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

I’d heard a lot about the Transport Group’s production of a new musical called Lysistrata Jones over the past year and was able to check it out six months ago when they were performing in a unique space – the basement of the Judson Church alongside Washington Square Park. It was pop-y music, a unique setting (which was probably most of the allure), and an humorous topic (I’m also a fan of the original text – Lysistrata). Did I think it was a good idea to move it to a 1000+ seat Broadway house? No. Absolutely not. It’d get completely lost and the best part about it was that it was set in an actual gym (okay, so it didn’t make for the most comfortable seats, but whatever).

I had tickets to last Saturday night’s performance and tried to clear my head of all preconceived notions about why Lyssie shouldn’t actually be uptown. 

They didn’t change very much from the off-Broadway incarnation except for adding cheesy jokes about Lindsay Nicole Chambers looking like Kathy Griffin (she kind of does), Newt Gingrinch (what?), and an iPhone app. The music is still pop-y and and the show is a burst of energy. We just had no idea why they had so much energy, or what they were singing about, some of the time. The choreography is my favorite aspect of Lyssie, and, of course, Jason Tam, who once again stole my heart and made me want to give him my number after the show (no, I didn’t actually do that). 

Patti Murin, as our protagonist, is a great fit for the role except she’s not that strong of a belter and the score requires that of the character. One of the reviews said her performance is reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde or Alicia Silverstone in Clueless and it’s 100% true.  Lindsay Nicole Chambers as the geeky intellectual Robin is the one who plants the idea of withholding sex from the basketball team to Lyssie, and  is also another one of my favorites. She’s hysterical and quite talented. The company members I didn’t like were almost every single one of the basketball team members. I don’t remember disliking them off-Broadway but now they just annoyed me – or maybe it was their characters (the archetypes of jocks, thugs, and every other obnoxious guy you’d find in college was represented onstage). But boy, oh boy, could they certainly dance up a storm. The other thing that bothered me about Lyssie were the cheap, cheesy jokes. They came one after another – it felt overwritten to grab the laughs where ever they could.

Lysistrata Jones’ average ticket price last week was $19.19. Ouch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ticket price so low and depressing. On Tuesday the critics surprised everyone (or maybe just me) and praised Lyssie for what it is – a bright, energetic, bubble gum infused pop-y show that might not be an intellectual night at the theatre, but it sure is fun.

Give it up, Lysistrata!

I read the play Lysistrata during my sophomore year of college (one of the only classical plays I actually read, and liked) and I was excited when I heard Transport Group was bringing this new updated musical version titles Lysistrata Jones to a Greenwich Village church basement gym.  Set at Athens University, the basketball team hasn’t won a game in 30 years and a new transfer to the school, Lysistrata, gets the teams girlfriends to agree to withhold sex until they actually try and win a game.  A friend of mine was covering opening night this past Sunday and invited me to come along.  

The score (by Lewis Flinn) is reminiscent of Legally Blonde, in a good way, and the book (by Douglas Carter Beane) is thorough and good.  The choreography (mixed with class basketball moves, by Dan Knechtges) is thrilling, maybe even breathtaking, to watch as it’s incredibly complex and probably one of my favorite parts.  The sets (by Allen Moyer) are versatile, moving all the time.  

The cast is almost entirely unknown (they had to find actors who could also play basketball – not an easy feat!).  Patti Murin plays Lysistrata Jones and is perky, energetic, moves easily, and she has a great voice.  The other stand-out in the cast was Jason Tam as Xander, the typical college nerd who may fall for our protagonist.  He has a great voice and is an excellent actor.  

In attendance that night were the likes of Barbara Walsch, Jackie Hoffman, Adam Chandler Berat, Bryan Batt, and Charles Busch (not in drag!).  The gym was transformed and looked quite similar to a high school dance after where kegs of beer, soda, and pizza were served.  

The cake was REALLY sweet.

The cast & creative:

Beane and Flinn celebrating their incredibly well received opening night!

I really enjoyed the show and I was happy to see the following morning that they received across the board positive reviews.  Lysistrata Jones may not be deep, but it certainly is fun, and well-written, which is more than you can say for a lot of what’s new in New York this season.  

Lysistrata Jones is playing downtown at the Gym at Judson through June 19th.  Visit Transport Group’s website for more information.  

New Musical ‘Lysistrata Jones’ is Headed to the Gym

I’ve discussed this adaptation a few times with my friends, and I think it will be the play to see in the Spring.  It seems that the spring is going to be A Battle of the Cheerleader Musicals, with Bring It On getting produced on Broadway in addition to this modern adaptation of Lysistrata called Lysistrata Jones, in which cheerleaders withhold sex from the basketball team until they start winning.  

Douglas Carter Beane has adapted the play and is sure to impress with such credits under his belt as the hilarious The Little Dog Laughed (one of my favorite plays that season) as well as the book for Xanadu

The twist is that The Transport Group, which is known for producing plays in unique spaces, is producing Lysistrata Jones on the gym/basketball court of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.  

Bring It On is scheduled to begin it’s out of town try-out in Atlanta next month.  Lysistrata Jones begins performances in Greenwich Village in May.  I’ll definitely be buying tickets when they go on sale.  

New Musical ‘Lysistrata Jones’ is Headed to the Gym