Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tony Time!

The Tony Awards are tonight, lagging behind the rest of awards season like a runty little brother. Which is appropriate for such a blah Tony season. Granted, I've only seen a few of the shows this year - Hair, Next to Normal, Desire Under the Elms, and a pre-Piven puss-out Speed-the-Plow - but my still-avid theatre friends assure me I didn't miss much.

And what I have seen has been a mixed bag. Hair is my favorite musical, I've seen a frazillion productions of it, and this Broadway revival is among the best. If it doesn't snag Best Musical Revival I'll spit nails. Next to Normal, on the other hand, is only okay. I actually saw it back in 2001 as a condensed workshop performance and loved it, thought it was a great gem of a rock musical. But in its blown up, two and a half hour incarnation on Broadway, it's lost some of that original power in overstuffed power ballads and too much lag time where the story doesn't advance. As for Desire Under the Elms, well, it was shut out from the Tonys with good reason. A terrible clunker of a show.

What of the rest of the awards? Most categories are predictable - Billy Elliot for Best Musical, Hair for Best Revival, God of Carnage for Best Play (with Reasons to Be Pretty as the spoiler). That's less interesting.

It is, however, interesting that Reasons to Be Pretty is playwright Neil LaBute's Broadway debut and 33 Variations is Moisés Kaufman's Broadway debut, considering both have been NYC theatre scene staples for years.

Also interesting, Hallie Foote, one of the nominees for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for Dividing the Estate, is performing in a play that her father, Horton, wrote, and Horton died in March.

As for the other categories, for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, David Bologna from Billy Elliot was nominated for the role of Michael, but the kid he shares the role with (due to child labor laws, natch) was not because the producers neglected to lobby to have them nommed together the way the three Billys were, so the Tony committee just went with the opening night cast.

Best Direction of a Play is interesting because Matthew Warchus is competing against himself (he's nominated for God of Carnage and The Norman Conquests). I suspect he'll win for Carnage.

But of course the most compelling awards are the big acting prizes. Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play is stuffed with A-list Hollywood names (Jeff Daniels, James Gandolfini, Geoffrey Rush), an A-list theatre name (Raúl Esparza), and a rising newcomer (Thomas Sadoski) so regardless the outcome that's a category to watch. Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play is similarly stacked with Hope Davis, Jane Fonda, Marcia Gay Harden, Janet McTeer, and Harriet Walter.

But the category I'm most interested in is Leading Actress in a Musical. Alice Ripley is a theatre staple, tremendously talented, and though I found Next to Normal a little uneven her performance is flawless. She deserves the award, no doubt.

1 comment:

Sex Mahoney for President said...

If plays were on TV, no one would watch.