Tonight!

It’s the big night tonight. The most important evening for most theatre people (on this side of the pond at least). Below are my predictions of who will win and who should win

Best Play

The Assembled Parties
Author: Richard Greenberg

Lucky Guy
Author: Nora Ephron

The Testament of Mary
Author: Colm Toíbín

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Author: Christopher Durang

Best Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Matilda The Musical

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
Orphans
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical
Annie
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Pippin

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Book of a Musical

A Christmas Story, The Musical
Joseph Robinette

Kinky Boots
Harvey Fierstein

Matilda The Musical
Dennis Kelly

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

A Christmas Story, The Musical
Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Hands on a Hardbody
Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Lyrics: Amanda Green

Kinky Boots
Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper

Matilda The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

*I can’t pick one. They’re all fantastic. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

*I haven’t seen most of these performances so I’m not going to wager a vote.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

*Toss up!

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell, Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy

*Haven’t seen any of these, so I can’t judge.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask, Pippin
David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy

*Haven’t seen any of these, so I can’t judge.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Donald Holder, Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weideman, The Nance

*Haven’t seen any of these, so I can’t judge.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner, Pippin
Kenneth Posner, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm, Pippin
Peter Hylenski, Motown The Musical
John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling, Matilda The Musical
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Chet Walker, Pippin

*Talk about tough decisions. Jesus christ. These were all directed well.

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, Matilda The Musical
Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, Motown The Musical
Danny Troob, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

My Desert Island All-Time Top Five Break-Ups

I’ve had a couple of shows that I’ve absolutely loved that have crashed and burned so quickly on Broadway that it would make your head spin. High Fidelity was one of them. And when a concert of the aforementioned beloved musical is taking place, you buy tickets. (Even if it’s happening at the excessively overpriced 54 Below, you still go.)

Kristen and I both have an unrelenting love for HiFi so we were beaming and our work days could not go by quickly enough.  We grabbed a leisurely dinner at Glass House Tavern and then went over to 54 Below to claim our seats at the bar. It was like a reunion of friends, old and new. I saw so many people that I hadn’t seen in – literally – years. I saw assorted cast members of Bring It On (and one from American Idiot – Van Hughes) at the bar and then realized that they’d be singing back up for the ensemble numbers.

Will Chase took the stage and it started.

I can’t describe how excited, elated, happy, energetic, etc. I was to see this happening in front of me. I mouthed the words. I danced. I think at one point during Desert Island, Taylor Louderman saw me and waved (though I have no idea why because I don’t know her – maybe she was applauding my enthusiasm?). I couldn’t have been any happier. 

image

Will Chase still killed the score. Ana Gasteyer ripped up She Goes. Adam Chandler Berat was a spirited and PERFECT choice for Dick, and Mitch Jarvis was highly entertaining as Barry. When Van Hughes took the stage to sing a few songs as Rob, it was like watching “High Fidelity Jr.” but he was great! Jenn Collella and Amanda Green sang ‘Ready to Settle’ together, which was lovely. Mario Cantone as “The Boss” singing ‘Goodbye and Good Luck" with Will was amazing. David Larsen, Corey Mach, Jon Rua, Janet Krupin, Corey March, Ryann Redmond, and Taylor Louderman were fantastic as the ensemble.

Simply put: the concert was jaw-droppingly amazing. I would pay $35 + $25 food minimum once a month to see that happening in front of my eyes.

We said hello and goodbye to some friends and then went to say hello the star of the night (sort of?) Will Chase. I know Will from years ago, doing lots of benefits with him, and being a fan in general. But I hadn’t seen him for years. I think I ran into him on the street once a year or two ago, before Smash had ever premiered. 

We had a joyous reunion. So joyous that Kristen felt the need to capture it in film.

image

When I joked saying that watching Van was like watching ‘High Fidelity Jr.’ he replied, “No it’s not! He’s the right age. I’m too old for this part!” Hah. We took pictures for old time’s sake. It was fun. I look like incredibly dorky in mine.

image

We told him we’d see him soon, said goodbye to the last of our friends, and then walked down 8th avenue to the train.

To say it was the best night ever might be only a bit of an exaggeration. 

Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations – Playbill.com

So, there were donuts in the conference room at my office today as we waited with baited breath for the nominations on NY1. The donuts were good; the fact that Matilda received 12 nominations was better.

Things I’m particularly excited about:

  • Bring It On’s nominations (Best Musical, Best Choreography). I loved this show – though I may be biased. But I’m totally ecstatic that it got two nominations that it very much, IMO, deserved.
  • Rob McClure for Chaplin. He was just phenomenal. There were no words. 
  • Condola Rashad in The Trip to Bountiful. She was endearing, and funny, and gave a great performance.
  • Pippin’s nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. You just have to see it to get it.

The hysterical moment came when they announced Best Lighting of a Musical. Kenneth Posner received three out of four nominations. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. If he doesn’t win.. it’ll be the biggest shock of the awards.

I guess nothing else is that big of a shock as far as the nominations go. I suppose I have to see Kinky Boots now. I guess I’ll be rushing it! 

Congrats to all of the nominees!

Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations – Playbill.com

Last week I was invited to see a preview of the new musical by Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio (and the brilliant Doug Wright with the book), Hands on a Hardbody. The story is based on the true events that took place in a small down-on-their-luck town in Texas and the ten Texans who try to win a brand new pick-up truck. Whoever takes their hand off the truck last wins all.

The music is, as expected, very country, but also lovely to listen to. The staging, by Sergio Trejullio, around the beautiful center piece (a true-to-lifesized truck) flowed with ease.

The best part, in my opinion, was the cast. Filled with seasoned actors, like Allison Case, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Hunter Foster, and Davis Larsen, it was a true treat to watch them all perform onstage together. 

Neil Pepe also did an excellent job directing this new musical and made sure everything flowed seamlessly as the car turned. Though part of me wonders what it would be like to see this piece in the Circle in the Square Theatre, or any space that’s in the round. 

In any case, Hands on a Hardbody is a new musical that is full of life and hope, much like their main characters. 

Thank you to Serino Coyne for inviting me to see the show!

So, here are a few fun facts about Matilda the Musical:

  • There are eighteen (18!) kids in the show.
  • They never had an invited dress, so one Matilda wouldn’t get the praise above the rest.
  • The role of Matilda is the largest role ever written for such a young (and small) person (she carries about 90% of the show).
  • There were no stops at the first preview tonight.
  • The performance lasted two hours and forty minutes (and this is including the fact that they started a bit late too).
  • The score (which I heard for the first time tonight) is still in my head. (This never happens.)

I’ll post my more formal-ish review after opening night. But for now: just go buy your tickets. You’ll thank me after it opens and tickets are no longer available, like what happened to The Producers (except this is way better – The Producers, IMO, was garbage).

On Holiday.

Non-equity tours have an admittedly sour reputation of being the poor, red headed younger sibling of equity tours. I saw the first non-equity tour of Rent in 2002 and it was a disaster, to say the least. With that in mind, one can assume my expectations were low for the non-equity tour of American Idiot. The equity tour had been somewhat of a let down last year after the Boston Opera House swallowed up what little energy the half-recycled touring cast had. So, while expectations were low, my friends and I happily headed to Hartford yesterday to see the show we loved that we hasn’t seen in over a year. I picked up two copies of Rolling Stone so we could read about our favorite rockstar on the way up.

image

We got Hartford and were thoroughly saddened when the city lacked people and open restaurants. I believe there were a whopping sum of two open restaurants open across Bushnell Park from the theatre. The funny thing was that every Hartford native we came across apologized for their city and its lack of, well, everything. After (way too much) searching we eventually found a lovely little restaurant called Salute and parked ourselves at the bar. Minutes later a sea of suits (WASPS) started filing in. Apparently a new Connecticut Supreme Court justice named Andrew had just been sworn in and we were lunching at the site of his celebratory party. Soon after the suits became overwhelming we paid and went back to meet our friend who’d overslept and missed our bus (no worries, he caught the next one).  We relaxed and charged our phones as we waited for the doors to the Bushnell Theater opened.

image

The theatre was large but not as big as the Boston Opera House. We had awesome seats, Row D, though they were still 8 or so rows back, but they were closer than we’d had in Boston. But finally it was fuck time.

image


Because the proscenium wasn’t nearly as high as at the St. James, they waited longer before they started to raise the curtain amidst the sound bites. The set was shorter but I knew that was coming. I was excited to see an entirely fresh, new cast perform material that I knew like the back of my hand.

One third of the way through (the song) American Idiot my friend leaned over and gave me a thumbs up. I knew he was referring to Alex Nee as Johnny. We’d heard great things about him from a reliable source and we were both pleased he’d been right. He had an edgy, rock voice but with a lovely vibrator that wasn’t overkill. He added subtle nuances to the character here and there (such as hiding his head under a blanket when Know Your Enemy started) that were incredibly effective. You could really feel that he’d hit rock bottom before Wake Me Up When September Ends.

Casey O’Farrell was great too as Will. His look was a little off for me at first – for some reason – but his voice was really pretty and his acting was solid.

Alyssa DiPalma was GREAT as Whatshername. Her costumes were completely different (and awesome!). Her voice was gorgeous and powerful. And her take on the character was slightly more sympathetic because her look wasn’t as “hard” as previous actresses I’d seen. Letterbomb rocked.

Thomas Hettrick was good as Tunny. His acting was spot on, but his voice alternated between sounding like a member of a boy band and one that was way too naisily (at certain moments he was turning his vowels like it was his job).

There there’s Trent Saunders as St. Jimmy. He was an entirely new (and awesome) look and sound for the character, but his stage presence was a little low. He wasn’t as threatening as other actors have played him in the past. That said: I really enjoyed his performance. Jenna Rubaii sounded great as the Extraordinary Girl, and she did what little she could do in the track, and Kennedy Caughell was an entertaining and fresh take on Heather. 

The ensemble held the company together fantastically. Some looked scarily identical to their original counterparts on Broadway. Carson Higgins was excellent as the Representative of Jingletown (and he looked a crazy amount like Theo Stockman). Aurie Ceylon killed the Too Much Too Soon solo. And Turner Rouse Jr. looked a stupid amount like Gerard Canonico. 

image

image

image

We left the theatre elated and satisfied. This cast really brought it, despite the huge house and the much older crowd (who really just… didn’t get it). We headed over to the restaurant next to the bus terminal which would now be open. My friend put his Playbill on the bar and the older couple next to us asked if we’d seen the show and if we liked it, which we said we did. After our enthusiastic response, they told us they were Alyssa DiPalma’s parents, which prompted our genuine praise for their daughter’s performance. Shortly after Ms. DiPalma herself walked in. We minded our own business, chatting amongst ourselves. Before we left we chatted with them and shot a quick photo with DiPalma herself.

image

I love how they’ve done her hair. I’m tempted to almost do a more muted version of it on myself. (Yes… no?) We caught a Greyhound home at 5 and pulled into Port Authority at 7:30.

It was a good day. 

The Beginning of a Rainbow

image

Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Mostly with work, which I love regardless of the fact that I work 50-60 hour weeks now. I literally have no complaints. That also means that I get home at 7:30-8pm and crash (or crash after a yoga class at 9). So that hasn’t left a lot of time for show-going.

But that all changes this week and I’m stoked! On Thursday night I’ll be seeing Zosia Manet in MCC’s “Really Really.” I love Girls so this is super exciting in my mind. I’m excited to see what she can do onstage, even though I’ve read a synopsis of the play and I’m assuming her character will be pretty similar to the one on Girls

Later this week on Saturday, I’ll be trekking up to Hartford with some good friends to see the non-equity tour of American Idiot. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen the show live, so I’m looking forward to this treat. A reputable source claims that the Johnny on tour is the best he’s ever seen, so it should be good.

The trip to Hartford is far, and long. But to experience 90-minutes of punk rock bliss, it’s worth it.

Lastly: I’m going to either the second or fourth preview of Matilda next week. I’m REALLY stoked. Considering that this is THE show that will most likely (you heard it here first) sweep the TONYs, I’m so excited. 

So, let’s pray for a low-stress work week and lots of awesome theatre.