a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for April, 2016

Drama Desk Award 2016 Nominations Announced

You can read them below, but I must say there are a lot of surprises. No Oscar WinnerThe Humans 1 Lupita Nyong’o, for “Eclipsed” for instance, is the real shocker. No Jeff Daniels(again) for “Blackbird” nor Michelle Williams either. I thought all these people were shoo-ins. Also no “Eclipsed” for Best Play. In fact, no nominations for “Blackbird” anywhere.Eclipsed 3

I guess they were just avoiding stars this year. Only Saycon Sengbloh(pictured above far right) was nominated for Outstanding Featured actress in a play for her mother earth role in”Eclipsed.” But none of her other co-stars. Although Danai Gurira got a special  non-competitive award all her own of her. Which I guess in is an honor in an off itself.

“The Humans” scored in every category imaginable, including Best Play and Best Director and also a best ensemble award outright. I think this means that “The Humans” will sweep the board outright at the Tonys, which are coming up next.

That piece of over-praised piffle,I’m sorry to say, “She Loves Me” got more nominations than anything else this year.

And “Bright Star” got nominated for Carmen Cusack for Outstanding Actress in a MusicalCarmen Cusack 1 as did her two featured leading men, A.J. Shively and   Paul Alexander Nolan also scored. As did Steve Martin’s and Edie Brickell’s rockin’ bluegrass music and the very original orchestrations, but it was NOT nominated for Outstanding New Musical.

The Drama Desks, and also Outer Critics Circle, are particularly important this year, as last year they both gave all their major awards to mega-phenomenon “Hamilton” because it was eligible for Off Broadway then due to its’ run at the Public Theater downtown.”Hamilton” will undoubtedly sweep the Tony Awards, which are just for Broadway alone. Whereas the Drama Desks are noted for treating Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway equally. Which is what makes them so interesting and unique.

So whatever award the Outstanding Musicals reap this year, they will be noted in their ads and everywhere. Which is a good thing for “Shuffle Along”, “School of Rock” and “Waitress” not to mention the superlative “First Daughter’s Suite” which was at the Public.Waitress 1

Strangely, my fave so far “Bright Star” was not nominated for Best New Musical though it did land seven nominations toto. And “Shuffle Along” who chose not to be eligible for the Tony this year, because, persumably, of the crush of good new musicals, DID get nominated by the Drama Desk for Best New Musical. Go figure.

“American Psycho” did very well, but again, no best musical nod. Although Benjamin Walker’s cut-and-ripped psycho did land Best Actor in a Musical, but the was the only actor so noted. AMerican Psycho 2

Here they are folks. Read ’em and weep.

2016 Drama Desk Award Nominations
Outstanding Play
The Christians, Playwrights Horizons
The Humans, Roundabout Theatre Company
John, Signature Theatre
King Charles III
The Royale, Lincoln Center Theater
Outstanding Musical
First Daughter Suite, Public Theater
Daddy Long Legs
School of Rock
Shuffle Along
Outstanding Revival of a Play
Cloud Nine, Atlantic Theater Company
Death of a Salesman, New Yiddish Rep
Henry IV, Donmar Warehouse at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Roundabout Theatre Company
A View from the Bridge
Women Without Men, Mint Theater Company
Outstanding Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
The Golden Bride, National Yiddish Theatre Folkesbiene
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
Spring Awakening
Outstanding Actor in a Play
Andrew Garman, The Christians, Playwrights Horizons
Avi Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
Frank Langella, The Father, Manhattan Theatre Club
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge
Outstanding Actress in a Play
Georgia Engel, John, Signature Theatre
Mamie Gummer, Ugly Lies the Bone, Roundabout Undeground
Marin Ireland, Ironbound, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Women’s Project Theater
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Nicola Walker, A View from the Bridge

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Robert Creighton, Cagney, York Theatre Company
Michael C. Hall, Lazarus, New York Theatre Workshop
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Benjamin Walker, American Psycho
Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Annette O’Toole, Southern Comfort, Public Theater
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Bill Camp, The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off, Roundabout Theatre Company
Matt McGrath, The Legend of Georgia McBride, MCC Theater
Richard Thomas, Incident at Vichy, Signature Theatre
Michael Shannon, Long’s Day Journey Into Night
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Brooke Bloom, Cloud Nine
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Kellie Overbey, Women Without Men
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed, Public Theater
Jeanine Serralles, Gloria, Vineyard Theatre
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nicholas Barasch, She Loves Me
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Baylee Littrell, Disaster!
Paul Alexander Nolan, Bright Star
A.J. Shively, Bright Star
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Alison Fraser, First Daughter Suite
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen, Second Stage
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Mary Testa, First Daughter Suite
Outstanding Director of a Play
Rachel Chavkin, The Royale
Sam Gold, John
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Jenn Thompson, Women Without Men
Ivo van Hove, A View from the Bridge
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Rupert Goold, American Psycho
Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof
Bryna Wasserman, Motl Didner, The Golden Bride
Outstanding Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, Cagney
Spencer Liff, Spring Awakening
Lynne Page, American Psycho
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Music
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
Michael John LaChiusa, First Daughter Suite,
Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock
The Lobbyists, SeaWife, Naked Angels
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star
Outstanding Lyrics
Sara Bareilles, Waitress
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen
Glenn Slater, School of Rock
Michael John LaChiusa, First Daughter Suite
Outstanding Orchestrations
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me, Roundabout Theatre Company
Joseph Joubert/Catherine Jayes, The Color Purple
Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock
Michael Starobin/Bruce Coughlin, First Daughter Suite
Outstanding Music in a Play
Billie Joe Armstrong, These Paper Bullets!, Atlantic Theatre Company
Estelle Bajou, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, One Year Lease Theater Company
Shaun Davey, Pericles, Theatre for a New Audience
Philip Glass, The Crucible
Tom Kitt, Cymbeline, New York Shakespeare Festival
Outstanding Set Design for a Play
Riccardo Hernandez, Red Speedo, New York Theatre Workshop
Mimi Lien, John
G. W. Mercier, Head of Passes, Public Theater
Christopher Oram, Hughie
Derek McLane, Fully Committed
Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
Es Devlin, American Psycho
Emily Orling, Matt Saunders, Eric Farber, Futurity, Soho Rep/Ars Nova
David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Jessica Ford, These Paper Bullets!
Martha Hally, Women Without Men
Constance Hoffman, Pericles
William Ivey Long, Shows for Days, Lincoln Center Theater
Anita Yavich, The Legend of Georgia McBride
Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
Jane Greenwood, Bright Star
Katrina Lindsay, American Psycho
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Alejo Vietti, Allegiance
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Neil Austin, Hughie
Mark Barton, John
Bradley King, Empanada Loca, Labyrinth Theater Company
Tyler Micoleau, Antlia Pneumatica, Playwrights Horizons
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
Jane Cox, The Color Purple
Jake DeGroot, SeaWife,
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho
Jules Fisher/Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Projection Design
Nicholas Hussong, These Paper Bullets!
Darrel Maloney, Tappin’ Thru Life
Peter Nigrini, Dear Evan Hansen
Finn Ross, American Psycho
Tal Yarden, Lazarus
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Fitz Patton, An Act of God
Fitz Patton, The Humans
Miles Polaski, Fulfillment, The Flea Theatre
Bray Poor, John
Ryan Rumery, Empanada Loca
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Mick Potter, School of Rock
Brian Ronan, Lazarus
Nevin Steinberg, Bright Star
Dan Moses Schreier, American Psycho
Scott Lehrer, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Wig and Hair
David Brian Brown, She Loves Me
Jason Hayes, The Legend of Georgia McBride
Robert-Charles Vallance, Women Without Men
Charles G. LaPointe, The School for Scandal, Red Bull Theater
Mia M. Neal, Shuffle Along
Outstanding Solo Performance
Simon Callow, Tuesdays at Tesco’s, 59E59
Kathleen Chalfant, Rose, Nora’s Playhouse
James Lecesne, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Empanada Loca
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fully Committed
Unique Theatrical Experience
ADA/AVA, Manual Cinema/3LD/The Tank/
Antigona – Soledad Barrio/Noche Flamenca
That Physics Show
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Special Awards
The Humans – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
Cassie Beck, Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed, and Sarah Steele spend a very special Thanksgiving Day together in Stephen Karam’s play, reminding us that home is indeed where The Humans are.
The Royale – Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
The heavyweight cast of McKinley Belcher III, Khris Davis, Montego Glover, John Lavelle, and Clarke Peters gels as a unit in bringing Marco Ramirez’s story, inspired by Jack Johnson, to unforgettable life, offering a trenchant statement on racism in America.
Sheldon Harnick – Special Drama Desk Award
New productions of Fiddler on the RoofRothschild and Sons, and She Loves Me this season remind us that this veteran lyricist’s takes on faith, family and community are as resonant as ever.
Camp Broadway – Special Drama Desk Award
For more than 20 years, this indispensable organization has introduced young people to the magic of theater. Camp Broadway plays a crucial role in creating tomorrow’s audiences.
Danai Gurira – Sam Norkin Award
Whether writing about women in wartime Liberia in Eclipsed or about an affluent immigrant family from Zimbabwe struggling with assimilation in Familiar, Danai Gurira demonstrates great insight, range, and depth, bringing a fresh new voice to American theater.
64 shows with nominations
33 shows with multiple nominations
31 shows with single nominations
Shows with multiple nominations
She Loves Me – 9
American Psycho – 8
Bright Star – 7
The Color Purple, First Daughter Suite, John, Shuffle Along – 6
School of Rock, Waitress, Women Without Men – 5
The Humans, Spring Awakening, A View from the Bridge – 4
Dear Evan Hansen, Empanada Loca, Fiddler on the Roof, King Charles III, Lazarus, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, These Paper Bullets! – 3
Cagney, The Christians, Cloud Nine, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, Fully Committed, The Golden Bride, Hughie, Noises Off, Pericles, The Royale, SeaWife – 2

Benjamin Walker Kills in Bloody Underpants in “American Psycho:The Musical”on Bway

American Pyscho 1I never really understood the ’80’s. The 1980s. They didn’t have the defined Gestalt of the ’60s(hippies), the ’70s(punk rock). Nor have any of the decades since then seem particularly definable to me. Just one big blur. Or is just life as we know it….continues…And “American Pyscho” tries its’ best to define the undefinable ’80s. And goes ahead to prove that New York City hasn’t changed that much. So it’s relatable.

It’s trying to be the ultimate New York ’80s Wall Street musical. And at that it does succeed. And it’s combining genres like mad.Which is very avant-garde of it, which I liked. It’s complex.

The rather unbelievable idea of trying to transform Brett Easton Ellis’ novel “American Psycho” into a musical comedy is indeed, er, dicey. And it veers widely in tone. Is it comic? Well, it’s funny, at times. It rhymes “ironic” with “Manolo Blahnik” and “mahi-mahi” with Issac Mizrahi. So it’s TRYING. And it tries too much. But what can you do with intractable, basically non-musical comedy material? Well, you put the comedy and the fantasy and the sex,(see above picture) front and center.

And it does this by having its’ incredibly comely leading man Benjamin Walker enter in his tighty-whiteys (see below)And pretty much keeps him there, unclothed, for most of the rest of the musical. And that’s a good thing.AMerican Psycho 2

It’s a great thing, really, because Mr. Walker, is an incredibly adept actor/singer/comic, who dances up a storm in Act Two particularly. And yes, again in his white underwear, that is now drenched with blood. In his incredibly long, monologish sequence in Act Two, he stays drenched in blood and singing, too, it is really a tour-de-force and to his credit, he’s never self-conscious, but always sexy. And yes, compelling. He acts OVER his underpants.

“American Psycho:The Musical” owes a lot to the late lesbian novelist Patricia Highsmith’s “Talented Mr. Ripley” and all her novels, including the Alfred Hitchcock-adaptation of her”Strangers on a Train.” Highsmith’s great achievement was always putting you INSIDE the murderer’s head, be it Tom Ripley or Bruno Anthony or any of them, and making you side with the psycho, which is exactly what “American Psycho” succeeds at, too.

“American Psycho” wants to put us all, as Patricia Highsmith did, inside the mind of serial killers.

But you see, Patrick Bateman is a Don Draper-look-alike, who is really a nerd. Nothing he ever says or does satisfies him. And New York and Wall Street particularly drive him crazy, and so he acts out, bloodily. Or does he?

Where “American Psycho:The Musical” also succeeds is abstracting all the violence. The French had a whole school of theatre called “Grand Guignol” and this is a perfect example of that. Blood was always everywhere as it is at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where audiences are loving it! Es Devlin’s chiarascuro set aided by Finn Ross’ stunning scenic video projections are constantly turning the black and white Wall Street world of Patrick Bateman into a sea of red.

The first act was way too long by half, but by the time they got to “Mistletoe Alert” their Christmas number the show began to jell into the bloody aspic it becomes successfully in Act Two.

The fact that Patrick escapes to the Hamptons (see below) which he hates. (He also hates Christmas, btw.) And has to run back to New York, New York, where he feels “Safe,”made me begin to like this guy.American Psycho 3A seemingly impossible feat given the premise.

And oh yes, the chorus especially the men, are as buff as buff can be and as frequently shirtless as Benjamin Walker is. They form a very decorative set themselves.

Main among them I really liked Drew Moerlein’s Paul Owen, the perfectly slimy Wall Street a-hole, who is just BEGGING to be slaughtered by our serial-killer savior Bateman. (You see, he gets you on his murderous side, so you’re glad when he lowers quite a spectacularly bloody boom on the haplessly drunk and high Owen.)

Red-headed Jordan Dean also scores  as the closeted Wall Street-er who constantly is trying to seduce Bateman, in VERY physical ways.  His hands were all over Benjamin Walker’s superb physique rather constantly. I could relate.

Helene Yorke has the only stand-out female role as Bateman’s society-and-label-crazed fiance. And she keeps calling him “PA-TRUCK.” And Tony Winner Alice Ripley is totally wasted and unrecognizable as Pa-truck’s mother.

No. This is a show where the guyz, as you can see above, have it.

Benjamin Walker’s bravado turn just earned him an Outer Critics Circle nomination this past week. And so did Helene Yorke’s droller-than-droll deb.

The Drama Desk, btw, of which I am a voting member, announces their nominations on Thursday AM.  The Outer Critics gave “American Psycho:The Musical” the lions share of their nominations. Will the Drama Desk follow suit?

We’ll shall see. All I can say in conclusion is “AP:TM” is a bloody good time.

#American Psycho # Benjamin Walker # Outer Critics Circle # Patricia Highsmith # Talented Mr. Ripley # Alfred Hitchcock

Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations Out

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theater, well, the 2016 Theater Awards season has now begun with the announcement this morning of the Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. And there are some surprises, but not many. Main among them, that Jeff Daniels was left out of Best Actor in a Play for his powerful turn in “Blackbird”, while his Oscar nominated co-star Michelle Williams, WAS nominated for Best Actress in a play.Lupita 2016

Several items of note. Four out of the five member ensemble cast of “Eclipsed” which I really adored are nominated. Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo as leading actress in a play, where she will compete with Michelle Williams for “Blackbird.”

Pascale Armand, Zainab Jab, and Soycon Songbloh are the three powerful ladies of “Eclipsed”s ensemble who scored nods in the Best Featured Actress in a Play categories.  Eclipsed 3And “Eclipsed” by Danai Gurira was nominated for Best New American Play where it will compete with “The Humans.” A combo likely to repeat at the Tony Awards in June, and also the Drama Desks who announce next Thursday.

Jayne Howdyshell and Reed Birney as the beleaguered Catholic mother and father from Scranton, Pennsylvania, got nominated for Best Leading Actor and Actress in a Play for “The Humans.” Joe Montello also received a nomination for Best Director of a Play.Bright Star 1

“Bright Star” my favorite new musical so far, gained nominations for its’ stunning leading lady Carmen Cusack and for its’ director Walter Bobbie. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell also received nominations for their marvelously tuneful Bluegrass musical score.

Outer Crtics Circle“Hamilton” the billion dollar hit show is notable by its’ total absence since was eligible LAST year when it was Off-Broadway at the Public Theater where it swept all the categories.

66th Annual Awards

Outer Critics Circle


2015-16 Season Nominees


She Loves Me” & “American Psycho the Musical”  

Heads the List with 8 Nominations!

Followed by

“Bright Star” & “On Your Feet” With 7 Nominations each!

The First Broadway/Off-Broadway Award Nominees of the Season!



Outer Critics Circle, the organization of writers and commentators covering New York theater for out-of-town newspapers, national publications and other media beyond Broadway, announced today (April 19, 2016) its nominees for the 2015-16 season. Broadway stars Brian d’Arcy James and Jennifer Simardpresided over the (11AM) announcement ceremony at Manhattan’s legendary Algonquin Hotel.


This season Outer Critics Circle will post a new award, “Outstanding Projection Design” increasing award nominations to 25 categories. In addition, the musical “Hamilton” was nominated for and won in several award categories for its Off-Broadway production last season.  The previous Off-Broadway productions of “Disaster” and “Blackbird” were considered for nominations by the Outer Critics Circle and therefore were not reconsidered for this year.  Only new cast members’ performances in these productions were taken into account for recognition in the 2015-16 season.  Due to OCC’s nomination deadline, the producers of the new Broadway musical “Shuffle Along,” asked to be considered with next season’s entries.


Celebrating its 66th season of bestowing awards of excellence in the field of theater, the Outer Critics Circle is an association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television stations, and theatre publications in America and abroad. The winners will be announced on Monday, May 9th. The annual Gala Awards Dinner and presentation of awards to the winners will be held on Thursday, May 26th (3PM) at Sardi’s Restaurant.


Nominations follow


Outer Critics Circle

2015-2016 Award Nominations




The Father

The Humans

King Charles III

Thérèse Raquin



American Psycho the Musical

Bright Star

On Your Feet!

Tuck Everlasting the Musical




The Christians



Hold On to Me Darling

The Legend of Georgia McBride




Daddy Long Legs

Dear Evan Hansen


Southern Comfort



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

Bright Star

Daddy Long Legs

Dear Evan Hansen


On Your Feet!



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

American Psycho the Musical

Bright Star

Daddy Long Legs

Dear Evan Hansen





(Broadway or Off-Broadway)


The Crucible

Fool for Love

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

A View From the Bridge




(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

The Color Purple the Musical

Dames at Sea

Fiddler on the Roof

She Loves Me

Spring Awakening



Evan Cabnet     Gloria

Mike Donahue     The Legend of Georgia McBride

Rupert Goold     King Charles III

Joe Mantello     The Humans

Ivo van Hove     A View From the Bridge



Michael Arden     Spring Awakening

Walter Bobbie     Bright Star

Scott Ellis     She Loves Me

Rupert Goold     American Psycho the Musical

Michael Greif     Dear Evan Hansen



Joshua Bergasse   Cagney

Spencer Liff     Spring Awakening

Josh Rhodes     Bright Star

Randy Skinner     Dames at Sea

Sergio Trujillo     On Your Feet!



(Play or Musical)

Beowulf Boritt     Thérèse Raquin

David Korins     Misery

Mimi Lien     John

David Rockwell     She Loves Me

Walt Spangler     Tuck Everlasting the Musical



(Play or Musical)

ESosa     On Your Feet!

Jane Greenwood     Bright Star

Katrina Lindsay     American Psycho the Musical

Jeff Mahshie     She Loves Me

Tom Scutt     King Charles III



(Play or Musical)
Donald Holder     She Loves Me

Natasha Katz     Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Kenneth Posner     On Your Feet!

Ben Stanton     Spring Awakening

Justin Townsend     American Psycho the Musical



(Play or Musical)
Lucy MacKinnon     Spring Awakening

Peter Nigrini     Grounded

Peter Nigrini     Dear Evan Hansen

Finn Ross     American Psycho the Musical

Tal Yarden     Lazarus



Reed Birney    The Humans

Gabriel Byrne     Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Frank Langella     The Father

Mark Strong     A View From the Bridge

Ben Whishaw     The Crucible



Jayne Houdyshell     The Humans

Jessica Lange     Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Lupita Nyong’o     Eclipsed

Nicola Walker     A View From the Bridge

Michelle Williams     Blackbird



Alex Brightman     School of Rock the Musical

Danny Burstein     Fiddler on the Roof

Robert Creighton     Cagney

Ben Platt     Dear Evan Hansen

Benjamin Walker     American Psycho the Musical



Laura Benanti     She Loves Me

Carmen Cusack    Bright Star

Cynthia Erivo     The Color Purple the Musical

Jessie Mueller     Waitress

Ana Villafañe     On Your Feet!



Sanjit De Silva     Dry Powder

Matt McGrath     The Legend of Georgia McBride

Jim Norton     The Crucible

Robert Sella     Sylvia

Michael Shannon     Long Day’s Journey Into Night



Pascale Armand     Eclipsed

Zainab Jah     Eclipsed

Judith Light     Thérèse Raquin

Saycon Sengbloh     Eclipsed

Myra Lucretia Taylor     Familiar



Nicholas Barasch     She Loves Me

Roger Bart     Disaster!

Michael Esper     Lazarus

Christopher Fitzgerald     Waitress

Terrence Mann     Tuck Everlasting the Musical



Danielle Brooks     The Color Purple the Musical

Andrea Burns     On Your Feet!

Sophia Anne Caruso     Lazarus

Jane Krakowski     She Loves Me  

Heléne Yorke     American Psycho the Musical





Mike Birbiglia    Thank God For Jokes

Kathleen Chalfant     Rose

Anne Hathaway     Grounded

James Lecesne     The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

Daphne Rubin-Vega     Empanada Loca



(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)

Lindsey Ferrentino     Ugly Lies the Bone

Lauren Gunderson     I and You

Martyna Majok     Ironbound

Marco Ramirez     The Royale

Anna Ziegler     Boy



James Houghton     Signature Theatre Company




2015-16 Outer Critics Circle Executive / Nominating Committee


Simon Saltzman (President)

Mario Fratti (Vice-President) Stanley L. Cohen (Treasurer)

Patrick Hoffman (Corresponding Secretary)  Joseph Cervelli (Recording Secretary)

Glenn Loney (Historian & Member-at-Large)

And Aubrey Reuben, David Gordon & Harry Haun (Members-at-Large)




Nominations Talley for 3 or more:


American Psycho the Musical – 8, She Loves Me – 8; Bright Star- 7, On Your Feet – 7; Dear Evan Hansen- 6; Eclipsed – 5, Lazarus – 5, Long Day’s Journey Into Night – 5, Spring Awakening – 5; A View From the Bridge – 4, The Humans – 4,Waitress – 4; Cagney – 3, Daddy Long Legs – 3, King Charles III – 3, The Color Purple the Musical – 3, The Crucible – 3, The Legend of Georgia McBride – 3, Thérèse Raquin –  3, Tuck Everlasting the Musical – 3.




Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o Continues to Astonish in Searing “Eclipsed”

Eclipsed 1Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o continues to astonish us. “Eclipsed” a searing play by Danai Gurira is the strongest new play on Broadway right now, and Ms. Nyong’o is giving an absolutely astounding performance, as a character simply known as “Girl.”She enters from inside an overturned metal bath tub, pictured above ^ and if you are expecting to recognize her from her glamorous red carpet turns and from the Oscars, you won’t.Lupita Oscar ThreeThe audience I saw it with, didn’t. And I didn’t recognize her at all til half-way through the first act, so deeply is she submerged in her character, a 16 year-old refugee in the middle of the Liberian war who has been hiding in the bush. She finds some kind of solace in being hidden(and sleeping under) this suffocating iron tub from which she emerges drenched in sweat and fear.

The women who are sheltering her feel she will be raped, if found, and turned into another “wife” like they are. Really just sex slaves for the “C.O.” the commanding officer of the army, whom we never see. Except as a shadow. They all jump to attention and line-up when this large, dark shadow falls on them, and wait to be picked, for the night.

They have no names of their own only “Wife #1” or “Wife #3”. They can barely remember before the War which has raged on for 15 years, and have forgotten their real names their “mother gave them.”

It’s sort of the plot of “Eclipsed” that these women fight to save some kind of dignity and humanity that will allow them to remember who they once were as little girls in their mothers’ care. Before the civil war took everything from them.

They are now in sort of a bunker/hovel, but at least they are inside and not outside in “the bush” or jungle. “Eclipsed” is an astounding play, bringing us all into a world which we would expect to see perhaps onscreen. “Beasts of No Nation” springs to mind as an all male example of the ravages of  civil war in Africa, and how mere children are turned into boy-soldiers or in the case of “Eclipsed” girl soldiers.

I don’t know which is more frightening. They both are. And while there is no gratuitous violence  The audience is as trapped by Ms. Gurira’s gripping, horrifying play as the characters are in the hovel of their lives.

I cannot praise “Eclipsed” highly enough. Danai Gurira, whose work I have been following since her NYU Grad Acting days, both as a powerful actress and an equally powerful writer, here fulfills her promise with the masterpiece of “Eclipsed.” I thought “The Humans” was the Best New Play on Broadway this year, but it has now been eclipsed by”Eclipsed.”

And I expect the magnificent Lupita Nyong’O to blaze her way through even more awards this season. In the theater,this time. What she is called upon to do in this horrendous,difficult,powerful role of The Girl, is something so complex and dark, and at the same time innocent and, yes, even hopeful, that awards will be continued to be strewn at her like bouquets.Eclipsed 3

The rest of the five person, all female, all Black cast is remarkable, too. Pascale Armand,  Saycon Sengbloh, Zainab Jah and Akosua Busia. When have we ever seen an all African-American, all female final bow on Broadway?Eclipsed 2

When have we ever seen a multiplicity of roles for Black actresses like this? I’ll tell you when. Never. Once again, as she did with “12 Years a Slave”, Lupita Nyong’o continues to make racial, and in this case, theatrical history.

“Bright Star” Shines on Bway w/terrific debut by Carmen Cusack

Bright Star 5Carmen Cusack 1A  tuneful, ORGINAL new musical is a very rare thing these days on Broadway, but “Bright Star” is just that.  It is really a cause for jubilation. And comedian Steve Martin, of all people, is the power generator behind this welcome bluegrass musical marvel. Edie Brickell, a pop star singer/songwriter who was previously unknown to me, is his musical partner in crime here, and what a delight-filled evening of song they make!

I’ve always felt that a successful musical comedy should just be one wonderful song after the other after the other, and one so rarely sees that anymore on Broadway, but “Bright Star” is just that. The first four numbers alone are so strong and singable “If You Knew My Story”, “She’s Gone”, “Bright Star” and “Back in the Day”are each so startling, memorable and different, I immediately wanted to rush out and buy the CD. Except since “Bright Star” just opened this past week, they don’t have one yet. But they sure as will soon, and I’ll let you know when that delightful event happens.

Other songs, too, including second act showstoppers, “Always Will” and “At Last” are also immediate standards-to-be I’m so sure.

Bright Star 1

And “Bright Star”s ace-in-the-hole is the astonishing Carmen Cusack, who sings nearly all these great songs with a country twang that verges on the operatic. She plays the dauntless heroine Alice Murphy, who, except for her rather trite name, is doubtless also going to be known as one of the greatest roles for an actress in musical comedy history.

Cusack has the daunting task of slipping backwards and forwards in time as her character ages back and forth between a hard-bitten literary editor and a plucky teenage un-wed mother with big dreams in a stultifying North Carolina town. It is put upon Cusack to take us through all these time shifts from 1945-1946 to 22 years earlier, and she does it so effortlessly, and so charmingly that she just made me gasp.

Yes, Carmen Cusack is doing the impossible embodying all these moods and ages that she for sure is now launched into the rarefied Broadway stratosphere as one of its’ most important, as well as newest, diva-cum-star. Who did she remind me most of? A cross between Reba McIntire and Maria Callas. Her roof-raising voice is as rangy as any Puccini heroine.

She is ably abetted in her time-travelling tropes by leading men, Paul Alexander Nolan and also A.J. Shively, who plays a WWII vet with literary aspirations who gets to sing the wonderful, toe-tapping title song “Bright Star.”

Bright Star 3

Broadway vet Michael Mulheren gets to shine, too, finally after a life-time of thankless supporting roles, as the dastardly mayor. Dee Hoty is wasted as our heroine’s weak mother.  Hannah Alless strikes the show’s one false note as its’ stereo-typed ingenue. Underwritten compared to the other female roles, what could anyone do with a part like that that is pure treacle?

Emily Padgett of “Side Show” fares much better as the tart comic relief and Jeff Blumenkrantz is her zesty, funny counterpart, the pair not missing one comic beat. Which one is more deliciously campy, it’s hard to say. They both play imperious editorial employees of the mature Cusack’s magazine.

And the uncanny scenic design by Eugene Lee consists of a house-full of bluegrass musicians, who move in the Southern Gothic A-frame that contains them, back and forth across the stage at a dizzying pace, under the Scene Design Supervision of Edward Pierce that is as lively a choreographic move as the more subdued, but fun ones created by Josh Roberts.

All this is under the redoubtable direction of Walter Bobbie and “Bright Star” hums and purrs and jingle-jangles its’ gentle way into our cynical New York hearts and may indeed have found a permanent place there at the Cort Theater on W.48th Street for a long, long time.Bright Star 2


Give Brave Brilliant Michelle Williams a TONY!

Michelle Williams Gives The Performance of Her Career in Bway’s “Blackbird”

Michelle Williams 1I’ve always admired Michelle Williams as an actress and I’m very proud to say she’s totally outdone herself in the semi-tragic role of Una, the heroine(?) er, well, the female protagonist in the red-hot Broadway revival of “Blackbird.”  It’s a play I saw many years ago with an actress, who I also admired in it, Allison Pill, playing opposite Jeff Daniels. Who I am happy to say matches Williams heart-beat for heart-beat, scream for scream in this play that is more truly shocking than a horror movie.

I received an email from the production saying “Please to not reveal anything about the character of Una.” So at once I am here to praise Williams, but not to describe her, well, her situation, any way. She did seem like a character out of a Greek myth, I can say that much. An avenging fury.

She’s wearing, and I can describe that,a flimsy, little-girl-lost very short white dress that is preposterously, concerning her history, covered in a cherry print. Designer Ann Roth is particularly apt in the choosing of Una’s fabric. It’s almost see-through, but it isn’t. It’s so skimpy, it’s barely there. And it’s even more ridiculous because it seems to be the middle of winter, because her outer coat is a maroon puffed one. Bulky but light, it lays on the conference room table like a bloodied dead animal that is still bleeding.

Una has to be a put-upon waif, and a Lolita-like come-on all at the same time, and she also has to seem to be dangerous as hell. Wobbling on spiky black high heels, she is like a little girl dressed in her mother’s shoes, and that louche dress like something one would wear at a garden party at the height of summer. Or a picnic, which is a scene both characters keep referencing in their shared pasts.

Jeff Daniels has NEVER been better and he, too, is at the top of his game here, and far better than he was when I first saw it at MTC small downstairs theater in 2008. I liked it. I thought it was good. But why revive this flimsy piece that I thought was as thin and ineffectual as Una’s dress shirt. Except that it’s not. It’s grown in power and substance and maybe it’s Michelle Williams powerful, sensation performance that has turned the trick, as it were.

It’s a GREAT piece of riveting theater now. With the same director, the great Joe Mantello, and the same set designer Scott Pask. The audience is so gripped by the deadly pas-de-deux of Williams and Daniels that for much of the barely-there 80 mins. of running time, you could hear a pin drop. The crowd seemed to hardly be breathing as these two held them in its’ frightening grasp and SQUEEZED them to death. I love theater that rivets you like this! On the edge of my seat, was where I found myself sitting and you will, too, when you see “Blackbird” at the Belasco. It’s a limited run, so you must get tickets as soon as possible.

And I’m pained to report that a film version has already been made and due for release at Cannes WITHOUT either, Michelle Williams or Jeff Daniels. It’s Rooney Mara as “Una” the name now of the film, and I can only hope that she doesn’t make a mess of it, as she did this year’s zero-Oscar film “Carol.”

If Michelle Williams were in it, she’d win an Oscar, as it is she seems on her way to winning a Tony for Best Lead Actress in a Play. Or certainly a nomination.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: