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.


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.


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.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment