Theatre Thursdays: Tony Time!

Tony Award

Yes, once again it’s that most exciting season for Broadway fans: Tony Time! Nominations have just been announced, kicking off speculation and debate among thespians everywhere pulling for their favorite shows/performers/creators and lamenting the inevitable snub of those who didn’t make it onto the ballot.

You can check the nominees (and pick your favorites) here on the New York Times’ site. I’ve gotta say, I’m a bit surprised by the nominations for Best Musical. For one, there’s not a single original musical to be found in the group: Bring it On, Kinky Boots and A Christmas Story are based on movies and Matilda is based on a book. While I have no problem with musical adaptations of existing works (Wicked, The Secret Garden, and Billy Elliot are firmly in my top ten favorite musicals) I do believe that original musicals need the publicity boost that comes from a Tony nomination more than a musical with built-in name recognition does, and let’s be honest: these awards are a business. I enjoy the event and am glad when my favorites win, but I honestly don’t believe that these awards honor excellence so much as they honor marketability.

That, however, is another reason I’m a bit surprised by the nominations: two of the nominated musicals (Bring it On and A Christmas Story) were limited run events which have already ended and won’t be boosted by this PR, at least not as readily as the currently running shows. Bring it On is supposed to go back out on the road again and A Christmas Story is likely to return as a seasonal event like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but neither of those are happening right now and would probably sell very well with or without the nomination.

Do I sound too jaded? I’m a little jaded. Let’s throw it over to The Onion for their much more lighthearted, if still critical, article on Tony noms. As for me, I’ll do what I always do: watch the broadcast for the musical performances and take the actual awards with a grain of salt. Congratulations to all nominees and to fellow fans, remember: the award (or lack thereof) doesn’t prove or disprove the quality of the show/performer/creator, so try not to take it too hard if your favorite doesn’t win.

Theatre Thursdays: Tony Performances

I know Lady Saika already talked about the Tonys last week, but since I missed them and had to watch the performances on youtube I wanted to post them and talk about them a bit.

Revivals

Godspell‘s performance was nice and lively, but I kinda wish they hadn’t gone out into the audience. It just didn’t seem to work and felt uncomfortable watching the cast try so hard and the audience just kind of passively watch without (many of them) rising from their seats. Hair managed to pull it off a bit better a few years ago though, so I don’t know why this year’s attendees weren’t more receptive.

Follies I’ve never seen, though I very much want to. As such, I can’t say whether this number is indicative of the overall tone or quality of the show but I will say that if I weren’t already interested in the show this individual song may not make me want to see it. It’s funny and performed well but doesn’t tell me enough of the story or tease out enough interest to make me say “Ooh, I want to see more of that!”

The Jesus Christ Superstar revival. I love this show so much but I truly am not excited about this revival (BTW can we have a “woot woot” for Jesus’ presence on Broadway right now? Two shows at once!) Josh Young is very talented, as are the featured singers, but a show like JCS is so done and done and done that for me to want to see it on Broadway (at Broadway prices, especially) it’s gotta be pretty standout from the Community, Regional, and School productions that I could see easier and cheaper. Nothing about this presentation draws me in and I’m just kind of scratching my head over the costumes. I do like the way Jesus is overpowered by the singing though, kind of representing his own actual words being lost to what everyone else says about him.

You surely know by now that I’m super excited for the Evita revival and I love their performance. I wish Elena were featured more prominently though. Ricky Martin does very well though he seems a bit too…normal? I do my best to keep an open mind when celebrities are cast in musicals since so many people hate them on the principle of stunt casting so I don’t want to be too critical. He really does do very well but somehow he’s just not what I expect from Che. Like Enjolras, I want Che to be dynamic, someone who can stir me to revolution, and I just don’t know that I feel this way for Ricky. I wish they would have performed “Buenos Aires” and let Elena show off since she wasn’t nominated, or done “A New Argentina” which would showcase both Elena and Ricky, who I’m sure they want to expose as much as possible, but perhaps they didn’t since both those numbers were performed when the original production opened.

Porgy and Bess I honestly know nothing about, but Audra McDonald is a goddess so you know it’s good when she’s there. (Though if she’s gonna be singing to a swaddled baby, it’s cruel to not have it be “Your Daddy’s Son”) This performance definitely interests me in seeing the show someday, perhaps not running right out for tickets, but definitely on my “Try to see it if I can” list.

Originals

I’ve been really interested in Once and I think this is a beautiful performance. The show seems so different in presentation than most of what’s on B0roadway. It’s not so bombastic, the music is of the people, the choreography is simple but effective, and it just seems like an honest musical. This performance makes me even more interested in seeing the show. I get a feel for the tone and can kind of see some of the story.

Nice Work if You can Get It is not a revival but not exactly original either. The score is put together from the Gershwin songbook and the story is, if I remember correctly, based on a short novel. To be honest the only reason I want to see this show is for my favorite actress Jennifer Laura Thompson who’s playing a featured role. Still it looks good and I know nothing of the Gershwins’ work (Bad musical theatre fan! Bad!) so I’m glad to get something of a crash course in their work. The performances here are nice and give me hope that I’ll enjoy the show even when Jennifer is not on stage.

When I first heard Ghost was made into a musical I thought “Oh God, what next?” After seeing some clips though I got into it. The music sounded good and most shockingly I liked the projected sets (something I typically abhor) but I don’t know how well this number showcases the musical. It seems pretty muddled and I have no idea what’s going on except for knowing the movie.

Oh Raul Esparza, you are so talented. What do I know about Leap of Faith? Little. What’s my interest in seeing it? Almost none…prior to watching this. It’s so lively! From what I hear it’s entirely gospel music which will certainly be a turnoff for some people, and maybe 2+ hours of it will prove to be a turnoff for me, but this performance makes me excited for the show. I’ll definitely wait for a tour though.

Oh Newsies, how I love you! All i ever wanted from the movie was for “Seize the Day” to be a longer song and now it is! Unfortunately it’s longer thanks to an instrumental/dance break and modified but not really new lyrics. I still prefer the original. Still, this choreography is damn impressive and I can’t wait to see the show. If you’ve not yet seen the movie, BTW, I highly recommend it. It’s an incredibly enjoyable watch and features a young Christian Bale with a terrible New York accent.

Theatre Thursdays: The Tonys!

So did anyone else watch the Tonys on Sunday night?

Just me?

Crap.

Well, they actually put on a damn good show. There was an opening number from last year’s best musical winner The Book of Mormon, general all-around clever wonderfulness from host Neil Patrick Harris, and plenty of musical theatre jokes sandwiched in with the snippets of this year’s best musical and play nominees. I was particularly pleased to see the latter, as I found myself woefully ignorant of even the titles of most of the top shows.

Here’s the full list of winners if you want to peruse it. Once (one of those I’d never heard of, but apparently about a young songwriter?) won eight awards, making it the stand-out winner of the night. Hugh Jackman won a special Tony for being awesome in general (“the Hugh Jackman Award For Being Hugh Jackman goes to… Hugh Jackman,” as a friend put it) and adorably accepted it from his wife. And I was personally pleased in the core of my geek soul to see that James Corden (Craig in Doctor Who series 5 and 6) won the Best Actor in a Play Tony above huge names like James Earl Jones, Frank Langella, John Lithgow and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The one thing that made me sad, although I totally understood why they did it for the sake of steamlining the show and not turning it into an Oscar-length fiasco, was that they did all the backstage awards (lighting, sets, costumes, etc.) during the commercial breaks, and flashed back to them when the show returned from commercial. As a costumer I’m interested in these, but like I said, I totally understand that most people would rather watch the actor awards and are content with a recap of who won what design things.

In passing, let NPH sum up the awards for you better than I ever could: