Tuesday, May 1, 2012

THE AWARD WITH THE LITTLE SPINNY THING: Unlike last year, there's not a big commercial and critical juggernaut to dominate the Tony Awards (aside from perhaps the Death of a Salesman revival, which is driven to sell-out status largely with stars and a very limited run), though Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, despite its (at best) mixed reviews, is slowly, but surely, making money back.  A few things worth noting in this morning's nominations:
  • Best Play is crazy-competitive this year (at least to get into the nominations), and somewhat surprisingly, The Columnist, The Lyons, and One Man, Two Guv'nors don't make the cut, though Peter and the Starcatcher and Venus in Fur do.
  • In an unusual decision, two of the four nominated scores are for songs in a play (Peter and the Starcatcher and One Man, Two Guv'nors), rather than musicals.  There's an abundance of ineligible scores in new musicals this year (Once, Nice Work If You Can Get It), and distaste for a number of others (Ghost, Spider-Man), so this was an opening.
  • Hardest producer call to make?  Leap of Faith (which I saw in final previews and is kind of a mess) is up for best musical, but no other nods.  Do they stay open in the longshot hope of winning, pitching themselves as the most "original" option (score is entirely new, and the book is significantly retooled from the film)?  (Other nominees in the category are Once, Newsies, and Nice Work.)
  • From the world of TV--Laura Osnes, who won Grease! You're The One That I Want!, is up for Best Actress in a Musical for the long-closed Bonnie and Clyde, and Christian Borle (on the short list of "reasons to still watch Smash) is up for Featured Actor in a Play.  Borle has a decent chance of winning, too.
  • Surprising miss?  Evita--while it's in for best revival, its leading players weren't nominated--its only acting nomination, for Michael Cerveris (aka The Observer from Fringe season 1) as Juan Peron.  Apparently, the Tonys will not be livin' la vida loca.
  • Clearly, the committee was no fan of Spider-Man, but it picks up few (seemingly well-deserved) design nominations.


  1. Tosy and Cosh9:42 AM

    As a huge U2 fan, I should be angry at the Bono/Edge shutout, but really that score is awful.

  2. sconstant10:00 AM

    I'm grumpy about Leap of Faith because I loved the song "Change in My Life" from the movie.  A song that good, and you dump it?  Harumph.  (Marsha, plz back me up, as fellow a capella buff.)

  3. I'm a big fan of the "Are You Ready For A Miracle" number from the film, but substantially everything from the film is dumped save for the basic plot thread (con man preacher comes to small town in Kansas) and a few character names.

  4. Marsha10:10 AM

    They dumped "Change in My Life"????!??!? You gotta be kidding me. Spectacular song, great rendition in the film.  (I really like the movie, though I know it's rather flawed. But I think it's a great Steve Martin performance, and I love the chemistry between him and Debra Winger. And I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes movies.)

  5. Marsha10:10 AM

    The "Juan Person" typo amuses me.

  6. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Has anyone seen Once?  The reviews for it sounded wonderful. 

  7. I just have to say: YAY CLYBOURNE PARK!!!  (It premiered at my theater, Playwrights Horizons, in 2010, and those who follow the theater news know that it had a rocky road to Broadway.  And Jeremy Shamos totally deserves his featured actor nomination.)

    Ahem. Okay, now that that's out of the way:
    I'm surprised that The Lyons didn't edge out Venus in Fur to take the fourth play nomination.  I'm not surprised to see Peter and the Starcatcher nominated, after the rave reviews it received.

    Everyone knows that Best Musical is really just between Once and Newsies, and I think Once has the edge. 

    Boy, that Best Actress in a Play category is competitive: Linda Lavin, Tracie Bennett (getting fabulous reviews for her, if not the play), Stockard Channing, Cynthia Nixon (who I thought was miscast) and Nina Arianda in the role that made her a breakout star?  I think odds are on Lavin.

  8. I saw it Off Broadway at New York Theater Workshop and really enjoyed it and would recommend it, although I'm not sure I'd say it was wonderful.  The music is fantastic, and the best thing about the show is the way the music just invades it and surrounds it. (If you go, definitely arrive about twenty minutes early to catch the musicians playing on stage before the show. The audience can go onstage, get a drink and watch up close.)  The show really is about a passion for music and the way it binds people together, and that comes through clearly. The story didn't work as well for me. I love the movie, and I felt the show tried to push the main characters together a bit too much in a romantic way, and they also made the Girl a bit too much of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl type.  But it's still a great, fun evening of the theater.  And I'm really psyched that the unusual, inventive choreography got a nomination.

  9. Biggest surprise nomination for me might be Peter and the Starcatcher for scenic design.  As I understand, it's exceedingly minimalistic (like sawhorses and planks), but works incredibly well for the tone of the play.  The Tonys tend to recognize showier stuff (like Clybourne Park--see the NY Times photo feature on the set and the massive change they do at intermission).

  10. Marsha10:53 AM

    But why?

  11. Marsha10:58 AM

    I thought of you when I saw that Clyborne Park got a nom, Sue! Yay indeed!

  12. christy in nyc11:27 AM

    I've only seen Spiderman and Nice Work.

    Nice Work is very funny, I thought. I laughed a lot. I rate that pretty highly in my overall enjoyment of a show.

    Spiderman's set and costume design is indeed worthy of recognition. And I really love an over-the-top set. The minimalist music box trend was killing me. The music, though...for me, it was a range from "hey I kind of like this song" to "is the orchestra playing this right, because it doesn't sound like music."

    Among those I haven't seen yet, I'm most interested in Once. It has a pretty good TV ad (rare for Broadway shows). 

  13. Thanks, Sue!  (I was the guest above, BTW.)  I would love to see Once, and I'd also love to see Audra McDonald in Porgy & Bess, even if it sounds like the show has issues. 

  14. Professor Jeff12:04 PM

    I believe he was a character in the Latino version of "Snoopy: The Musical." "If just Juan Person believes in you...."

  15. I thought Bernadette Peters was the weakest of the four leads for Follies, and the Tony voters apparently thought so too.  Would be great to see Jan Maxwell take it.

    Hooray to the acting nominations for Other Desert Cities, although I would have also liked to see Stacy Keach in there.

    And yay!  DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company!  I have worked there.

  16. Saray1:04 PM

    I saw Once on Broadway about a month ago.  Very enjoyable experience, but I wasn't as moved as many of my friends (and much of the audience.)  Most people I know were sobbing at the end of act II; I thought to myself "oh this is sad" and then "wow, I am dead inside."

    But then I saw "Peter and the Starcatcher" and bawled my eyes out at the end, so yay!  Not dead inside!

  17. gretchen1:31 PM

    I saw Once in previews and really enjoyed it.  I hadn't seen the movie and didn't bring any expectations, other than the whole Falling Slowly song, and was a little bewildered by the audience, many of whom started crying well in anticipation of the ultimate conclusion.  As Sue said, it's a love letter to music, not a love story between people.  Aside from that slight glitch, I really would highly recommend it.  The music is wonderful, the cast is extraordinary, and the choreography is understated and beautifully effective. 

    Porgy and Bess is wonderful.  The music is sweeping and lush and gorgeous; Audra does her Awesome Audra thing and has the audience in the palm of her hand; and it is just a treat to listen to her sing. 

    Peter and the Starcatcher is tonight!  I'm excited. 

  18. gretchen1:31 PM

    Yay Sue and Playwrights Horizons!

  19. gretchen1:35 PM

    Jan Maxwell was so great!  Her Could I Leave You was exhilarating.

  20. A couple of other interesting things to note:

    * Out of eight directing nominations, three went to women!  This is great news, considering the very first Tony for directing won by a woman was only 14 years ago (Julie Taymor and Garry Hynes on the same night).

    * Although African-Americans were slightly better represented on B'way this year, that didn't show up in the nominations. No nominations for The Mountaintop, very few for Stick-Fly, and the Streetcar revival (with a largely black cast) didn't get nominated for revival or any acting awards.

  21. Definitely. She also was amazing in "The Ballad of Lucy and Jessie."

  22. Watts4:56 PM

    I rewatched Win/Win Sunday morning and remembered how much I liked Nina Arianda in her small role in that and her small role in Midnight in Paris. Wondered what she was up to - delighted to hear she's got a Tony role, except that might mean I get to see less of her in movies. Poor me.

  23. Watts5:11 PM

    "Tony role"? I meant "Tony nomination".

  24. Nina was nominated last year for "Born Yesterday," but didn't win.  I thought Venus in Fur was kind of hokey as a play, but her performance is amazing, because she's switching between several different characters just completely effortlessly in the blink of an eye.

  25. Watts7:02 PM

    I don't doubt it - I think she could be one of those people that I'd watch in pretty much anything. I find her face mesmerizing.

  26. Emily9:19 AM

    I'm seeing Clyborne Park and The Lyons next week. I'm behind this season because I was out of town a lot during previews, but now I have to catch up before the Tonys.

  27. Emily9:26 AM

    <span>Matt, I agree. I liked the play until the last 15 minutes and then I really disliked it. </span><span>Admittedly</span><span>, I couldn't think of another way for it to end, which was even more </span><span>aggravating</span><span>. That being said, her performance demands the audiences attention the entire time and the fluidity with which she changes characters, emotions, accents, physicality, etc., is definitely worthy of a Tony nom.</span>

  28. The ending I was expecting was for Vanda to turn out to be the playwright's girlfriend and the whole thing having been a very elaborate roleplaying fantasy thing, but that might be too pat.

  29. Emily9:44 AM

    That ending might have frustrated me just as much as the current one.

  30. <span>Nina Arianda is the only acting nominee I've seen and her performance was so stunning I expected she would easily be the favorite. Reading that her category is considered hotly contested makes me think I need to see a lot more plays while I'm in New York.

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