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Posts tagged ‘Dame Helen Mirren’

Newcomer Andrew Burnap’s Astonishing Debut in “Troilus & Cressida”

Troilus and Cressida 1Andrew Burnap 1“Troilus and Cressida” is considered one of  Shakespeare’s Problem Plays. It’s hardly ever done. It’s wildly uneven, and it’s always nigh to impossible to tell the Greeks from the Trojans. It’s clear that there’s a war on, but who’s who and which is which is always mightily confusing.

Director Dan Sullivan has perhaps rectified all that with his testosterone fueled-production in Central Park this summer. He’s cast one of the strongest male casts I’ve ever seen containing some of the best young Shakespearean actors around today. Main among them is newcomer Andrew Burnap in the usually forgettable title role. But Burnap burns up the stage as he holds his own against as formidable a male cast as I’ve ever seen in Shakespeare in the Park, New York’s annual, pastoral summer ritual. Founded by the late Joe Papp to be free to all New Yorkers, the Park never disappoints, though most times the productions certainly do. But not this time.Shakespeara in the Park 1

I’m happy to say that “Troilus and Cressida” is one of the best Shakespeare’s I’ve ever seen in the Park.

But back to Andrew Burnap. A recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he’s stepped right out of school and right into stardom, following in the footsteps of former Yale-ees Meryl Streep and Lupita Nyong’o who just soared immediately upon graduation. His beautiful, brave, heart-broken, angry, and eventually murderous Troilus is everything a dream role for a young actor should be. And blond, blue-eyed, dashing Burnap is living the dream. In a part, I’ve never really even noticed before, he makes it seem a greater role than it’s ever been.

Troilus and Cressida are sort of Romeo and Juliet gone wrong.  The Trojan War  breaks them apart early and nearly kills them.

I saw Helen Mirren as a young girl, maybe even a teenager, make her debut at the Royal Shakespeare Company back in the ’60s as Cressida.Helen Mirren Young Her debut, her first scene, she got rolled out of a Persian carpet completely nude. And thus began her great career. She was utterly heart-breaking in the scene where she emerges ravaged from the rival army’s camp where she has been raped repeatedly. She was shattered, bruised, barely able to speak, unforgettable. The actress here, Ismenia Mendes, just can’t cut it. You barely can tell she’s been gang-raped, and you don’t care much either.

But you do care about Andrew Burnap/Troilus’s reaction to his love being so defiled. He goes madly to war against his enemies, main among them the superb young Shakespearean actor Zach Appelman, as Diomedes, another part no one ever remembers. Appelman, you may remember, was the diamond brilliant Hamlet in Hartford, just this past winter for Darko Tresnjak.

Troilus and Cressida 3In the first act, Diomedes has very little to do, except to flex his muscles and show his six-pack lifting barbells and strutting shirtless (as do many others of this studly, sweating, stunning cast) in the 100 degree heat New York is now experiencing. But in Act 2, he gets to come into his own, as he battles Burnap. Appelman is a Yale graduate, too, btw.  As pictured above and below, you can see how intense their final confrontation is.Troilus and Cressida 4

I also must mention the tremendously strong ensemble feel that this T & C production had and I wasn’t surprised when I checked my program later that there were 10 (!) count’em TEN graduates of the equally superb NYU Grad Acting program! Which boasts its’ own  terrific, classically trained actors, main among them Corey Stoll. Stoll was so memorable as Ernest Heminngway in Woody Allen’s ” Midnight in Paris.” Here the completely bald Stoll is oiliness personified as the only man in a suit in this play, the slippery, Ulysseus, whom Stoll plays as   a corrupt ad exec, who arranges Cressida’s gang rape and many other nefarious things.Corey Stoll 1

I also had the privilege of seeing Understudy Keilyn Durrell Jones go on as the muscle-bound Achilles. He was just so loopily love-struck by his male amour Patroclus (Tom Pecinka), he licks his face like a huge puppy dog.Keilyn The Millionaire Jones

Yes, this is also the gay-est play Shakespeare ever wrote and director Sullivan does not hesitate to show the mighty Achilles, gathering his beloved up in his hugely muscled arms and whisking the giggling Patroclus off to their love-tent.

A male cast this awesome, and striking, who speak the Bard’s lines as magnificently as they make love AND war, makes one re-consider “Troilus and Cressida” as a much better play than it ever seemed before.

#Troilus and Cressida # Shakespeare # Trojan War #Andrew Burnap #Zach Appelman #Shakespeare in the Park #Corey Stoll #Achilles #Helen Mirren # Royal Shakespeare Company #Helen Mirren nude #Ulysses #Dan Sullivan # Problem Play # Central Park #Hamlet # Hartford Stage Company # Darko Tresnjak # Keilyn The Billionaire Jones#Achilles

 

Oscar/SAG upset! Watch out for “Trumbo” and Bryan Cranston!

Trumbo 3I’m expecting a bombshell at the SAG awards. I think “Trumbo” is poised to upset many Oscar apple-carts. It’s got everything. A true Hollywood scandal with a real life hero Dalton Trumbo, and a magnificent career-best performance by the beloved-by-his-fellow-actors Bryan Cranston.

It’s a story that’s never been told. And there are many still alive today, like Kirk Douglas, who is depicted in the film, who were effected by the terrible Blacklist of a group of writers, who became known as the Hollywood Ten. Why? Because the admitted to being members of the Communist Party back in the days, the ’50s, when McCarthy witch-hunts were ruling the land.

And it has its own Cruella De Ville villainess that you can feel free to hiss, and boo, Dame Helen Mirren as the red-baiting, but powerful Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Mirren seems to slither through this movie like a silken snake. It’s a role that has garnered Mirren already a SAG nomination as well as a Golden Globe.Trumbo 1

And  Bryan Cranston is  just sensational! He gets to pull our heart-strings as one of the most courageous Hollywood screenwriters has ever seen,who kept on writing for the movies, even after the US govt. forbade him to. He was bankrupted. He was even sent to jail!

And then when he came out of jail, he was reduced to writing schlock screenplays for the schlockmeiester-to-end-all-schlockmeisters, played by John Goodman, who adds a JOLT to any film he’s in. He essayed a similar role in “The Artist” and THAT small, unexpected film won the Oscar, lest we forget, and after “Birdman”s win last year, it shows us that Hollywood will never get over its’ love affair with itself. “Trumbo” may find itself nominated for many things, besides Cranston and Mirren. It could  get nominated for Best Picture,too! Wouldn’t THAT be a surprise!”Spotlight” LOOK OUT!

“Trumbo”s got a star-studded cast who really deliver and who all have been nominated for Best Ensemble for the SAG award. To the great surprise of everyone in the blogosphere and out of it. They didn’t expect that, and they also didn’t expect Cranston and Mirren to land both Globe&SAG nods. It might even win Best Ensemble which is SAG’s equivalent of best picture. This award may be where “Trumbo” triumphs, too, and not the presumed front-runner “Spotlight.”

It’s a Hollywood story through and through with a genuine hero, who suffered and nearly died, at Hwood’s bad hands. I know of one man who killed himself due to this, and this tragic story has never fully been told, until now. But it’s an inspiring film too, because Trumbo triumphs in the end when “Spartacus” has his name on the title credits “Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.” It’s a golden moment that’s a very satisfying climax to the appauling story of prejudice and discrimination that has gone before.

You love Cranston in this, as you loved him in “Breaking Bad” as the iconic Walter White. And we have to remember that AFTRA the TV actors union has now merged with SAG, making it no crime at all to succeed on the small screen as well as the big one..

Cranston is one of the great actors we have today and he totally aces the role of  the grumpy, mustachioed, eccentric-but-principled Dalton Trumbo. He is immensely respected as an actors’ actor and he gives one of the best performances of the year. And he’s in his 40’s when he starts and then he ages! Something that always catnip to the Academy. AND he gets strip searched nude in prison, and has to endure a shocking anal cavity search. But he never gives up or gives in.

And he has one hilarious scene with an Oscar on a table before him, an Oscar which he won writing “Roman Holiday” under one of his enforced aliases, and he keeps saying “I don’t want it” to the writer sitting across from him, played by Alan Tudkyk.

I think that Cranston had better clear a place on his already over-crowded mantle-piece. He won so many Emmys for “Breaking Bad” and a Tony, too, for his LBJ in “All the Way” on Broadway last year.

People just keep throwing awards at him, and awards magnet that he is, he’s going to get the SAG and then the Oscar, too.

Leo for doing stunt work in the odious, repellant “The Revenant” doesn’t stand a chance against America’s answer to Daniel Day-Lewis, Bryan Cranston.

Best Supporting Actress, Wide Open or Not?

sarah PaulsonRoonwy MARA 2Is this year’s Supporting Actress race wide open or not? I think the HFPA(Hollywood Foreign Press Association) who give out the Golden Globs, er, I mean, GLOBES, dynamited both the Best Actress race and the Best Supporting Actress races, by insisting that Rooney Mara for “Carol” and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” MUST be considered in lead.aLICIA vIKANDER1

And they are 100% right! Both are leading roles. However, after seeing how dismal Rooney Mara’s “Carol” turn is, and how GREAT Cate (the Great) Blanchett’s is in the title role, I think voters are going to have no trouble nominating Blanchett, and overlooking the sub-par Mara for “Carol.”

I would never have thought that yesterday. I had to see it to believe it. I mean, Mara did win Best Actress in Cannes, which I guess in this day and race really means nothing.

And since Best Actress is incredibly jammed already, there just may not be room for Mara AND Blanchett, and/or for Mara and Vikander, who gives a truly transcendent performance as the conflicted wife of a transitioning transgender man-to-woman in “The Danish Girl,” played brilliantly by probable nominee for Best Actor, and last year’s winner, Eddie Redmayne.

Brie Larson in “Room” and Saorise Ronan in “Brooklyn” SEEM locked and loaded as they say. And then there’s Blanchett in “Carol” and Vikander. With only one slot left for Carey Mulligan in “Suffragette” with Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” and Charlotte Rampling’s “45 years” nipping at her heels. Never mind Dame Maggie Smith coming up fast on the outside for her glorious, smelly, homeless woman “Lady in the Van.”

So who is going to fill up the now empty Best Supporting Actress race?

Well, as I said before, I would love it if Sarah Paulson (above top picture) got nominated for “Carol.” Since the HFPA’s Edict of Nantes, they CAN’T nominate Rooney,in Supporting, they might just go far Paulson’s steely Best Friend and ex-lover of Carol. That would be great and people WILL get to see “Carol”. And see Paulson in it and how good she is.

Paulson was pretty stellar in “Twelve Years a Slave” wherein she horrified voters as the vicious slave-owners wife, who throws a glass decanter in future Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo’s face, scarring her for life.

And then there’s room for probable nominee screen legend Jane Fonda getting in for a five minute scene in “Youth.” I bet they are going to nominate her sight unseen because she is well, Jane Fonda.Jane Fonda Youth 1

I keep banging the drums for Parker Posey in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” but no one seems to be listening to me. Posey has another juicy role coming up next year in Woody’s next opus. Maybe the Academy will wait for that role before they get on the Parker-Posey-is-now-legit(to us)-train.Itrational Man 2

I’ve mentioned before two look-alike blondes Elizabeth Banks and Rachel McAdams in, respectively, “Love and Mercy” and “Spotlight,” the front-runner at the moment for Best Picture. Both blonde beauties may have been pushed further inside the race than they ever might have been otherwise by the HFPA’s ruling on Mara and Vikander.Elizabeth Banks1Rachel McAdams1And let’s not overlook the wonderful Oscar perennial Laura Linney, who really holds Ian McKellan’s house and home(and picture) together as the put-upon drudge of a housekeeper in “Mr. Holmes.” If the voters view “Mr. H.” to see Sir Ian’s great nonogenarian detective, they’ll see how beautiful Linney’s work is opposite him. I thought people would forget this charming film and McKellan’s and Linney’s lovely work in it, but it seems they’re not.Laura Holmes 1And last but not least, you can never count out Dame Helen Mirren’s campier-than-thou take on the late real life gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in “Trumbo,.” who underneath her elaborate headgear was a ruthless red=baiter.Helen Mirren Trumbo

There’s nothing like a Dame as the ole saying goes. A rubric that AMPAS lives by. They’ve always have got to get a “sir” or a “dame” in there somewhere to give the evening class.

Have I left anyone out? Probably. But I’ll catch you up on these magnificent ladies on the flip side.

Tony Predictions 2015. “American in Paris”& “Curious Case…”Will Sweep

Elephant ManMirren AudienceTony 2015And the Tony(s) will go to….Most likely,to the most liked “An American in Paris” the tony (pun intended)  re-imagining of the great Gene Kelly/Leslie Caron cinematic starrer of 1951,directed by Vincente Minnelli, it won the Best Picture Oscar & many  others and I think this million-dollar box-office bonanza for Broadway will make Tony voters vote for it. And I think it’s got legs.

It will sweep its’  Best Actor in a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Robert Fairchild and Max Von Essen in, too. As well as Best Director of a Musical and Best Choreographer. Christopher Wheeldon has brought ballet to Broadway in a way that I can’t really remember. And Fairchild has a growing well of buzz about him. Doing the seemingly impossible and making you forget Gene Kelly in the same part, if only for a moment. When he won the Drama Desk Award earlier this week, in this same category, he thanked Gene Kelly, which I thought was a nice, classy touch.

The fact that Fairchild is a ballet dancer who has suddenly turned into a Broadway triple threat here, singing and acting, too, well, it’s catnip to the Tony voters. It doesn’t hurt that his beautiful ballerina sister Megan Fairchild is kicking up her talented heels as the leading lady Miss Turnstiles in “On the Town” a few blocks south on Broadway, too.

Broadway stalwarts Michael Cerveris in “Fun Home” and Brian D’Arcy James in “Something Rotten” will likely be seen as having other chances. And who can believe the full-throated, full-throttle D’Arcy James as an Elizabethan LOSER? But I think he’ll lose here. And I think “Something Rotten”( to the core) will be just too low-brow for the middle-brow Tony Voters. And Fairchild is the astonishment of the season.

The Drama Desk gave “Rotten” only one award for Christian Borle in Featured Actor. And he was very good, perhaps the best thing in “Rotten” as a rock-star Shakespeare. But Borle has already won a Tony (for “Peter and the Starcatcher” a few years back), leaving the excellent Frenchie, Max Von Essen, who isn’t French, to build his own Stairway to Paradise in that category.

Best Actress in a Play and Musical are slam-dunks for Dame Helen Mirren for “The Audience” and the very popular Kristen Chenoweth for over-exerting herself to the max in “On the 20th Century.”

Best Play will be British import “Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time” which will sweep all its’ many nominated categories Best Play, Best Direction of a Play. Best Lighting, Best Sound Design, Best Dog…(sorry, I REALLY didn’t like this dogs’ lunch myself. It gave me a headache. But that’s the sign of a true predictor. You can see what’s going to inevitably win and predict what you see, even if it made you feel like taking a Xanax, desperately…)

“Fun Home” may get Best Music and Best Book of a Musical for Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, respectively. “An American in Paris” is re-cycling mucho Gerswhin, so is not nominated in the Best Music category, which maintains that the music be original. And nobody liked Craig Lucas’ book for “American” and everybody likes Lisa Kron’s inventive work for “Fun Home.”

Best Revival of a Play I think will be the lush, opulent, but just right, re-interpretation of “The Elephant Man.” Now wowing the West End in London, it also featured sublime support from Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola as well as a dazzling star turn from Bradley Cooper in the title-role.It seems incredible that recent Julliard grad Alex Sharp is going to beat Superstar Bradley Cooper in the Best Actor in a Play race, but he’s won every other award in sight this season for “Curious Case…” Timing is everything on Broadway, and I think that if the sold-out hit “Elephant Man” was still running HERE, Bradley Cooper would’ve won for his tortured portrayal of John Merrick.

There seems to a groundswell that surrounds certain performers as Tony draws nigh(tomorrow night on CBS) and I feel that with Chenoweth, Sharp,  Fairchild, and Mirren.

I also feel that buzz surrounding Annaleigh Ashford for her dreadfully over-done, bad ballet dancer in “You Can’t Take It With You.” Supporting or as they like to say on Broadway Featured actor categories are always tricky to predict. But Ashford seems to have the momentum, inexplicably. to me, at least.

And Best Revival of a Musical is most likely going to be “The King and I”  at Lincoln Center. Well-done and sturdy, it lacks the two leading performances the over-rated and over-cast Kelli O’Hara and the barely understandable Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, playing the King of Siam. But everybody and everything else in it is quite well done.

This means my faves “On the Town” and “Gigi” will come away empty-handed. And so I think, will “Something Rotten” and “Hand to God.” But “Wolf Hall, Pts. 1 & 2” may land its’ solitary Tony win by gaining Henry VIII’s NathaAn American in Paris 1Wolf Hall 1niel Parker a nice, silver trophy to take back to Blighty, when the six-hour two part marathon of the season finishes its’ limited run the first week of July.

So tune in tomorrow night at 8pm to CBS to see how right or wrong I was.

2015 Drama Desk Awards NOMINATIONS Announced today at 54 Below by Judith Light & Jessie Mueller

In shock and awe, as the Drama Desk announced their award NOMINATIONS for the Best of the Best of the Theater season 2014-15. I have so much respect for what these dedicated people do. The Nominating Committee sees something like over 270 plays a year!!! It staggers me the level of commitment to theater that these people maintain.

And headed for the eighth year(I think) by the valiant, unstoppable Barbara Siegel (yes, she’s married to the famous Scott) once again this year, the nominations excite and confound me. I’m glad for instance that Ben Miles and Lydia Leonard were both nominated for Best Actor In a Play and Best Supporting Actress In a Play for “Wolf Hall” for playing respectively Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn.

But where oh where was “The Heidi Chronicles”?!? And any recognition for Elizabeth Moss’ and Bryce Pinkham’s terrific performances? I liked this revival better than I liked the original production, which I thought was horribly anti-gay.(But it made David Hyde-Pierce’s career in the same role as Pinkham.) But Pinkham and Moss did both get nominated for the Outer Critic’s Circle. I hope they repeat at the Tonys.

They probably will as will Ben Miles and Lydia Leonard. You see, the Drama Desk has the daunting task of nominating EVERYTHING that can be seen in any given year on any stage in New York City. Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Which is why I have so much respect for them.

In other words, quality theater can be rewarded no matter how small or how big the stage it occurs on is or how many people see it. Of course, Superstars like Dame Helen Mirren in “The Audience” and Bradley Cooper in the now closed “Elephant Man” were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor in a play. Mirren will totally win this award, as she will win many, many others this season, and for Best Actor I think it’s between Cooper and Miles. But more on that later.

Past Drama Desk(and Tony) winners Judith Light and Jessie Mueller announced the nominees at ceremony today in the swank boite 54 Below.

2014-2015 DRAMA DESK AWARD NOMINATIONS

Outstanding Play Clare Barron, You Got Older Lisa D’Amour, Airline Highway Anthony Giardina, The City of Conversation Stephen Adly Guirgis, Between Riverside and Crazy Elizabeth Irwin, My Manãna Comes Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Jack Thorne, Let the Right One In Outstanding Musical An American in Paris Hamilton Fly By Night Pretty Filthy Something Rotten The Visit Outstanding Revival of a Play The Elephant Man Fashions for Men Ghosts The Iceman Cometh Tamburlaine the Great The Wayside Motor Inn Outstanding Revival of a Musical Into the Woods The King and I On the Town On the Twentieth Century Pageant Side Show Outstanding Actor in a Play Reed Birney, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy Ben Miles, Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2 Bill Pullman, Sticks and Bones Alexander Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Outstanding Actress in a Play Brooke Bloom, You Got Older Kathleen Chalfant, A Walk in the Woods Kristin Griffith, The Fatal Weakness Jan Maxwell, The City of Conversation Helen Mirren, The Audience Carey Mulligan, Skylight Tonya Pinkins, Rasheeda Speaking Outstanding Actor in a Musical Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten! Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris Jeremy Kushnier, Atomic Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton Matthew Morrison, Finding Neverland Ryan Silverman, Side Show Outstanding Actress in a Musical Kate Baldwin, John & Jen Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century Leanne Cope, An American in Paris Erin Davie, Side Show Lisa Howard, It Shoulda Been You Chita Rivera, The Visit Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play F. Murray Abraham, It’s Only a Play Reed Birney, You Got Older K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway Jonathan Hadary, Rocket to the Moon Jason Butler Harner, The Village Bike Jonathan Hogan, Pocatello José Joaquin Perez, My Mañana Comes Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You Beth Dixon, The City of Conversation Julie Halston, You Can’t Take It with You Paola Lázaro-Muñoz, To the Bone Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2 Julie White, Airline Highway Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Christian Borle, Something Rotten! Peter Friedman, Fly By Night Josh Grisetti, It Shoulda Been You Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton Brad Oscar, Something Rotten! Max von Essen, An American in Paris Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Carolee Carmello, Finding Neverland Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You Elizabeth A. Davis, Allegro Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton Luba Mason, Pretty Filthy Nancy Opel, Honeymoon in Vegas Elizabeth Stanley, On the Town    Outstanding Director of a Play Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2 Anne Kauffman, You Got Older Lila Neugebauer, The Wayside Motor Inn Austin Pendleton, Between Riverside and Crazy Joe Tantalo, Deliverance John Tiffany, Let the Right One In Outstanding Director of a Musical Carolyn Cantor, Fly By Night Bill Condon, Side Show John Doyle, The Visit Thomas Kail, Hamilton Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten! Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris Outstanding Choreography Joshua Bergasse, On the Town Warren Carlyle, On the Twentieth Century Steven Hoggett, The Last Ship Austin McCormick, Rococo Rouge Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris Outstanding Music Jason Robert Brown, Honeymoon in Vegas Michael Friedman, The Fortress of Solitude John Kander, The Visit Dave Malloy, Ghost Quartet Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton Sting, The Last Ship Outstanding Lyrics Jason Robert Brown, Honeymoon in Vegas Fred Ebb, The Visit Michael Friedman, The Fortress of Solitude Karey Kirkpatrick & Wayne Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten! Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion Outstanding Book of a Musical Hunter Bell & Lee Overtree, Found Karey Kirkpatrick & John O’Farrell, Something Rotten! Craig Lucas, An American in Paris Terence McNally, The Visit Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton Kim Rosenstock, Will Connolly, & Michael Mitnick, Fly By Night Outstanding Orchestrations Christopher Austin, An American in Paris Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Allegro Larry Hochman, Something Rotten! Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton Rob Mathes, The Last Ship Don Sebesky, Larry Blank, Jason Robert Brown, & Charlie Rosen, Honeymoon in Vegas Outstanding Music in a Play Cesar Alvarez, An Octoroon Danny Blackburn & Bryce Hodgson, Deliverance Sean Cronin, Kill Me Like You Mean It Bongi Duma, Generations Freddi Price, The Pigeoning Arthur Solari & Jane Shaw, Tamburlaine the Great Outstanding Revue Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging! Just Jim Dale Lennon: Through a Glass Onion Lonesome Traveler Outstanding Set Design Bob Crowley, An American in Paris Christine Jones, Let The Right One In David Korins, Hamilton Mimi Lien, An Octoroon Scott Pask, The Visit Daniel Zimmerman, Fashions for Men Outstanding Costume Design Bob Crowley, An American in Paris Bob Crowley, The Audience Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2 Paul Tazewell, Hamilton Andrea Varga, The Fatal Weakness Catherine Zuber, Gigi Outstanding Lighting Design Howell Binkley, Hamilton Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Paule Constable & David Plater, Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2 Maruti Evans, Deliverance Natasha Katz, The Iceman Cometh Ben Stanton, Our Lady of Kibeho Outstanding Projection Design 59 Productions, An American in Paris Roger Hanna & Price Johnston, Donogoo Darrel Maloney, Found Peter Nigrini, Our Lady of Kibeho Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Austin Switser, Big Love Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Peter Hylenski, Side Show Scott Lehrer, The King & I Scott Lehrer & Drew Levy, Honeymoon in Vegas Brian Ronan, The Last Ship Nevin Steinberg, Hamilton Jon Weston, An American in Paris   Outstanding Sound Design in a Play Nathan Davis, The Other Mozart Ien Denio, Deliverance Ian Dickinson (for Autograph), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Gareth Fry, Let the Right One In John Gromada, Lives of the Saints Matt Tierney, Our Lady of Kibeho Outstanding Solo Performance Christina Bianco, Application Pending Jonny Donahoe, Every Brilliant Thing Tom Dugan, Wiesenthal Mona Golabek, The Pianist of Willesden Lane Joely Richardson, The Belle of Amherst Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion Unique Theatrical Experience Catch Me! Everybody Gets Cake The Human Symphony Queen of the Night A Rap Guide to Religion Special Awards: Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theatre.   For 2014-15, these awards are: This year the nominators chose to bestow a special award for outstanding ensemble to the actors who so brilliantly shared a room in the world of A. R. Gurney’s The Wayside Motor Inn: Kelly AuCoin, Jon DeVries, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Rebecca Henderson, Marc Kudisch, Jenn Lyon, Lizbeth Mackay, David McElwee, Ismenia Mendes, and Will Pullen. To Bess Wohl, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For establishing herself as an important voice in New York theater, and having a breakthrough year with the eclecticAmerican Hero, Pretty Filthy, and Small Mouth Sounds. Her writing expresses sensitivity, compassion, and humor with a sure hand. To John Douglas Thompson: For invigorating theater in New York through his commanding presence, classical expertise, and vocal prowess.  This season he demonstrated exceptional versatility in Tamburlaine the Great, and The Iceman Cometh. To Ensemble Studio Theatre: For its unwavering commitment to producing new works by American playwrights since 1968, and enriching this season with productions of When January Feels Like Summer, Winners, and Five Times in One Night. EST’s Youngblood program fostered and nurtured Hand to God, setting Tyrone off on his devilish path to Broadway.              To Andy Blankenbuehler: For his inspired and heart-stopping choreography in Hamilton, which is indispensible to the musical’s storytelling. His body of work is versatile, yet a dynamic and fluid style is consistently evident. When it’s time to “take his shot,” Blankenbuehler hits the bull’s-eye.   Note: Eligibility and award category designations for the productions under consideration this season were determined by the Drama Desk Board of Directors. Because of the abundance of work throughout the season, the Board also authorized increasing the number of nominees allowed in select categories.   Hand to God was considered in the 2011/2012 season in its first production at Ensemble Studio Theatre. New elements were considered in the MCC production in the 2013/2014 season. There were no new elements in the Broadway transfer.   Fun Home was considered in its run at the Public Theatre in the 2013/2014 season. It received nominations for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outstanding Music, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Book of a Musical.   Disgraced was considered in its Off-Broadway premiere at Lincoln Center in the 2012/2013 season, and only new actors and technical staff were eligible in the Broadway transfer.   The 39 Steps was considered in its initial Broadway production in the 2007/2008 season and won for Unique Theatrical Experience.   Nominations by Numbers   13        Hamilton 12        An American in Paris 9          Something Rotten! 7          The Visit 6          The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 5          Honeymoon in Vegas 5          Side Show 5          Wolf Hall 4          Deliverance 4          Fly by Night 4          The Last Ship 4          Let the Right One In 4          On the 20th Century 4          You Got Older 2          Airline Highway 3          Between Riverside/Crazy 3          The City of Conversation 3          It Shoulda Been You 3          On the Town 3          Our Lady of Kibeho 2          Allegro 2          The Audience 2          The Elephant Man 2          Fashions for Men 2          The Fatal Weakness 2          Finding Neverland 2          The Fortress of Solitude 2          Found 2          The Iceman Cometh 2          The King and I 2          The Lion 2          My Mañana Comes 2          Pretty Filthy 2          Tamburlaine the Great 2          The Wayside Motor Inn 2          You Can’t Take It With You 1          Application Pending 1          Atomic 1          The Belle of Amherst 1          Big Love 1          Catch Me! 1          Donagoo 1          Everybody Gets Cake 1          Every Brilliant Thing 1          Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging! 1          Generations 1          Ghost Quartet 1          Ghosts 1          Gigi 1          I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard 1          The Human Symphony 1          Into the Woods 1          It’s Only a Play 1          John & Jen 1          Just Jim Dale 1          Lennon: Through a Glass Onion 1          Lonesome Traveler 1          Kill Me Like You Mean It 1          Lives of the Saints 1          An Octoroon 1          The Other Mozart 1          Pageant 1          The Pianist of Willesden Lane 1          The Pigeoning 1          Pocatello 1          Queen of the Night 1          The Rap Guide to Religion 1          Rasheeda Speaking 1          Rocket to the Moon 1          Rococo Rouge 1          Skylight 1          Sticks and Bones 1          To the Bone 1          The Village Bike 1          A Walk in the Woods 1          Wiesenthal  

Jessie Mueller a Former Drama Desk Winners(and Tony winners, too) looked lovely and elegant in complementary shades of blue.(see picture below). And Mueller, looking every each the poised and coiffed star that she has become, enthused, “It’s so exciting sitting in the audience instead of being on stage and seeing all these wonderful plays and musicals. Each one so different from the others. It’s thrilling. I love it!”

 Jessie & Judith
Video

Year’s Ten Best Pt.2 #5-1 ~The Stephen Holt Show at Tavola!

And here’s the top five of my year’s Ten Best of 2012, the best of the best! With “Picnic”s Matthew Goodrich at Tavola, the hot new Italian restaurant. 488 9th Ave.
This has been one of the best year’s for movies in many, many years, soooo many grrreat films! If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know what I’ve picked before I announce it!

Down to the Wire! Best Actress Predictions!

Tomorrow morning it will all be over, but the shouting. Yes,dear readers, dear cineastes, tomorrow at the crack of dawn in L.A. and at 8:30pm EST, the Oscar Nominations for 2012 will be announced and all will be revealed and Phase One, as it’s known of the Oscar Campaign will be over.

This has been my busiest Oscar season ever with helping Ann Dowd’s campaign as much as I have been able. Culminating last night in her win for Best Supporting Actress at the National Board of Review Awards ceremony. More, I’m sure, on that later.

But now on to what has become the thorniest category ever this year ~ Best Actress.

To echo all and sundry, there are two locks ~ Vanity Fair cover girl Jennifer Lawrence for the manic-depressive comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain for the taut,controversial Osama Bin Laden hunt-thriller “Zero Dark Thirty.”

In the past two days, the lovely Jessica has received her first, major, best actress award from the New York Critics Circle on Monday night, then last night she got her National Board of Review Award.

Both those awards are announced beforehand and handed out at the aforementioned ceremonies. No nominees at either. Just winners. Plane and simple.

Now, the OTHER three slots for Best Actress are really fraught with possible suprises and booby traps. (Pun) Like for instance, WILL they REALLY nominate a six-year- old? I don’t think so.

So Qu’venshane Wallis is not showing up here, as charming and disarming as she is in person and on-screen in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

As I’ve been saying all along, as much as I love French culture and everything French, I don’t think the Academy is going to nominate TWO French actresses for Acting in their own language!

That would be Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone,” and 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour.” I think, to be brutally honest, that the young, cute one, Marion, gets in. And Emmanuelle Riva, who faces death in the most devastating screen portrayal, perhaps ever, will not.

I’m hearing that Academy types just aren’t watching “Amour”, and don’t like it when they see it. It’s a critics darling to be sure, but since the Academy is all about the same age as the two characters depicted in this film, I don’t think they are going to watch OR nominate it. They’ll leave it to the Foreign Language Committee to determine whether this Austrian/French co-production is in, or more likely out. No matter how much critical accolades it has won. One has to keep repeating the mantra ~”There are NO CRITICS in the Academy!” And it’s true. Nary a one.

So now we have three beauties, Jennifer, Jessica and Marion. So who are the other two? I’m thinking Helen Mirren, who got a SAG nod as well as just landing a BAFTA nomination,too this morning for her rousing, bracing portrayal of a real life Hollywood icon Lady Alma Hitchcock, Sir Alfred’s uber-talented wife, in “Hitchcock”, is going to get in. And of course, she’s a former winner, too, for Best Actress, for “The Queen.” But then so is Marion! For “La Vie En Rose.”

And the last place is a toss-up I feel between two talented ladies in films that might not have been seen much yet. Naomi Watts, in the tsunami horror film “The Impossible” and Rachel Weisz for the British drama “The Deep Blue Sea.”

I’m going to plunk for Rachel, since although she really already has an Oscar,like both Helen Mirren AND Maid Marion, they like her, they really like her.And the Oscars are nothing if not repetivive and clannish in their thinking and awarding. Or re-rewarding.

But Rachel IS extraordinary in “Deep Blue Sea.”

And Naomi, poor thing,is an Australia, and is someone who gets overlooked over and over, time and time again. And the same thing may happen this year.

And some of the snobby Actor’s Branch may feel that her portrait of a mother lost and injured by the tsunami that hit the beaches of Southeast Asia a few years back, is more screaming and stunt work, than a performance.

Whereas Rachel, who BEGINS “Deep Blue Sea”in classic Oscar fashion,by trying to kill herself via a gas heater, right after WWII, is more typically, the Academy’s cup of British Tea. And also, though Naomi got overlooked by the BAFTAs today.
So did Rachel, so it’s a toss up. But I’m picking Rachel, thinking that the BAFTA membership now is circling about 300 members of the Academy, too.

Also, Rachel, like fellow Nominee Jennifer Lawrence who raked in over $600 million dollars for “The Hunger Games” this year, Rachel showed her action heroine chops for real in the hit “The Bourne Legacy.” Anne Hathaway scored this double whammy too, this year with the blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as cornering what looks like a sure win for Best Supp. Actress with “Les Miserables.” The Academy seems to be going for gals who can act, but also kick butt.And rake in millions at the Box-Office.

And in conclusion, It could also shock of shocks be the forgotten Keira Knightley in devisive masterpiece “Anna Karenina.”

So dear readers, dear cineastes, I see ~

Jennifer Lawrence
Jessica Chastain
Marion Cotillard
Helen Mirren
Rachel Weisz

We’ll know VERY soon, won’t we? And it will all look very, very different, won’t it?
Phase Two is NOT the same thing as Phase one.

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