Play

Adam Cork, Travesties
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Angels in America
Gareth Fry, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Dan Moses Schreier, The Iceman Cometh

My favorite.
Gareth Fry for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As with the lighting, the sound design is part of the all-important stage magic.

Who I think will win.
Gareth Fry.

Possibility of Sneaking In. 
Ian Dickinson.  Unlikely to win, but Angels in America is such a sprawling work, you need someone in charge of sound to keep things crisp and clear, which has been impressively done here. 


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.