Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tony Awards 2012 (Part V: Other Tony Moments)

Almost done.  I've done a complete wrap-up of the shows of the year, but there are some Tony-specific instances that I have not yet pointed out.  When I did the Tony series last year I intended to write a post for these extra moments, but never got around to it.  Lucky for you, this year I did.  So this is my fifth and final Tony Award post of the year:

Other Performances
Deja Vu
I want to hate it.  I do.  As happy as I am that Broadway is getting some Christian influence with Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, I'm a bit dissapointed that they loose their audiences to the far more provocative The Book of Mormon (not because it's about Mormons and not Christians, but because it's a "R-rated" musical).  A lot of what is in this musical is extremely offensive, and therefore, I want to hate it.  Unfortunately, isolated parts of it are REALLY good!  Their performance last year was possibly the highlight of the night, and proved to the world that they probably did deserve best musical.  But winning once wasn't enough, they were brought back again to open the Tony Awards this year.  And, like last year, I wanted to hate them.  BUT THEY ARE JUST SO FUNNY!  The song is hilarious, their timing is perfect, and everything about it is just really....well.....clean.  And then adding stars to it?  GENIUS!  See for yourself:


That is SO true!!!
I'm not going to lie, I liked the medleys.   Back in the day they used to begin the Tony's with a medley from some of the most nominated shows.  However, when they discovered how well audiences were reacting to Neil Patrick Harris, they decided to let him sing an opening number written specifically for the occasion.  Last year's took some warming up to, but ended up being pretty funny.  This year's I loved from the start because it just defines my life!  Including guest star performances by Amanda Seyfried (Known for playing Sophie in the movie version of Mamma Mia and co-staring as Cosett in the upcoming Les Miz movie), Patti LuPone (A ledgend known for originating roles such as Eva Peron [Evita] and Reeno Sweeney [Anything Goes]), Jesse Tyler Fergurson (Original Leaf Conneybear ["Spelling Bee"] and co-staring as Leopold Bloom in the upcoming Hollywood Bowl production of The Producers), Lilla Crawford (Annie in the upcoming Broadway revival of Annie), and Mary Poppins herself (I couldn't figure out which actress).  Put all of these superstars in the same song as Neil Patrick Harris, and AMAZING things begin to happen!!!!!!! Trust me:


Now You See It, Now It's In Blue Light....
One of my favorite things about this years Tony Awards is that they let shows from THIS YEAR that weren't nominted for best Musical or Revival to perform at the Tony's.  THIS IS SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!!!!  I don't know why they never did it before, but I loved getting to see these shows perform.  One of my favorite performance of the entire night went to one of these "under-nominated" shows: Ghost.  If you read my previous posts, then you'll know that I like Ghost; not a lot, but some.  However, they did get on my good side by performing my favorite song from the show on the Tony Awards.  I'd like to draw special attention to how impressive the lighting is, and how evil the bad guy looks (his voice was better on the soundtrack...I don't know what happened there):


The Nicest Kids In To-.......The Ocean?
Ok, I only went on one cruise and didn't have that great a time (long story), but I've never had much desire to go on another one, until now.  Because now cruise lines have repaired the damage done by Titanic: The Musical by having full Broadway shows perform on their ships.  At the risk of sounding repetitive: THIS IS SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!  I love the fact that more people will be exposed to Broadway everywhere they turn.  To advertise this new venue, one of these sailing shows sent a video stream to the Tony Awards.  Unfortunately, that show was Hairspray.  Just kidding.  Although Hairspray isn't my favorite show, it is popular for a reason, and the fact that it's pioneering this new medium has moved it up on my list a bit.  However, their performance was....mediocre (compared to the rest).  In a poll I took part of, it was voted the worst performance of the night.  Do you agree?:

They Are The Light Of The World
Now, this might come as a surprise to some of you, because I don't advertise it much but I LOVE GODSPELL!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was crushed when they weren't nominated but thrilled when I learned they were going to get to perform anyway.  As expected, they did a medley of some of their more popular songs ("Day By Day" and "Light of the World") and performed with their usual energy and gusto.  Unfortunately, this cast wasn't given as much time as they should've been.  The whole thing had come and gone really fast when I could've watched them all night.  That being said, this wasn't their best performance I had seen.  Two of their strongest cast members (Lindesey Mendez and Hunter Parrish) were out of the cast and the songs they chose weren't my favorites.  Don't get me wrong, it was one of the better performance of the night, but I just don't feel like it sufficiently captured the awesomeness of Godspell.  See what you think:


Something Was Missing.....
Did you catch it?  I didn't even notice until a few days later when I was watching videos from old Tony Awards, but something was missing this year.  Something was cut.  Still don't remember?  I'll give you a hint. The finale song of The Fantasticks. The iconic ballad from CATS. Christine's solo in The Phantom of the Opera directly preceding "Stranger Than You Dreamt it".  Still nothing?  Fine I'll tell you.  This year there was no "in Memoriam" video.  Every year they have one (like at the Oscars) to honor the Broadway vets who died this year, and this year they didn't.  This is really a shame because although it wasn't as exciting as some of the other performances, it's a nice way of honoring people.  And I was excited because I finally knew a few of the names this year: Peter Falk (who I know as the Grandfather in The Princess Bride movie, but had an accomplished stage career as well) and Thomas Aldredge (who the world knows for his work in 12 Angry Men but I know as the Narrator/Mysterious Old Man in Into the Woods).  Well, at least here, on this blog, I pay homage to you Mr. Falk, Mr. Aldredge, and all of the other people even remotely associated with the amazing Broadway stages who aren't with us today.

52 shows in 120 seconds?  No Problem!
Ok, This was actually one of my favorite parts of the night.  It was a chance to hear Neil sing, and feel vindicated as a Broadway geek in one fell stroke.  In honor of all of the Award for Best Score, they composed a medley of songs from each show to ever win.  I'm proud to say that I caught almost all of them (missed maybe 5-6) .  See how many you can get:


.........TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As always, the show ended with Neil singing a song written during the broadcast about the events of the night (I found a video of them writing last year's which I thought was pretty fun to watch).  This year was no different, but it had an exciting twist.  They pulled a "Title of Show" and wrote a song about how they couldn't write the song.  This, coupled with Neils already expert timing", made it for one of the best closing numbers they've ever done (even beating the "Tonight Spoof" of 2009).  However, the ending was a bit....well....polarizing (and will explain this title).  Check it out:


Notable Speeches
Historically, the acceptance speeches make up the boring part of the evening.  Some people are funny to watch, but the vast majority of them are just boring lists of thanking people.  There are always one or two a year though (usually delivered by the performers) that are somewhat amusing, and some that are down right amazing *cough Mark Rylance cough* and this year had it's moments.

Hanging Out With Angella Lansbury


You Only Get A Mother ONCE


Hilights Include Doing Drugs, Getting Abused, And Having A Daughter



"She's My Baby Mama!"


Nina's First Crush




Conclusion
And thus another Tony season has come and gone.  It was a good one, and certainly the one I've been most involved in.  It's been really great!  I hope you've enjoyed these posts as much as I have.  If you have any questions about any shows or anything else vaguely Tony related shoot me a comment and I'd be happy to answer them.  Thank you so much for reading.  Stay tuned for a Jimmy Award post as soon as Youtube catches up with the times (they're not quite as prompt in posting the videos as the Tony Awards).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tony Awards 2012 (Part IV: Other Notable Shows)

So I've already talked about most of the big shows of the year (the top 8 musicals and all of the plays that were nominated for anything), but as usually happens, the nominators didn't get everything right.  There were some really good shows that didn't make the "top couple" and those I thought should get recognition here.  This won't be every other show to appear on Broadway, but I'll try to hit the good (or notably bad) ones.

I'll start with the musicals, because I have more to say about them.

OTHER NOTABLE MUSICALS

Bonnie & Clyde is a victim of the Frank Wildhorn Curse.  For those of you who don't know, Frank Wildhorn is one of my favorite composers on Broadway (and the subject of one of my first blog posts).  The man is a genius and has written the music for fan favorites such as Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Wonderland.  Now, I maintain that Jekyll & Hyde is Wildhorn's best work, but many give that title to his newest piece: Bonnie & Clyde.  It is definitely in the running.  For one thing it has an incredible cast including TONY nominated Jeremy Jordan (Newies) and Laura Ones(Bonnie & Clyde), and several others that weren't nominated such as Mellissa Van De Gaffe and the little boy you got to see at the end of Leap of Faith's TONY performance.  This is definitely one of the most engaging stories of the his, with heros you really learn to love and respect.  They're love for each other is beautiful, and even their occasional murderous tendencies can be overlooked.  As for the score, it's really good.  The very first song (not counting the overture/prolouge) is actually one of my favorites (Picture Show *minor language)when we get to see where young bonnie and clyde came from, and later the two leads show off their stuff in some of the highest energy songs I've ever heard with Laura's sultry crooning (How 'Bout a Dance) to Jordan's powerhouse rock voice (Raise A Little Hell *minor language).  On that note, I honestly believe that the soundtrack to Bonnie & Clyde suited Jeremy Jordan's voice even better than Newsies did; it would've been kind of cool to see him nominated for both.  They say that the show closed because audiences had trouble connecting with such violent characters, but the stats I've seen tell me that the show was selling out every night, so I believe that it was just New York's general unfair bias against Frank Wildhorn.  Although Bonnie & Clyde was nominated for 2 Awards (Leading Actress and Score),  the real tragedy is how quickly it closed (less than a month).

Godspell (2011 Revival) is possibly my favorite revival to come out in the past decade.  It has been a long time that I was as excited about a show as I was about Godspell.  I had heard of the show before (seen it live once, and learned a dance in a Musical Theater class once), but I never really felt like it had the energy or the heart that it needed.  This revival got it right.  Every number was reinvented to ad zest to it and it is just perfection from begining to end.  I love the costumes, the staging, the flawless ensemble (specifically Wallace Shawn, Lindesy Mendez and Nick Blaemire), the choreography, the marketing (they were full of promotional fun), heck, even the behind the scenes videos are the best I've ever seen.  But mostly the music.  It's no secret that Broadway is dominated by secular shows (where Book of Mormon, Spring Awakening, and Avenue Q are the big winners), but I didn't realize how much I missed a Godly voice until I started listening to the Godspell soundtrack.  Every single number is so amazing and so uplifting in a way that very few other Broadway shows can ever be.  I would specifically suggest "We Beseech Thee", "Tower of Babble", and the show's Finale.  I was crushed when I saw that it wasn't nominated for any TONY Awards (and my sister and I may have deafened the neighboors with our lamentations) because they deserved to be nominated in practically every category!!!!  What makes it even sadder is because of the lack of TONY hype, Godspell was forced to close earlier this week, so now the world won't be able to bask in it's brilliance in the way they could before.

Spiderman:  Turn Off The Dark unfortunately fizzled too quickly last year.  Of course, it's still playing, having run for a full year, but the nominators didn't seem impressed.  They were nominated for best Costumes and Set (I honestly think they should've won both), but not any of the big awards.  It definitely wasn't quite the musical spectacle that they promised while it was in development, but it's not a bad show.  It would be fun to see, but it definitely wasn't the best show out there.  What gets me is that the music was just....bad.  They had some real talent in their cast, but Bono & The Edge just didn't write good songs for the story.  There were a couple good ones, notably "Rise Above", "No More", and "The Boy Falls From The Sky".  The show had potential, and all of the hype is what continues to fill the seats, but I was honestly a bit dissapointed.






Ghost: The Musical  is the other show that everyone thought would clean up at the Awards.  It was immensely  popular in London and all the hype before the show really made me think it was going to be huge....but it really wasn't.  Like with "Spiderman", the show's strength did not lie in it's soundtrack.  There were some good songs (Here Right Now, Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life, and Are You A Believer?) but mostly just average in my opinion (*WARNING, THESE SONGS DO HAVE SOME LANGUAGE SO LISTEN WITH CAUTION).  Now, it did have some really impressive effects playing with Lighting and Set Design (with both garnered Tony nominations but not victories).  It too is still running, and I imagine it would be cool to see, but I question whether or not it will make back all of the money that was spent on the production.


Musical Conclusion 
That's all I have to say about the other musicals.  There were others that came out this year (On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Lyristata Jones come to mind), but they weren't interesting enough to earn a major spot here.  These are the imporant ones, some treated fairly, others abused by the cold harsh, inhumanly indecent critics.  But all a part of Broadway, and thereby, awesome.


OTHER NOTABLE PLAYS


The Mountain Top was huge when it was comming out and I was pretty shocked that it wasn't nominated for best play.  Even during last years Tony Awards were people gearing up for Samuel Jackson in this biographical work about Martin Luthor King Jr.  It was supposed to be an incredibly moving and historically important work......but it wasn't.  After it opened I really didn't hear from it at all.  And come TONY nominations morning it wasn't even nominated.  I guess it couldn't live up to it's own hype.

Seminar was possibly the witiest show on Broadway this year (yes, even beating Wit).  It starred The hillariously dry wit of Allen Rickman (known for playing in various Tim Burton films, and for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter saga.) and a collection of bright young actors.  The story is about a group of young writers who are being taught by the toughest teacher ever.  What I love about the show is that it's so relatable.  Everyone has had a teacher that they've kind of hated a little, but realized later that they wre the best teacher ever because they got the job done.  Although Rickman's character continuously insults all of them ruthlessly throughout the entire show, you can tell that they respect him and that he truly cares about raising talented writers.  I was pretty shocked that the show wasn't nominated for anything this year (had it been any other year I think Rickman would've gotten at least a nomination), because it was a briliant show.  I believe it might have closed recently, which is sad, I am genuinely dissapointed because I think this show is what Broadway is all about.  A play that you can go and see and laugh, and enjoy yourself, but connect to and empathize with.  It's truly a great work and if anyone has the chance to go see it locally I would recommend you jump on it.

Magic/Bird might just have been a bit too ambitious for it's own good.  It's intentions were good, but it tried to pull off an effect that is really difficult to visualize:  A Basketball Game.  Now, there have been sports musiacls before (D*** Yankees comes to mind) and I've even seen one show that had a basketball sequence (Saved!: The Musical [Off Broadway]), but never before have they tried to have a show about basketball players on Broadway.  What they found is that these two guys just weren't that interesting.  I mean, they were rivals, but it isn't like they hated each other.  Off the court they were civil and relatively friendly, and on the court...well, it's just hard to show "on the court" on stage.  When I first heard about the show it was marketed as "Finally a Broadway show for strait guys" showing how "manly-men" could get back at their girlfriends for dragging them to Wicked.  I was insulted by this (although I did chuckle).  As I said, I'm all for "manly" theater, but this show just didn't work.

Play Conclusion
The plays this year were good.  Most of the really good ones got their nominations (with the possible exception of Seminar) so there really wasn't much to report in this post.  There are of course other plays I didn't talk about, but that's because I just didn't find them terribly interesting.

GENERAL CONCLUSION
All in all I think this was a good year for Broadway.  I think they really had a couple of very strong contenders in every category (except maybe Play revival) and we got to see some big stars on the stage, and some really great shows.  If the quality of Broadway shows remains this strong in the coming years, then I think Broadway will do alright.  What do you think?  Did I miss any shows worth mentioning?  Did you like Magic/Bird?  Can you explain to me why nobody likes Wildhorn?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  And stay tuned for the fifth and final installment of this years TONY posts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tony Awards 2012 (Part III: Nominated Plays)

"Welcome to whose line is it anyway?!  The show where everything's made up and the points don't matter.  That's right the points are like whoever wins best play in the Tony Awards!" -- Drew Carey.

Ok, so Drew never actually said that as far as I know, but he could have.  Everyone knows that we watch the shows to see the musicals, and even if we like a few of the plays, they're usually just in the way of what we really like.  This year would've been like that, had it not been for one magical show....which will remain unnamed, but if you read my nominations post then you know what it is.  All in all, the plays weren't bad this year.  We had two or three really good ones, but many of the heavily nominated show just seemed to blend together.  But, nevertheless, all of the shows of this season deserve to be recognized, which I shall strive to do.  Since the plays don't get to perform individually, they are usually put in a giant montage so we can see a few clips.  However, I was filled to see this year that they let a few of the plays (Peter and the Starcatcher, One Man Two Governors, and End of the Rainbow) perform in addition to said montage.  Take a look:


PLAY NOMINEES
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

I'd like to begin this with a rant.  There's been a theme this year apparently of putting the author's name in the title of the show: "Gore Vidal's The Best Man", "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess", "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman", etc.  It just seems a little vain and excessive to me.  To quote one of Broadwayworld.com's official bloggers, BwayGirlNYC: " Are they afraid we are going to think it's, like, Snoop Dogg's Death of a Salesman?"  Anyway, that's been bothering me for a while so I thought I'd throw that out there.  Now onto the show.  This show appeared to be very well liked by the public and the nominators, and I suppose I can understand why.  It's definitely the most classic play to appear on this years roster and starred a very talented cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield (in the new Spiderman movie).  What turned me off of it was a review I read (I think in the NY Times) that called it out for being a bit unoriginal.  Every time a revival is done, you have to be careful not to make a carbon copy of the original show onto the stage, and it sounds like that's a little bit of what happened.  Now, if the original is good enough then that's ok, but I applaud anything that tries to break the mold (even if I don't like the way they did it, such as with the recent revivals of Carrie and Jesus Christ Superstar).  However, obviously it worked to some extant because it was widely nominated and took home one of the biggest awards of the night.

Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman was nominated for 7 Awards and won 2:

  • Best Revival of a Play - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Philip Seymour Hoffman) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Andrew Garfield) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Linda Emond) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Play - WINNER
  • Best Lighting Design of a Play - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Play - nominated


Apparently Philip Seymour Hoffman was excellent and was the favorite to win Best Leading Actor, but I was actually a bit glad it went to who it did.  I kind of liked Wit better just because it was less overdone, but seeing as I didn't get to see either production, it's very possible that Death of a Salesman did deserve it more.

Clybourne Park
This was indubitably one of the most well written plays of the year.  It did a good job of fusing humor with depth and got it's point across without being really depressing the whole time.  It was one of the several plays this year that took place in one room (the parlor of a house on Clybourne Park) which meant that the set was well designed and the actors got to become very comfortable on their set.  Since it was a realistic piece, costumes and lighting and such didn't have much room for creativity, so the focus was on the actors and the script itself.  For those of you who don't know, Clybourne Park is about a white family in a predominantly white neighborhood which has qualms about selling their house to a black family.  Act II shows that same black family selling the same house in a now predominantly black neighborhood  facing a similar dilemma.  The show does a great way of showing how "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" but mostly we just want to find a way to dance around it and not be offensive even when it does need to be addressed.
Clybourne Park was nominated for 4 Awards and won 1 of them:
  • Best Play - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Jeremy Shamos) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Play - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Play - nominated
I feel like it's stronger categories was Best Play and best Featured Actor (Jeremy Shamos; who was hilarious by the way).  Unfortunately for Clybourne Park, another show, Peter and the Starcatcher, was also strongest in these two categories, so they split them down the middle each taking one.  It was no real shock that Clybourne Park would win Best Play because earlier in the year it took home a Pulitzer Prize for theater.  Which it probably deserved.

The Columnist
I honestly expected a little more from this show.  I had heard nothing but the highest praises about the writer (David Auburn) and I love John Lithgow.  Unfortunately, what they play had going against it was it's subject matter.  The show is about the columnist Joseph Alsop, who was at one point one of the most influential of writers.  The man was apparently a household name and on several occasions spoke with presidents, politicians, celebrities and the like.  Apparently his reign of power ended after some rumors (which I think ended up being true) began surfacing suggesting communistic sympathies.  From what it sounds like, the reason this play failed was because it was too realistic.  The play was about a man who worked hard to show little emotion, and therefore, the show lacked emotion.  This was a disappointment, but at least Mr. Alsop's story is now out there for the public to see.
The Columnist was nominated for 1 Award and did not win it:
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (John Lithgow) - nominated
I think Mr. Lithgow's nomination was probably deserved, because, from what I hear, his portrayal of the real life Mr. Alsop was spot on.  But I'm also glad he didn't win, because I feel there were more deserving men in the category.

Don't Dress For Dinner
This is actually a really good setting for a play.  It has a cast of 5-6 and takes place in one room, like so many of the other nominees.  But this show is a comedy and, from what I hear, a pretty good one.  It follows a couple of scandalous "high society" English folks, who each spin webs of deceit to try to hide their adultery from their partner (who is also in an affair with someone else, and so on and so forth).  Despite the vulgar concept, the show actually did look pretty funny, with well timed slapstick and more jokes about the bad liars than about the adulterous content of said lies.
Don't Dress for Dinner was nominated for 2 Awards and did not win any:
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a featured Role in a Play (Spencer Kayden) - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Play - nominated
I don't know that the show deserved its nominations because neither Ms. Kayden nor the costumes looked particularly impressive to me, but at least they didn't win.  It was a good show, but not a great one.

End of the Rainbow
This is another example of a show carried by the leading actor (or in this case, actress).  The show is about the rise and (mostly) the fall of Judy Garland.  From what I've read, Traci Bennett (the actress who played Garland) was absolutely phenomenal in her role and made the show a success.  From what I hear the show had wit, timing, drama, and some singing too, so it must have been pretty great.
End of the Rainbow was nominated for 3 Awards and did not win any:
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Tracie Bennett) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Michael Cumpsty) - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Play - nominated
Honestly, Ms. Bennett was who I thought would win best Actress (even though I would've rather seen Cynthia Nixon win).  I truly thought she had the best shot at it and was a bit disappointed when I saw that she didn't win.  As for the show's other nominations, the sound design doesn't surprise me, because, since there's singing in the show, the sound would naturally be more complicated than a lot of the other strait plays.  I really know nothing about the actor, except that he had no chance against Christian Borle.

Gore Vidal's The Best Man
This show is the Merchant of Venice of last year. The show is average, but the cast is stellar.  It's cast members include 5 time TONY winner Angela Lansbury [Sweeney Todd (and so much else)], TONY winner John Larroquette [How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2011 Revival)], Darth Vader himself: James Earl Jones [Driving Miss Daisy], TONY nominated Kerry Butler [Hairspray], and TV actor Eric McCormack [Will & Grace].  With a cast like this, the show should have been stellar, but the review I read implied that there just wasn't enough in the plot.  Not that politics isn't fascinating, but you can hear enough of it on the news, and there's just not enough action to make for a really interesting show.
Gore Vidal's The Best Man was nominated for 2 Awards and didn't win either of them:

  • Best Revival of a Play - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (James Earl Jones) - nominated
I expected more nominations for actors because of the strong cast of this show, but this was a really competitive year.  There weren't many play revivals this year, so my guess is this show was just kind of filling a space, as for Lord Vade- I mean James Earl Jones's nomination, I can only assume that he deserved it.  Because he is awesome.

The Lyons
Unspectacular.  That's the best I can come up with for this show.  It just seemed to blend in with every other play this year.  A play about a neurotic parent when the family gets together for some kind of reunion, it's practically just the same as Stick fly, and especially Other Desert Cities.  Not that that template isn't great, I've seen many great shows that follow that plot line, but nothing in the videos I've seen has shown me that The Lyons deserves to stand out above the rest.  I'm honestly not sure what it's about, because it's based more on dialogue than plot.  I imagine that it's the kind of show that makes for a pleasant evening at a Broadway show, but not a life-changing experience.
The Lyons was nominated for 1 Award and it didn't win:
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Linda Lavin) - nominated
From what I saw, this nomination was deserved.  I got to see Ms. Lavin in a few scenes and she definitely is talented.  The nice thing about these kind of shows is that you can really delve into the characters, which makes it funner for the actors than the audience sometimes.  I think it's ok that Ms. Lavin didn't win, but I think it's good that she was nominated.

Man and Boy
Part of me wonders if this counts as a real show.  I don't want to be to harsh on it, but part of me wonders if they just wanted Frank Langella to be in another show so they whipped something together.  Because you really never heard anything else about the show.  It appears to center around a father son relationship (whether they're actually related I don't know), but you never hear about the actor who played the son, or the biting dialogue that the show may or my not have, you just hear about Mr. Langella.  Honestly, from what I can tell, this show barely existed.
Man and Boy was nominated for 1 Award and it did not win:
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Frank Langella) - nominated
As is the case occasionally with these things, the nominators got it right.  I think Langella deserved the nomination, but his category was just massive this year (probably the most competition out of all of them) so it's good he didn't win.

Master Class
This show actually fascinates me.  It's like a female, operatic version of Seminar (which you'll be able to read about in a future blog because it was snubbed for nominations).  The show is about Maria Callas, an old opera Diva who is holding a "Master Class" where she takes young new talent and gives them the opportunity to train with a "master".  The show is just built for awesomeness!  It gives the lead character the opportunity to be wonderfully sardonic, it has space for great lines (including my favorite: "This isn't a play!"), and the young ingenues, including Broadway superstar Sierra Boggess [The Little Mermaid], are all unique and show great contrast to their "master diva". Not only that, but you can actually hear some really impressive operatic singing (if you're into that sort of thing) throughout the show, which, if nothing else, mixes it up and keeps it from dragging on exactly the same for too long.
Master Class was nominated for 1 Award and did not win:
  • Best Revival of a Play - nominated
The show definitely deserved it's nomination.  Unfortunately it couldn't quite go up against the stiff competition it faced.  I think the cast and creative team of the show can be proud of the show they made, and it would definitely be one I would go see.  Definitely one of the best "strait plays" (not built on whimsy) of the year.

One Man, Two Governors
It's no secret that British people are hilarious.  I don't know how they do it, but Monty Python, Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, and now James Corden are some of the funniest actors you will ever get to see.  It's fun to see Broadway and West End (London's equivalent) trade shows back and forth because they're usually have a similar reception in each country, but the delay is kind of funny.  So it wasn't unusual for this show to transfer over from England, but I think they were a little afraid of how it would be received because it is VERY British.  But everything I've seen shows that it's absolutely hysterical.  It has slapstick, it has clever writing, it has lovable characters, it is truly the complete package.
One Man, Two Governors was nominated for 7 Awards and won 1:
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (James Corden) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Tom Edden) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Play - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Play - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Play - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Play - nominated
I am really impressed that this was nominated for Best Score.  You have to understand, that not many of the great musicals of the year (including Leap of Faith, and Once) weren't nominated when this PLAY was.  That is NOT easy!  Obviously it didn't have much of a chance against the musicals that were nominated, but even the nomination is impressive.  As for Mr. Corden, his win was deserved.  A lot of people were looking at the big names (all of them were well known superstars except for Mr. Corden) to take home the TONY, but from what I saw he had the best performance and I am SO glad that he won for it.  Mr. Edden too was hilarious, but his category had heavy competition as well.

Other Desert Cities
As I said, this seemed to blend a lot with The Lyon, but from what I can tell this was the better of the two.  The play centers around the conflict that arises within a mother's family when her son decides to publish a book containing all of their families dirty little secrets.  Then as the show progresses we begin to learn why there's such hostility amongst the family and why the father isn't at this unofficial reunion.  It seems like a nice show, with some strong emotional moments, but it just isn't individual enough for my taste.  It was really well received, one of the longer running plays nominated and I think it deserves to run for a long while, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I got the opportunity to see a show up there.
Other Desert Cities was nominated for 5 Awards and won 1:
  • Best Play - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Stockard Channing) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Judith Light) - WINNER
  • Best Scenic Design of a Play - nominated
  • Best Lighting Design of a Play - nominated
I feel like all of these nominations were likely deserved.  And although I didn't expect Ms. Light to win, and didn't really want her to (only because Celia Keenan-Bolger [25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee] was nominated), I wasn't disappointed.  I feel like she did well, and probably did deserve the award.

Peter and the Starcatcher
OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH!!!!!!!  If you read my nominations post then you know that I just drool over everything about this show.  The only other show of the year to earn this level of obsession was Godspell (with Newsies as a close third), but since it wasn't nominated I was forced to focus my attention to "Starcatcher" and praying that it wins every single award it was nominated for.  For those of you who haven't heard me go on and on about it, it's the origin story of Peter Pan.  This show shows how he came to Neverland, why he doesn't grow up, how Captain Hook came to hate him, and pretty much everything else.  If that was all, then it would probably still be my favorite play (because I love Peter Pan), but that's not even the best thing about the show.  The book is absolutely fabulous with hilarity on every page.  But the writing isn't the best part either. Every character of the show will have you busting out laughing from the HYSTERICAL Captain Blackstache (aka Hook), to the confusingly unattractive mermaids, to the cheeky Molly (not Wendy's equivalent, but Peter's first female friend).  These characters are played by one of the most impressive band of actors I've ever seen led by the sensationally talented Adam Chanler Berat [Next to Normal, and RENT (Off-Broadway, 2012 revival)], Celia Keenan-Bolger ["Spelling Bee", and Les Miserables (2006 revival)], and Christian Borle [Monty Python's Spamalot, and Legally Blonde].  But even the cast isn't what makes this show so unique.  No, the best part of the show is the staging.  As the announcer said, these eleven actors and one actress play over a hundred roles and make up almost the entire set (playing tables, trees and walls with just a rope or a stick as a prop).  The entire cast remains onstage practically the entire show and never get a break.  The show is filled with an energy exponentially superior to any of the "cookie-cutter" shows I've been bashing this whole time.  I cannot wait for the rights for this show to come out and then I shall hound every community theater within driving distance to do the show and let me play even the smallest ensemble role possible.  I will be surprised if this isn't the play of the decade (in my eyes at least).
Peter and the Starcatcher was nominated for 9 Awards and won 5:
  • Best Play - nominated
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Christian Borle) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Celia Kennan-Bolger) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Play - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Play - WINNER
  • Best Costume Design of a Play - WINNER
  • Best Lighting Design of a Play - WINNER
  • Best Sound Design of a Play - WINNER
HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS NOT WIN BEST PLAY!?!?!?!  I did like Clybourne park, but this was the greatest injustice of the night (I was so proud of the guests at my TONY Awards party who appropriately let out an "awwwwww" as soon as that was announced).  But aside from that the show did pretty well.  I knew it wouldn't be able to beat Newsies for Score, and I didn't really think Ms. Keenan-Bolger was going to win (although I hoped).  I was not surprised in the least by Mr. Borle's win.  He performance was one of the best I've seen in a long time and pushed him right up there with Christopher Fitzgerald on my list of funniest Broadway actors ever!  I was surprised and disappointed to see them lose direction.  I think that's the category staging falls under, and that's what I thought was the strongest element of the show.  As for the rest of the technical awards, of course all of them were deserved.  The set (comprised partially of humans) was brilliant, the costumes were stunning (just look at some of the mermaids) the lighting was awesome with plenty of strobe lights and lighting effects, and although I'm still not sure what Sound Design is, I'm glad "Starcatcher" won.

The Road To Mecca
I had never heard of this show before I did my nominations post, but since it received one nominations I had to go look at a video to see how it was.  I actually really enjoyed what I saw.  It's a sweet story about an eccentric woman living in her own unique way in a town where no one understands her except a drifter who came in looking for a place to crash.  I felt like this show should have been nominated for more technical awards.  It deserved it's lighting award (the stage was flooded with hundreds of candles, which made for a cool effect), and I thought it's set deserved a nod as well.  There were also some stirring performances by the 3 person show including a particularly brilliant one by Rosemary Harris [You Can't Take it With You (1965 revival)].  I see why it wasn't nominated for best show because it wasn't really sad or really funny, it was simply sweet.  Which is the kind of show that may sell tickets, but won't win awards.
The Road to Mecca was nominated for 1 Award and did not win:
  • Best Lighting Design of a Play - nominated
I actually thought this was going to beat Peter and the Starcatcher out of the award, but I'm not too disappointed that it didn't.

Stick Fly
This was another family angst show with a star-studded cast.  But this differentiates itself for being also about racial prejudice.  I liked the way that it shows that things can be harder on a poor black child in the "ghetto", but it can be just as hard for people of different colors and different situations.  The stellar cast included Tracie Thoms [RENT (in both Movies)], Condola Rashad (daughter of Mrs. Cosby Phylicia Rashad), and Dule Hill (most known for his work in TV show Psych).  To add to the show's star quality even more, it is produced by recording artist Alicia Keys.  The show certainly had its funny moments (usually involving Ms. Thoms) and moving moments, but at its core really wasn't that different from The Lyons or Other Desert Cities.
Stick Fly was nominated for 1 Award and did not win:
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Condola Rashad) - nominated
Personally, from what I saw I liked Mrs. Thoms's performance better than Mrs. Rashad's, but I'm thinking maybe Thoms's character didn't quite qualify as "supporting".  I have no doubt that Mrs. Rashad deserved her nomination, but she wasn't much featured in the videos I got to see of the production.

A Streetcar Named Desire
What does it tell you when a Pulitzer Prize winning Tennessee Williams play is only nominated for its costumes?  I really heard almost no hype for this show, and I think that's because it just wasn't that good.  I think it's possible that since this show has been done so many times there wasn't much new they could add to it.  I'm glad to see classic plays still on Broadway, but this production just didn't seem like anything spectacular.
A Streetcar Named Desire was nominated for 1 Award and did not win:
  • Best Costume Design of a Play - nominated
I really have nothing to say here.  It never really had a chance.

Venus In Fur
I kind of wanted to dislike this show, because it certainly appears to have some.....questionable content.  But there is something strangely appealing about it.  The two person show is about a young playwright who's asked a young actress to come in and read for a role in his play (apparently based off the book that inspired the term "masochism).  He begins by pushing the actress around a little, but by the end of the show, she has somehow wound up in the dominant position.  This same transfer of power is present in the play the show focuses around, so some of the story is told through that play.  Sense the content of the play within the play is so crude and there's quite a bit of crude humor in the show I didn't think I'd like it, but I was impressed by the way they kept things relatively light.  The show didn't have those intense, passionate kind of scenes you'd expect as much as it poked fun at those kind of scenes.  The highlight of the show was certainly Nina Arianda's performance.  She was flippantly comical most of the time, but certainly had her moments when you saw something new in her character, something deeper and a bit frightening.  I feel like once you get past the innuendo, the show is fascinating if nothing else.  And although I did make fun of the announcer when he said it, I do now see how the show "intellectually stimulating".
Venus In Fur was nominated for 2 Awards and won 1:
  • Best Play - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Roll in a Play (Nina Arianda) - WINNER
Like Mr. Cordon, relative newcomer Ms. Arianda had some stiff, and very famous competition this year so it was a bit surprising when she did win.  However, like Steve Kazee (winner of best leading actor in a musical), once she got up on stage to accept the Award you felt her charisma and were kind of glad she one.  Based on her speech and some pre-TONY interviews that I've seen, she seems like a fun person who lights up every room she's in.  So she definitely joins the list of people who I think I would like better than the role they play.  As for best play....you know my position on that.

Wit
I'm not going to lie, I really like this show.  It wasn't nominated for much, but I really wanted it to win.  The Pulitzer Prize winning show follows English professor Dr. Vivian Bearing in her final days before she finally dies of cancer.  What I love about the show is the staccato dialogue and Cynthia Nixon's performance.  Ms. Nixon's character is so distinctly intellectual that her diction is impeccable and every line uttered masks a smug knowing-ness in her eyes.  As the character progresses and spends a significant amount of time in a hospital as an experimental case in a new kind of treatment, she begins to doubt the superiority of intelligence and slowly begins to yearn for kindness instead.  Even rejecting a reading of her favorite poet by her old English professor who comes for a visit, opting instead for "The Runaway Bunny".  Everything about this show seemed so....so....witty, that I was instantly drawn to it.  I would love to see it done live someday, especially Ms. Nixon's portrayal.
Wit was nominated for 2 Awards and did not win either:
  • Best Revival of a Play - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play - nominated
Although I kind of knew "Death of a Salesman" would win best revival, I was hoping Wit would take the trophy, because I felt like it struck the balance between comedy and tragedy better than almost any other show this year.  In my "perfect ballot", both Nixon, and the play itself won in their respective categories.

CONCLUSION
This was definitely a huge year for plays and for the most part I am again pretty happy with who won (except for best play).  You definitely tend to see more extreme plays than musicals.  Musicals usually have a pretty even balance between happy and sad, ending on a happy note.  But plays are far less likely to follow that stencil, seeing some completely, and utterly whimsically hilarious, and others touching and seriously tragic.  But whether you prefer musicals or plays, it is clear that there is plenty of great pieces of art out there.
What do you think?  Do you dare to not like Peter and the Starcatcher?  Did you actually like The Lyons?  Do disagree with any of my picks?  Feel free to tell me about it in the comment section below.  And don't forget to check the rest of my TONY posts.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tony Awards 2012 (Part II: Musical Revivals)

The revivals this year all though more numerous, weren't as impressive as last years in my opinion.  They were chalked full of fabulous actors, but the shows themselves (content and staging) didn't do much for me.  However, they gave some great performances TONY night and helped create some of the best moments of the night, so I shall try to give them their due.  So, without further ado:

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL NOMINEES
Follies
I honestly just don't understand the hype that has surrounded this show.  It was called by many one of the best revivals to hit Broadway stages in years, it had a talented star-studded cast (including Bernadette Peters), it was big and elaborate and flashy and..........boring.  To be fair, I don't know much about it, but that's because what I have read/seen just didn't interest me at all.  As I've said before, revivals have a bit of a disadvantage to me because I would much rather see a modern work than an old one, but often times revivals are some of my favorites because they find a way to make them new and relevant.  Follies was nominated quite a bit (8 times) and in my opinion stole their win and several of their nominations from more deserving shows (*cough Godspell cough*).  Even their performance was just boring.  It wasn't bad, but after hearing about all the glitz and glamour of the show, I was shocked to see them just throw out one balding man doing an average vaudeville number.  Not that he didn't perform it well, he did excellent, but the material was just hard to follow and (in case I haven't said it enough) boring.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself:
Follies was nominated for 8 Awards and won 1:
  • Best Revival of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Ron Raines) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Danny Burnstein) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jan Maxwell) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Jayne Houdyshell) - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - nominated
I was really disappointed to see Follies clogging up the nominations for their actors and actresses especially when people like my buddy Raul Esperanza  deserved it more.  The one award they did win (Costumes) I was convinced was going to Spiderman, and I'm honestly pretty shocked that it didn't.  Follies has closed already showing that it probably wasn't as popular with the fans as many of the others, which begs the question, did the TONY committee get it wrong?  I think so.

Jesus Christ Superstar
Now this show I feel exactly opposite as I do about Follies.  I felt like the material was good (Webber rarely makes a bad show) and it had the potential to be really great, but something about the actors and creative team just didn't click with me.  Their use of the video screen was pretty confusing (and a bit creepy) and their entire modern take on the show just didn't really work (for me at least).  Even their performance was a disappointment.  Judas obviously had a good voice, but he sounded too refined to play the role.  Some of the best Judas's (namely Carl Anderson and Ben Vereen) had this edge to their voice that let you hear Judas's passion, and this guy just seemed too....in control.  I kind of liked the choreography of the backup singers, but catchy hand motions isn't enough to make the song successful.  I applaud their boldness in taking a classic show and putting a new spin on it, but unfortunately it just didn't work for me.  But maybe you'll feel differently, check out the performance:
Jesus Christ Superstar was nominated for 2 Awards and did not win either of them:
  • Best Revival of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Josh Young) - nominated
I'm glad that this show is being shown to a new generation, but I'm also glad that it didn't win either of its awards, because I don't think it deserved them.

The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
This show was strangely appealing to me.  Being based off old music, an opera no less, I didn't really want to like it very much.  And, at first I didn't, and then I saw Norm Lewis.  I saw how much he was putting into his character from the limp, to the singing, to the emotional acting and it made me want to pay attention.  Even Audra McDonald, although I couldn't understand a word of her singing, I felt the emotion and the power of the score.  The more I looked the more I began to love the entire cast with the comical David Allen Grier and the terrifying Philip Boykin.  Even though I find Opera a bit repelling, I still found a way to enjoy the show and the TONY performance.  If nothing else, there's nothing like seeing Audra McDonald deafen another child on stage (for those of you who don't get it, go watch a video of Audra in "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime). The costumes, choreography, talent, and subject matter all became so engaging and I truly enjoyed myself.  Let's see if it draws you in as much as it did me:
The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess was nominated for 10 Awards and won 2:
  • Best Revival of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Norm Lewis) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Audra McDonald) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Phillip Boykin) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (David Alan Grier) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musial - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - nominated
I am so glad that Audra won for best leading actress.  She now ties Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury for most Tony's held by an actress and none could be more deserving.  I'm certainly glad that Norm was nominated, and I feel like in another season he would've had a good chance, but I'm afraid the competition was just too great this year.  All of the other nominees I kind of understand (I don't like the fact that "Nice Work" won best Featured Actor, but I'm assuming McGrath deserved it).  So I think Porgy and Bess has plenty to be proud of and I'm pretty happy with its results.

Evita
I don't know why, but this has been one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows that I really don't know much about.  I've vaguely liked every song I've heard from it, but I've just never taken the time to really look into it much.  For that reason, I was excited to see the revival performance; it wasn't quite what I expected.  For one thing, Ricky Martin did a pretty good job, he had to follow some big names and I was worried about his movie star status landing him an undeserved role. But he actually did really good.  I felt that Evita really did deserve its nomination, and it was probably my second favorite (after Porgy and Bess) revival.  Despite my relative ambivalence towards the actual show, I got the impression that this was a really good production.  And a fantastic production of an ok show still makes for a great night on Broadway.  As for their TONY performance, I didn't really get the point of the song they did, but I suppose that's the hazard of listening to the music before learning the plot.  I would've liked to see Micheal Cerveris perform, just because I like most of what he's done before (He's known for playing Sweeney Todd and John Wilkes Booth in the Sweeney and Assassins revivals), or at least see Evita sing SOMETHING, but c'est la vie.  Here's the performance:
Evita was nominated for 3 Awards and did not win any of them:
  • Best Revival - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Roll in a Musical (Michael Cerveris) - nominated
  • Best Choreography - nominated
I feel like this show deserved all of its nominations, and was probably in the top two or three in all of them, but just couldn't quite take it home.  I feel like the TONY committee actually gave Evita exactly what it deserved.

Conclusion
So, not much of a year for the Revival's in my opinion.  They weren't horrible, but there was nothing there that really caught my eye.  A couple of fantastic actors, but not a lot of really good material in my opinion.  Next year I know we're getting Annie, Jekyll and Hyde (which might get snubbed because it's Wildhorn), and certainly a few other good shows, so I'm staying optimistic.
Do you think I was fair?  Did you like JC Superstar?  Can you explain to me the appeal to Follies?  Feel free to comment below.  And make sure you check out the poll in the top left and keep your eyes open for the rest of this year's TONY posts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tony Awards 2012 (Part I: Original Musicals)

Greetings readers.  As I'm sure you all know, last Sunday was arguable the most important day in theater since, well, the Tony Awards last year.  It was a night filled with orphans, cripples, con artists, and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris.  As always, I loved every minute of the awards (even though a lot of them didn't go my way).  In case you missed the awards, you need to see them while you still have the chance (http://www.cbs.com/shows/tony_awards/video/2244344269/66th-annual-tony-awards-full-telecast) but if you don't want to spend that kind of time, then I'll try to give you the "brief" recap.  So, let's talk about the four original musicals nominated for best musical (I'm going to try to have 5 installments, but that didn't work out last year, so we'll see).  There was a lot of good shows this year, as you will soon see.


BEST MUSICAL NOMINEES

NEWSIES
Coming into this years awards Newsies was the musical I was picking to win most everything.  It might just be the crowd I hang out with, but it seemed like the buzz was overwhelming.  For a show that came out of nowhere they received a ton of nominations.  The show is based off of the 1992 Disney movie of the same title about a bunch of "scrappy newsboys" who band together and show the newspaper tycoons of New York the power of the underdog.  Although the original movie was a box-office flop, it was adopted by a cult following (including myself) and people everywhere have been waiting years for this to come to Broadway.  The journey this show took is really a rather miraculous one.  At first they were just going to copy and paste the movie onto the stage to make a production good enough for highschools to perform, then Alan Menken (the composer of the original film, and a recipient of several TONY's) convinced Disney to let him make it a real show.  They figured they'd change some things around in the plot line, hired Harvey Fierstein (A TONY winning actor) to write the script and gave it a trial run at New Jersey's Papermill Playhouse and had such a great reception that a Broadway transfer was announced.  Then the got to perform on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and what was a limited engagement became a TONY nominated open run.   Fittingly, the underdog show did what is hardly ever done.    And it almost went all of the way. It boasts the talent of Broadways newest discovery Jeremy Jordan, fan favorite Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and a host of young men making their Broadway debut. As for their TONY performance, I had seen it before, this song was performed on the View before the show opened, and I've listened to the soundtrack countless times, so I wasn't blown away this time, but if you haven't seen it before, then I think you will be because it's pretty amazing:

Newsies was nominated for 8 Awards and won 2:
  • Best Musical - nominated
  • Best Book of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or lyrics) Written for the Theater - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jeremy Jordan) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Choreography - WINNER
  • Best Orchestrations - nominated
  • Best Scenic design of a musical - nominated
The Awards it won didn't really surprise me much.  It was a shoe in for best Choreography, and didn't have much competition for best score (it was either them, a play, or a Frank Wildhorn show, which would've just killed to nominators to choose).  What surprised me more was what it didn't win.  I thought it had a good shot at best book (because it was SUCH an improvement from the movie) and leading actor (because Jeremy Jordan definitely has all the teenagers going crazy).  And it was honestly my pick for best musical, because I felt like it was the most well rounded show out there.  But, to be honest, I'm not that disappointed. I'm still proud of how far it came, and I'm sure it will be a fan favorite on Broadway for a long time yet.

ONCE
Once had the most nominations of any show this year, which usually means it has the best likelihood of taking everything home.  And that's pretty much what happened.  It was based off of the 2006 indi-film of the same title about the "healing power of music".  This movie was also an underdog story (going from an unknown film to winning an Oscar for best song) but the Broadway production was a favorite.  What caught the eye of the nominators was predominantly its unique staging.  In the show, the actors and the orchestra are  one and the same.  Now, this has been done before (Company 2006 revival and Sweeney Todd 2005 revival) but what made this interesting is there was a reason for the instruments to be there.  The actors/musicians didn't just fade into the background as they played; their characters were musicians so they played in character while taking part in the story telling.  This coupled with it's emotional songs, it's understated, touching story line, and it's talented cast led it to become the biggest winner of the night.  The song they performed at the TONY's happens to be my favorite from the production (it's always nice when that happens).  It's a beautiful song exceptionally sung, but the part that I liked the best was the stomp at 2:36 and the dude who danced with a Cello.  That's impressive!  Take a look:
ONCE was nominated for 11 Awards and won 8 of them:
  • Best Musical - WINNER
  • Best Book of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Steve Kazee) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Cristin Milioti) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Elizabeth A. Davis) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Choreography - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - WINNER
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - WINNER
I must say that I'm actually ok with ONCE's wins as well.  What I didn't like about the show was the score (which wasn't even nominated) and I wasn't a big fan of Ms. Milioti.  With this in mind, I think it deserved most every award it one.  I kinda wanted a few of the technical awards (Lighting, Set, and Sound design) to go to other shows, but those weren't a really big deal.  This is the show I left wanting to see the most.  Because, like Billy Elliot in 2009, I know it's great, but not for the Soundtrack; which means I need to see it live.  Although Mr. Kazee was actually my third pick for best actor (sorry Steve) it was a really REALLY close race, and his acceptance speech was so good that I'm now glad he one.  As I said, I wouldn't have piked it for best musical, but whenever score and musical go to separate shows, then that means that there's something that I haven't seen that makes the show great, so I'm at peace with that too.

Nice Work If You Can Get It
I don't get it.  I just don't know why this show was nominated for so much!  It looks to me like a campy comedy with dramatic, ill fitting music.  And, although I love Mathew Broderick, it was creepy seeing him as a 60-year-old playboy.  I feel like it had some good aspects, but they seemed to be arranged wrong.  The show's score is a collection of songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and that's one strike against them from the start.  Not that I don't appreciate the Gershwins, but I far prefer music written for a specific show than a "jukebox musical" as I've heard them called.  Not that there haven't been several successful shows like this (Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, and American Idiot just to name a few), but I always thought that they were a bit cheap and shouldn't really count.  I get how it's a "tribute" to the musicals of old with the high-kicking, scantily clad showgirls and such, but I have a secret I LIKE THE NEW MUSICALS!  In my eyes, the raw emotion of In the Heights, Next to Normal, and RENT far surpasses anything that Rodgers and Hammerstein could crank out.  I feel like this show was kind of like a Disney channel movie: preying upon peoples love of certain actors, songs and settings to take their money without giving them a legitimate show. Now, I haven't seen the show yet, nor even listened to the entire soundtrack, so I'm certainly no expert, but nothing I've seen of the show compels me to to become one.  Including their TONY performance (although the log rolling thing was kind of cool...I wanna try that):
Nice Work If You Can Get It was nominated for 10 Awards and won 2 of them:
  • Best Musical - nominated
  • Best Book of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Kelli O'Hara) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Micheal McGrath) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Judy Kaye) - WINNER
  • Best Direction of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Choreography - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - nominated
Despite it's massive amount of nominations, Nice Work didn't really win much.  The two who did win weren't my first choices, but they weren't in particularly competitive categories, so I wasn't that broken up.  Honestly most of my picks for best Featured actor and actress (such as Melissa Van der Schyff [Bonnie & Clyde], Lindsey Mendez [Godspell], and Patrick Page [Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark]) weren't even nominated, so I didn't have high hopes for those categories either way.

Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith is the show I want to know about.  I can't find a soundtrack (although I know one was recorded), and it's already closed, so it's really tough to find much info about it.  But I am a fan of Raul Esparza (a good friend of mine), Alan Menken, and I'm getting to like young Talon Ackerman as well.  Even though it really got snubbed when it came to nominations (it got more than Godspell but less than Bonnie & Clyde), and the reviews weren't particularly positive, I believe that it might have been a bit of a diamond in the rough.  Once someone posts the soundtrack on the Internet I'll have more of an opinion, but as of now, I remain simply intrigued.  Their TONY performance, although not spectacular, was one of the best of the night.  It showed that this show too was well rounded with great actors, good songs, impressive choreography, and gripping subject matter.  I feel that this performance, though not exceptional, proved that they deserved to be nominated.  See for yourself:
Leap of Faith was only nominated for 1 Award and it did not win.
  • Best Musical - nominated
What can I say?  It probably wasn't good enough for best musical.  But I'm glad it was nominated, and I wish it could've been nominated for a bit more.

CONCLUSION
All in all, not bad.  Once and Newsies were the best shows, and they had the most wins...can't really complain.  I felt that of the four TONY Awards I've seen in their live, this was 3rd (Better than 2010, but not as good as 2011 or 2009).  What do you think?  Is ONCE really not that great?  Is "Nice Work" better than I gave it credit for?  If you comment then I will read it and I promise to respond.  Also, be sure to vote on the poll in the top left and tell me what you think.  On that note, you voted Newsies the performance you most wanted to see perform.  Did it live up to your expectations?  I'll post the rest of the info about the TONY's in the coming days.

Until then,

When first I appear I seem mysterious, but when explained I'm nothing serious!

Luke