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5/1/13

Hey Tony Heyy - The Fabulous, The Flawed and a Few WTFu**s


So yesterday happened and I am amidst some post-Tony nomination melancholia already. Because this was actually a greater-than-average selection of nominees and ones that aligned with my dream Tony Ballot more often than I can remember in years past. Not 100% infalliable, but than again, they never are (and probably never will be). Here's my full rundown on all the cray good, cray bad and cray WTF of yesterday's judgement day.

The Fabulous

Best Revivals Indeed - Can we talk about this collection of nominated revivals, both Plays and Musicals? Maybe because last years collection left me kind of underwhelmed (Death of a Salesman withstanding), but this year, it's all FU** YEAH REVIVALS! Who's Afraid of Virginia WoolfThe Trip to BountifulThe Mystery of Edwin Drood, CinderellaGolden Boy, even some Pippin...at least we won't have to suffer from the presence of Evita or Jesus Christ Superstar in the lead-up to the big night.

Non-Chekov Characters to the Dance Floor - The only thing better than hearing Billy Magnussen's name called out? Hearing Shalita Grant's name no more then two minutes afterwards. Two performances that are not typically rewarded because they don't have much depth or are not the most dramatic or emotional for the "stick up their arse" theater crowds. Instead, they are *gasp* hilarious and entertaining. How dare they, those meddling kids. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was already well-represented with David Hyde Pierce and Kristine Neilsen in the leads, but Grant's performance is a freakin' riot and my second-favorite to Nielsens for that show. And Magnussen's nomination is an inspiring lesson on the importance of having 16-pack abs. But in all seriousness, his performance is risky, off-beat and so on-point that he really does deserve it.

Everybody say Yeahhhhhh - Thirteen nominations? For a drag-based show about thigh-high sparkly boots? Oh, nominating committee - you deserves loads of head for that. But my favorite nomination of the pack, other than the creative ones and my girl Annaleigh Ashford's stellar supporting turn? Stark Sands surprise turn-up in the leading male category, one where the overblown Billy Porter already took shop. Sands has like 0.00001% chance of winning, but considering he was a longshot for the nomination, he has already won something. Because his "Step 1" number and his gorge singing voice are perfection, as is his fashion roadkill moment of thigh-high boot twerqing. But also, because Sands is just awesome in general and I want him to adopt me and teach me how to throw a ball in Central Park. And then teach me how to belt my feelz.

Douglas Carter Beane Runs the World - Back in March, everyone came out of the woodworks to slam my Uncle DCB and his book for Cinderella. Well, guess who was nominated? That's right. Beane's book is one of the many components I liked about Cinderella, but it was probably the most prevalent in-and-out of the R&H score. Also, Laura Osnes' whirling-dervish of fabulosity wiping away all of the horror in the world. And Victoria Clark. And William Ivey Long's costumes. Drinks all around ladies and gentleladies!

Tom Sturridge, Like a Boss - You know all of those angels you see flying around with their new wings? That's because Tom Sturridge got nominated. And don't you love good angel stories. Bro is killing it in Orphans for his charismatic and fully-realized Phillip. It takes a lot to upstage the talented Ben Foster and Alec Baldwin, but Sturridge is doing exactly that.

Matilda. Enough Said - It doesn't need any more kudos from me and its double digit nominations were really no surprise. But still, pats on the back for this entertaining, imaginative, polished production. Matilda is the show to beat and I see it walking away with at least 8 Tonys, including Best Musical and the phenomenal Bertie Carvel. You know the show has it well with the revolving door of Matildas are receiving a consolation Tony Award of Excellence prize in lieu of lead actress eligibility...you know, just like we all got when we were eight or ten years old.

The Director Hunger Games - Pam MacKinnon, Nicholas Martin, Bartlett Sher and George C. Wolfe? Tough competition, no? But wait...there's more. Scott Ellis, Jerry Mitchell, Diane Paulus and Matthew Warchus. All eight directors are so accomplished and both categories such a toss-up that they should just settle it with Jell-O wrestling or a pie eating contest. My money is always on Paulus in anything - compete with her or cross her and she will go right for your balls. I sense this.

The Flawed

Lucky Guy Triumphs...for Some Reason - Let me start off by saying that I didn't abhor Lucky Guy initially. But you know how the more overrated something gets, the more you hate it? Case in point. I find its six nominations, the same amount Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike received, to be misleading, as if it is some sort of quality show. Yeah, not quite. It's book, written by the late Nora Ephron, single-handedly sinks the show. And while Tom Hanks is doing a fine job, even with the benefit of the Hollywood Actor curve, there were better choices for this typically overpopulated and competitive category. Seth Numrich or Michael Shannon immediately come to mind. Actually, Numrich is always on my mind because I want him to go down on me all day, every day, but I digress...

Joe Mantello Director Fail - When it comes to directors, Mantello is one of the most sought after names around with one, maybe two new productions a year (not to mention, that Wicked show you may have heard of). He directed The Other Place and I'll Eat Your Last, both well-received shows, and you know what...he should have been nominated for his brilliant directing job on the former and both shows should have occupied the third and fourth slots behind the two locks, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and The Assembled Parties. Alas, he blanked on both (although Laurie Metcalf's nomination was a welcome sight). I know he'll be back in the game before we can think twice about it, but he is allowed to succeed at something other then Wicked. And after his overlooked director nomination for last year's Other Desert Cities, I don't like this trend forming.

Ain't Nobody Got Time To Write Good Leading Lady Roles - Last year was an uncommonly great year for women. I guess that would make this year the exact opposite of that. We have the clear frontrunner, a well-written role performed adequately at best (Patina Miller in Pippin), and the distant second-place of a paper-thin role performed by a goddess amongst us mortals (Laura Osnes in Cinderella). Rounding out this motley crew is the title character of a show that is hardly in it because her character gets killed (Stephanie J. Block in The Mystery of Edwin Drood), a girl in a show without a plot or story (Valisia LeKae in Motown) and a fabulous singer performing in a show where hardly anyone stayed for the second act (Carolee Carmello in Scandalous). It just kind of bums me out that Patina Miller now has two Tony nominations handed to her on silver platters because her competition in both years were disasters. But this time, it hurts more because she has the top prize virtually locked up. Ugh.

Bobby Cannavale Needs a Better Agent - I like Bobby Cannavale and I think he has a lot of talent. What he has is the unfortunate knack of performing in bad-to-worse shows. He gave a Tony-worthy performance in the not-so-good Glengarry Glen Ross and was one of the least offensive parts of The Big Knife. Not only was he snubbed for both shows, their combined total is only one nomination, a bone throw to The Big Knife with an acting nomination for Richard Kind. What will it take to hand him a Mark Rylance-ian role or stick him in some Jon Robin Baiz drama to watch the acting masterclass unfold? Dude knows what to do with a spotlight on him.

Tony Noms for...Putting Your Hands on a Car - I don't mean to kick a show while its down, but every nomination Hands on a Hardbody got deducted two years off of my life. Keith Carradine lucked into a weaker category. And Keala Settle was one of the best parts of the show with her "Joy to the Lord" acapella number, but was her performance that much better than any of the Edwin Drood ladies, Mueller, Rivera or Wolfe? Or Rachel Bay Jones in Pippin? Heck, Bring It On didn't need any more charity, but Ryan Redmond's performance in the ensemble registered as way better and not as pandering to me.

The WTF

Yeah, I'd cheer too.
Up With Bring It On, Down With Motown - In terms of "WTF, did that just happen?" I literally gasped when Bring It On was announced first and Motown didn't follow suit. Maybe because the nominating committee have a history of dolling out the big name nominations on one important set of criteria, you know, whether or not a show is open. I basically wrote off Motown as a sure-bet while A Christmas Story and Bring It On duked it out for the last spot because...well, Motown got bills to pay, so it goes. I think this is a great change of pace - Bring It On had slightly better reviews and some strong aspects, which in my mind, put it ahead of Motown and its lack of...well, everything. It's been a while since Best Musical had the four highest-quality shows represented, so let's relish this until they jack it up next year.

Suck It, One-Man Shows (Except Holland Taylor Evidently) - One-man shows have to be evaluated on a completely separate set of criteria and they just shouldn't sit with us. So when forced-fed four of them in less then two months time, I readied myself for their assault. I talked myself into liking I'll Eat You Last and Bette Midler's performance. I LOVED Fiona Shaw's amazing portrayal of Mary in The Testament of Mary, so much so I thought she should win the Tony (and that is saying something considering I've been campaigning for Kristine Nielsen all year). So what does the nominating committee do? They overlook I'll Eat You Last in its entirety, forgo Shaw's acting nomination and proceed to acknowledge the show itself, which then announced its closing three hours afterwards. Way to go there! But that's not all...they also nominate Holland Taylor for her nice, but plain performance in the nice, but plain Ann. Sorry committee; you really messed that one up. In the words of my generation "...the fu**?"

Who is this...Carrie Coon? - Anyone think this nomination was one too many for the supreme and ultimate Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I literally had to collect myself and think about who this chick was. It's Virginia Woolf; there's only two female roles. Process of elimination...I is smart. You want to nominate Tracy Letts and/or Amy Morton, I don't object in the slightest. But considering this Edward Albee classic gets nominated for the gamut every time, you would think they would look past the obvious homegirl passed out on the floor like a sorority chick after a bad break-up. Coon was good, but I perceived her performance as in the shadow of Letts and Morton and even more out-of-left-field then the usual nomination.

Kenneth Posner vs. Kenneth Posner vs. Kenneth Posner...and Hugh Vanstone - Was I the only one that laughed out loud as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, whom I adore, announced this category? And that moment hits you that Kenneth Posner's Lighting Design for PippinKinky Boots and Cinderella are all great, but will probably end up losing to the Matilda juggernaut because Matilda juggernaut? And that awkward moment that may happen that Posner loses not once, but three times in one year? In one category? This is such a great bit of WTFery that I didn't see coming, which is always the best. So congrats Kenneth Posner...the only ones left to beat are you, yourself and Hugh Vanstone.


Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Photo Credit: Broadway.com
Photo Credits: Sara Krulwich

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