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4/30/12

Hey Tony Heyyy – The “I’m Still Heres”

Congratulations for not closing yet *insert show that opened before March and has not closed!* I see that your show possesses some quality that may receive a Tony nomination, so much so that you are still churning eight performances a week to half-filled crowds while the rest of the community takes in some of the new offerings. We know why you do it…because one Tony nomination on that illustrious list that runs in every theater publication means your show's audience could as much as double the following weeks leading up to the main event.

Oh, but don’t worry…if you get snubbed or your “once a sure-bet” performer got overshadowed in the wake of some stronger and more memorable competition, it is by no means a nail in the coffin sotospeak, right? You still get a performance at the Tonys or get to be in some silly opening number, right? Video montage? Presenter maybe?

Yeah, I don’t envy the solid shows and performances still bringing it day after day, waiting until the guillotine or life injection that comes with tomorrow’s news. Scary stuff if you think about...but here are some of the shows/performances giving it their all, even on there third, fourth or fifth month of running (or in the case of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, its eleventh month).

Godspell (Best Revival of a Musical) – Out of all of the musicals with a religious subtext, this was one of the most unique and fun times this year (you know, aside from that whole crucifixion thing). Coupled with the best theater ever (LOVE that Circle in the Square), some killer orchestrations on Stephen Schwartz’s classic score and a game ensemble and you have one of the most crowd-pleasing shows around.

Verdict: Forgettable. The Jesus swap out mid-April has not revived the strong buzz the show had several months ago. Completely forgotten by the Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critic Circle nominations in lieu of Jesus Christ Superstar, and that is all she wrote for Jesus and friends.

SOMEONE in Godspell (Best Featured Actor or Actress in a Musical) – Lindsay Mendez Shutting. It. Down. with one killer rendition of “Bless the Lord?” Telly Leung, all seven or eight of him, charming his angelic-voiced self into the audience’s hearts? Nick Blaemire and his white boy swagger and clown-like zaniness making you smile so much it hurts? If there was a “Best Ensemble” category, I doubt that this raw talent and young ensemble would be overlooked for being in the round for two-and-a-half hours. Alas, I will settle for anyone one though.

Verdict: Forgettable. *Sniff* No previous nominations and a show that does not typically single out any one performance…I fully expect to be disappointed tomorrow.

Other Desert Cities (Best Play) – Just when you think the dysfunction family trope has reached its limits, here comes a new entry that proved both comedic and appropriately dramatic. With talent at every post on-stage and off, it is a joy watching their collective efforts result in some of the most well-developed characters I have ever seen, coupled with some of the most layered story-telling and performances to match.

Verdict: Unforgettable. Directed by Joe Mantello, written by Jon Robin-Baitz and starring Stockard Channing, Judith Light and Stacey Keach…the Tony nomination was baked in right before the show hit the Booth Theater. And then it began…and two-and-a-half hours later, you are so glad you spent time with this nutbag family and were completely drawn into their lives.

Joshua Henry in Porgy and Bess (Best Featured Actor in the Musical) – You love some Audra? Well, you get her and her voice so pretty, it can induce tears on thought alone. But when it came to the guys…Joshua Henry, once again, over delivers on an under-developed role. In a show that felt old, his presence and charisma alone made it seem really “happening” with his character, Jake. He also has killer dance moves…work it Josh!

Verdict: Forgettable. As good as he is, his performance is just one of many in a male ensemble including Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier and Phillip Boykin. No amount of his pink shirts could pop enough to stand out amidst the collective operatic ensemble blasting the roof off the theater.

Venus in Fur (Best Play) – Time has not dimmed on one of my favorite shows this year…a show that dared to be different by playing up sex, a manic insanity amongst its two characters and having one alluring story play out in two different story lines. A production so perfectly coy in its objective and two performers pushed to the brink with every twist and turn in the script…man, who knew I would get so much out of a shop based on an erotic novel?

Verdict: Forgettable (Damn it). There are 15 shows in total eligible for Best Play, and there are a lot of them to cheer about. I feel the Tonys will (rightly) reward Nina Arianda’s performance and call it a day…Dancy’s chances, as are the show’s, are cusp-ish and will likely fall to others with open-ended runs (Venus in Fur will close on June 17).

Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur (Best Actress in a Play) – I feel like she has already won the award, but that would be awfully presumptuous.

Verdict: Unforgettable…for the rest of your life. No amount of mental deterioration will erase this performance from your memory. You will spend everyday hoping to be even one-fifth of the fabulous of Ms. Arianda. HAIL NINA!

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

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