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4/29/13

Hey Tony Heyyy - Some Final Thoughts Before Judgement Day


Mere hours away from the first of two events we have all been waiting for...no, not Christmas Eve and Christmas. I am talking about the Tony nominations and the Tony Awards because reasons and their obvious. We depleted our bank accounts to see every show imaginable (well, kind of...I was 32 for 38) just to give a researched and personal assessment as to who is worthy of the Tony nominations. As your blogging homeboy, I will not be silenced! Some last bits of discussion before we begin talking about how the Tony committee smoke crack in the bathroom before making their decisions (see part one here, the first half of the season).

Tom Hanks can act? Who Knew. - A lot of movie stars try the whole Broadway thing and fall flat on their asses...not mentioning names, Jessica Chastain. But Tom Hanks, even with the late Nora Ephron's blah Lucky Guy as his vehicle, was great as Mike McAlary, the gung-ho New York journalist breaking the biggest police/crime stories of the 80's. With Lucky Guy not being the riveting drama like it tries to be, Hanks transcends the show and while some of the supporting cast churn out quality work, Courtney B. Vance specifically, Hanks was the reason to step into the Broadhurst Theater in the first place. And thank heavens he didn't mess that up.

Yes, It's Frank Wildhorn, But... - As evidenced by my drinking game, Jekyll and Hyde holds a special place in my heart with its amazingly awfulness. Jeff Calhoun's direction does not always play up the show, but the score is as epic as ever and Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox belt like their lives depend on it as Jekyll/Hyde and Lucy respectively. Wildhorn's name doesn't carry a lot of merit to it and that's unfortunate (in this case, at least)...this show would occupy a Best Revival slot in my book, but with it being shut out of the OCC and Drama Desk awards (Maroulis accumulated a Drama League nomination), that suggests that it is a distant fifth place of the five musical revivals. I'll take what I can get - and Maroulis and Cox would be plenty fine for being so well-sung in a season where I didn't always get that luxury (side-glance to Pippin's Matthew James Thomas and Patina Miller).

Tom Sturridge is a Beast - I liked Orphans, even if most of the reviews deemed it a mostly-flat show. But the one performance I loved the most? Tom Sturridge's wacky, wall-bouncing Philip grabbed my attention and never let go of it, even with the compelling Ben Foster and Alec Baldwin on stage. With the Lead Actor category stockpiled with a lot of talent and all three actors of this ensemble pit up against each other, he has a decent chance to sneak in despite not being the biggest name. Accumulating an OCC nomination (albeit, for "featured actor") and a Drama League nomination is good press...but it is up to the Tony voters now to omit a more obvious choice.

The One-Man (or Woman) Rundown - I still can't stand one-person shows and I DEFINITELY don't understand why this season was populated with four of them. But if they must exist, I can bring myself to admit that I'll Eat You Last, the Joe Mantello-directed monologue about the shade-throwing, Hollywood agent Sue Mengers, was comical and my favorite of the four (and marks a strong return to Broadway for Bette Midler). Ann is all but forgotten and Macbeth is a disaster with its muddled direction and story. I love Alan Cumming and eagerly await his run in Cabaret next Fall, but there is little differentiation between his characters and the show crumbles under his monotonous performance. The Testament of Mary was not as bad as I thought it would be, but it is way too abstract for Broadway and has no built-in audience. I hope that won't cast a pall over Fiona Shaw's heart-breaking, fully-naked (figuratively and literally-speaking) and stunning performance, my favorite out of all the leading ladies.

When Kind Meets Odets - I would mourn the fact that The Big Knife is mostly unremarkable, but Clifford Odets already got a genius revival with this Fall's Golden Boy, so I'll be alright. Besides, Knife got a shot in the arm whenever Richard Kind, perfectly cast as the cutthroat studio executive, showed up to devour the scenery with his take-no-prisoners humor and blatancy. His profile has been bolstered with Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle noms, so a Tony nomination may just follow suit.

The Chekov Farce FTW - I knew when I saw the Broadway transfer of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike earlier this spring, that it was awesome and would be a contender come awards time. So many weeks and openings later, and it is still my favorite show of the season and met with numerous nominations already on the creative and cast ends. The book, the direction, the performances - all letter perfect. Sigourney Weaver is mostly out of the running once Kristine Nielson, a virtual lock, was moved over to her lead category (I liked the former, but the latter is my favorite performance of the show). David Hyde Pierce is also a lock with his droll Vanya and as much of a longshot as it is, I wouldn't mind seeing Billy Magnussen's dim-witted boy toy and Shalita Grant's outrageously funny psychic housekeeper turn up in the featured categories.

The Assembled Parties Knows What's Up - Another well-received show of the season, The Assembled Parties, knocked me dead with its subtlety and nuance. Richard Greenberg's writing is almost too smart for its own good, but in any case, its the star of the show as we follow a family holiday gathering in the 1980's and its subsequent flash forward twenty years later. As the audience, we get to play the fun game of piecing together what untold and unseen stuff happened - and it works like gangbusters. On the performance front, expect Judith Light to score her third nomination in three years after having won last year for her performance in Other Desert Cities. Her performance as the black sheep, pill-popper of her side of the family is easily one of the best of the season and has already been matched with OCC, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations.

Let's set the over/under at 14 - Just know that when Matilda's name pops up in, like, every category, they deserve it. Best Musical, Best Direction, Best Choreography, Best Score, Best Scenic Design, Best Book, Best Lead Actor, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Lead Actress, you know, amongst other things. Oh well, I think the company will manage that loss - they can go cry in the Shubert theater they will occupy forever while counting their piles of money.

Rallying for Rashad - Much like Condola Rashad's surprise nomination for Stick Fly last year, girlfriend is back again generating buzz for her wonderful supporting turn in The Trip to Bountiful. A Drama Desk nomination, the only other Broadway-based performance nomination other than Light, all but sealed the deal. Even with chopping some votes with an also strong Vanessa Williams - and even though Cicely Tyson's fantastic performance is the driving force of the show - I can't see how she would be overlooked as a front runner this year when last year, her show was closed and she was a long shot to boot.

These Kinky Boots were Made for Success - I would have never guessed that the obvious, one-dimensional crowd-pleaser would be a distant second place for the new musical category, but it is certainly a nice redemption after Priscilla Queen of the Desert came and went as the underrated gem of glitter it was. Beloved by audiences, across-the-board positive reviews and a slew of nominations are already checked-off on Kinky Boots Broadway Takeover...now its time to add double digit Tony nominations for its entire creative team and Billy Porter (I say that begrudgingly), Stark Sands (I say that with hopeful delusion) and my girl Annaleigh Ashford, which reminds me, GET IT GIRL!

The Revival of Cinderella...Wait, What? - For the life of me, I still don't understand why Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella is considered a revival even though this production is the first to ever be mounted on Broadway (although to be honest, I didn't raise an ire regarding Orphans, so I am just as fickle as the Tony committee). Whatevs, whether it is the distant second place to Matilda or Pippin (ugh, over it), Cinderella is still one of the season's highlights with its funny, weirdly modern book, a beautiful production design and some chirpy performances. Laura Osnes is the quintessential princess of your dreams and will get her second nomination in her follow-up role to Bonnie and Clyde. Santino Fontana will join her as the leading Prince with existential feelz. And while the featured actress category is stacked this year with star performances, Victoria Clarke can stake claim to one slot for her dazzling and airborne Fairy Godmother.


Photo Credit: CurtisBrown.uk
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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