Hey Tony Heyyy: The “Not on Broadways”

Ah, the Tony nominations…it is time. Putting in those extra hours seeing a majority of Broadway’s faire finally pays off as all of us journalists, patrons and bloggers can pass out our opinions to anyone willing to listen. I swear, my friendships are severely tested when my theater ranting hits its peak…so this series of posts are dedicated to my dear friends who have not kicked me to the curb during this joyful, if trivial time in my life.

Father and Son Tonys!
First up, the “Not-on-Broadways.” There is a reason why a lot of shows open in the mid-March to late-April timespan. There is a lot of press coverage, photos, interviews and reviews that coincide with a show’s opening, which un-coincidentally, falls days before Tony nominations are announced. Not to mention, when in doubt or in a close horse race to fill the ballot, the Tony committee will reward shows that are currently open to add some major $Cha-Ching$ to the Broadway business. That’s not an entirely fair point, but it is justified (I say this begrudgingly, mind you).

But there are 11 other months in the year and some shows open and close way before May. Some are a limited-run that runs its course, while others are an open-ended run that closes prematurely due to show suckage or box office grosses. Below are some Tony-worthy shows/performances that you may have forgotten about only because the marquee or advertising campaign is no longer in Times Square. In fact, I now imagine the marquees off in some alley trying to be smoked up by homeless people…this saddens me.

By the way, I had no idea ahead of time of making this list that it would be mostly female-dominated. Oh well, ladies to the dance floor…

Lysistrata Jones (Best Musical) - It is going to be hilarious watching the Tonys shove the horrendous Leap of Faith (I haven't seen Nice Work If You Can Get It at the time of writing this, but I have it on good word that the show sucks) down our throats. Especially when this little show came out of nowhere last Fall and knocked everyone dead with its scrappiness and charm. A real shame because it is my favorite new musical other then Once and probably Newsies, but commercial floppage caused its run to stop before ever really getting started.

Verdict: Forgettable. Did anyone even see its 10 or 4 performances when it was open on Broadway?

Melissa Van Der Schyff in Bonnie & Clyde (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) - At the time, even though everyone was talking about Jeremy Jordan's rising stardom or Laura Osnes abs (or her utter fabulosity in general; guilty as charged), dig a little deeper into the conversation and many people had something positive to say about Melissa Van Der Schyff's performance. She got the better end of the writing, which when filtered through her sassy riding pants, adorable accent and her knack for comedic relief, made her an instant standout. And then she started singing and getting all emotional over her husband's debauchery and she made that vital connection to the audience.

Verdict: Unforgettable. Receiving Outer Critic Circle and Drama Desk Nominations makes me think her performance was too good to ignore amidst the shoddy production around her.

Lily Rabe in Seminar (Best Featured Actress in a Play) – In a show dominated by Severus Snape Alan Rickman and Hamish Linklater, it was Lily Rabe who walked off with my love and air-snaps. And in recent memory, this is the second time she has done so (*cough* The Merchant of Venice). Major props to her for making her character likeable amidst major self-immolation and for cracking up the audience right on cue.

Verdict: Forgettable. Unfortunately, Rabe left the show at the beginning of the April and since its debut back in October/November, the show has lost its steam at a steady pace in the wake of far superior shows. Even Alan Rickman’s nomination is dubious enough to cause some concern.

Jan Maxwell in Follies (Best Lead Actress in a Musical) – Oh, this is an easy one. Follies will probably get six or seven nominations, which will be five or six nominations too many in my eyes. The one exception? Ms. Maxwell, who turns it out in the second act with her numbers. So fabulous was she, I actually forgot about hating the show for a few minutes.

Verdict: Unforgettable. You don’t forget Jan Maxwell, you bow, the eff, down to her.

Drew Gehling in On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever (Best Featured Actor in a Musical) – Yes, everyone recalls Jessie Mueller’s tour-de-force performance – and she will undoubtedly earn a Tony nomination – but so many months later, and relative unknown Drew Gehling’s name still sticks out in my mind. When you are singing and dancing just as good as Harry Connick Jr. with half of the stage time, that is pretty darn impressive.

Verdict: Forgettable. The impression Mueller left on everyone dominates all other recounts of the show and Gehling’s role was too marginal for him to really show off his goods (no, not like that).

Cynthia Nixon in Wit (Best Lead Actress in a Play) – In itself, Wit was well done. While Nixon was essentially playing a more darkly funny version then Miranda, she was the driving force of the show and rose above anything in the production that stood in her way. Even the rotating stage on theater could not quarantine her stomp walking. Oh and by the way, SHE SHAVED HER HEAD and in one scene, she GOT COMPLETELY NAKED. Commitment from a world-class actress.

Verdict: Unforgettable. She’s already got a history having won a Tony for her performance in Rabbit Hole. Also, unlike Van Der Schyff, her show was actually great and unlike Rabe or Gehling, no other actor in the ensemble even diverted my attention.

1 comment:

BroadwayAddict said...

I agree with every word you said about Jan Maxwell. She blew my mind in Follies, and as I've said many times, my mantra this award season has been "Jan Maxwell should win all the awards!"