a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

“Hello, Dolly!” Bette Midler! Wow! Wow! WOW!!!!!

Hello Dolly 2Is “Hello, Dolly!” newly revived on Bway with the legendary Bette Midler and selling like hot cakes, one of the greatest shows ever??? PRETTY Close! It’s an instant contact high, as they used to say in the ’60s. The minute you hear the first few notes of that famous score, Gerry Herman’s best by far, you’re instantly elated.

Like your lungs are filling up with helium! Hello Dolly 1

The Orchestra got applause at the first notes. The conductor got applause! The scenery got applause, when the curtain went up. The chorus, when they first entered, got applause. And Bette Midler? Well, she stopped the show cold by just dropping the newspaper that she was hiding behind, to her lap. She got an ovation! And it just didn’t stop! And I mean, the crowd was just going wild from seeing her. In person. At age 72. And “back where she belonged” on Bway, where she’d never been before.

Well that’s not exactly true. When I was in college, I saw her in “Fiddler on the Roof” as Tzeitel, the oldest daughter of Teyve, who gets married as the cast sings “Sunrise, Sunset.” And I remember looking at my program and trying to find “that girl,””She’s going to be famous, ” I thought. The girl who had the most infectious smile…She still does. She was “Midler from Fiddler” for three years. But Supporting no longer.Hello Dolly 5She’s the star of stars now of “Hello, Dolly!” and she is just flat out wonderful in it! The audience was going CRA-ZEE, as I’ve said. And the whole show is just miraculously infectious like Bette’s crinkly smile. Just what is it that makes it so fabulous? It’s like bottled joy! I’m not kidding. You just can’t be in a bad mood around Bette Midler’s role of a lifetime, Dolly Levy. A matchmaker, made in heaven.

Hello Dolly 10

Broadway veteran director Jerry Zaks is at the absolute zenith of his long career here and so is newcomer, choreographer Warren Carlyle.. They have lovingly recreated  what must’ve been the sugary-up, rainbow feeling of the late, great Gower Champion’s two-dimensional, but fabulous dancing. And it gets better.

Another Broadway baby who has been around for quite some time Gavin Creel completely owns the role of Chief  Hay and Seed Clerk Cornelius Hackl, who is just bursting to get a day off and go to Manhattan.(“Hello, Dolly!” is set firmly in Yonkers.) And “Put on His Sunday Clothes” and go dancing and he “won’t come home until” he falls in love, which of course he does.Gavin Creel 1

The Six Foot plus Creel has just been nominated for a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. As has his co-star Kate Baldwin, and Bette, too, mais oui.

Creel has been nominated for a Tony twice for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Hair”, but never won. This may be his year. And he’s an Out Gay LGBT actor, and I’m very, very proud of him. He also WON an Olivier Award in London for his role as Elder Price in “The Book of Morman.”

It certainly is Bette’s year, who has NEVER been nominated for a Tony, but this year I predict she will be dodging all the awards that are going to be hurled at her. Her powerhouse Dolly Levy lives up to her legendary alter ego The Divine Miss M, make no mistake.

Hello Dolly 12Meaning that Sophie Tucker and the Mermaid-in-the-Wheelchair are never far from her Dolly, who, of course, has a wicked twinkle in her eye, 72-year-old widow though she may be.

Her conversations with her late husband Ephraim, which she delivers downstage center, are very moving indeed. She gets to exercise her dramatic chops here and grounds her Dolly in a great well of loneliness as she plaintively begs her late husband’s ghost “to let me go, Ephraim.” She wants to rejoin life “Before the Parade Passes By” and she does.

With her irrepressible humor and warmth,  a lark and a flirtation and an active persuing of “half-a-millionaire, Horace Vandergelder” keep her moving forward  even while she is trying to make matches for Cornelius and his fellow clerk Barnaby (a marvelously pint-sized bundle of joy, Taylor Trensch). David Hyde Pierce is masterful here. too, as Horace. Pierce mightily holds his comic own as the pinch-penny object of Dolly’s overly effusive affection.

Hello Dolly 13“Hello, Dolly!” is a much sturdier and more delightful vehicle than I ever imagined it to be. I saw it with Ginger Rogers of all people when I was a mere child, and I don’t remember being THIS excited about it.

In the hands of all these great Broadway pros and one certified legend, the divine Bette, I just never wanted it to end. And with the way the public is storming the box-office it may never end. Ever. And I don’t want it to.

This is Broadway at its’ absolute, level best. Pure old-fashioned escapism superbly done and it’s best, it’s absolute best.Hello Dolly 9

Drama Desk Nominations Announced! “Dolly” reigns with Ten!

This year’s Drama Desk nominations were just announced! “Hello Dolly!” which I just saw last night, and it’s a wow, got ten nominations. Productions that played last season and transferred to Broadway this year like “Dear Evan Hansen” etc. were not eligible again this year, like the Outer Critics Circle nominations.

The Drama Desk is considered the most prestigious of the Tony precursor awards because it is the only award where Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway are considered on all equal playing field.

I’m happy to report that Michael Aronov turned up here in Best Supporting Actor in a play like he did for the Outer Critics. For being the only bright spot in the otherwise extremely tedious 3 hour gabfest “Oslo.”

And once again Laura Linney was nominated for lead in “Little Foxes” for her alternating Regina. As you know, I saw her as Birdie, which is the role her switch-ee Cynthia Nixon was nominated for.

Bette Middler, bien sur, got nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for “Hello Dolly!” And her dazzling co-star Gavin Creel was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as the busting at the seams to get out of Yonkers, Cornelius Hackle. And Kate Baldwin was nominated for Best Supporting or Featured Actress as the OTHER widow in “Dolly” Irene Malloy.

2017 DRAMA DESK AWARD NOMINATIONS
 
Outstanding Play
If I Forget, by Steven Levenson, Roundabout Theatre Company
Indecent, by Paula Vogel, Vineyard Theatre
A Life, by Adam Bock, Playwrights Horizons
Oslo, by J. T. Rogers, Lincoln Center Theater
Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, The Public Theater
 
Outstanding Musical
Anastasia
The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Come From Away
Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
 
Outstanding Revival of a Play
The Front Page
The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
 “Master Harold”… and the Boys, Signature Theatre Company
Picnic, Transport Group Theatre Company
 
Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater
Hello, Dolly!
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweet Charity, The New Group
Tick, Tick…BOOM!, Keen Company
 
Outstanding Actor in a Play
Bobby Cannavale, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Daniel Craig, Othello, New York Theatre Workshop
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
David Hyde Pierce, A Life, Playwrights Horizons
John Douglas Thompson, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
 
Outstanding Actress in a Play
Cate Blanchett, The Present
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Amy Ryan, Love, Love, Love, Roundabout Theatre Company
Harriet Walter, The Tempest, St. Ann’s Warehouse
 
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Nick Blaemire, Tick, Tick…BOOM!, Keen Company
Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
 
Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Christy Altomare, Anastasia
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity, The New Group
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Laura Osnes, Bandstand
 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo, Lincoln Center Theater
Danny DeVito, The Price, Roundabout Theatre Company
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Jeremy Shamos, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company
Justice Smith, Yen, MCC Theater
 
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Randy Graff, The Babylon Line, Lincoln Center Theater
Marie Mullen, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, BAM
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
Emily Skinner, Picnic
Kate Walsh, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company
 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Jeffry Denman, Kid Victory, Vineyard Theatre
George Salazar, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company

Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia
Nora Schell, Spamilton
 
Outstanding Director of a Play
Richard Jones, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Anne Kauffman, A Life, Playwrights Horizons
Richard Nelson, What Did You Expect?/Women  of a Certain Age, The Public Theater
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
Daniel Sullivan, If I Forget, Roundabout Theatre Company
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Bill Buckhurst, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
David Cromer, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!
 
Outstanding Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly!
Aletta Collins, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, Roundabout Theatre Company
 
Outstanding Music
Stephen Flaherty, Anastasia
Dave Malloy, Beardo, Pipeline Theatre Company
Richard Oberacker, Bandstand
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away
David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
 
Outstanding Lyrics
Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton
GQ and JQ, Othello: The Remix
Michael Korie, War Paint
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away
David Yazbek, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Outstanding Book of a Musical
Terrence McNally, Anastasia
Itamar Moses, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Richard Oberacker, Bandstand
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away
Joe Tracz, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
 
Outstanding Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, Anastasia
Bruce Coughlin, War Paint
Benjamin Cox, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
August Eriksmoen, Come From Away
Jamshied Sharifi, The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Outstanding Music in a Play
Daniel Ocanto, Graham Ulicny, and Sean Smith, Alligator, New Georges in collaboration with the Sol Project
Marcus Shelby, Notes from the Field, Second Stage
Bill Sims Jr., Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
Outstanding Revue
Hello Dillie!, 59E59
Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward, 59E59
 
Outstanding Set Design for a Play
David Gallo, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Laura Jellinek, A Life, Playwrights Horizons
Stewart Laing, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page
 
Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
Lez Brotherston, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse
Simon Kenny, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Jason Sherwood, The View UpStairs
 
Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Jane Greenwood, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Murell Horton, The Liar, CSC
Toni-Leslie James, Jitney, Manhattan Theatre Club
Stewart Laing, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Ann Roth, The Front Page
 
Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
Linda Cho, Anastasia
Toni-Leslie James, Come From Away
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Anita Yavich, The View UpStairs
Paloma Young, Bandstand
Catherine Zuber, War Paint
 
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent, Vineyard Theatre
James Farncombe, The Tempest, St. Ann’s Warehouse
Rick Fisher, The Judas Kiss, Brooklyn Academy of Music
Mimi Jordan Sherin, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
Stephen Strawbridge, “Master Harold”…and the Boys, Signature Theatre Company
Justin Townsend, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
 
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
Jeff Croiter, Bandstand
Mark Henderson, Sunset Boulevard
Bradley King, Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Amy Mae, Sweeney Todd: The Barber of Fleet Street
Malcolm Rippeth, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse
Outstanding Projection Design
Reid Farrington, CasablancaBox, HERE
Elaine McCarthy, Notes from the Field, Second Stage
Jared Mezzocchi, Vietgone, Manhattan Theatre Club*
John Narun, Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey, Life Jacket Theatre Company
Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Mikhail Fiksel, A Life, Playwrights Horizons
Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, The Encounter
Brian Quijada, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Radio Drama Network
Leon Rothenberg, Notes from the Field, Second Stage
Jane Shaw, Men on Boats, Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
 
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Simon Baker, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse
Peter Hylenski, Anastasia
Scott Lehrer, Hello, Dolly!
Nicholas Pope, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Mick Potter, Cats
Brian Ronan, War Paint
 
Outstanding Wig and Hair
David Brian Brown, War Paint
Campbell Young Associates, Hello, Dolly!
John Jared Janas, Yours Unfaithfully, Mint Theatre Company
Jason Hayes, The View UpStairs
Josh Marquette, Present Laughter
Tom Watson, The Little Foxes, Manhattan Theatre Club
 
Outstanding Solo Performance
Nancy Anderson, The Pen (Inner Voices), Premieres
Ed Dixon, Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose
Marin Ireland, On the Exhale, Roundabout Underground
Sarah Jones, Sell/Buy/Date, Manhattan Theatre Club
Brian Quijada, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Radio Drama Network
Anna Deavere Smith, Notes from the Field, Second Stage
 
Unique Theatrical Experience
CasablancaBox, HERE
The Paper Hat Game, The Tank/3-Legged Dog
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland
The Ephemera Trilogy, The Tank/Flint & Tinder
Outstanding Fight Choreography
J. David Brimmer, Yen, MCC Theatre
Donal O’Farrell, Quietly, Irish Repertory Theatre
Michael Rossmy and Rick Sordelet, Troilus and Cressida, New York Shakespeare Festival
Thomas Schall, Othello, New York Theatre Workshop
Thomas Schall, The Hairy Ape, Park Avenue Armory
U. Jonathan Toppo, Sweat, The Public Theatre
Outstanding Adaptation
David Ives, The Liar, Classic Stage Company
Ellen McLaughlin, The Trojan Women, The Flea Theatre
Outstanding Puppet Design
Basil Twist, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Lyndie Wright, Sarah Wright, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, St. Ann’s Warehouse
SPECIAL AWARDS:
Outstanding Ensemble
The Wolves, The Playwrights Realm: The superbly talented cast of Sarah DeLappe’s debut play -Mia Barron, Brenna Coates, Jenna Dioguardi, Samia Finnerty, Midori Francis, Lizzy Jutila, Sarah Mezzanotte, Tedra Millan, Lauren Patten, and Susannah Perkins-jelled as one, proving that team spirit is just a alive on the stage as it is on the soccer field.
Special Award to Phil LaDuca: Proving that character comes from the ground up, the designer’s innovative flexible dance shoe ensures that hoofers on any stage remain on point.
Sam Norkin Award: Lila Neugebauer:  During a season that saw her helm the original works The Antipodes, Everybody, Miles For Mary, and The Wolves, and resurrect the works of esteemed playwrights Edward Albee, Maria Irene Fornes, and Adrienne Kennedy in Signature Plays, director Lila Neugebauer has shown that her dauntless insight into the human condition knows no bounds.
Complete list below
TOTAL NOMINATIONS:
Hello, Dolly! – 10
Anastasia – 9
Come From Away – 9
The Hairy Ape – 8
Bandstand – 7
The Band’s Visit – 7
The Little Foxes – 7
War Paint – 7
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – 7
Jitney – 6
A Life – 5
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips – 4
The Front Page – 4
If I Forget – 4
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 – 4
Notes from the Field – 4
Falsettos – 3
Present Laughter – 3
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical – 3
The View UpStairs – 3
CasablancaBox – 2
A Doll’s House, Part 2 – 2
Hadestown – 2
Indecent – 2
The Liar – 2
“Master Harold” …and the Boys – 2
Oslo – 2
Othello – 2
Picnic – 2
Spamilton – 2
Sweat – 2
Sweet Charity – 2
The Tempest – 2
Tick, Tick…BOOM! – 2
Where Did We Sit on the Bus? — 2
Yen – 2
Alligator – 1
The Babylon Line – 1
Beardo – 1
The Beauty Queen of Leenane – 1
A Bronx Tale – 1
Cats – 1
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 1
The Encounter – 1
The Ephemera Trilogy – 1
Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose – 1
Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey – 1
Groundhog Day – 1
Hello Dillie – 1
Holiday Inn – 1
The Judas Kiss -1
Kid Victory – 1
Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward – 1
Love, Love, Love – 1
Men on Boats – 1
Miss Saigon – 1
On the Exhale – 1
Othello: The Remix – 1
The Paper Hat Game – 1
The Pen – 1
The Play that Goes Wrong – 1
The Present – 1
The Price – 1
Quietly – 1
Sell/Buy/Date – 1
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – 1
Sunset Boulevard – 1
Troilus and Cressida – 1
The Trojan Women – 1
Vietgone – 1
What Did You Expect?/Women of a Certain Age – 1
Yours, Unfaithfully – 1

“Indecent” Glorious Lesbian/Jewish Musical Play


“Indecent” is Pulitzer Prize Winning Lesbian playwright Paula Vogel’s masterpiece. This great American playwright has finally found her voice at age 68 and her greatest triumph. “Indecent” is now at the Cort Theater on Broadway and long may it run. As long as “Fiddler on the Roof,” which it strangely resembles, though it is really a straight play with a lot, and I mean a lot, of  joyous songs and dances  in Yiddish . Perfectly, flawlessly executed under director/collaborator Rebecca Taichman’s masterful hand.Paula Vogel & Rebecca Taischman

At this point in my LONNNNG, career as also a gay playwright, actor, director and critic, I thought I knew every gay and lesbian play backwards and forwards and inside out, four ways to Sunday and back again. But “Indecent” shocked me, not by its’ touching, almost reticent depiction of Lesbian-Jewish love at the turn of the last century. (1907 to be exact), but by the fact that “Indecent” is a play-within-a-play-within-in play and that play was the first successful lesbian play just about ever.

And it was written by a newly married heterosexual Jewish playwright Sholem Asch and called “Got fun Nekome” or “God of Vengeance.” “Indecent” is a celebration and almost a complete re-staging of this incredibly important, seminal, nearly lost GLBT play. We see scenes from it acted out and re-acted endlessly.Indecent 3

It’s certainly one of the best plays of the year, and the most pertinent in this era of incipient terror that is upon us. “Indecent” couldn’t be more timely, or more beautiful. And it’s simple, so simple, and yet utterly complex. So complex, it has sub-titles or super-titles above the action telling us what, when and in what language, the present scene is taking place. It’s a very nifty device, and the shifting Yiddish/English text is glorious in its’ magnificent execution.

Imdecent 1It’s ensemble cast of seven, plus three on-stage actor/musicans,  is flawless. And the story and history of “God of Vengeance” is unbelievably dramatic and true.

Of course it was banned and the cast jailed when they LAST tried to do it on Broadway in 1923. By that time “God of Vengenance” had been a hit all over Europe and also in the Yiddish theater here in New York. But they hit the proverbial wall uptown when they were declared “Obscene, indecent, immoral and impure” and shut down immediately.

It’s ninety minutes and a harrowing delight. Let me add that the final song “Wiegala” heard near the play’s conclusion, was written by Ilse Klein, a nurse at the children’s hospital in Theresienstadt, one of the most notorious concentration camps. She sang this song as a lullaby for the children in the wards there before they were to be transported. It is said she sang this song in line to the gas chambers.Indecent 8Are you crying yet? I was. Yes, “Indecent” will move you to tears and to dance and sing and celebrate Paula Vogel’s breath-taking triumph of a life time.

Movies That Shouldn’t Be Made into Musicals “Ground Hog Day” & “Amelie”


If you think you’re seeing double, you’ll be seeing triple and quadruple in the current mish-mash that is passing as a hit musical from London, “Ground Hog Day.” I have to say that if you haven’t seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie set in Puxitawney, PA., you’re really out of luck. Because this musical doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.. But, so I’m told,  if you’ve seen the movie, it does. Otherwise, it’s a godawful mess. Or is it? Or is that EXACTLY what it’s supposed to be? Utterly and immensely confusing, like it’s central character, Phil, a TV weather person, played very engagingly by the swaggering Andy Karl.Ground Hog Day 3

But don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Andy Karl, having seen him long ago as one of the five “Altar Boyz” Off Broadway. He was the muscle- bound one and he continued in that vein with the tremendous performance he gave in “Rocky:The Musical” which I just loved. But audiences didn’t. I thought it was a real lollapalooza and Karl gave a knock-out performance as the iconic Rocky Balboa, made famous by Sylvester Stallone. Yes, he sang, danced AND boxed his heart out in “Rocky.”Andy Karl Rocky 1

Then he had the colossal bad luck of dislocating his ACL in previews for “Ground Hog Day,” and now has become something of a Broadway legend and also, believe it or not, a front-runner for the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, because despite performing in a black knee brace, he went on!

They should re-label “Ground Hog  Day” as “Andy Karl MUST GO ON!”

In the great theatrical tradition, nothing could stop him from giving this powerhouse, but utterly confusing performance.” Obviously in pain, he went bravely forward, over and over and over again, as the repetitious “Ground Hog Day”, a science-fiction musical if ever there was one, repeats and repeats and repeats itself. With Karl leading the charge, injured though he is, and with his knee brace clearly showing (he’s in his underwear a lot, as usual. And thank god for those terrific thighs!).

And audiences are going wild.

“Ground Hog Day” will have to run on fans of the movie, and perhaps, garbled and senseless (to me, a non-believer) as it was, that’s what audiences are craving these dark days in our country’s history. A feel-good, only partially funny, gigantic musical that makes no sense whatsoever. The world has gone mad in Puxitawney, Pa, and that’s the plot, such as it is.  Puxitawney is where the famous Puxitawney Phil, the ground hog who if he doesn’t see his shadow when he peaks of his hole in the ground means we’re getting six more weeks of winter. As far as I could tell, he didn’t see it. Thank god, it’s really now spring in NYC!

So, it’s Feb. 2nd and time and Ground Hog Day itself, keep repeating, repeating and repeating  in our beleaguered hero’s brain, while those townsfolk around him make merry and march and re-march and re-march. There is no end to those parading Pennsylvanians!

The music itself is also not much of anything. Tim Minchin who debuted so powerfully a few seasons back with the wonderful “Matilda”, here goes backward in time to really forgettable music and lyrics that seemed to be in a time-warp of their’ own, as if the magical “Matilda” had never happened.

And since this show was generated out of Australia, the small town PA. people are REALLY cartoons of what Pennsylvanians are like. Whatever they are, Pennsylvanians are not singing Australians, with bad American accents. And so the nightmarish cartoon juggernaut that is “Ground Hog Day” continues to roll over and distort and distort and re-distort everything in its’ path.

The Bill Murray movie couldn’t be this non-funny or garish. Oh, yes, and there aren’t any jokes. But there are lots of flying sets, one of which injured Andy Karl and may have won him a Tony. He deserved it for “Rocky,” but not for this mess.

And no, I’m not going to find the movie of “Ground Gog Day” and now watch it just to make sense of this gob-bil-di-gook. It would be just too painful. And I’m sure not funny, after what I’ve just been through with “Ground Hog Day:The Musical.” It’s like a night-mare you want to forget.

And “Amelie”! I hate to say anything negative about “Amelie”. It’s like kicking a kitten. I saw this French language movie, and I didn’t like it ,and can’t remember anything about it, except that Audrey Tautou is endlessly cute, and became a French icon of the ages. And I never could understand why. But there, like the Eifel Tower, she stands. Starring in French films of wildly varying quality. But an American musical?

And not casting a French girl in the lead? New York is NOT Paris, and good as she was in the original Natasha in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet” off-Broadway in the circus tent, and Tony-nominated for “Hamilton,” as his hapless wife, Eliza, Phillipa Soo never had to utter a single word of dialogue. Both these great early successes for the now 26-year-old Soo were wordless, sung-through pop-operas and boy, can she sing!

She possesses one of the great powerhouse voices, and it’s a pleasure to listen to her over and over and over again on the CDs of “Natasha, Pierre” and “Hamilton.” But here in “Amelie:The Musical” with REAMS of trite, banalities to make cute, piquant, quixotic and adorable, she’s utterly at sea. She’s at a loss with no script OR music to bolster her as she had both so memorably in “Natasha, Pierre” and “Hamilton.” I wonder if it will even last until the Awards are handed out in June? Somehow, I doubt it. And I’m a Francophile.

Superb! Superb! Superb!Laura Linney & Cynthia Nixon On Bway in “Little Foxes”

When theater is this good, it’s a joy! And something as good as the current revival of “Little Foxes” on Bway at MTC with two of our absolute best actresses, Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney alternating  roles is an evening to be treasured. And treasured again because you can see it a second time with the parts of the villainous Regina and the flibbertigibbet Birdie played by these two towering woman of the American Theater reversed. The critics were given a choice of who to see in which role first and I chose Nixon as Regina and Linney as Birdie. And I’ve never been happier! I can’t wait to see it again with the roles reversed! It’s a win-win situation. And to my knowledge this is an historic first. Actors have switched roles before, but not actresses.

And how smart of Artistic Director Lynn Meadow to allow this to happen on Bway! This is something we never see! Men have been switching up historically, since as long as I can remember. “Becket” is one example. “Othello” is another.  But women? Never! All the more cause for rejoicing. And with one of America’s great stage directors Daniel Sullivan doing the work of HIS career, too! Why I just want to tear my program up and throw it into the air like confetti! Except I won’t because it’s too precious to me as a memory of a theatrical experience that was just about perfect!Of course, I saw Bette Davis do Regina in the movie, and she was pure evil. And she got ANOTHER Oscar nomination. I saw Elizabeth Taylor, of all people, doing the last revival of “Little Foxes” to be on Bway back, when I was in high school. So I felt I knew what I was going to see when I went in to the Samuel J. Friedman Theater on W.47th. But this “Little Foxes” was a total revelation. Never before have I see Regina played as more than a two-dimensional witch of a woman. Nixon added intelligence. I’d almost say compassion to Regina’s bitchy mix.

She seemed torn, for a second, just a tiny second, as her ailing husband (a very good Richard Thomas) climbed to his death on their staircase, like perhaps she considered going to help him. But of course, she does not. She resolutely stared into the audience as he chillingly dies, crying out for her help. Shivers. It gives me shivers just to write about this.

And never also has the character of Aunt Birdie been played as anything except pathetic and bonkers. When I saw Felicia Montealegre play it opposite Elizabeth Taylor, she was totally mad, and sad. And I thought “What hell it must’ve been for her to be married to Leonard Bernstein,” which in real life,   she was.

Laura Linney has none of that. Birdie is her Hamlet. She’s feigning madness to shield herself from the blows that life and her husband (a frightening oaf, Darren Goldstein) is dealing her. When the hulking Goldstein hits her across the face, you could hear the audience gasp as well as scream. Otherwise, the production was so taut and tense, you could hear a pin drop. This superb “Little Foxes” has preserved playwright Hellman’s original three-act structure, which is kind of refreshing.  Act One and Act Two ending with curtain lines that punch you right in the gut. It’s a well-made play. Remember them?

And it’s an astonishment to see that in Laura Linney’s hands, playwright Lillian Hellman has written not one but TWO famous scenes. Of course, there is the staircase scene where Regina lets her husband die. But there’s also a staggering scene at the beginning of Act Three, where Birdie fiercely charges to her niece Alexandra (Francesca Carpanini)”Don’t be like me!” because she has never had “a happy day, a whole happy day” in her life. Birdie is a symbol of the aristocratic south that is truly gone with the wind. And Regina is its’ frightening, mercenary 20th century future.

And both actresses play these juicy roles with such smartness that we are unavoidably reminded its the repressive, male dominance of their patriarchal society that have driven them to madness(though perhaps feigned here) and murder, for real.

Cynthia Nixon, Laura Linney, director Dan Sullivan are all here to remind us that there is greatness in living theater and that “Little Foxes” is a tremendously underestimated American play. Lillian Hellman would be turning cartwheels were she still with us. Brava, Divas!

I would also lastly like to note that come the Tonys (the nominations are to be announced shortly), Ms. Linney will be considered in the Leading Actress in a Play category for her Regina and Ms. Nixon in Supporting for her Birdie, because that’s how they appeared on Opening Night.

#Little Foxes, #Laura Linney, #Cynthia Nixon, #Lillian Hellman, #Broadway (more…)

Kate Burton Wows Kevin Kline in “Present Laughter” on Bway

That supremely under-rated British American actress Kate Burton is really holding her own against her over-blown. self-absorbed actor-husband played by Kevin Kline  in Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” on Broadway now . Its’ modest charms seem lost in the cavernous St. James theater.

Not one of Coward’s top drawer plays like “Blithe Spirit”, Coward tossed it off(and I mean that in more ways than one) while on tour during WWII with his war play “This Happy Breed.” He must’ve been very bored because the soignee part of Garry Essendine is partially based on his own self.present Laughter 4 As a vehicle, I suppose it can’t be beat, and it certainly is a big, juicy part, and Kline absent from the stage for far too long, makes the most of it. Or makes too much of it. really. I didn’t think you could overact this part of the always acting actor of the Old School Garry Essendine, but Kline comes dangerously close.

I missed Frank Langella is his ’96 production of “Present Laughter.” It was much faster and much funnier and had the great Alice Janney in the part of the no-nonsense, soon-to-be ex-wife Liz, that the Great Kate, is now essaying so elegantly. Liz Essendine, really, I’ve now come to think is the back-bone of the play, and Coward wrote it for Joyce Carey, his almost constant cohort and muse. And wrote a better part for her than he wrote for himself. Liz has to stand up to Garry and she’s the one who is really holding his household and Himself together as all hell breaks loose, as it always would and SHOULD in a comedy.

Garry is doing nothing more than swanning about in glamorous dressing gowns and ascots and acting, ACTING, and OVER-ACTING all the time. Coward himself would have no problems with this and Frank Langella certainly hit the right note, but oddly Kevin Kline doesn’t. Too many years in movies has dulled his panache. He seems huffing and puffing and sometimes breaking such a sweat running from schtik to schtik that he is a tad, dare I say it? Too old for the role.

But “Present Laughter” wouldn’t be on Broadway at all if it wasn’t for Kline’s movie star rep and his making all those films. His ex Patti LuPone is having no problem with holding the stage and playing and singing and ringing the rafters just down the Bway block as Helena Rubenstein in “War Paint” But more on Patti later.Kate Burton has quite a history with “Present Laughter” herself having originally played the part of the over-sexed ingénue Daphne Sillington, who has famously “lost her latch key”, in Act One in 1982, opposite George C. Scott. You see, actors keep wanting to revive Garry Essendine, but Kline barely makes it to Act III.

I also don’t remember “Present Laughter” being so long and so slow, especially in Act I. Another factor that defeats Kline. He has to do too much heavy lifting and is really having to put Act III energy into Act I trying to make it more madcap than it is really meant to be.

Someone who really lifts the level to the right manic place is Bhavesh Patel as the demented, obsessed playwright wannabee (read fan) Roland Maule. Patel is so fanatical that he rightly suggests the gay sub-text that we’ve known is there. If only the latch-key losers who keep hiding themselves in Essendine’s guest bedroom were male, the play would seem more relevant and less dated. But alas, in Blackpool, in 1942, when the play premiered in the U.K., Coward could not have done that. So what we’re left with is half-baked piffle. And you know what that tastes like.

 

Kevin Spacey to Host This Year’s Tony Awards

This seems to be a very unusual, low-octane choice to host the high-powered Tony Awards broadcast, but there it is. Two time Academy Award Winner Kevin Spacey. However, he did win one Tony at the beginning of his career.

The most serious of recent Tony host choices  have all been song and dance men lately. Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. Or Comics like James Corden.

The Tony Awards announced today that Tony and Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey will host  the 71st Annual Tony® Awards live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Sunday, June 11 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. This will be Spacey’s first time hosting the Tonys. He won a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in “Lost in Yonkers.” The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.  

 

I was their 2nd choice for Usual Suspects, 4th choice for America Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards. I think my career is definitely going in the right direction,” said Spacey. “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”

“We are thrilled to have Kevin, who has mastered the Broadway stage, the big and small screens and the West End, host this year’s Tony Awards! His spirit and passion for live theatre makes him the perfect host, and we can’t wait to see the energy he brings to Radio City on Tony night!” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.

 

“We’re excited to be working with a witty and charming host who is not only a Tony-winning actor and fan of live theatre, he’s also a president who is a true champion of the arts,” said Executive Producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner.

 

“A true star of television, film and theater, who better than Kevin Spacey to host this year’s Tony Awards?” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. “With his extensive repertoire, charisma and unparalleled dedication to live theater, we are thrilled to have him join us for this prestigious television event.” 

 

Award-winning producer and actor, Kevin Spacey, received a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Spacey has also starred in the Broadway and West End productions of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” opposite his mentor Jack Lemmon; as well as the title role in the Sam Mendes production of “Richard III,” which toured to 12 cities around the world as part of the three year Old Vic/BAM/Bridge Project. He was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to theatre. He has also won the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his role in “The Iceman Cometh.”

 

Inspired by Jack Lemmon, Spacey has often launched initiatives to help young people get their start in the competitive worlds of film and theatre, including: The Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers support to young actors, writers, directors and producers (including workshops during the tour of “Richard III”); And the short film competition “Jameson First Shot,” awarded writer/directors from South Africa, Russia and the US, Canada and other countries with the opportunity to direct a short film starring a major actor. Most recently Kevin was awarded an Honorary Knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen for his work at the Old Vic, education and philanthropy.

 

Spacey currently stars in and executive produces the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Since the show premiered in 2013, he’s been nominated for multiple Emmys and has won both Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance as Frank Underwood. He has won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and for “American Beauty”. He was most recently seen opposite Michael Shannon in “Elvis & Nixon”. He will next be seen in “Billionaire Boys Club”, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver,” and “Rebel In The Rye” for director Danny Strong. For over a decade, Spacey served as the Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in London. Spacey recently stepped down from this role, but during his time appeared on stage at the Old Vic in productions of “National Anthems,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Speed the Plow” with Jeff Goldblum, “Inherit the Wind,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” and the acclaimed production of the one-man show, “Darrow” – an examination of the legendary Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow.

 The Tony Awards announced today that Tony and Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey will host  the 71st Annual Tony® Awards live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Sunday, June 11 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. This will be Spacey’s first time hosting the Tonys. He won a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in “Lost in Yonkers.” The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.  

 

I was their 2nd choice for Usual Suspects, 4th choice for America Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards. I think my career is definitely going in the right direction,” said Spacey. “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”

“We are thrilled to have Kevin, who has mastered the Broadway stage, the big and small screens and the West End, host this year’s Tony Awards! His spirit and passion for live theatre makes him the perfect host, and we can’t wait to see the energy he brings to Radio City on Tony night!” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.

 

“We’re excited to be working with a witty and charming host who is not only a Tony-winning actor and fan of live theatre, he’s also a president who is a true champion of the arts,” said Executive Producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner.

 

“A true star of television, film and theater, who better than Kevin Spacey to host this year’s Tony Awards?” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. “With his extensive repertoire, charisma and unparalleled dedication to live theater, we are thrilled to have him join us for this prestigious television event.”   

Award-winning producer and actor, Kevin Spacey, received a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Spacey has also starred in the Broadway and West End productions of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” opposite his mentor Jack Lemmon; as well as the title role in the Sam Mendes production of “Richard III,” which toured to 12 cities around the world as part of the three year Old Vic/BAM/Bridge Project. He was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to theatre. He has also won the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his role in “The Iceman Cometh.”

 

Inspired by Jack Lemmon, Spacey has often launched initiatives to help young people get their start in the competitive worlds of film and theatre, including: The Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers support to young actors, writers, directors and producers (including workshops during the tour of “Richard III”); And the short film competition “Jameson First Shot,” awarded writer/directors from South Africa, Russia and the US, Canada and other countries with the opportunity to direct a short film starring a major actor. Most recently Kevin was awarded an Honorary Knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen for his work at the Old Vic, education and philanthropy.

 

Spacey currently stars in and executive produces the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Since the show premiered in 2013, he’s been nominated for multiple Emmys and has won both Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance as Frank Underwood. He has won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and for “American Beauty”. He was most recently seen opposite Michael Shannon in “Elvis & Nixon”. He will next be seen in “Billionaire Boys Club”, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver,” and “Rebel In The Rye” for director Danny Strong. For over a decade, Spacey served as the Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in London. Spacey recently stepped down from this role, but during his time appeared on stage at the Old Vic in productions of “National Anthems,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Speed the Plow” with Jeff Goldblum, “Inherit the Wind,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” and the acclaimed production of the one-man show, “Darrow” – an examination of the legendary Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow.

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: