Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Let's Talk Tonys

OK guys. The Tony nominations were announced this morning. And there were some surprises. And upsets. Here is the complete list of nominations followed by my reactions for each category. Sound off in the comments.

Best Play
Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris
Other Desert CitiesJon Robin Bait
Peter and the StarcatcherRick Elice
Venus in FurDavid Ives

I think Clybourne Park is the most well-written of these plays. The rest are really good productions of decent plays. I would have nominated The Lyons by Nicky Silver (the second scene of the second act was one of the most surprising and gripping scenes in a play this year) over Venus in Fur.

Best Musical
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get It

Leap of Faith somehow snuck in there, but it's Newsies (which I need to hurry up and see before school lets out and it's even more impossible to get tickets) versus Once, and I think Once is going to take it. And I wouldn't be mad about that.

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Master Class

The Tony nominators did a pretty good job of remembering closed shows (Master Class and Wit). I'm rooting for Death of a Salesman because it made me appreciate a play that I've never liked. Still haven't seen The Best Man, but it's on my list. I haven't seen A Streetcar Named Desire yet, which was mostly snubbed, but it did get a costume nomination.

Best Revival of a Musical
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar

Sorry Godspell, but the right Jesus musical was nominated. Though Evita wasn't perfect like I wanted it to be, the production was gorgeous, so it would probably get my vote. If I had one. 

Best Book of a Musical
Lysistrata Jones, Douglas Carter Beane
Newsies, Harvey Fierstein
Nice Work If You Can Get It, Joe DiPietro
Once, Enda Walsh
As I said in my review, I was pretty impressed with DiPietro's book for Nice Work, so I'm glad it was recognized. And if Lysistrata Jones deserved a nomination for anything, it was definitely Douglas Carter Beane's book.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bonnie & Clyde
Music: Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics: Don Black
Music: Alan Menken 
Lyrics: Jack Feldman
One Man, Two Guvnors
Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding
Peter and the Starcatcher
Music: Wayne Barker 
Lyrics: Rick Elice
Two plays in the score category again (remember when this happened in 2010, the year of Memphis?). I know I'm in the minority here, but i'm really happy for Wildhorn's nomination. I think Bonnie & Clyde is the best score he's ever written (don't blame him for the lyrics). Can someone explain to me why Newsies is eligible, but Once isn't? Is it because they changed so many of the lyrics?
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist

I haven't seen most of these performances yet, but Philip Seymour Hoffman totally made up for Othello with his performance in Death of a Salesman. I also saw Frank Langella, but I blocked out Man and Boy because I was so bored. I would have given his spot to Hugh Dancy. It may be hard to notice the subtle work he's doing next to Nina Arianda, but I've seen Venus in Fur three times, and his performance makes such a difference. The power shifts are much more effective when the two actors are on an equal playing field.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit

No surprises here, but I was hoping Jennifer Lim would get a nomination for Chinglish. Hope she gets cast in something too. I'm team Nina Arianda. I don't think Venus in Fur would have even made it to Broadway without her.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines, Follies

Is Raul Esparza doomed to never win a Tony? Leap of Faith was nominated for best musical, but Raul Esparza wasn't nominated? Maybe it wasn't the performance of his career, he makes that show watchable. I'm happy for Danny Burstein, but Ron Raines? He didn't do much acting. I think Steve Kazee has a really good shot here.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti, Once
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde

Laura Osnes is the biggest surprise. And not an unwelcome one. A lot of people are upset by Bernadette Peter's snub for Follies, but in my opinion, she didn't deserve a nomination. I'm pretty happy with this list, but I would have probably included Evita's Elena Roger.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park

CHRISTIAN BORLE AND JEREMY SHAMOS!!! Two of my favorites. I haven't seen Michael Cumpsty or Tom Edden yet, so I can't comment on those, but Andrew Garfield, Christian Borle, and Jeremy Shamos all deserve to be there and all own a piece of my heart. However, I am heartbroken that Michael Esper was not nominated for The Lyons. His performance to me made that play, even more than Linda Lavin's. I also would have liked to see Finn Wittrock get a nomination (and not just cause I interviewed him). Also, Hamish Linklater for Seminar.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly

I haven't seen Don't Dress for Dinner yet, but Spencer Kayden used to work at Scholastic, so go Spencer Kayden. And yes on all the rest of these. I can't even make up my mind who I want to win. Let's just make it a 5-way tie.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
David Alan Grier, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar

Remember when I interviewed Phillip Boykin about playing Crown and Michael Cerveris about playing Peron and then they both got nominated for those roles? I'm sensing a trend here. Future Tony hopefuls, take note. Cerveris took what is almost a thankless role and made it one of the most memorable aspects of the show, all while wearing a bad wig. And Boykin, who is a doll in real life, was perfectly scary as crown. Michael McGrath was also one of the best things about Nice Work, so happy to see him recognized. Josh Young missed so many performances that I'm surprised to see him nominated. Though I'm sure Young is good, it's too bad Jeremy Kushnier wasn't eligible. I will love Ricky Martin always and forever, but while he looked and sounded great, his acting was not worthy of a nomination.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jessie Mueller, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical

Honestly, I didn't remember who Elizabeth A. Davis was in Once until someone reminded me. She's good, but I'm surprised that she was singled out when the rest of the ensemble is just as good. I'm glad that Jessie Mueller was remembered. Da'Vine Joy Randolph was good in Ghost the Musical, but that role is such a crowd-pleaser and gets the best lines (like in the movie), so I think whoever is playing it would be nominated. Although I heard the actress playing the role in London was not very good, so maybe I'm wrong. Also, if Laura Osnes was remembered for Bonnie & Clyde, why wasn't Melissa van der Schyff?
Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Donyale Werle. That is all. Well, not all because WHERE IS THE NOMINATION FOR DAVID KORINS'S CHINGLISH SET?
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Once
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
A nomination that Spider-Man actually deserved. Projections and special effects are part of scenic design, right? If so, Ghost the Musical should win. But Christopher Oram's sets for Evita were gorgeous and should have definitely been nominated. 

Best Costume Design of a Play

William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
I've only seen Peter and the Starcatcher, so it's too soon to comment.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Follies
ESosa, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It

ESosa didn't win season 7 of Project Runway, but now he's a Tony nominee, so take that Heidi Klum. Another nomination that Spider-Man deserved, but again, I can't believe Christopher Oram's costumes from Evita weren't nominated. Elena Roger's dress during "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" is stunning.
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Brian MacDevitt, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities

I missed The Road to Mecca, but it must have had really good lighting if that's all it was remembered for.
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical

I never have much to say about lighting, but congrats on your two nominations, Natasha Katz!
Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

Kind of running out of steam here. And I don't know much about sound design.
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Clive Goodwin, Once
Kai Harada, Follies
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It

I didn't see Newsies yet, and I don't think Nice Work is Kathleen Marshall's best choreography (there's not even a tap number). I'm torn between Rob Ashford and Steven Hoggett. So different, so it's hard to compare.
Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher

Good list, but Walter Bobbie is also deserving. Any problems that play has are in the writing and not his direction.

Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany, Once

Should the Tony committee expect a letter from Stephen Sondheim about Paulus's nomination? Again, haven't seen Newsies yet, but I think this is John Tiffany's award.

Best Orchestrations
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once
Danny Troob, Newsies
Bill Elliott deserves this one.

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Emanuel Azenberg

Regional Theatre Award
The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Bernadette Peters

Special Tony Award
Actors’ Equity Association
Hugh Jackman

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
Freddie Gershon
Artie Siccardi
TDF Open Doors


Nicole S said...

Road to Mecca had the slowest lighting cue fade in the history of theater. It was basically meant to feel like the sun was setting and the room was lit by candles. It did but it also felt like I was having a stroke because I couldn't see it was so dark...and boring. But it felt very naturalistic.

Amanda S. said...

I believe the rule is that 50% of a score has to be original for it to be eligible. NEWSIES has a bunch of new songs that were written for Broadway; ONCE does not.

The projections are part of GHOST's scenic design (and NEWSIES'). That's why two people were nominated. A third person (credited for the illusions in GHOST) was eligible for the Drama Desk.

It's all about the journey... said...

If Chinglish did better on Broadway, it would have seen more nominations, which is a shame because it was one of my favorite plays of the season. I really thought the play, Jennifer Lim, and the set design were nomination-worthy.

Also, I think it's shocking, yet appropriate, Raul Esparza did not get nominated for Leap of Faith. But it is shocking and WTF that Hugh Dancy didn't get nominated for his subtle work in Venus in Fur. He was equally good as Nina Arianda in the role, reminding me of the Oscars when Michelle Williams was nominated for "Blue Valentine" and Ryan Gosling was snubbed for the same film.

B Street Theater said...

One of the best parts about Tony nominations is the surprises which come along with them. And the fact that it sparks conversation among professional and armchair critics alike.