Friday, June 18, 2010

You can't stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky

Since I have a super cool job, our Manager of all things Internet-related asked me to compile a little opinion essay on the Tonys.  Keep in mind this is toned down a little bit for a mass audience read, but here are more or less my opinions of last Sunday night.

The Tonys are my Christmas and my New Year’s and my 4th of July Fireworks. They’re my Super Bowl, my World Cup, my World Series. They’re the hot fudge on my sundae, the sizzle on my steak, the apple of my eye, the skip in my step, the bee’s knees and the cat’s meow, whiskers and pajamas. I’ve loved the Tonys since somewhere around age 8 and have looked forward to that faithful Sunday each June when I could tune into a national broadcast focused entirely on theatre. And now here I am, living in the middle of it all, seeing these shows in real life, formulating informed predictions and opinions.
I love the Tonys.

Until this year. Producers, you let me down, both in execution and insistence upon roping Hollywood into our night. But enough about that. Let’s focus on the good, shall we?

Production cracks aside, the opening number showed off the talent to come, and I appreciated the concept. (The screeching 14 year old inside me probably loved Green Day’s appearance. Probably.) Sean Hayes gave an adorable opening monologue, helped along by the even more adorable Kristin Chenoweth and it was onto the first award of the broadcast.

The bad: Scarlett Johansson somehow managed to win the award and oust Broadway darling Jan Maxwell from Lend Me a Tenor. Cue panic and shrieking.

The good: ScarJo’s camera moments also provided ample face time for Ryan Reynolds AND co-star Liev Shreiber. Cue much more, but seemingly calmer, shrieking.

Before I could wallow into a pool of too much ScarJo success scorn, the men of Million Dollar Quartet took the stage began to wail (in a good way) and I was happy again. And then Eddie Redmayne won a Tony for his performance in Red, so I was happier still. And then Katie Finneran of Promises, Promises and Levi Kreis of Million Dollar Quartet joined the winner’s circle and I sat on the couch positively beaming. Performances from the casts of Fela, Ragtime, La Cage aux Folles and Memphis brought on more beaming, clapping, and shrieking. (My poor roommates.)

And then Football star Mark Sanchez took the stage and again, I groaned in the producer’s general direction for being so transparent in their attempt for ratings but then actual theatrical people like Angela Lansbury and David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammar, and much later in the show Bernadette Peters and Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane all made me happy once more. And then, more groaning, as Catherine Zeta Jones not only butchered a Sondheim classic but somehow wrestled the Tony away from Memphis’ deserving Montego Glover. Then hit TV show Glee's Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele reminded American they were Broadway Babies before being TV's newest darlings.

And though I’d picked Alfred Molina for Best Actor in a play, I knew it would be a close race between him and Denzel Washington, so I cannot claim surprise or disappointment. At least I pegged Viola Davis for Fences and Douglas Hodge for La Cage aux Folles correctly.

Before I knew it (and after the American Idiot cast delivered yet another phenomenal performance and Spiderman graced the stage) it was time for Red and Memphis to take home the evening’s final Tonys. I’m not sure what made me happier: the fact that two deserving shows brought in so much recognition, or the fact that of the 26 categories up for grabs, I correctly predicted 19 winners. But seriously, next year let’s leave the West Coast out of this, hire new sound and camera crews and have a better go, ok?

And in honor of our big winner, Memphis: HOCKADOO!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's not over till you're underground.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year.
TONY AWARDS SUNDAY. (I really am a gay man inside. I'm convinced of it.) Apparently I'm all aboard the Memphis and Red trains. Which is funny, because I thought I'd be more on board the Million Dollar Quartet and American Idiot trains, but when you break out the components of each piece, I do think Memphis has the majority of votes. Also, I'm finding Memphis a harder sell, so I want as many Tonys as possible behind it so I can be all see, EVERYONE loves it! You should buy tickets and keep its music going!

Hard to believe that a few years ago, the Tonys were a chance for me to look through a window and get a faint pulse on Broadway and now here I am making informed predictions. Oh life, you're funny.

So. I'm going to post my predictions (and let's face it - some explanations and rants, too) and we'll see how I do tomorrow night!

Best Play
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Next Fall
Time Stands Still

Best Musical

American Idiot
Million Dollar Quartet
(Ok. Every year I hate at least one musical nominated. So totally not the case this year. I love them all like my own darling children. I'm choosing Memphis NOT necessarily because it's my actual pick to win, I just think it's going to be the one TO win. I think Million Dollar and American Idiot are going to divide the committee in votes, and I think Memphis is going to edge out Fela! But GAH - what shows, what talent, what amazingness all around. If I had to pick a personal favorite, I'm going to have to say American Idiot with a Million Dollar Quartet a close close close close close second. But Memphis! Fela! I love love love you two too!)

Best Book of a Musical
Everyday Rapture
Million Dollar Quartet
(Um. Going out on a limb here. Honestly, Everyday Rapture has a hell of a shot - the other three are fantastic SHOWS but I cannot really commend the scripts for anyone other than Everyday Rapture. Especially not Million Dollar's book. I'm sorry. I can't.)

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Addams Family
(Come on. Seriously. This one isn't even a competition. Also, ENRON got nominated for something? It is seriously the worst thing Broadway saw this year, if not this decade.)

Best Revival of a Play
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View from the Bridge
(A View from the Bridge gave it a run for its money, but we all know Fences is winning. Like tickets weren't already hard enough to get...)

Best Revival of a Musical

Finian's Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
(My heart weeps a little with this answer. I loved Ragtime. LOVED RAGTIME. And kudos to Finian's for the nod, though I hardly agree. But La Cage? Shoe-in. Really pretty high heeled shoe-in.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jude Law, Hamlet
Alfred Molina, Red
Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
Denzel Washington, Fences
(No snark. It's just how I feel. Sorry, Denzel and Christopher and Jude and especially Liev. You're all very pretty and talented. Well, 3 of you are very pretty.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Viola Davis, Fences
Valerie Harper, Looped
Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family
(We all know it's happening. Cannot wait for the acceptance speech.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!
(I want to vote for Chad or Sahr, really I do buuuuut....I also want to be right about who wins.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
(Oh Christiane, I loved you and Ragtime so much, but Montego had BETTER WIN. You hear me, girl? WIN.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

David Alan Grier, Race
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Stephen Kunken, Enron
Eddie Redmayne, Red
(Because I like it when cute things happen, so I want Red to sweep both actor categories.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
Jessica Hecht, A View from the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor
(Because dammit, it's Jan's turn. If ScarJo wins...ugh. Gross. I don't even want to think about it.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian's Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime
(It's gross how talented this man is. And we ALL know of my love for CFitz, but Levi, you've got this one.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!
(Because all 15 minutes of her performance were the one bright spot in an otherwise blah production. I'm sorry. I really wanted to like it otherwise, but I really did not.)

Best Scenic Design of a Play

John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
Christopher Oram, Red
(Because I love an underdog, so I want Red to beat Fences in as many categories as possible.)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Play
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences
(Red, Red, Red...)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!

Best Sound Design of a Play

Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim

Best Direction of a Play
Michael Grandage, Red
Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
Kenny Leon, Fences
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge
(...Red, Red, Red...)

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
(Because if Bill can win for Spring Awakening but not Fela! I will laaaaaaugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.)

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis