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5/5/16

Tony Nominations 2016 - The Substandard and the Overlooked

The Substandard

The Not-So-Bright Star - I thought this year’s crop of nominees were well-selected, but it wouldn’t be the Tony Award nominations if there wasn’t one crack-induced decision(s). Case in-point...their out-of-left-field love for Bright Star, a musical where (minor spoiler-alert, but it’s extremely relevant, I promise) a baby in a bag gets thrown out of a moving train’s window like a Chinese Throwing Star. In slow motion. That actually happens. Because the plot said so. And I’d have to see it again to be sure, but it wasn’t even the book’s worst portion despite being UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS. For the most part, I found Bright Star pretty boring as we tread back-and-forth between both stories and I couldn’t get over the fact that the ensemble kept swaying and weaving in-and-out of several scenes, almost crashing into the set/other actors 10,457 times. Sure, the bluegrass orchestrations were nice and unconventional for Broadway, but five whole Tony nominations makes me think that the nominators were so overly-excited for an original musical and legendary Steve Martin taking a shot at Broadway, that they were willing to forgive the 75% of the show that was problematic.

School of Rock’s Actual Quality - Oh please. I love Alex Brightman and his rockin’ ragamuffin cohorts a lot. And they do, in fact, make School of Rock a fun, entertaining show. But the rest of it? Yeah, no. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score doesn’t churn out enough great songs and the best ones are (1) composed for the film (2) from Stevie Nicks or (3) more of a credit to the talented cast. Julian Fellowes book has little variation from the original film, story, jokes and character-wise, and what few changes there were didn’t add much (i.e Principal Mullin’s character arc, her LAME love-connection with Dewey). I applaud the noble intentions from all parties involved, especially for what could have been a total cash-grab of a production, but had School of Rock not been nominated for Best Musical, would anyone have called bullshit? Does it really stack up when compared to Hamilton, Shuffle Along or Waitress? Me thinks not.

The Overlooked

And Godra Gets her 10th Nominati-…Wait, WHAT? - In what bizarro, alternate universe does Audra “Queen Meryl Streep of Theatre” McDonald not get nominated for a Tony? Because, y’know, that almost never happens (no really, this is the second time out of ten Broadway shows she was NOT nominated). I really don’t like this and I am uncomfortable. Especially because it seems like a lot of factors beyond her control played a part in the decision to pass over her - Shuffle Along’s 10 other nominations and high Box Office grosses (meaning, monetary incentives are out), to defy the obvious expectation that she gets nominated for everything and most importantly, the fact that she is departing in June to do Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill on the West End (usually, Tony nominees in currently-running shows are around for a longer period of time). Let’s just mop up our shock (and tears, if you are the crying type) knowing that our resident Fabulady will get her 9th nomination one day in the future because that is what she has done 90% 80% of her Broadway career.

Waitress Needs More Love - "Best Musical! Jessie Mueller! Christopher Fitzgerald! Sara Bareilles! Okay, we’re out,” said the Tony nominators. It’s cute how they thought Waitress is worthy of only four nods when not-crazy people everywhere were expecting something in the high-single or double-digit zone. It sickens me that Jessie Nelson’s book, filled with humor, charm and the most complex women since Fun Home, was side-stepped for lazy faire like Bright Star and School of Rock. What about Diane Paulus’ direction? Keala Settle or Kimiko Glenn’s great performances? Everything else? I guess after bestowing Fun Home with so many honors last year, the Tonys took a breather and opted to reward strides in diversity instead of gender this year. Um, yeah, they do know you can reward both of them, right? Whatevs…at the end of the day, this show features a lot of pies and performs in a theatre that smells like it; I think we all know who the real winners are.

Hottie with a (Bloody) Body - American Psycho, for all of its flaws, is built and tailored around its lead performance and Benjamin Walker was extremely convincing as a financial bro-dousche, OCD, possible serial killer with a Ken Doll-like physique. And after the reviews jizzed all over him, it looked like the stars would align in his favor. Alas, it didn’t happen. I can’t say I would trade any one of the nominee’s spots for him, but I do feel bad that he was snubbed yet again (the first time was for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). If I were Benjamin Walker, as I often pretend I am, I would say “FUCK THIS SHIT” and eat carbs. By the looks of his body, it appears he hasn’t had them in months.

The Real Star of On Your Feet! - I know people inexplicably loved this show a lot more then I tolerated it (yes, the music’s great, but its not exactly reimagined or incorporated into the story with any finesse), so I was surprised the Tony nominators didn’t give On Your Feet! more of the “crowd-pleasing, crowd-favorite” votes. At the very least, a new category should have debuted called “Best Performance by a Pair of White Short Shorts - Josh Segarra’s Superb Thighs and Ass.” It goes without saying, but they’d have that award on LOCK. DOWN. Fiyero pants, who?

All 40 of Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Note to Broadway: one-man shows mean nothing, apparently. Fully Committed’s story was pretty limited, but the same cannot be said for Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s efforts. You could ding some of his character portrayals for being repetitive, but his performance is a whirling dervish of hilarity as he cycles through so many characters, back-and-forth, with no help elsewhere. It’s a shame he couldn’t be included in the Best Actor race, especially with all of the DRAMATIC, way-too-serious characters/performances that were recognized instead. Comedy requires talent too, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Yes, one-man and one-woman shows are Tony-bait as fuck, but they’re not off-the-table. They couldn’t be more on the table, for that matter.


Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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