and the winner is…

The New York Times critics released their picks for the Tonys quite early (so it seemed) which also included who they thought were snubbed. These are always fun to read.

I’ve seen almost all of the best musical/play nominees, except for Nice Work If You Can Get It which I still have yet to decide whether or not I want to pay nearly $40 to see it. Gershwin is an American legend, but he’s not anywhere near the top of my list of favorite  composers. So everyone’s anticipation can be put to rest, as I now present to you with my opinions on who was nominated, who I think should win, and who I think was tragically overlooked.

Best Musical: The nominees include Once, NewsiesLeap of Faith, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Who do I think should win? Once. It is an artistic masterpiece. It is visually stunning, emotionally moving, and the score is one of the best out there. What will win? If Once doesn’t get it, Newsies most certainly will. It has a worthy opponent, but there’s something about Once that strikes a deeper chord with me. I think it’s more universal, plus it needs the win to do well on tour. What should’ve been nominated? Hands down: GhostGhost is visually stunning and I was never bored for one minute of the two and a half hours. Leap of Faith was, with all due respect, a visually horrendous bore. 

Best Play: This category is going to be tough. Each nominee is fantastic: Clybourne ParkVenus in FurPeter and the Starcatcher, and Other Desert Cities. My first instinct is to say that Clybourne Park will take this one, but there is a chance that Other Desert Cities or possibly Peter and the Starcatcher might slide in. Although I absolutely loved Venus in Fur, I don’t think it has touring potential and it’s a limited run, so the award wouldn’t help it in any way. What should have been nominated was The Lyons. I find this show hilarious but maybe not all of the nominating committee has had a Jewish grandmother before. Or Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar definitely deserved a nod as well. (This snubbing was, I think, her punishment for writing Smash.)

Best Book of a Musical: The nominees are Lysistrata JonesOnceNice Work If You Can Get It, and Newsies. Given that Once and Newsies aren’t original books, so to speak, I’m going say that Lysistrata Jones has a pretty good chance of snagging this one much to everyone’s surprise. Is their book the best? No, not at all. The show didn’t work very well on Broadway. Or Newsies could very well start sweeping the awards and take this as well. What should have been nominated? Bonnie and Clyde. Sue me, but I really enjoyed that show and I thought the book was engaging the entire time. 

Best Original Score: The nominees are Bonnie and ClydeOne Man, Two Guv’norsNewsies, and Peter and the Starcatcher. I would love for Bonnie and Clyde to take this one, but it never will because the voters hate Wildhorn too much.  Newsies will probably sweep it because the other two are plays and that would be kind of sad for a play to take Best Original Score. (Though the score in One Man, Two Guv’nors was quite good.) What should have been nominated? Wonderland. (No, just kidding!) I don’t think there were any other truly memorable great scores written in the past season. I don’t remember the music to Lysistrata Jones. But part of me remembers a lot of the music from Newsies being in the movie too, and in that case, Once should also have been able to be nominated for Best Original Score.    

Best Revival of a Play: The nominees include Death of a SalesmanThe Best ManWit, and Master Class. First a huge congratulations is in order to MTC for scoring two nominations in this category. Each one of these nominees was a pleasure to sit through (though you never quite believed that Cynthia Nixon was a scholar in Wit), but I’m going to say that Death of a Salesman gets this one, if the voters don’t decide to be total star-fuckers for ratings and award The Best Man instead. Although there are a fair number of stars in Salesman too, but I just thought Salesman was better than The Best Man. I don’t think there were any shows that should’ve been nominated in this category. 

Best Revival of a Musical: The nominees this year are EvitaFolliesThe Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and Jesus Christ Superstar.  Jesus Christ Superstar and Follies were my favorites this year, and I’m going to put my money on Follies winning. It was a favorite this year, but Porgy and Bess was also a beautiful production, though it bored me to tears, and I could see it sneaking in from behind and taking the award.

Alright, the rest of these will be short…. Click through!

Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a PlayWill win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Death of a Salesman). Should win: James Corden (One Man, Two Guv’nors). [Really, I’m okay with either one winning.]

Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Will win: Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur). Should win: Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur). [Again, all of these nominees were memorable and fantastic, but you just have to see Arianda’s performance to believe it.]

Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Will/should win: Danny Burstein (Follies). If you saw him in this show, you’ll know that’s true. I also thought Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) was fantastic. 

Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: I think this is a toss up between Jan Maxwell (Follies) and Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess). I hope it’s Maxwell’s year, finally. Cristin Milioti (Once) could sneak through and win though because her performance is so heartbreaking. 

Best Performance By an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: I think Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher) should win, but if the voters are starf*ckers, Andrew Garfield (Death of a Salesman) might win instead. 

Best Performance By an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: I think Judith Light (Other Desert Cities) or Linda Edmond (Death of a Salesman) will walk away with this award, but I’d love to see Spencer Kayden (Don’t Dress For Dinner) or Celia Keenan Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher) win this. 

Best Performance By an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: David Alan Grier (Porgy and Bess) or Michael Cerveris (Evita) will take this one, but I’d love to see Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar) run away with it. His Judas is brilliantly sung and acted. 

Best Performance By an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: This is a toss-up, I believe, between Judy Kaye (Nice Work..) and Jessie Mueller (On A Clear Day..). I didn’t see either of these two women perform, but I heard that they were both brilliant. 

Best Direction of a Play: Roger Rees and Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher) will hopefully take this. Their direction is original and innovative. Mike Nichols (Death of a Salesman) could pull through though. 

Best Direction of a Musical: I hope John Tiffany wins for Once, though I won’t be surprised if Jeff Calhoun takes it for Newsies

Best Choreography: Everyone else can go home, Christopher Gattelli for Newsies will take this one. 

Best OrchestrationsWill win: Danny Troob (Newsies). Should win: Martin Lowe (Once).

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Daniel Ostling (Clybourne Park) better win this. The transformation between the first and second acts is amazing. I know a lot of people are going to say Donyale Werle (Peter and the Starcatcher) should win because his idea for the set was so innovative, but it was also extremely minimal and there wasn’t much a set designed. 

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: I hope George Tsypin (Ghost) takes this. His set was visually stunning, but I won’t be surprised if Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel (Newsies) win either. 

Best Costume Design of a Play: William Ivey Long’s (Don’t Dress For Dinner) costumes stand out the most over the other nominees, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Paloma Young (Peter and the Starcatcher) wins.

Best Costume Design of a Musical: If the voters will award any award to Spider-man, I believe it will be this one to Elko Ishioka. The costumes are pretty out there. If not, I’m predicting Gregg Barnes will win it for his gorgeous work in Follies.

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Jeff Croiter (Peter and the Starcatcher) better take this one. If not, Brian McDevitt (Death of a Salesman) is a strong contender as well.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: I believe Natasha Katz (Follies) would still have a good chance if it were still open – I’m pretty sure the lighting was quite haunting – but it’s not, so I’m putting my money on Hugh Vanstone (Ghost) or Natasha Katz (Once).

Best Sound Design of a Play: I didn’t notice the sound design being remarkable for any of the nominees, but I’ll say Darron L. West (Peter and the Starcatcher) will win this one.

Best Sound Design of a Musical: This is a toss-up for me between Clive Goodwin (Once) and Kai Harada (Follies), and I really have no idea which way the critics will go. 

There’s my long-winded prediction for the winners this year. Who do you think will win?

photo credit: me

Outer Critics Circle Winners Announced; Once and One Man, Two Guvnors Are Top Winners

The winners for the various awards are starting to be announced and that means speculation as to what it means to shows who are up for TONY Awards. 

Once won for Outstanding New Broadway Musical, so I’m crossing my fingers for it’s chances increasing at the TONYs. It also won for Best Book, while Newsies won for Best New Score – but that’s only because Once wasn’t eligible to be nominated for Best New Score. Newsies took the award for choreography, as it should, and Spider-man even picked up two awards for Best Set and Best Costume Designs, which it was definitely deserving of. Ghost won for Best Lighting, which made me very excited as it’s been snubbed for the last spot in the Best Musical category when it didn’t deserve it by any means. Ghost’s lighting is brilliant too.

Danny Burstein won for his performance in Follies in the Outstanding Actor in a Musical category. Having seen this performance, he was quite deserving of this. I’m not sure if he’ll take the TONY though. The buzz has been around Steve Kazee for his performance in Once. If he won the award it would be an outstanding surprise to me, personally, as I thought he’d be the one replaced with a name for the transfer to Broadway.

Before I forget to mention: One Man, Two Guvnors won for Outstanding New Broadway Play, Death of a Salesman won for Outstanding Revival of a Play, and Follies won for Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Will this be the blueprint for the Drama Desk and TONY Awards? Only time will tell…

Outer Critics Circle Winners Announced; Once and One Man, Two Guvnors Are Top Winners

ditto.

I got up around 8am this morning and headed to Times Square around 9 to try to get a ticket for something that day. These are the things that bad ideas are made of. I don’t know what made me say, “Hey, I think it’s a good idea for you to go to the tourist epicenter of the city on a Saturday, during spring break, AND on a holiday to try to get a rush ticket for a show,” but something did and so I found myself amidst a sea of tourists dressed in green, whom were drunk, and many of whom were on the lines to try to get tickets for shows I wanted to see.

The Once rush line reached down to the Booth Theatre (two theatres away), the Death of a Salesman rush line reached almost down to the Friedman (one theatre away), and Evita wasn’t offering rush that weekend. Audra McDonald is out of Porgy and Bess this weekend, so that was out as well.  I decided to kill time (searching unsuccessfully for a gold shirt in Forever 21) and then play the Ghost lottery at noon. Luckily, few people showed up (maybe about 40) and I won! I was excited because I’d read that Ghost was actually pretty good (I still read the shitshow that BroadwayWorld has become every now and then).

Unfortunately Da’Vine Joy Randolph was experiencing vocal issues and was being told by her doctor to be on vocal rest, so Moya Angela went on in the role of Oda Mae Brown, the physic. This didn’t bother me much because I wasn’t familiar with either actress, or the role. I was happy that Cassie Levy and Richard Fleeshman, in the lead roles, were present and accounted for though.

I haven’t seen the movie (Ghost) before and I only had the brief synoposis on the outside of the theatre to go by when I took my seat in the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. A moving image of the city is projected on the scrim and the show takes off quickly as soon as the lights go down and we go on a virtual roller-coaster of sorts through the city as projected on the scrim. It was a little nauseating at first, but I’m sure it looked much cooler from afar.  Ghost relies heavily on projections throughout but don’t be worried this is another Woman in White because there are actual sets. The choreography was fine – nothing uniquely impressive, but not bad in any sense. The effects were very cool, from what I could see. The front row is a tad close as the stage is a bit high (nothing compared to the stage at the Palace though) so I had to arch my neck to see anything that happened low to the stage. There was walking through walls, levitations, and vanishing that occurred onstage. All were impressively done.

There are 15 songs in both acts combined and the music is fun and captures the essence of the show, but I think my favorite part of the show was the book. I thought the book was very well written. As I’m sure everyone knows there can sometimes be problems when translating a movie to the stage.  I think it’s a clear testament to Bruce Joel Rubin (book writer) that I understood what was going on without having seen the movie. 

Cassie Levy has improved in leaps and bounds with her craft since I first saw in the non-equity tour of Rent as Maureen in 2002 (in short, I thought she was awful) because she was absolutely wonderful in Ghost (as Molly Jensen) and has a beautiful, clear voice (it also must be acknowledged that she was wonderful in the 2009 revival of Hair). Richard Fleeshman was also fantastic as Sam Wheat. He has a great voice and was able to make the audience (or me, at least) empathize with him as he tried to keep his still-living girlfriend out of trouble. Bryce Pinkham as Carl Bruner, Sam’s co-worker and best friend,  was great when it came to his acting, but he was vocally lackluster. He has one song in the second act and you can hear how clearly he has no command over his voice. I hope it was just an off day for him.  And lastly, Moya Angela, the understudy for Oda Mae Brown, was amazing. Now I know I have nothing to compare her too but she made the audience laugh and gasp, and she was also equipped with a killer voice so she owned the role which I’m sure she was very nervous to perform so soon into the preview period.  

Though there weren’t screams at first when the curtain call started, the audience showed their approval by standing as soon as the first ensemble member made their way to the stage. The screams followed when Levy and Fleeshman bowed. 

It already has a great book, music, cast, and effects and I think with some minor tweaking here and there, Ghost will be even better than it is now. And a hit on Broadway.