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Posts tagged ‘Drama Desk Award’

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

Hello Dolly 2Is “Hello, Dolly!” newly revived on Broadway 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, Jerry 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 Broadway, where she’d never been before.(Lest we forget her Sue Mengers’ one-woman show a few years back.)

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 5

She’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.

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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 turn-of-the-last-century Yonkers.)  So he can “Put on His Sunday Clothes” and go dancing, and he “won’t come home until” he ‘”kisses a girl,” which of course, he does.

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. AND David Hyde Pierce, “Hello, Dolly!“s resident Scrooge.

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 Mormon.

It certainly is Bette’s year.She, 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.

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Meaning 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.Hello Dolly 11

Her irrepressible humor and warmth,  a lark and a flirtation and an active pursuing 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.

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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. It is at its best, its absolute, level best.

 

#Hello, Dolly! # Bette Midler # Broadway, #Musical Comedy, #Gavin Creel # David Hyde Pierce

 

 

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Will Drama Desk Winners Repeat at the TONYs?

Jessica & Cynthia 1Will Drama Desk Winners repeat their triumphs at the TONYS? Probably. This year, especially. I think so. Above are pictured the two Best Actress winners. Jessica Lange for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and British newcomer Cynthia Erivo who is starring in “The Color People.” Lange won for Best Actress in a play and Erivo won for Best Actress in a Musical. I think these two ladies are Won and Done. At the Tonys.

Also poised to repeat at the TONYs are their two male counterparts in Drama Desk triumph Danny Burstein in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Frank Langella in the French play about an Alzheimer’s victim “The Father.”

I think all four of these powerhouse thespians can rest assured the Tony Voters will like them, really like them,too. The Tony Voters  do look increasingly to the Drama Desk winners to narrow their playing field, as it were.

This year, though, the theatrical phenom “Hamilton” is nominated for more TONYs than any other production in Broadway history. But in these four leading categories I don’t think it will register as it is likely to do in others. “Hamilton” won nearly every award in the book LAST year when it was eligible for the Drama Desks(and also the Outer Critics Circle and the Obies) because it played Off Broadway first at its’ historic run at the Public that launched it to Broadway.

And although two of its’ leading men author/actor Lin Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odon are both nominated for Best Actor in a Musical, I think they will cancel each other out, leaving the way for the popular veteran Danny Burstein to triumph for his joyous Tevye in “Fiddler.”

In other news, I think juggernaut “Hamilton” may find itself stopped at the TONYS. Although it was nominated for a historic 16 awards, I think it’s going to register much, much less than that.

The only acting award I think is a surefire win for “Hamilton” is the charming young African-American actress Renee Elise Goldsberry, who won the Drama Desk last year for Best Featured(or Supporting) Actress in a Musical.Renee Rlise Goldsberry 1

And on the Drama side, the powerful performance of veteran Jayne Howdeyshell from the Best Play Drama Desk winner “The Humans” could score in Supporting, which is where the TONYS put her and co-star Reed Birney, although they are both leads. “The Humans” also won for Best Ensemble at the Drama Desks, a special category that the DDs always give, but the TONYs do not.Jayne Houdyshell Humans 1

“Hamilton” will win Best Musical for sure. But the TONY voters are notorious for spreading the wealth around, and I think they will do that this year, too, in spite of “Hamilton” perceived dominance.

#Drama Desk Awards, # Hamilton, # Tonys, #Jessica Lange, #Cynthia Arivo, #A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, #Color Purple, #Best Actress in a Leading Role, #Danny Burstein, #Frank Langella, #Fiddler on the Roof, #The Father, #Lyn-Manuel Miranda, #Renee Elise Goldsberry,#Jayne HowdyShell #The Humans

Wondrous, Joyful, Surprising “On the Town” on Bway

On the Town 1Imagine my surprise! To be thoroughly delighted, enraptured even, by a musical I always had a “meh” attitude towards previously. I had seen “On the Town” over and over in its’ many iterations and on film, too, and it had never turned my buttons. But THIS revival of “On the Town” pressed all of them, surprisingly and with joyous delight. Quelle Surprise! And why is this “On the Town” different from all the others?

The main answer I have to deduce is to give all the credit to its’ talented Tony  nominated director John Rando. He, of “Urinetown”, has really gone over the moon and captured it with his buoyant, light-as-air, but just-right re-interpretation. Rando and choreographer Joshua Bergasse have put the sauce (as in saucy) and the sex(see above picture^) back into “On the Town” making it as fresh and redolent as a Spring daisy.

I do think that that is what has been missing from all the other “On the Towns” I’ve ever had to sit through and go “What’s the fuss?” Well, the fuss started in 1944, right smack dab in the middle of WWII, when its’ three one-day-only shore-leave sailors burst off their battleship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and onto the streets and subways of New York singing “New York, New York! It’s a helluva town! The Bronx is Up and the Battery’s down! The people ride in a hole in the ground!”

And in 1944, there also burst on to the Broadway scene, one of the most talented quartets the Great White Way was ever going to see, composer Leonard Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and lyricist/librettists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. And what an explosion of talent that must’ve seemed to war-weary New Yorkers, who were seeing their city celebrated in the most joyful way imaginable.

And Comden and Green were IN it, too! As the loopy anthropologist  Claire de Loone(oy) and her mug of a tar.Ozzie, here essayed marvelously by Drama Desk Nominee Elizabeth Stanley and Clyde Alves. Stanley gets to show her considerable comic vocal chops in Act I’s “Carried Away” and her dramatic vocal ease in Act II’s “Some Other Time.” This is the part Betty Comden played originally. While her counterpart cohort, goofball Ozzie, was originally Adolph Green himself.

What a show that must’ve been! In 1944. But this “On the Town” seems to be just a good if not better. And did I mention they have an UNCOVERED 28 piece orchestra? One of the biggest I’ve ever heard on Broadway and they played Berntein’s classical score magnificently, dreamily. I never wanted them to stop!

Hunky Tony Yazbeck, nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, works himself (and the audience) into a sweat with “New York, New York”,”Gabey’s Coming”, “I’m So Lucky To Be Me” as well as dancing all the  pas de deux ballet breaks (and there are many), then breaking your heart with “Lonely Town.” A star is truly born here. Gene Kelly played the part in the movie and Yazbeck obliterates his memory

His(Gaby)’s story drives the plot as he searches for his subway poster dream girl “Miss Turnstiles.” He finds his mythical  Ivy Smith, here embodied by real life Ballerina turned Broadway star Megan Fairchild  in a singing class led by the redoubtable (and hilarious).Jackie Hoffman, who is a comic drunk for the ages.

Completing the trio of star tars is the thumpingly innocent farm boy Chip, (Jay Armstrong Johnson) who with his 10-year-old, out-of-date New York visitors guide falls into the clutches of lady cab driver from Mars Hildy Esterhazy. And the hefty Hildy (Alysha Umphress) literally kid-naps (or in this case cab-naps) the virginal Chip into one of the most hysterical New York taxi-rides ever seen, aided and abetted by Beowulf Boritt’s masterful back-projections. Chip doesn’t stand a chance.as Hildy exults “Come Up to My Place” adding “I Can Cook Too” to great comic effect.

So, as a Native New Yorker myself, I was blown away and elated by this rainbow-of-a-valentine to My Fair City. SEE IT! New York, New York Is a Helluva Town!

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Jayne Houdyshell Receives Drama Desk Career Achievement Award! Brava!

The great Jayne Houdyshell, one of the best actresses out there today, received a Career Achievement Award from the Drama Desk last week. Here she is, admitting it was “so totally unexpected.” But you deserve it, Jayne! You deserve it!

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Richard Kind wins Best Featured Actor in a Play at the Drama Desk Awards!

The great Richard Kind turns a dastardly Hollywood mogol of the ’50s in Clifford Odets’ “The Big Knife” into a complex, almost likable guy. Kind won the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play this past Sunday and is also nominated for a Tony Award in the same category for his terrific turn.

Nicolle Kidman’s great “Rabbit Hole”

I saw “Rabbit Hole” on Broadway as a voting member of the Drama Desk right before it closed, and was totally blown away by it. Cynthia Nixon played the lead, the central part that Nicolle Kidman is essaying so brilliantly in the movie of the same name. Heading for the Oscars? Yes, I think so.

That central part of the mother of a dead child is a stunning turn, if it is done right. I am not a big Cynthia Nixon fan, and yet, I was sooo taken with her searing portrayal of a seemingly unending, unbearable grief  at the Biltmore on Broadway, under the auspices of the Manhattan Theater Club, I VOTED for her for Best Actress when the Drama Desk Awards came up later that season. And she won! Tyne Daly also was nominated I think for her memorable turn as the grandmother of the dead child. I remember her very vividly.

So I was surprised at how wishy-washy the great Dianne Wiest is in the part in the movie that has just opened this week. Wiest is dressed down and is underplaying it like crazy. No make-up. Strange choices. Tyne Daily was a powerhouse in that role. However, wishy-washy Nicolle Kidman is not. She really is going to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for this. And she deserves it.

In a less competitive year, she could’ve won. But with Natalie Portman’s screama ballerina in play for “Black Swan.” And Annette Bening dyking it up to a fare-thee-well in “The Kids Are All Right.” I do not think Nicolle’s “Rabbit Hole” Mama is going to top either of them. But she’ll give them a run for their money.

And I think Nicolle is IN. Like the veritable Flint. However, she also HAS an Oscar and therefore, will unlikely be given one again so soon. She won not too long ago for “The Hours” playing the suicidal British author Virginia Woolf. And here again, the role that is going to take her back to the Kodak is a part dealing with death. I’ve never seen a film that deals so directly with DEATH and the grieving process as “Rabbit Hole.”

Aaron Eckhardt is also marvelous as her equally grief-stricken, but considerably more upbeat husband. But Kidman has the flashier, rangier, more surprising role. One is astonished at how well she does this. She goes to all the necessary dark places. One forgets what a good actress she really is.

Onstage, the power of David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama was overwhelming. And it won the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony AND the Drama Desk Award that year.

Transferring it to film, although it is still powerful and not at all talky, it loses some of that power. But is effective none-the-less. Choosing an extremely understated, naturalistic tone for “Rabbit Hole” the movie, director John Cameron-Mitchell has done an excellent job in what is for him, probably, a career-changer. I mean that in the best possible sense, in that “Rabbit Hole” the film shows him to have a very impressive, serious dramatic range that his other two previous films “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus” only hinted at.

So except for the under-achieving Dianne Weist, “Rabbit Hole” scores a “A” all ’round.

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