a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2017

Tragedy Everywhere. The TONYS & now “Julius Caesar”

Julius Caesar 2

I don’t know what I felt worse about Laura Linney & Josh Groban and my beloved “Natasha, Pierre…” losing to WAAAAAY inferior competitors at the Tonys. It was all going along sooo well, and then the ending happened. I’m heartbroken actually. Laura, Josh, and everybody at “Natasha…” I did everything I could for you. I saw “Little Foxes” twice and then “Natasha Pierre..” FOUR times. I never do this. I never go back to see shows again – and again – and again. But this year I did. And you get more and more involved with your favorites and then, they lose to Laurie Metcalfe and Whatshisface. I can’t even type his name.

I didn’t fully review “Doll’s House, Part Two” because I disliked it sooo much I felt it wasn’t worth covering, but now this had to happen. Laurie Metcalfe, a performer I had liked before this, winning a Tony for THAT performance, that was jokey and sitcomy, and I felt gave the play absolutely no historical context whatsoever. Which century were we in?

It’s a feminist screed, but written by a young man, a barely talented young man, so it’s all over the place. Are you meant to sympathize or empathize with Nora? Or in the end, her poor, deserted husband and her angry daughter? Condola Rashad is very good in this part.

Wily producing gave “The Doll’s House, Part Two” a midnight performance for Tony Voters, and I guess that sealed the deal. It did not win Best Play, but Laurie Metcalfe got what WASN’T coming to her, a Tony for Best Actress in a Play.
She looked embarrassed in her seat when they called her name.I’m sure she just assumed her rival in that category, Laura Linney, was going to win. Metcalfe looked gobsmacked, to put it mildly. And her stunned acceptance speech was lackluster.

OTOH, I’m THRILLED that Michael Aronov has now ascended to an entirely new level in his career with his much deserved win for Best Featured Actor in “Oslo.”

And now we have the Public’s production of “Julius Caesar” to deal with!
I’ve always hated “Julius Caesar” as a play, but others beg to differ. It’s a classic. So OK, I go to the Shakespeare in the Park production expecting the worst, but I got the best. It’s the best production of “Julius Caesar” I’ve ever seen. I’ve changed my mind about it.

And it’s harrowing beyond belief, disturbing and not just because it’s been styled as a Donald Trump take-down. In the end, like in the “Doll’s House, Part Two” (which they should’ve called “Roseanne, Part Two”) I felt very sorry for Julius Caesar (the Trump figure, a marvelous Gregg Henry) and I don’t know if that’s what director Oskar Eustis meant. Like with “Roseanne, Part Two” (Oops! I mean “The Doll’s House, Part Two) I didn’t know where my sympathies were supposed to lie.

Just to make things clearer than clear Calpurnia, Caesar’s comely, blonde wife ( a great Tina Benko) has a hilarious Slovenian accent, making her every line a punch line.

Although, maybe that is what Shakespeare meant. You’re conflicted about Caesar, as many are about DJT. He’s given every color of the rainbow from popular hero to pompous ass by Gregg Henry.  It’s complex. HE’S complex. You can’t just take down the blow-hard ambitious leader, esp. in the horribly bloody way he is killed here. It’s historically accurate of course. Caesar WAS killed by his former supporters, “Et ,tu, Brute?” comes from that moment when his most-loyal side-man Brutus, stabs him, too. Corey Stoll, one of America’s great young actors, has a great time here.And so do we. And he is matched beat for beat by “Jitney’s” John Douglas Thompson as Cassius. But wait!

There are consequences! Brutus and Cassius and the other traitor/patriots have unleashed “the Dogs of War” growls Elizabeth Marvel, an absolute marvel as Marc Anthony. This is her greatest role, of course, usually played as a man, but here she’s a Kelly-Anne Conway  redux, a pig-tailed cheerleader, a slavish devotee type, always jogging after Caesar in a gym outfit, but then when Caesar is expectantly assassinated. she turns into a warrior priestess. Her “Friends, Roman’s and Countrymen, lend me your ears! I’ve come to bury Caesar, not to praise him!” was a pinnacle of modern acting. I was gripped and astonished as Marvel turned the character inside-out and backwards.

And then the bloody consequences of this bloody act continue as the assassins worlds’ unravel as a war pretty much breaks out against them. Spoiler alert! There are approximately 50 or so, young  actors hidden in the audience itself, in modern dress, who suddenly break their silence and make their presence known as they  shout and storm the stage, then get mowed down by an armed gang of SWAT teamed soldiers, who shoot their machine guns, RIGHT AT THE AUDIENCE! An explosive, deadly ending, with the bodies piled high, very high, the highest I’ve ever seen in a theater. There must be 75 members in this gigantic cast. And Brutus and Cassius come to self-inflicted ends themselves. Nobody is happy.  Except the audience,Julius Caesar 3

who has been thrilled to see Shakespeare finally done bloody well right. You’re left gasping, in the hot summer night air of Central Park .This is Shakespeare in the Park at a white-hot zenith.

Bette Midler DOES Win for Best Actress in a Musical for “Hello, Dolly”!

Bette Midler did indeed win Best Actress in a Musical for “Hello, Dolly!” She wore a slinky blue/green sequin dress and gave a long, heartfelt speech. Glenn Close presented her the award.

However, I feel awful for Josh Groban, Laura Linney, and everyone involved with “Natasha, Pierre…” They had 12 Tony nominations and only received one win…Very depressing…but congratulations to Michael Aranov!!!!! I knew you could do it, Michael!!!!

Good night!

Cynthia Nixon Wins Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Little Foxes”

Cynthia Nixon looked pretty in pink and she was lovely, moving, and angry, as she made the first political speech of the night, which surprised me, and was totally right on.

Poor Paula Vogel just got to make a short speech about her beautiful play “Indecent.” Wearing a shimmering, light blue tuxedo jacket, she matched Gavin Creel’s tux. But her outstanding Best Play Nominee deserved more than this brief sound bite.

The now closed “Falsettos” Best Revival of a Musical nominee strutted its’ stuff with a re-united original cast including the red-hot duo of Andrew Rannells and Christian Borle.

Gavin Creel Wins Best Featured Actor in a Musical for “Hello, Dolly!”

An ebullient Gavin Creel wearing a light green bow-tie and tuxedo that turned blue when he went up onstage to accept his first TONY Award for “Hello, Dolly!” for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He thanked his college where he first studied theater in the Midwest.

Best Revival of a Musical nominee”Miss Saigon” follows with a big, bang-up choral number with its’ huge Asian cast “This Is the Hour.” Tony Nominee Eva Nobelzada sings the leading role quite beautifully.I really did enjoy this splashy revival, which I saw just the day before yesterday (it seems). There’s been sooooo many great shows this year. And thisrevival of “Miss Saigon” was one of them.


MICHAEL AR0NOV wins Best Featured Actor at the Tonys!

My former guest Michael Aronov just won his first Tony for “Oslo”. A total surprise! But my god, does he deserve it! And he used to live in my building! *faints* Very moving speech about this parents and his one-room apartment which if he entered by the door, he was “in danger of flying out the window.” TRUE STORY! Nobody predicted Michael but I want to link to my interview with him eight years ago where I said, “He was one of the great actors of his generation.” And now everybody knows I was right! http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I think this means “Oslo” now a lock to win Best Play.

Kevin Spacey sang AND danced an electric opening number spoofing all the nominated Best Musicals. Hysterical! The TONYS 2017 off to a good start! I’m amazed!

The Wonderful Laura Linney Marches Towards Tony Tonight!

How can the wonderful Laura Linney not win Best Actress for her dual roles in “Little Foxes” tonite at the Tonys? She’s won both major precursor awards to Best Actress in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the more important than ever Drama Desk award?

It’s VERY rare and unusual for a performer to win both those awards and then not win the Tony, too, in their category. In fact, it’s never happened before. And not only that Linney is playing TWO widely divergent roles in “Little Foxes”, the scheming Regina and the alcoholic, fragile Birdy, and she is superb in both.

And not only that, this historic double-teaming of actresses alternating playing Regina and Birdy on different nights (with Cynthia Nixon) has never before occurred on the Broadway stage, though men have been doing it since Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud exchanged Romeo and Mercutio their youths in England at the Old Vic.

Add to that that Laura Linney thought up this whole striking, switching deal in the first place. And it’s been wildly successful And not only that Linney is one of the most beloved actresses in our midst right now. She has no enemies, no detractors and her late father was the playwright Romulus Linney, whom the Linney theater in the Signature Space Off Broadway on W.42nd Street is named after. And Laura herself confided in me once, “My father’s spirit is in that theater.”Her main competition is without a doubt Laurie(not Laura!)Metcalfe who is playing a very divisive Nora in “A Doll’s House, Part Two.” In the past several weeks, the publicity team behind “A Doll’s House” has mounted a huge campaign for her, and for the play, too.  But this is Broadway, not Hollywood, where such last minute antics as these are looked askance at by the voters, to say the least. A single set, four actors and only 90 minutes, it still seemed like an eternity to me. And the writing of the play is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. You don’t know if you are in the early part of the 20th century, or the early part of the 21st.  And Metcalfe plays it often like her character of the sister on “Roseanne” IOW like a sit-com. She’s been nominated three times before for a TONY and never won, just like Linney. So it’s an even playing field as far as the “Overdue” factor is concerned.

Laura Linney has never won a Tony or an Oscar though as I said she’s been nominated three times already for both. This certainly looks like it’s going to finally be her year.
#Laura Linney, #TONY Award, #Little Foxes, #Best Actress in a Play



A Special “Julius Caesar” in the Park Shout Out

I attended the Public Theater’s latest offering “Julius Caesar” last night in their outdoor Delacourte Theater, and I am embargoed from writing a review of it until 11pm Monday Night.

But this is what I can do.

I can send a special Stephen Holt Show Shout out to the following whose names are buried in the very BACK of the hefty, glossy program. And they are _

Matt Baguth, Raul Ramon Belcomo,Laura Borgwardt, Ethan Botwick,Estaban Barcoma,Nic Casaula, Caerwon Clarke, George Colligan, Mia Walsh Corbett, Cassandra Cushman, William Donovan, Tama Faiilianga, Deon Frank, Amanda Cate Fuller, Christopher Garofalo, Ian Garrity,Logan Georges, Morgan Hahn,Andrew Harriss, Kana Hatakeyama, Jeff Hathcoat, Buck Hinkle, Marley Nykole, James, Josh Jeffers,Karen Johal,Diana Lauren Jones,Logan Keeler,David H. Littleton, Reagan Lopez, Leslie Marseglia, Maribel Martinez, Nadege Matteis, Katie Morrill, Keaton Morris-Stan, Catherine D. Mullins,Jon L Peacock, Cheryl Pickett, Isabelle Pierre, Mark Puchinsky, Melissa Rakiro, Kyra Riley, Arisael Rivera, Joshua Salavador,Rachel Schmeling, Monique ST.Cyr,Michael Patrick Trimm, Nicole Vasquez, Loran F.Walker,Toran White, Conor William Wright, Janie Ye.

And last but not least, Gideon McCarty, who actually is credited in the Cast List of the Program. Oh and Erick Betancourt, too. And my favorite new name on Broadway, Dash King.

#Julius Caesar, #Public Theater, #Delacourt Theater, #Julius Caesar, #Central Park, #Gideon McCarty, #Dash King

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