Monday, June 17, 2013

Tony Awards 2013 (Part II: Musical Revivals)

I'm not going to lie, the revivals were AWESOME this year!  In my opinion, we had a stronger set of revivals than we did original shows.  All of these revivals were inventive, creative, and (with the exception of Annie) timely.  They had some brilliant casts, some inspired creative decisions, and some incredibly entertaining performances!  Don't believe me?  See for yourself!

Ok, so, for those of you who were wondering, yes I do have a soul, I'm not a horrible vicious person, and I am beginning to feel a little bad for "hating" on Annie so much.  When I sat down and thought about it and watched Annie's Tony performance, I began to realize that the show really was put together very well.  It was well casted, well staged, and is generally a great show.  I have nothing against any of the actors or creative team, I thought they all did excellent!  The problem is, I just don't feel like there was a need to revive this show on Broadway.  I once read an article that said that, when you take out long-running shows (like The Lion King and "Phantom") and theaters only big enough for plays, there's only around 10 Broadway theaters open for new musicals to perform in.  This means that even good shows have to close prematurely, not because they're not making money, but because the theater is needed for a "better prospect."  With shows like Chaplin and The Mystery of Edwin Drood closing (at least partially) to make room for the next show coming in, I feel like Annie is just taking up space that Broadway doesn't have.  I mean, obviously it's doing fairly well since (as far as I know) it hasn't announced a closing date yet, but I feel like it's not worth the space it takes up.  Now, I actually feel this way about several shows (such as Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys) because I feel like they had their run and now it's time for them to move on.  What's special about Annie is that it's not a long running show, it's a (fairly recent) revival.  So why do I feel like it's "had it's run"? Because it's SO much like the original!!!   And what's more, everybody remembers the original!  It's not like Pippin where they took the show in a COMPLETELY different direction, or like The Mystery of Edwin Drood where they revived a show long since forgotten in the Broadway vault.  8 shows a week they don't surprise anybody and give a performance of the exact same Annie that people have had memorized for years.  Personally, I consider that an injustice, especially when new shows like Tuck Everlasting and Big Fish are being delayed because of theater availability.  Ok, enough ranting about that, onto their performance.  I actually really liked their performance.  I didn't understand why all the orphans had Brooklyn accents (but it's better than randomly giving them cockney accents, which I have seen before and makes even less sense), but aside from that I thought it was a solid performance.  The girls did really good, and then Jane Lynch comes out and blew me away!  I mean, I wasn't sure what to expect when she came out, but she definitely delivered (as soon as the performance I informed all my Tony Party guests "See what can happen when you leave Glee?!").  In my opinion, her performance is a strong argument for adding a "best replacement" category.  I am disappointed we didn't get to see Anthony Warlow (Daddy Warbucks) perform, but aside from that I thought the performance was great!  Do you agree?:
Annie was nominated for 1 Award and it did not win.
  • Best Revival of a Musical - nominated
Let's be honest, everybody kind of knew Annie wouldn't win.  I think the reason it wasn't nominated for anything else was because the categories it was strongest in (Anthony Warlow for Leading actor, Lila Crawford for leading actress, etc.) were all really strong categories.  So, once again, what killed Annie was timing.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
I think it's no secret that I absolutely love "Drood" and I especially love this production!  They assembled a remarkably talented group of actors, had a really clever creative team, and it's just a darn good show!  I came across the show by watching some nominees in the Jimmy Awards, and I must say it has quickly risen to the status of one of my favorite shows.  The book is just SO clever!!!   The characters are vibrant, the dialogue witty, the plot "twisty" and the music...well, the music isn't the best, but it can still be quite catchy.  But what made this production really shine was the fact that they assembled such a BRILLIANT cast to be in this character driven show.  Ok, I'm going to give a long and wordy cast list, know that I had heard of each and everyone of these actors before they were in this show....that's how good this cast is!  Will Chase [RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway, Miss Saigon (replacement)], Stephanie J. Block [The Pirate Queen, 9 to 5], Jessie Mueller [On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Into the Woods (Shakespeare in the Park)], Jim Norton [The Seafarer, Finnian's Rainbow (2009 Revival)], Andy Karl [Altar Boyz (Off-Broadway), Legally Blonde], Betsy Wolfe [Everyday Rapture, The Last Five Years (Off Broadway 2013 Revival)], and the legendary Chita Rivera [West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Kiss of the Spider Woman].  Are you as impressed as I am?  Well you should be!  This ensemble was freakishly strong and they worked SO well together! I'm so sad the show had to close as soon as it did, but I am really glad that so many of the actors already have new shows lined up.  Unfortunately, since the show was closed and the producer's didn't want to pay for a slot, "Drood" wasn't able to perform at the TONY's (which outraged me).  However, they did give it some tribute by at least playing a highlight montage from the show.  Unfortunately, I can't find that montage on Youtube.  I did find another montage (this one's even a bit longer) but for some reason it wouldn't allow me to post the video on this page.  So just click here to be taken straight to the Youtube Link.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood was nominated for 5 Awards and did not win any.
  • Best Revival of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Stephanie J. Block) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Will Chase) - nominated
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Scott Ellis) - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Anna Louizos) - nominated
This is really a tough one, because I kind of agree in every individual category that "Drood" should've lost, but on the whole I'm not happy with the fact that it didn't win anything.  I think the best chance it had was in best supporting actor (because Will Chase did a superb job), but I'm honestly not that disappointed that Gabriel Ebert won.  I wish that this could've been called a "Tony Award Winning Production" because it was outstanding, but the competition was just too high this year.

I'm not going to lie, Pippin is my favorite production of the season.  It is the perfect example of taking good content and making it an even better show.  Obviously a ton of the success of the show can be given to it's original creators (Steven Schwartz and Bob Fosse especially), and of course the cast of this production (led by Patina Miller, Mathew Thomas, and Andrea Martin) share a lot of the credit as well.  But the MVP of this show is without a doubt director Diane Paulus!  She transformed this from a good show into a spectacle and, in my opinion, is the reason this show came out such a big winner at the awards.  I don't know if any plans of a tour have been announced yet (I feel like it'd be hard to tour with a show this huge and complicated) but I certainly hope that it at least runs for a long time, because I think as many people as possible need to see this production!  With all this in mind, it won't come as a huge surprise that Pippin had my favorite show performance of the evening.  I had even seen both of those songs before on various talk shows and I still ate up every second of it!  I just love the way that everything from the sweet solo moments like "Corner of the Sky", to the massive ensemble moments where there's a hundred different things going on like in "Magic To Do", Pippin finds away to be stunning!  I have little doubt you'll love this video as much as I did!  Behold (I apologize for the unfortunate thumbnail):
Pippin was nominated for 10 Awards and won 4.
  • Best Revival of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patina Miller) - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Terrence Mann) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actres in a Featured Role in a Musical (Andrea Martin) - WINNER
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Diane Paulus) - WINNER
  • Best Choreography (Chet Walker) - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Scott Pask) - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical (Dominique Lemieux) - nominated
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kenneth Posner) - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical (Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm) - nominated
There were not many surprises here.  Even though the design of the whole show was brilliant, it really would've had a hard time competing with Matilda, Cinderella, and the other powerhouses in the design categories.  I knew that Pippin would win Best Revival and I think everyone (who was paying attention) knew that Andrea Martin would win best Featured Actress.  In hindsight, I should've known that Diane Paulus would win Best Director (apparently everyone else did).  But the one that I think nobody saw coming was Patina Miller.  Everybody knew that would be a tight race, but just about everything I read (including my own judgement) gave the edge to Laura Osnes.  Now, I'm not disappointed that Patina won, I think she was fabulous in the role, but it did make for one of the biggest shocks of the evening!  But something pretty cool came from it, once again, Tony history was made.  This is the first time in history that both a man and a woman have won Tony's for playing the same role (as you can imagine, it doesn't come up often).   So all in all, Pippin came out really well, and I'm really thrilled for that!

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
I'm afraid that perhaps I didn't give "Cinderella" it's fair due.   Since I never really liked the original Disney movie, and all the live productions I'd ever seen (including one I was in) didn't really do much for me.  However, throughout my Tony research and the Awards themselves have made me think perhaps this is a truly excellent show.  It definitely has a stellar cast (led by Laura Osnes [Bonnie & Clyde, Grease (2007 Revival)], Santino Fontana [Billy Elliot, The Importance of Being Earnest (2011 Revival)], and Victoria Clark [Titanic, Sister Act]) and they have a way (like any good revival) of making even an old score really come alive!  What's more, I'm beginning to see how fabulous the technical aspects of the show are.  The costumes especially are pretty breathtaking (Cinderella's costume change was one of the best moments of the night in my opinion).  So, although I might not just dive into the show, I think perhaps I should give it more of a chance, because it does seem to have merit.  I can definitely say that it's Tony performance was pretty great!  They conveniently chose to do a medley of the only three songs I had heard from the show, so that made me feel nice and I looked more informed than I actually was.  All in all the performance was excellent!  They did a wonderful job of highlighting each of their stars and the show's strengths.  In addition, it included a pretty great ball room dance sequence (that, as my party guests pointed out, includes some look-a-likes to Disney princesses).  I think it's the performance that I like the best without expecting to.  Take a look (sorry about how it begins, you have to skip ahead a bit to get to the performance):
Rodger's + Hammerstein's Cinderella was nominated for 9 Awards and won 1.
  • Best Book of a Musical (Douglas Carter Beane) - nominated
  • Best Revival of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Santino Fontana) - nominated
  • Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Laura Osnes) - nominated
  • Best Performance By an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Victoria Clark) - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations (Danny Troob) - nominated
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical (William Ivey Long) - WINNER
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kenneth Posner) - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical (Nevin Steinberg) - nominated
So, on the surface, a show that only wins for best costumes is kind of lame, but a) those costumes were spectacular, and b) "Cinderella" was a very serious competitor in at least 3 or 4 of the other categories (especially Leading Actress).  Although it might not have walked home with as many awards as it was maybe hoping for, they succeeded in getting me interested in the show, and isn't that really what it's all about?

As I said before, the revivals kind of blew my mind this year!  I think this is the first year we've had in a while where the revivals were significantly stronger than the original Musicals (in my opinion).  But perhaps some of  you have different opinions.  Did I give too much credit to the revivals?  Was I too harsh on Annie?  Can you think of a recent revival (other than Godspell) that could rival Pippin?  I'd love to hear any comments questions or concerns.  Go ahead and comment below, and be sure to check out the poll in the top left corner.  I'll be going out of town shortly so it might be a couple weeks before I get a chance to release my 3rd installment of the Tony Award series (Plays).  But feel free to do your own research at the Tony Awards Website and then check back in a few weeks to see if my thoughts line up with yours.  Until next time.... 

No comments:

Post a Comment