Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Theater Roundup, Yearbook Style

A yearbook-style update on some of my recent theatergoing.

Best Discovery: MasterVoices
Photo credit: Erin Baiano
I'm kind of late to the party on this one. The Collegiate Chorale was founded in 1941, but I was introduced to the performing arts organization this season when it changed its name to MasterVoices and started a new partnership with New York City Center to present concert versions of operas and operettas in English. In October, it kicked off this new initiative with Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance; or, the Slave of Duty featuring Deborah Voigt as Ruth, Douglas Hodge as Major-General Stanley, Hunter Parrish as Frederic, and Phillip Boykin as the Pirate King. All these stars didn't take away from the pleasures of listening to the chorus and orchestra, conducted by Ted Sperling. Next up is Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell and Nahum Tate with a world premiere companion piece by Michael John LaChiusa. Dates for these works, featuring Kelli O'Hara and Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza reunion!), are April 28 and 29.

Biggest Surprise: Songbird
Left to Right: Eric William Morris, Adam Cochran, and Kate Baldwin in Songbird. Photo credit: Jenny Anderson Photography.
I don't consider myself a country music fan, but I loved Lauren Pritchard's score for the new musical Songbird, currently at 59E59, so much that I'm hoping for a cast recording. Bookwriter Michael Kimmel captures the essence of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull while believably updating the story to take place in present-day Nashville. It's fun to watch Kate Baldwin play a character with a mean streak as Tammy Trip (Irina Arkadina as a country star instead of famous actress). Everyone in the cast is terrific, but Kacie Sheik as Missy, the stand-in for Masha, is a standout. Her voice and Pritchard's music are a perfect match. Every morning at 10 a.m., tickets to that day's performance are sold for just $10 online at Ticket Central, so there's no excuse not to see it.

Best Use of Abs: Trip of Love
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy
Trip of Love is a dance musical featuring music of the '60s. There is a story shoehorned in that doesn't make a lot of sense, so it's best to ignore that and soak in the psychedelic costumes and sets, powerhouse vocals, and the abs on constant display (both male and female).

Most Dedicated: Annaleigh Ashford
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
At a blogger Q&A for A.R. Gurney's Sylvia, now on Broadway at the Cort Theatre, Annaleigh Ashford spoke about going to obedience and agility training with her dog, Gracie. Ashford, who plays a dog in the show about the relationship between a man and his pet, embodies canine behavior without crawling on all fours and imitating an animal. She tends to rely on the same schtick for every role I've seen her in, but it works here. I can't say the same for Matthew Broderick, who is as stiff and lifeless as he's been for years.

Best All-Around: On Your Feet
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy
Bio-musicals are tricky, but On Your Feet!, the musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan, has charismatic leading performances (remember the names Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra) and music that makes you want to get up and dance (and you might be asked to do that--I had to join a conga line and even my fear of audience participation did not stop me from enjoying the show). The book by Alexander Dinelaris does not completely avoid the clichés of a music industry story (there's of course a moment when a record studio executive tells the Estefans that they will never cross over into non-Latin markets), but it also has a lot of genuine laughs. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Checking In With Fringe Encores: Part 2

As you enter the SoHo Playhouse for Wasted, an Edinburgh Fringe transfer, there is a fun, club-like energy. Loud music plays, lights flash, and the actors, Serena Jennings and Will Merrick, act like bouncers, directing audience members to their seats and asking for IDs. As the hour goes on, the fun starts to fade into questions of what constitutes consent when drinking.

This is a topic that's been explored before on television (especially well-done last season on Switched at Birth), film, and theater, but as long as these things continue to happen, these stories need to be told. And Kat Woods manages to find a fresh take in her format--brief scenes, which sometimes place the audience in a similar disorientated state of mind as the characters. Oli (Merrick) and Emma (Jennings) meet at a club through their friends and end up spending the night together, but the exact events are a puzzle for both the audience and characters to figure out. Merrick and Jennings play all the characters and without resorting to exaggeration, they make it easy to distinguish between them all.

Woods writes believable dialogue that feels very true to the culture of nightlife in the UK. It was a smart move not to change the language for an American audience. The slang might be different, but the events could just as easily happen here.

Remaining performances are October 21 at 8 and October 22 at 7 pm.

Q&A with Jenn Kent, currently starring in Rocking Dead: Bedlam

If you dream of zombie apocalypses, you can soon live out that fantasy in the new interactive show, Rocking Dead: Bedlam. It runs from October 22 through October 31 at the Medicine Show Theatre (549 West 52nd Street). I spoke to Jenn Kent, one of the actors, to find out more about what you can expect.

Q: Who do you play?
A: I play TayTaythe hostess with the mostest! TayTay'll tell you your future right before she pulls you on the dance floor and introduces you to the joys of dust.

Q: What do you want audiences to know about your show?
A: It's the most fun you can have in the post-apocalypse! Really, we have a zombie cage match, an organ toss, sexy people, and awesome dance music. If you like to party, you need to come join us and party like you never have before!

Q: Why do you think zombies are big right now in popular culture?
A: I got sucked into the zombie phenomenon when I did my first zombie show three years ago. I think different people find different aspects of the phenomenon alluring. Some like to shoot zombies, others plan their survival, others like the make-up, and yet others allow themselves perspectiveas shitty as things get, at least they're not zombies. I personally like exploring the interconnectedness of all the survivors and how they come together and rely upon each other for survival.

Q: What would you do in the case of an actual zombie apocalypse?
A: I'd surround myself with people I trust and can rely upon, find a yacht, and sail to the Caribbean.

Q: And finally, since it's almost Halloween, what was your best Halloween costume ever?
A: I'm pretty much a sexy kitty every year. This year, I'm gonna switch it up... sexy zombie kitty!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Checking in with Fringe Encores

This year, I was out of town for most of the New York International Fringe Festival (for those interested, you can read about some of my summer travels here and here), but I'm checking out some of the shows I missed at SoHo Playhouse during the Fringe Encores Series, which also features shows from the Edinburgh Fringe. Last week, I caught Daniel Cainer's 21st Century Jew and Schooled.

I must admit I hadn't heard of Daniel Cainer before now, but judging from all the audience requests during the encore, he has a fan base, and it's not hard to see why. His easygoing approach makes it easy to listen to him for an hour. Using song, projections, and stories, he explores what it means to be Jewish today. It sometimes feels more like a concert than a cohesive show, but then again, each song is strong enough to stand on its own. Though he is often funny, he is even better when telling a moving story, such as one about going to cricket games with his grandfather. This show will especially resonate with other 21st century Jews, but you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate a skilled storyteller at work.

Remaining performances at the Huron Club (downstairs at SoHo Playhouse) are October 13 at 7, October 14 at 3, and October 18 at 3.
Lilli Stein and Quentin Maré in Schooled. Photo credit: Andrea Reese
Schooled was one of the most talked about shows at Fringe and the winner of overall excellence for playwriting. Lisa Lewis explores sexism and privilege through three characters at a college campus. Andrew (Quentin Maré), a screenwriter and professor, offers to help senior Claire (Lilli Stein) with her script. She is hoping to get a prestigious grant, which requires a nomination from a professor. Her much richer boyfriend, Jake (Stephen Friedrich), is going after the same grant. Lewis's pithy dialogue hones in on problems in our society, such as when Claire tells Jake, "I can tell a 50-year-old man, 'I like your movies,' without it meaning, 'I want to sleep with you.'" When Jake says that's what men hear, she answers, "That's not my problem." Snaps.

There is one performance left on October 17 at 7, but don't be surprised if it transfers soon.

Musical Comedy, Politics, and Free Donuts

When you enter the Actors' Temple Theatre for Who's Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started the The Iraq War, you might wonder if you're in the right place. There is a table with free donuts and mimosas in the middle of the room, with chairs arranged in a circle around it. No, you didn't accidentally walk into a meeting. Well, not exactly. The musical by Marshall Pailet and A.D. Penedo takes place at a support group for people who started the Iraq War, so the treats help set the scene. Actors take their seats in the circle and Brandon Espinoza, who plays the support group leader and various other roles, starts the meeting. Don't worry, though, despite the intimate staging (Pailet also directs), you won't be asked to participate.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniels

As each character tells his or her role, we see flashbacks, often elaborately told through song and dance (Misha Shields's choreography impressively utilizes the minimal space). There are a lot of pieces in the true story (with dramatic license taken, of course) of how the Iraq War started and Pailet and Penedo make it easy to follow. There's Richart Becker (Brennan Caldwell), a German detective responsible for Curveball (Nehal Joshi), an Iraqi defector who claims to have intel on biological weapons. He sends information to CIA analysts Berry (Larisa Oleynik) and Jerry (Olli Hasskivi), who verify it with weapons inspector Martin Bouchard (Bob D'Haene). Though they are all convinced that Curveball is telling the truth, CIA operative Tyler Nelson (Jason Collins) is skeptical.

Although the members of the cast, which also includes Claire Neumann in multiple roles, have varying skills in the vocal department (Joshi is the standout), they all work extremely hard. Though comedy should appear effortless, for the most part, their efforts pay off, as in Caldwell's big number, "Das Man," (German words in musical numbers always seem to be funny). For fans of The Secret World of Alex Mack or 10 Things I Hate About You, it's also fun to see Oleynik rap.

But it's not all frivolity and the writers deserve credit for tackling this subject matter in such an unexpected way. The musical is based on J.T. Allen's 2005 screenplay, which couldn't get made in Hollywood. Producer Charlie Fink writes in a program note, "Musical comedy may be one of the few vehicles through which we can see and accept our responsibility for what happened, and what we will do in the future to repair the world we have so terribly broken." It's also a form which can constantly evolve and surprise as long as producers are willing to take risks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Let's Talk About Sex... And Talk... And Talk

Threesome might be the least sexy ménage a trois ever. The sex talk is theoretical, not dirty, and  foreplay involves establishing context. But at 59E59 through August 23, Yussef El Guindi offers intellectual stimulation.
Photo caption: Hunter Canning
El Guindi delves into issues of gender equality and cultural identity through an Egyptian-American couple--Leila (Alia Attallah) and Rashid (Karan Oberoi). In an attempt to work out their relationship issues, they've invited a stranger--Doug (Quinn Franzen), who they met at an office party--into their bedroom. As the characters talk their way around any actual sex, they sometimes feel more like mouthpieces than real people, but the debates not often heard on stage are worth hearing. 

Full-frontal nudity is used twice in the show, very effectively. First, Doug is introduced completely naked (bravo Franzen for being game to bare all for such a long period of time) and it's refreshing to see male nudity used as comic relief. Later, it is used as an act of empowerment. Nudity, like threesomes, doesn't always need to titillate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Girls and Boys

Feminist. Body image. Cougar. Needy. Pushy. Family. Biological clock. These words--which immediately make one think of women--are written on a white panel on the left side of the set on which Howard Korder's Boys' Life and Rebecca Gilman's Boy Gets Girl are playing in rep through August 2. On the right of the stage is a similar panel with labels like narcissism, player, bro-mance, weakness, chiseled, testosterone, and nice guy. And in the middle is vocabulary for what happens when men and women interact--hope, friend zone, awkward, fear, marriage, and compromise. Different terms resonate in each scene in The Seeing Place Theater's thoughtful productions, directed by Erin Cronican (Boys' Life) and Brandon Walker (Boy Gets Girl).
Natalie Neckyfarow, Logan Keeler, and Brandon Walker in Boys' Life. Photo credit: Russ Rowland
In Boys' Life, the words on the male panel draw attention to the way Jack (Walker), Phil (Logan Keeler), and Don (Alex Witherow) want others to see them and the ways they are afraid of being perceived. Written in 1988 and nominated for a Pulitzer, the play presented as a series of vignettes probably felt more groundbreaking at the time. It hasn't aged well and might make more sense as a period piece (characters in this production have iPods and cell phones). It's hard to have sympathy for any of these men who behave in deplorable ways as a means to sex or the women, who let themselves be treated poorly. Sure, people like this still exist, but Boys' Life on its own doesn't say anything that interesting about them. So it is smart of The Seeing Place to pair it with a better play.
Daniel Michael Perez and Erin Cronican in Boy Gets Girl. Photo credit: Russ Rowland
Boy Gets Girl premiered in Chicago in 2000 and is still terrifying and relevant today. Journalist Theresa Bedell (Cronican, giving one of the evening's most powerful performances) goes on a decent blind date with Tony (Daniel Michael Perez) and agrees to a second date. After she realizes that there is no chemistry there, she tells him politely that work makes relationships impossible. He doesn't take no for an answer and continues to call and send flowers, even show up at her office. Gilman, with believable dialogue, hits on something really troubling in society about what is thought of as normal male behavior. It takes Theresa's coworkers some time to be seriously concerned, at first thinking Tony is sweetly persistent.

One of her coworkers, Mercer (Walker), has a theory that men are conditioned from the movies that women will reject them and then have to be chased before being won over. Though the characters in Boys' Life aren't as insane as Tony, it sets up this idea. Clearly the company has thought a lot about how the two works can have a conversation with each other, which should extend to conversations after the shows.

Boys' Life is 90 minutes and Boy Gets Girl is 120 minutes. Neither has an intermission, but there is a 30 minute break in between the two. Tickets are only $15 for each.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Drinks and Shakespeare

I love Shakespeare. I love seeing his plays performed classically. And I'm also always down to see a modern interpretation. Drunk Shakespeare caters to both the Shakespeare buff and the theatergoer who would rather see anything else than a Shakespeare play.

The space at the Lounge at Roy Arias Stages at 300 West 43rd Street is set up like a library, so if you're a nerd like me, you'll feel at home as soon as you arrive (and the complimentary shot is a nice way to kick things off). At every performance, an actor is selected as the "drunk actor." He/she starts with five shots of whiskey, and continues to drink throughout the performance of Macbeth, occasionally bringing up volunteers from the audience to join. Luckily, no one is forced to participate, but if you love being part of the show, then you might want to be the King or Queen. That means you sit in a throne during the show, drink champagne, eat caviar, and get to make decisions during the play. It's priced at $500, but if no one reserves ahead of time, it's auctioned off to the highest bidder, starting at $15.

My only complaint would be that I would have preferred a play that isn't performed as often as Macbeth, since I've seen it so many times recently, but at least I'd never seen it like this. As the actors point out, Shakespeare plays have a lot of references to alcohol, so it just makes sense. The scenes are performed using Shakespeare's original language, but actors interrupt to clarify things in the play or bring up pop culture references. You can order drinks throughout the 90 minutes and they will be brought to the table. But this is a show that can be enjoyed sober. Shakespeare really is for everybody.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I Saw Entourage And That Doesn't Make Me A Terrible Person

According to many posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, the Entourage movie is the worst thing to happen in the history of cinema. Maybe even in the history of the world. I don't remember ever seeing so much hate for the release of a movie. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to see it and expressing that on social media. But what I found strange was the disbelief that anybody would have any interest in seeing it except maybe bro-y douchebags. I am a woman of reasonably sound mind and this weekend I paid (matinee price, of course, because who can afford to pay full price for movies anymore) to see Entourage in the theaters. I don't think anyone is asking me to defend myself or that anyone needs to defend the entertainment he or she chooses to consume, but with all the negativity surrounding the movie, I just wanted to throw out another perspective.

Entourage only opened at number four at the box office and it got terrible reviews. That's pretty fair. It wasn't a great or, let's be honest, even good movie. It was a movie for fans of the show. And it succeeded on that level. That's all I expected from it. Like most Entourage fans, I really enjoyed the first few seasons and then continued to watch out of a completist's need. That's also why I saw the movie, which was basically an extended episode, no better or worse than the episodes towards the end of the series.

I smiled as the familiar theme song played. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and it had been so long since I'd heard it. I was happy to see each of the characters again as they appeared, at least at first (in truth, I really only always loved Drama and tolerated the rest). All the recurring characters made appearances and acted pretty consistently with the way they acted on the show. Yes, it sucks that the female characters aren't written better. But I have other shows I watch for well-written female characters. And I think it's ok to be entertained by a show or movie with sexist characters. It's not the same as condoning the behavior. The show was always escapist, and as a woman, I can be disgusted by some of the conversations and also drawn to the fantasy of living in a huge house, eating extravagant meals, and telling people off the way Ari does.

Creator Doug Ellin has said that he would do 20 Entourage movies and I hope he gives up on that plan. It should end with this movie. But if he does make another one, I'll probably see it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The New Group is on A Roll

To tell you the truth, The New Group has always been pretty hit or miss for me. But this 20th anniversary season has made up for all the misses with Sticks and Bones, Rasheeda Speaking, and now, The Spoils, Jesse Eisenberg's third play.
L to R: Jesse Eisenberg, Erin Darke, Michael Zegen, Annapurna Sriram, Kunal Nayyar
Photo credit: Monique Carboni
Eisenberg has once again written himself a character who is spoiled, sexist, racist, and thinks he's superior to everyone. That probably doesn't sound like a guy you want to spend two hours with, but it's impossible to look away from Eisenberg's fidgety performance, even while you cringe at the words coming out of his mouth.

Ben (Eisenberg) lives in a nice apartment (Derek McLane's set makes me jealous that I don't live there) paid for by his father. He was kicked out of film grad school, so now he spends his days working on his movies although it doesn't seem like he's ever actually made one. He lets his Nepalese roommate, Kalyan (Kunal Nayyar), stay rent free, but he treats him terribly. According to the program, Kalyan is based on Eisenberg's Nepalese friend and I hope Eisenberg treats him better in real life. It's hard not to wonder if Eisenberg is trying to ease his own guilt with his writing, but I'm not here to review the person, just the play, which is getting an excellent production directed by Scott Elliott.

Ben runs into an old classmate from grade school, Ted (Michael Zegen, mastering the art of the awkward laugh), who it turns out is marrying Ben's old crush, Sarah (Erin Darke). Ben invites Ted, Sarah, and Kalyan's girlfriend, Reshma (Annapurna Sriram), for a dinner party. The writing is sharp and funny and actually sounds like how young people talk, especially when spoken by this fine cast of actors. You might find yourself simultaneously laughing and sighing in recognition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marathon Theater + Sugary Cereal = A Good Way To Spend a Sunday

Madeleine Bundy as Kapow-i GoGo, Photo credit: Crystal Arnette
I often joke that the perfect run time is 75–90 minutes with no intermission. But as much as I love getting home at a decent hour, I honestly think that a show should be as long as it takes to tell the story well. I also love marathon theater. There's something fulfilling about spending the day with the same audience members, getting to know characters over a long period of time. So I happily sat through four-and-a-half hours of Kapow-i GoGo on Sunday. Based on anime and video games, Kapow-i GoGo is broken down into three parts (each is about 60-75 minutes, so it falls into my perfect run time), each further separated into three episodes. There are three-minute breaks between each episode and fifteen-minute breaks between each part, enough time to grab some free sugary cereal and candy, so you can really feel like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons.

The saga starts with our blue-haired heroine, Kapow-i GoGo (Madeleine Bundy), at 14 as she heads with her brother, Hiccup (Michael Axelrod), and teacher, Master Masterwhiskies (Hank Lin), to a tournament to determine the World's Greatest Fighter. She even has a kick-ass theme song, written by Brian Hoes. The episodes get darker as she grows into adulthood and continuously has to save the world. She also falls in love, and not to give away too much, but it's refreshing to see a love story between two women treated so naturally.

Although I've played a lot of Super Mario Bros. in my day, I'm not as well-versed in anime and was worried that I wouldn't understand a lot of the references, but it didn't really matter. It helped that my plus one is a Pokémon fan and explained a lot of the inside jokes I missed, but the story by Matt Cox works on its own. As solely a parody, it would probably get old after an hour, but I grew to really care about the characters. A lot of this is in the writing, but also in the multi-layered performances that co-directors Kristin McCarthy Parker and Joel Soren get out of the entire cast.
Karsten Otto and Matt Cox as Mr. Smiles and Mr. Snuggles, better known as Team Trouble
Photo credit: Eleanor Philips
Bundy is both sweet and tough as Kapow-i and believably plays every age. Josh Boerman and Soren's perfect costumes also subtly change as she gets older. It truly is an ensemble piece, but I had particular affinity for Team Trouble, made up of Mr. Smiles (Karsten Otto) and Mr. Snuggles (Cox), often the comic relief, but also surprisingly moving in their friendship. And Evan Maltby broke my heart a few times as Tuxedo Gary, Kapow-i's insecure "rival since they were both babies."

Your next chance to see Kapow-i GoGo is Sunday, June 20th at 1 p.m. at the PIT. Tickets are $30 for the whole marathon and are available here, so go (go).

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Two Shocking Plays Written 400 Years Apart

In December, I wrote a blog post for Theasy.com about how I was unsettled (in a good way) by a lot of theater I had been seeing. This week I have two plays to add to the list of shows that shocked and disturbed me and they were written nearly 400 years apart: John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Belarus Free Theatre's Trash Cuisine. (It's a good thing I split them up with the lighthearted Something Rotten! You can read my review of that show on Theasy.com.)
Amelia Pedlow, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, and Matthew Amendt in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
Photo credit: Richard Termine
If you've never had a chance to see 'Tis Pity, Red Bull Theater's production at The Duke on 42nd Street is worth checking out. This play written in the 1630s has more incest and gore than an episode of Bates Motel. Giovanni (Matthew Amendt) and Annabella (Amelia Pedlow) are in love, but they happen to be brother and sister. The press release asks, "What if Romeo and Juliet were brother and sister?" Similarities to the work of Ford's predecessor William Shakespeare extend past the star-crossed lovers plot and include poetic language and a foolish comic relief character, in this case Bergetto (Ryan Garbayo). Jesse Berger's direction makes it easy to follow the various twists and turns (Giovanni and Annabella live in Parma surrounded by a lot of questionable people).

As fascinated as I was by the play, I felt detached from it--observing it from a distance but not able to connect to the characters. Still, I had to shield my eyes from the bloody bodies piling up at the end. And that is light entertainment compared to what the audience at La Mama has to endure during Trash Cuisine.

Belarus Free Theatre was founded in 2005 by Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada, who conceived this play, the company's first English work. In 2011, they found out that if they returned to Belarus, they would be imprisoned. They sought political asylum in the U.K. and now have permanent residence in London and Minsk.

Belarus is the last continent in Europe where capital punishment is legal and Trash Cuisine uses food to tell various stories about capital punishment from around the world. It is an attack on the eyes, ears, and nose. For example, we smell meat cooking as one actor describes an extremely horrific act during the Rwandan genocide and in another scene we hear a horribly loud sound simulating an electric chair. In contrast, there are moments of genuine beauty by choreographer Bridget Fiske.

I am in awe of the cast and honestly have no idea how they perform this show. I know they are acting, but some moments of brutality felt so real. They all deserved to be mentioned by name: Victoryia Biran, Kiryl Kanstantsinau, Siarhei Kvachonak, Esther Mugambi, Stephanie Pan, Pavel Radak-Haradnitski, Maryia Sazonava, Philippe Spall, and Arkadiy Yashin.

As much as I wanted to leave the theater at times, I'm glad I stuck it out. Sometimes we need a reminder of the horrors going on in the world.

'Tis Pity She's a Whore runs through May 16. Trash Cuisine runs through May 17.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thoughts on the 2015 Tony Nominations

We all know that awards are subjective and don't mean that much and all that, but boy, do we theater fans love talking (and tweeting and writing) about them. That's why I write this post every year. I have tickets to see a lot of the nominated shows over the next few weeks, so there's a lot I can't comment on yet, but I've seen enough to have plenty of opinions. So, here is the complete list of nominees, followed by some commentary in each category. Let's do this thing.

[I've now seen everything except An American in Paris and Wolf Hall, so I've added a few updates below.]

Best Play
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Simon Stephens
Producers: Stuart Thompson, Tim Levy for NT America, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Nick Starr & Chris Harper for NT Productions, Bob Boyett, Roger Berlind, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Glass Half Full Productions, Ruth Hendel, Jon B. Platt, Prime Number Group, Scott Rudin, Triple Play Broadway, The Shubert Organization, The National Theatre
Author: Ayad Akhtar
Producers: The Araca Group, Lincoln Center Theater, Jenifer Evans, Amanda Watkins, Richard Winkler, Rodger Hess, Stephanie P. McClelland, Tulchin/Bartner Productions, Jessica Genick, Jonathan Reinis, Carl Levin/Ashley De Simone/TNTDynaMite Productions, Alden Bergson/Rachel Weinstein, Greenleaf Productions, Darren DeVerna/Jere Harris, The Shubert Organization, The David Merrick Arts Foundation
Hand to God
Author: Robert Askins
Producers: Kevin McCollum, Broadway Global Ventures, CMC, Morris Berchard, Mariano V. Tolentino, Jr., Stephanie Kramer, LAMS Productions, DeSimone/Winkler, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Timothy Laczynski, Lily Fan, Ayal Miodovnik, Jam Theatricals, Ensemble Studio Theatre, MCC Theater
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Co-Authors: Hilary Mantel and Mike Poulton
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis & Nick Salmon for Playfull Productions UK, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Jam Theatricals, Ron Kastner, Kyodo Tokyo, Inc., Tulchin Bartner Productions, WLE MSG, Jane Bergère, Scott M. Delman, Rebecca Gold, Just for Laughs Theatricals, Kit Seidel, Triple Play Productions, Gabrielle Palitz, Georgia Gatti, Jessica Genick, Will Trice, The Shubert Organization, The Royal Shakespeare Company
I haven't seen Wolf Hall Parts One & Two, but I loved all three of the other nominees (I saw Hand to God off-Broadway, but I can't imagine it changed a lot). This is a really tough category. Disgraced won a Pulitzer, so you would think that would give it an edge, but it already closed. I was angry when War Horse won the Tony because it was the production winning and not the play itself, but I don't think that's the case with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Yes, so much of the power of it is tied with the way it is staged, but I still think there is substance in the play itself.
Best Musical
An American in Paris
Producers: Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan, Roy Furman, Stephanie McClelland, Darren Bagert, Carole L. Haber, James Nederlander, Five Cent Productions, Michael Leavitt, Apples and Oranges Studios/Dominion Pictures, Roger Berlind/Arch Road, Simone Genatt Haft/Marc Routh, Triptyk Studios/Spencer Ross, Ed Walson/Peter May, Adam Zotovich/Celia Atkin, Eugene Beard/Julie Boardman/Kalish-Weinstein, Stuart Ditsky/Jim Herbert/Sandy Robertson, Suzanne Friedman/Independent Presenters Network/Wonderful Productions, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust/Jenkins-Taylor/Proctors, Harriet Newman Leve/Jane Dubin/Sarabeth Grossman, Caiola Productions/Jennifer Isaacson/Raise the Curtain, Elephant Eye Theatrical & Pittsburgh CLO, Théâtre du Châtelet
Fun Home
Producers: Fox Theatricals, Barbara Whitman, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Tom Casserly, Paula Marie Black, Latitude Link, Terry Schnuck/Jack Lane, The Forstalls, Nathan Vernon, Mint Theatrical, Elizabeth Armstrong, Jam Theatricals, Delman Whitney, Kristin Caskey & Mike Isaacson, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham
Something Rotten!
Producers: Kevin McCollum, Broadway Global Ventures, CMC, Mastro/Goodman, Jerry & Ronald Frankel, Morris Berchard, Kyodo Tokyo Inc., Wendy Federman, Barbara Freitag, LAMS Productions, Winkler/DeSimone, Timothy Laczynski, Dan Markley, Harris/Karmazin, Jam Theatricals, Robert Greenblatt, Jujamcyn Theaters
The Visit
Producers: Tom Kirdahy, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Tom Smedes, Hugh Hayes, Peter Stern, Judith Ann Abrams, Rich Affannato, Hunter Arnold, Carl Daikeler, Ken Davenport, Bharat Mitra & Bhavani Lev, Peter May, Ted Snowdon, Bruno Wang Productions, Taylor Cleghorn, Sandi Moran, Mark Lee & Ed Filipowski, Blodgett Calvin Family, Gabrielle Palitz/Weatherby & Fishman LLC, Marguerite Hoffman/Jeremy Youett, Carlos Arana, Veenerick & Katherine Vos Van Liempt, 42nd.Club/Silva Theatrical, Kate Cannova/Terry Loftis, The Shubert Organization, Williamstown Theatre Festival
I wasn't planning on seeing An American in Paris because I love the movie and I didn't think I needed to see it on the stage. However, it is tied with Fun Home for the most nominations (12 each), so I guess I probably should. I'm seeing Something Rotten! and The Visit soon and I saw Fun Home at the Public, but I hope to see the new staging in the round. The other new musicals this season were Holler If Ya Hear Me, The Last Ship, Honeymoon in Vegas, It Shoulda Been You, Finding Neverland, and Doctor Zhivago. I haven't seen Finding Neverland yet, but I saw all the rest and I would have liked to see The Last Ship on this list, but maybe after seeing the rest of the nominees, I'll feel differently.

Update: I still haven't seen An American in Paris, but having seen the other three, I'm definitely team Fun Home all the way. I had a lot of fun at Something Rotten and I really enjoyed the darkness of The Visit, but they haven't stayed with me in the same way.
Best Revival of a Play
The Elephant Man
Producers: James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Catherine Adler, Roger Berlind, Caiola Productions, Patrick Catullo, Roy Furman, Larry Hirschhorn, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Van Kaplan, Edward M. Kaufmann, Hal Luftig, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, The Shubert Organization, Douglas Smith, Jonathan M. Tisch, WLE MSG, LLC., Scott & Brian Zeilinger, Williamstown Theatre Festival
Producers: Robert Fox, Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Roy Furman, Jon B. Platt, The Shubert Organization, Stephanie P. McClelland, Catherine Adler, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Heni Koenigsberg, Spring Sirkin, Stuart Thompson, True Love Productions, The Araca Group, Carlos Arana, David Mirvish, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson
This Is Our Youth
Producers: Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Jon B. Platt, Roy Furman, The Shubert Organization, Ruth Hendel, Scott M. Delman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sonia Friedman, Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Catherine & Fred Adler, Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
You Can’t Take It with You
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Dominion Pictures, Gutterman & Winkler, Daryl Roth, Terry Schnuck, Jane Bergère, Caiola Productions, Rebecca Gold, Laruffa & Hinderliter, Larry Magid, Gabrielle Palitz, Spisto & Kierstead, SunnySpot Productions, Venuworks Theatricals, Jessica Genick, Will Trice, Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers
I'm seeing Skylight soon, but I saw the rest of these, and how did This Is Our Youth make it on this list? I don't understand the love for that revival and would have put The Heidi Chronicles, which felt much more relevant, in its place. I was also not a fan of the lifeless revival of The Elephant Man. You Can't Take It with You was pure delight, though, so I'm rooting for that for now.

Update: I thought the production of Skylight was really strong (not sure I'd love the play on its own), so that would be my second choice after You Can't Take It with You.
Best Revival of a Musical
The King and I
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Adam Siegel, Hattie K. Jutagir, Ambassador Theatre Group
On the Town
Producers: Howard and Janet Kagan, Severn Partners Entertainment, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Paula Marie Black, Nigel Lythgoe, Michael J. Moritz,, Jr., Mahoney/Alden/Badway, Ambassador Theatre Group, Margie and Bryan Weingarten, Kim Schall, Michael Rubenstein, Terry/Louise/Chris Lingner, Brunish & Trinchero, Stephanie Rosenberg, Laruffa & Hinderliter, Rubinstein/Handleman, Lizbeth Bintz, Riki Kane Larimer, 24 Hour Adventure Production, A&A Gordon, Matt Ross/Ben Feldman/Pamela Cooper, Barrington Stage Company
On the Twentieth Century
Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers
I have tickets to see The King and I and On the Twentieth Century (I waited for my sister because I'm a good person). I loved On the Town, though.

Update: I've seen all three and they are all really well done revivals (I liked On the Twentieth Century the least, but can't complain about the production), but I am 100% team The King and I.
Best Book of a Musical
An American in Paris
Craig Lucas
Fun Home
Lisa Kron
Something Rotten!
Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
The Visit
Terrence McNally
Can't say much about this yet either, except go Lisa Kron.

Update: This still stands.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Fun Home
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: Lisa Kron
The Last Ship
Music & Lyrics: Sting
Something Rotten!
Music & Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
The Visit
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
I'm so happy that Sting was nominated. I think the cast recording of The Last Ship will be one that people will listen to and wonder why the show wasn't more of a success. In this case, I think it really is an honor just to be nominated. I hope Fun Home wins because Jeanine Tesori doesn't have a Tony yet and that's ridiculous. 
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

When a Broadway transfer of Hand to God was announced, I tweeted that Steven Boyer was going to get a Tony award this year. I want him to win so that I can be right. And also because he deserves it. I also adored Alex Sharp, so I will be happy if he wins. Though I wasn't a fan of the production of The Elephant Man, I think Bradley Cooper's nomination is deserved. I haven't seen the other two performances yet. I'm sorry to not see Jake Gyllenhaal here. I didn't care for Constellations, but he and Ruth Wilson were terrific and they both deserved to be nominated.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

I haven't seen Carey Mulligan yet, but this is a great category (update: I have now and I think this should be a five-way tie). I am especially happy to see Ruth Wilson here and I hope she does a lot more theater. I didn't think Elisabeth Moss was very strong in Speed-the-Plow, so I was surprised by how much I liked her in The Heidi Chronicles. As you can see by my review of The Audience for Theasy.com, I thought Helen Mirren's performance was the reason to see The Audience. Anyway, maybe this could be a five-way tie. It's too bad there wasn't room for Mia Farrow in Love Letters, but it's hard to remember that with all the strong performances that came after.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town

I haven't seen Something Rotten yet, but I am still happy for Brian d'Arcy James and I am thrilled to see both James and Michael Cerveris in this category because I saw them both in my first Broadway show, Titanic, and have followed their careers ever since. And yeah for Tony Yazbeck, a true triple threat. Let's just have a tie here too, ok?

Update: I know a lot of people don't agree with me, but I loved Ken Watanabe in The King and I. I don't think he will win, but I'm glad he was nominated.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit

I've only seen Beth Malone and I'm so happy that all the Alisons in Fun Home were nominated. It must make it so much nicer for the cast when no one is left out. This is Kelli O'Hara's sixth nomination and I want her to finally win, but I need to see her performance first. It would have been nice if Lisa Howard was nominated for It Shoulda Been You, but this was a very competitive category.

Update: Still rooting for O'Hara.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play

It's Only a Play was an entertaining play, but not a very good one. At least it introduced us to Micah Stock. In a cast full of stars, I left talking about him (well, and Nathan Lane). Richard McCabe's secenes in The Audience with Helen Mirren were the heart of that show. I have to admit I didn't love Airline Highway as much as most, but that has nothing to do with the performances. It was such an ensemble piece that it's too bad there isn't an ensemble category. It's nice that all the actors in Skylight (like I said, haven't seen it yet) were nominated. If Annaleigh Ashford was nominated for You Can't Take It with You, Will Brill should have been recognized. I thought he was much funnier. That cast deserves an ensemble Tony as well.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway

I've said it before. I know everyone loves Annaleigh Ashford, but I just don't think her schtick is funny. Sorry. I also just really want Sarah Stiles to win.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris

I don't need to have seen Christian Borle or Andy Karl to know they deserve this. I haven't seen any of these performances yet, but I can't wait until I do. I was hoping It Shoulda Been You's Josh Grisetti would squeeze in here, but I'm sure he'll get a Tony nomination in the future.

Update: I still haven't seen two of these performances, but I think I'd have to give it to Karl (sorry Borle, I still love you). He stole the show.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

YES SYDNEY LUCAS! At the Public, she gave the most nuanced performance I've ever seen by a child actor. I really hope she wins. I haven't seen Emily Skeggs because I saw Alexandra Socha, but I look forward to seeing her performance (update: I have seen her now and I thought she was just as wonderful as Socha). Nice to see Judy Kuhn getting recognition as well. I left Gigi singing "Thank Heaven for Victoria Clark" and it's always nice to see her get a nomination (I've been following her career since Titanic as well).
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It with You

I've only seen two of these so far, but it has to go to Curious Incident, right?
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home

I can't comment until I see these sets.
Best Costume Design of a Play
Bob Crowley, The Audience
Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
David Zinn, Airline Highway

I'd hate to have to compare such different styles of costumes.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
Catherine Zuber, The King and I

I really need this week to go faster so I can see these shows. I would have nominated Paul Tazewell's costumes for Side Show, and not just because I interviewed him about them.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight
Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway

Again, Curious Incident is going to take all the design awards, right?

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit

This seems like a good place to complain about the lack of sound design categories this year. What good are any of the other elements of the play or musical if you can't hear it?

Best Direction of a Play
Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

Moritz von Stuelpnagel is such a great name, but I am rooting for Marianne Elliott.
Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town
Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

This isn't as much fun when I haven't seen a lot of the shows. 

Update: Sam Gold!
Best Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

It's nice to see that Curious Incident was nominated even if it is a play. The choreography is so crucial to the storytelling. That's why I would like to see it win. But I thought Joshua Bergasse did a fine job with On the Town and I'm guessing the dancing in An American in Paris is the main reason to see it.

Best Orchestrations
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

Yeah The Last Ship! I have Sting's original CD and I love what Rob Mathes did with those songs. 

By my count, 35 plays and musicals opened on Broadway this season (I counted Wolf Hall as one and I didn't count The Illusionists or The Temptations & The Four Tops since there is no special events category anymore). Holler If Ya Hear Me, Love Letters, The Country House, The Real Thing, The River, Side Show, A Delicate Balance, Honeymoon in Vegas, Fish in the Dark, It Shoulda Been You, Finding Neverland, Living on Love, and Doctor Zhivago were completely shut out, but I'm not going to use the word snubbed because based on what I've seen, they mostly don't deserve nominations over what made it in. But 37% of the eligible shows (nerd alert) not getting nominated for anything seems like a lot, right?

I'd love to hear what you all think about the nominations. Comment here or tweet at me!