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Posts tagged ‘Gene Kelly’

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.

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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!

Max Von Essen Drama Desk & Tony Nominee ~ Best Featured Actor in a Musical “An American in Paris”!

Max 1 Meet Max Von Essen one of the break-out Musical stars of this very French season on Broadway this year! The dashing, dapper song-and-dance man is playing a Parisienne chanteur in the Broadway smash hit “An American in Paris’! Which of course is based on the movie of the same name, made famous starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

Max is playing the famous, flashy French role of  Henri Bourel and gets to stop the show with the high-kicking Folies Bergere- inspired number “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise”!

“With a new step every day!

I’m going to get there at any price!

Stand aside! I’m on my way!”

Can’t stop singing all those great Gershwin tunes!

Max is nominated for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for the Drama Desk, which this charming interview was filmed at, and also a Tony for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical! May the winning Max max out at the Awards! In the meantime, enjoy our chat! Vive le Max!

Camera ~ Jason Bohbot

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