Tony Nominations 2014 - The Substandard and the Overlooked

The Substandard

Atrocity Midnight

Eww, heaven’s no. Every nomination After Midnight received took an hour off of my life. Why is that? It’s a revue. No book, no story, nothing about the Cotton Club…just nothing. Dule Hill’s emcee-like character (if you can call it that) says five lines in-between the singing, dancing and band performing these America’s Got Talent dancing sequences and American Idol over-sung hot messes. The dancing and the costuming are slick…but it is not enough to save the show from itself. And I can’t help but gnash my teeth that it would be rewarded with seven Tony nominations, including Best Musical. Especially when the Tony nominations were insistent on keeping the category to four nominees (an observation, not a criticism, mind you) and couldn’t make way for The Bridges of Madison County.

All The Way for Best Play…Wait, What?

I’m guessing Bryan Cranston and his charismatic performance completely blind-sighted the Tony committee into thinking this lame-o, suspense-free play about Lyndon B. Johnson’s re-election is better then it is. Well, as someone who actually saw the show, allow me to remind you that the quarter-assed direction is quite the achilles heel. You know, where every not-President stands and sits and talks mere steps away from an unlit White House desk while leaning on the White House cabinet interiors around them while they are in a completely different location…and then, there are the “transitions” coming from the incongruous projections. Oh, but that set is practical! A pull-out bed and BAM, the White House is now a hotel room. Brilliant! Except, not really. All of this and I haven’t even gotten to that snooze-fest 2014 that is the story…the less said, the better.

A Gentleman’s Guide... Leads the Pack...By Default

Anyone else feel like the love for A Gentleman’s Guide... is beyond overstated? Granted, Broadway is still plagued by an astonishingly poor showing of new musicals {First Date, Soul Doctor, Big Fish, Rocky, If/Then, Bullets Over Broadway} and with Violet and Hedwig and the Angry Inch moved over to the revival category, the race for Best Musical could open up to include this show. But c'mon…ten nominations? Back in November, had anyone told me A Gentleman’s Guide... would have ten nominations come this morning, I would have laughed and said, “that’s cute!” I like the show, but try as the Tonys might to convince me to love it, I remain assured on the show’s modest quality. And while I am happy for Bryce Pinkham - whom makes the most of his conniving Monty character - I’m using his nomination here as a stand-in for his much more awesome performance in this past summer’s Loves Labour’s Lost, complete with tap-dancing and sparkle short-shorts.

Shooting Blanks on Broadway

I don’t think anyone treated Bullets Over Broadway as if it were something special. We didn’t have much of a choice…the show sucked and Susan Stroman directed the show like she wanted to see it burned to the ground. So, how does this heap of mediocrity find itself nominated for six Tonys, yet not one of them is for any of the fabuladies {Marin Mazzie, Helene York, Betsy Wolfe}? That aggressively unfunny book was nominated? Half the creative was nominated for the forgettable everything? No and thank you. Thank God for Nick Cordero, the only nomination that made sense and one of the few aspects to rise up from that flaming pile of hot dog-dancing garbage.

The Overlooked

The Dark Horses (of Madison County). Or Not.

So, you liked The Bridges of Madison County, right? Well, I kinda loved it - from Jason Robert Brown’s songs at their Jason Robert Brown-iest to Bartlett Sher’s direction at its Bartlett Sher-iest to Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale’s enchanting chemistry and singing, I’ll take one of everything. So, what happened? Bridges - which currently reigns as my favorite new musical on Broadway - got screwed over. No Pasquale. No Best Musical. Only four nominations. The show has been struggling at the box office - with weekly grosses as low as 31.52% - and without a big push from the Tonys, its run is on the morphine drip. Sadness. Lots of it.  

Third Time’s a cha-…Nope.

Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in The Cripple of Inishmaan was pretty great and his profile definitely got a boost after the reviews hit the wire. Still though, the Tonys have overlooked him on two previous outings and with a colorful supporting cast dropping hilarious dialogue (like Sarah Greene, whom picked up a nod for her performance), Radcliffe’s more quieter performance and the lack of stage time weren’t factors in his favor. Inishmaan is more about the town of Inishmaan in relation to Cripple Billy instead of Cripple Billy himself. Had he not been portrayed by Harry Potter - and if Radcliffe’s name/three faces weren't above and plastered around the marquee and the show’s promotional materials - the role could have been considered for the featured category. Under that hypothetical scenario, Radcliffe would have been a lock for a nomination and a major contender to take the trophy come June. Oh, what could have been. I hope this doesn’t discourage Mr. Daniel from coming back to Broadway in the future because (1) he’s consistently great at it (2) he seems to enjoy it, Tonys be damned. 

And none for Gretchen Weiners No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot…Bye!

Prior to the Tony nominations, I could have told you that No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot had the deck stacked against them. The most prevalent reason being they would be splitting the votes with themselves, bottom line. You want to nominate Ian McKellen? I don’t disagree with you, but for which show? Exactly. Granted, I can’t say that the repertory aspect was insurmountable (just ask the Shakespeare in Repertory shows accumulating a combined eight Tony nominations), but it took a lot of factors and gusto to be nominated in the high profile categories this year. NML and Godot, plus the standout performances from McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Billy Crudup’s Lucky in Godot, came up just short. I’m certain they all don’t have a single fuck to give because they all know that both productions were of a high caliber, but ran into the misfortunate of going up against themselves and the juggernauts that are The Glass Menagerie and Twelfe Night/Richard III.

Poor Zachary Quinto

"The Glass Menagerie! Cherry, Brian and Celia! John Tiffany! Bob Crowley! Natasha Katz! Okay, we’re all done!” - said the Tony-nominating committee. Um, no you guys aren’t. You left out the hauntingly personal and emphatic performance coming from Zachary Quinto, whom to this day, he inspires me to quote “blow out your candles, Laura” with full accent and feelz on a daily basis. And don’t even try to convince me that Bryan Cranston’s or Tony Shaloub’s performances are that much better, you’d be spinning your wheels. I’m happy Menagerie was remembered for 90% of its factors, but I’ll remember Quinto’s subtle and brilliant portrayal in a way the Tonys failed to do so. Because I care. A little too much at times.

Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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