My Annual TONY Award Picks

I saw a lot of good theatre this season. Much more than I thought possible. And tonight the Hamilton Tony Awards are on. I saw a lot but I didn’t see everything. I’ll go ahead and say who I think should win and I’ll signify the shows I haven’t seen with a ^. Sound good? Good. 

Best Play – Honestly I have no idea what will win. i only saw two of these and the other two I wasn’t blown away buy. I thought Eclipsed was super powerful though. 

Eclipsed 

The Father^

The Humans

King Charles III^

Best Musical – Obviously Hamilton will win. It would be a huge upset if, say, School of Rock or Waitress won and I’d be 100% okay with that, but yeah, let’s move on. I would say I’m ashamed that I’ve only seen two of the nominated Best Musical nominees, but I’m not. I was very unmotivated to see Bright Star, had no interest in seeing Shuffle Along, and Hamilton was impossible to get tickets to. 

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock – The Musical

Shuffle Along…. ^

Waitress

Best Revival of a Play – The only nominee I didn’t see was A View From the Bridge and I always miss that whenever it’s revived, but whatever. I think it will end up being The Crucible and I think that’s just fine. Long Day’s Journey could get it because of Jessica Lange though. Who knows. 

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Blackbird

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Noises Off

Best Revival of a Musical – This is a total toss up between The Color Purple and Fiddler on the Roof for me. The last incarnations of both productions were just so bad that these were so great by comparison. Spring Awakening was creative but not necessarily worthy of an award. I haven’t seen She Loves Me (yet, going in July) and I hear it’s great, so who knows. I think I’d lovvvvve for Fiddler to get it though. #JewPride

The Color Purple

Fiddler on the Roof

She Loves Me^

Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical – Hamilton has no book and since there are only four producers behind Hamilton, hopefully they won’t be able to vote their own way on this one. I can see Bright Star running away with this one (though I haven’t seen it).

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock – The Musical

Shuffle Along….^

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – I’m, like, 110% sure this going to Hamilton but maybe some voters have a soft spot for Steve Martin, Sarah Bareilles, or Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock-The Musical

Waitress

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – I haven’t seen The Father but I have a hunch it’s going to Frank Langella. If not him, I think definitely Gabriel Byrne. 

Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father^ 
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III^ 
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – I think Jessica Lange has this one locked in, but I could see Lupita Nyong’o or Sophie Okonedo stealing it and upsetting a whole lot of people. 

Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – I think this should definitely go to Danny Burstein, but I’m pretty sure Lin-Manuel or Leslie will take this. 

Alex Brightman, School of Rock-The Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me^ 
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton^ 
Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – I hear Laura Benanti is amazing in She Loves Me, but if anyone but Cynthia Erivo takes this award home, I’ll burning down Times Square.

Laura Benanti, She Loves Me^ 
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star^ 
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – I hear Reed Birney is locked in and although I didn’t love The Humans off-Broadway, I thought it was really great, as always. 

Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III^ 
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – I’d love to see Saycon Sengbloh take this but I think Andrea Martin probably will.

Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – I’m pretty sure it’s going to be someone from Hamilton, but Christopher Fitzgerald just totally stole every seen in Waitress. 

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton^ 
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along…^
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress^ 
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton^ 
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical –
I’d love it if Danielle Brooks took this home because she’s a powerhouse, but I think it’ll go to Renee Elise Goldsberry. 

Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton^ 
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me^ 
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!^ 
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along…^

Best Scenic Design of a Play – I don’t remember Therese Raquin or The Humans having an amazing set, so it will be A View From the Bridge. 

Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin
Christopher Oram, Hughie^ 
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^ 
David Zinn, The Humans

Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Give this one to American Psycho. I know it will probably go to Hamilton because we all now pray at the holy grail of Hamilton, but seriously, that set looks like a wooden version of Taboo’s set, or Rent’s set. 

Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
David Korins, Hamilton^ 
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along…^
David Rockwell, She Loves Me^

Best Costume Design of a Play – I think Noises Off could get this. The set was really well designed and versatile. 

Jane Greenwood, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Michael Krass, Noises Off
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Tom Scutt, King Charles III^

Best Costume Design of a Musical – I see Hamilton taking this even though they’re just re-purposing Felicity’s wardrobe from the American Girl Dolls collection. But whatever.

Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me^ 
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along^
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton^

Best Lighting Design of a Play – The lighting was ace for Long Day’s Journey and The Crucible. I hope Crucible takes it.

Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Seriously, again, give it to American Psycho. That’s all I ask of you. 

Howell Binkley, Hamilton^ 
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along…^
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho

Best Direction of a Play – Please give this one to Jonathan Kent just because Long Day’s Journey is such a beast. 

Rupert Goold, King Charles III^ 
Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Direction of a Musical – Michael Arden definitely deserves it for his originality but it’ll go to Hamilton.

Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me^ 
Thomas Kail, Hamilton^
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along….^

Best Choreography – I would love to see Fiddler take this home, but Hamilton will get it. 

Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton^ 
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along…^
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea^ 
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan^

Best Orchestrations – Hamilton will definitely take this.

August Eriksmoen, Bright Star^ 
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me^ 
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton^ 
Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along…^

So, overall, there was a lot I didn’t see, but it was because some of this season didn’t seem all that appealing. Maybe some of the performances tonight will change my mind. I remember how unbelievably boring the 2002 and 2003 Tony Awards were when The Producers and Hairspray took most of the awards in each of their years and those years are always the worst.

Hopefully the Tony voters did the right thing and voted for what was best, not what’s most popular. Happy watching!

Going psycho one last time.

After American Psycho announced their closing date, Kristen and I quickly grabbed tickets on TDF for last Thursday because I’d be away for the rest of the week. I really thought the score, the book, the cast, and the sets and staging was so great. It was a special kind of campy that I’d hoped could find a niche on Broadway.

Well, unfortunately, niches don’t keep shows alive on Broadway and in the black.

I was really thrilled to be able to see it one last time (though, for the record, it was only my second time) and this time it was from the mezzanine so I’d be able to fully see the sets and lighting in all their glory.

And it was glorious. The hardcore fans they’d likely found were there making noise and you could the cast was having a great time. Benjamin Walker had amped up the crazy since the first week of previews and his voice (and body) was in perfect shape.

My favorite song of this score ended up being Killing Spree as Walker sounds great and it’s a particularly hilarious song (aside from the killing).

People say Americans aren’t any where near mature enough to take their mental health seriously and to begin to have an honest conversation about it. Audiences being unwilling to embrace a brutal and bloody show about mental health might be a clue to how very true that is.

RIP, American Psycho.

Alice Ripley & American Psycho

I’ve been reading a lot about how the theatre community thinks Alice Ripley is wasting her talents in her small roles in American Psycho. They’re pissed that her roles are barely-there and I have to say they’re pretty much unnecessary. The show would be the same whether or not Patrick Bateman’s mom showed up.

Ripley was last on Broadway in Next to Normal where she famously and award-winningly got to have mental breakdowns onstage every night. Rumor has it that she also blew her voice out pretty hard with the score. Whatever the case may be, American Psycho is her first return to a Broadway stage and people are pissed. They’re even going as far to say that she must be furious with how small her role is.

To the fans who don’t know how the industry works, let me just tell you: she didn’t take the part without reading the script first. No one tricked her into a small role. If she has an agent worth his or her salt, he/she negotiated a really good deal for her, what, with being a Broadway veteran and a Tony Award winner. That counts for something.

Equity weekly minimum is around $1,475 (I think) and with her credentials I’d bet she’s making at least $2,500 every week. You could offer me $2,500 every week for a small-ish role in a Broadway show and I’d sure as hell take it. I’m pretty sure most people would.

As the theatre crowd erupts in self-righteous anger over this I’d like to remind them that Ripley is a person and has bills to pay, too. And if she can still pay those bills while working on Broadway, who is anyone to tell her what role is beneath her? Oh, right: not you. Or me. Or anyone but herself.

/end rant

Lazy

You know how I stopped working in theatre a year and a half ago? (Maybe longer? I’ve lost track.) Well, I sure don’t miss it (save for the free tickets) but my theatre-going has slowed a bit. Oftentimes afterwork, I’m just all, “I just want to go home,” or, “I’m just going to go to yoga.” Trying to get a super cheap back-of-the-theatre or rush ticket just doesn’t sound appealing. 

I know, I’m so whiny – I’d have to take the train 3 stops, then get off and check, and then possibly get back on. The horror. I guess, technically, I also want to hang out with my cat while she’s still getting used to living with me. (Secretly I think she counts down the minutes until I leave in the morning but I could be wrong.)

But I’m slowly rectifying that. I purchased a ticket yesterday for Saturday’s matinee to Tuck Everlasting for starters. I really think it sounds 100% boring, but it has a great cast and it was the only show that had a Saturday matinee on TDF, so why not

Secondly, while I contemplated going to see a show last night, specifically Waitress (because @endotique says it was great), I decided against it and bought a ticket for May 18th instead. Afterwards I picked up tickets for an irreverent musical for J’s birthday in a couple of weeks. I’m not saying what it is here incase he reads here, but he’ll love it. 

What else do I need to see? Blackbird, Bright Star, Fiddler on the Roof, possibly Fully Committed, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (amazing cast), The Father (why not?), She Loves Me, The Color Purple (I’d have no interest after seeing the original production but I hear this one is fantastic), The Crucible (I’ve never seen it live and who doesn’t love a 3-hour play about McCarthyism?) and, oh yes, Hamilton. I guess. (I’ll do the cancellation line sooner or later before Lin leaves.)

I’m pretty sure that’s about it. Ten shows. It’s a play-heavy list, that’s for sure. I want to see American Psycho again soon but hopefully that’ll be around for a little while.

Writing it out in a list like that makes it not seem so insurmountable. One show every week? Every two weeks? Done in no time. Except for Hamilton. I’ll have to take a Monday or Tuesday off from work to sit in the cancellation line to get tickets for my dude and I to that fucker. Goddamn you, Lin-Manuel. 

This is what being Patrick Bateman means to me. 

J and I went to see American Psycho on Tuesday night (remember when I waited on line in the freezing cold for like way-too-long?) and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d listened to the London cast recording a bunch of times on Spotify and loved a lot of what I’d been hearing, but who knows how it would transfer, right?

I’ve been lurking on the American Psycho Previews thread on BroadwayWorld and the buzz was that the first act was amazing but the second act dragged. I was excited to see how they’d handle the chunks of the book that included the mass murders of numerous prostitutes and how much blood, exactly, would be on that stage. I’d also heard the opening moment of the show was amazing. I was really excited but trying to keep my expectations low, anyways. 

Spoilers ahead!

The opening moment WAS cool. The stage was filled with smoke and there was screaming, but I wanted it to be more frightening. (Maybe they’ll up the scares during previews.) For those of you who saw the cast perform on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, well, Benjamin Walker is only in tighty-whiteys and looks like he’s eaten nothing but protein shakes since then. He looks good. He describes his morning routine and then the song Selling Out starts.   

I know Selling Out wasn’t in the London production and I have no idea how the show must’ve felt without it. It sets the feel for the entire show. These are a bunch of empty, shallow (albeit extremely well-dressed and good looking) people who care about all the wrong things and are extremely annoying.

I digress. Cards was the next great song. Theo Stockman is playing a completely different character from who he has played in the past (Hair, American Idiot) as the obnoxious colleague of Bateman’s Tim Price. J burst into a laughing fit as soon as he spoke his first lines because his voice is just that ridiculous. Another stand out was Drew Moerlein in his Broadway debut as another one of Bateman’s colleagues Paul Owen. He was as smug and overly expressive in that douchey way that only an investment banker on Wall Street can be. 

You Are What You Wear was an introduction to the women who (sometimes) occupy these men at night. Helene Yorke as Evelyn (Bateman’s girlfriend) and Morgan Weed as Courtney (Evelyn’s friend) outshine every other female on that stage with their comedic timing and portrayals of these socialites. I don’t think Yorke opened her mouth a single time that wasn’t answered with laughter from the audience.

Side note: Jennifer Damiano plays Bateman’s secretary, Jean, the same way she always plays her roles (Next to Normal being the exception). That said, she didn’t disappoint. Alice Ripley plays Bateman’s mother in addition to two other small roles and she’s great. She’s supposed to be a heavily medicated mother which she’s done before and won for a Tony for it, so: this is basically a walk in the park. 

The pre-written songs that Sheik wove into the show were seamless and worked without question. Everybody Wants to Rule the World and In the Air Tonight (this one sounded exceptionally spectacular) fit right in, as does Hip To Be Square at the end of the first act. 

The score is so very 80′s and it’s so much fun. Not a Common Man was one of my favorite songs of the first act and I Am Back and This Is Not an Exit were definitely my favorite in the second act. I had I Am Back in my head all day yesterday. 

There are LOTS of projections used in the show. And there are two turntables on the stage. Even though Les Miserables is referenced over and over (it was the hot thing in 1989!), the turn tables don’t make it feel like we’re watching Les Miserables at all. Don’t worry. Donald Trump is also referenced probably a dozen times, too, since he was a big thing especially to Wall Street douchebags. Trump is referenced three times as much in the book though. The producers couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to transfer American Psycho to New York with this reference intact. 

So, the gore. There’s not a lot of blood in Act 1. He kills his first person at the end of Act 1 and there’s a decent amount of blood on the plastic scrim. I was really curious as to how they would get through all of the people he murders in the book and they handled it perfectly. Patrick Bateman has really loses his mind by Act 2 and after trying to clear it with a trip to the Hamptons accompanied by Evelyn, he returns to Manhattan (I Am Back) and goes on a killing spree. There’s lots of blood on people and the walls for this. Imagine a pile of dead bodies center stage and that’s how this song ends. It was a perfect way to get through a good 100 pages of the book that describe how he murders dozens of people.

Oh, and the sex. There’s a silly, but hysterical scene in Act 1 with simulated sex between two prostitutes and Bateman with ridiculous projections. I read that lots of people hated this but by the time the end of Act 1 rolls around, you’ve already forgotten it’s happened because you’re enjoying the rest of it so much.

The audience was largely a theatre crowd. You could tell that they hadn’t read the book because they gasped when Bateman invites Jean to his apartment before they see a show. She doesn’t die in the book and she doesn’t even have much of a role in the movie, so they would never have killed her off in this adaptation.

Benjamin Walker was so, so good. He’s a playing a character who is a genuinely bad person but I felt sorry for him at times, especially when he was being ignored. All Bateman wants is to fit in and he feels invisible; that’s just sad. He has a much better voice, in my opinion, than Matt Smith does and I hope they plan to record this soon (as far as I know, they don’t). 

It clocked in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, which is long, but the book is 400 pages and a vast majority of it is in Bateman’s mind. When he’s really losing coherence in Act 2, there’s a lot of dialogue to try to express this. He’s covered in blood, dressed in his tighty whiteys and he realizes there’s no way out (This Is Not An Exit). It’s a heavy second act, though I’m not sure what you could cut to make it shorter. 

You could say this is a representation of how society in America completely ignore mental illness if said-mentally ill person has an outward appearance that satisfies us. Even if that person tells us they’re going out of their minds and want to kill people, we’re more likely to say, “great joke!” than take it seriously. Bateman’s pleas for help are ignored by his friends and family. 

To say I had a good time at American Psycho is an understatement. Is it a perfect show? No. Is it for everyone? No. I could imagine the New York Times panning it’s non-traditional but I hope word-of-mouth and the cult following that the book and movie have can make it a hit. 

There was a great energy inside the theatre on Tuesday night and I hope they can sustain the momentum they’ve been building and take your average Broadway audience by surprise.

‘Hamilton’ hiring practices under fire due to discrimination

This has been the hot topic this week in the theatre world (you know, aside from how much blood is currently being used in American Psycho). My boyfriend found this link and sent it to me and immediately I shook my head.

This is simply poor wording on the part of (Bernie) Telsey & Co. Someone pointed out that Bright Star wrote “all roles are Caucasian” in their casting announcement but they weren’t receiving any flak (that show is also not the mega-hit that Hamilton so it’s not under the same microscope).

The difference is, I think, that Hamilton’s casting notice was exclusive of a huge group of people, while Bright Star’s announcement wasn’t telling any “NON-[Insert Ethnicity]” to audition. Bright Star was simply stating a fact: their cast is white, but feel free to waste your (and our) time and audition if you want to

Can I just point out that if you’re an actor auditioning for Hamilton and you’re white and you don’t already know that you’re not going to be cast as any of the leads, you’re doing your job [of staying knowledgable about the industry] poorly. Sierra Boggess isn’t trying to audition for The Lion King because she knows better. 

While it was in poor taste of Telsey & Co. to write a casting notice so horribly worded, I think the backlash they’re receiving is also due in part to White People looking for a reason, any reason, to play the victim and shout about how they’re being discriminated against when, obviously, they’re not. At all. It’s like when Christians scream about the War on Christianity. It’s not an actual thing.

Maybe White People can just accept the fact that not every show will need their talents, front and center, from now on. Otherwise, not that Bernie Telsey will actually read this, but I hope this “controversy” will make casting directors think about how they word future announcements.

‘Hamilton’ hiring practices under fire due to discrimination

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Someone posted this recently and I was super intrigued. I would think that there are probably other writers out there who have done this but the only one that I’ve read that comes to mind is Emily Giffin. Giffin’s characters are somewhat related in three of her books, but how Ellis put characters from one book into another who supposedly were killed by Bateman in American Psycho is super cool. It actually made me want to read all of his books. But.

BUT.

I’m currently reading American Psycho…. and it’s a painful read. Bateman and his friend’s shallow materialism and his need to identify where every last item on his person came from is dreadful. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks now and I’m only 160 pages in (out of 400-ish). I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll finish it. But I think I have to. i know that I’m not required to finish every book I start but I like to. We’ll see what happens.

In other news: American Psycho the musical is getting pretty good reviews from regular people. I know it’s going to be a super polarizing show (not every one will like a musical about a banker who’s going insane and killing his friends) but I read that the first look you get in the show is amazing and so far everything is impressive. Currently it’s super long (just under 3 hours) but I’m sure they’ll cut it down a bunch before April 5th.

Has anyone else read American Psycho? 

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

$19.89 Tickets to American Psycho

I’ve been sort of excited to see American Psycho ever since I saw the video of their press preview. The music sounds different, the choreography looks fun, and who doesn’t love Benjamin Walker? I sure do. So, when it was sort of quietly announced that they were selling tickets for $19.89 (for the year 1989 when the play takes place) for six preview performances, I was instantly interested in heading down on a Saturday morning. I’d mentioned it to Matt a couple of days prior at Eclipsed and he said sure, let’s do it

We met up at 9:30am on Saturday morning to a line that went down 45th Street to 7th Avenue and turned towards 44th Street. We got on the line right as it turned onto 7th so we figured there were probably 100 people in front of us and it shouldn’t be too bad of a wait since the box office was opening in 30 minutes.

Did we ever misjudge the situation. The line took FOREVER. We didn’t buy our tickets until 12:45pm. Also: it was freezing. It was something like 32* out and I was wearing really inappropriate shoes. We took turns hopping into Junior’s and the Booth Theatre’s lobby to keep warm because I’m not lying when I say it was really fucking cold.

They’d really made shitty usage of the box office. I honestly don’t think they were expecting this many people to show up. They could’ve fit probably two dozen people in it but with the way they chose to wrap the line, there were 5 people inside of it at a time. When we finally were standing under the marquee, when it was fairly obvious what we were waiting for, I started telling passerby that we were waiting in line for tickets to a Trump rally. They believed us, no questions asked, and we died laughing.

We purchased our orchestra seats for the preview performance on April 5th and happily made our way to our respective homes and warmed up. It was worth it this time, but I will never do this again in the winter.