a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Gypsy’

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“Mothers & Sons” Best Play of the Year! Tyne Daly Best Actress!

The great Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” is the best new play of the year and the best new play on Broadway. And Tyne Daly as the mother is giving ANOTHER one of her greatest performances and in surely on her way to a Best Actress in a Play Tony nomination, if not a win. She won her first and only Tony(so far) for “Gypsy.”

“Mothers and Sons” is the kind of new play we should be seeing regularly on Broadway, but never do. It’s powerful. Immense, in its’ concentration on only four characters, or five, if you count the off-stage character of the late Andre Gerard, who is the real center of the play, and its’ uniting figure.

Andre is the handsome, sexy, 20-something young actor who dies twenty years before the play actually begins of AIDS.And by the way, we never see him. Except on a theater regional theater poster of him playing a rage-filled Hamlet.

It’s now two decades on and grief and time have brought his angry Republican mother, Katherine (Tyne Daly) and his surviving lover Cal (Frederick Weller) together in his semi-sumptuous Upper West Side apartment that overlooks Central Park.

She has come in her black, bulky fur coat and jewels to return her late son Andre’s diary to Cal. She can’t read it. And neither can he. She’s a dragon, breathing fire at Cal.

Yes, it’s another AIDS play. (I wrote one of the first one’s myself “Fever of Unknown Origin” in 1984, but that’s another story.) “Mothers and Sons” is set decidedly today. In a time when gay marriage is legal, and Cal has indeed moved on since the beloved Andre’s death to marry Will (Bobby Steggert) and they have a son Bud. This arrangement is seen as the highest point of gay achievement, and yes, perhaps it is. It certainly is a profound political and societal change.

Gay Marriage as well as AIDS is also front and center here because that too is what the play is addressing. Since the wonderful privilege of marriage for gay men was not even a serious thought or consideration when Andre died. But now it’s an inspiring fact of gay life.

And Bobby Steggert’s heart-warming, handsome young Wil can’t even imagine a time when it wasn’t this way. The rest of us all do. Wil is the younger generation who has missed the plague years, where literally someone I knew was dropping dead every day. It was like a war zone. It was a holocaust. It was ghastly. It was horrible beyond belief. Nearly everyone I knew died.

Frederick Weller’s Cal has lived through all of that era and nursed Andre through the horrible final stages of that illness that changed all our lives forever.

Weller has never been better and he has the daunting task of standing up to Tyne Daly’s formidable, homophobic monster of a mother. And he does.

Daly is a theatrical miracle in a career-topping performance. I saw her as Momma Rose in “Gypsy.” She was great. I saw her as Maria Callas in “Master Class” She was astonishing. And now her Katharine Gerard is an unforgettable portrait of a right-wing, Texas Republican mother who has all her anger and all her self-righteous conservative prejudices and confusion intact. And is still mourning the loss of her only son.

A seemingly impregnable, immovable slab of Mount Rushmore granite at the start of the play, she removes her black widow mink, to reveal a bright red dress that symbolizes her slow melt. And melt she inevitably does, and it is to Tyne Daly’s unending credit that she makes us like and UNDERSTAND this hostile harridan’s point of view.

And credit too to the great playwright McNally, who has always been one of my favorite American writers. He strips Katharine down to the bone as he has her reveal layer by layer, monologue by searing monologue, the depths of this woman’s despair and loneliness and sense of abandonment. Her husband, whom she didn’t love, has passed away, too, two weeks ago. And though she couldn’t stand him, his passing has sent her reeling into Cal’s CPW apartment to try to find….something….Something she doesn’t even understand she’s looking for.

And we find it with her, and what a journey it is! I can’t stop praising this great, new play and recommend it to one and all everywhere. It’s a great, great theatrical triumph.

Bravo and definitely BRAVA!

Bobby Cannavale Trimuphs at Drama Desk Awards!

I’m very happy this morning to report that that great underestimated(but not by me) actor Bobby Cannavale won the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Play for “The Motherfucker with a Hat.” It was richly deserved. Congratulations, Bobby!

And now on to the Tonys!

Also winning big was “Book of Mormon” with five wins, but none of them in the acting categories.

And now on to the Tonys!

Are the Drama Desks a bellweather for the Tonys? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I think this does help Norbert Leo Butz who won for “Catch Me If You Can” as the beleaguered good guy FBI agent Hanratty. Tom Hanks played him in the movie. This was the only award that “Catch Me” got…

Will the Tonys follow suit? Perhaps. But the fabulous Butz already has WON a Tony and recently for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Do the Tony voters take that into consideration? I think they do. But this does help him.

Another head-scratcher was the lovely Laura Benanti who won in the VERY competitive Best Featured Actress in a Musical category for the long-closed “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

I saw it and reviewed it, not favorably. It was a mess. But Laura was very, very good as the MOST nervous of all the Nervous women. The Drama Desk notably does not care if a show is closed or not. Laura is nominated for a Tony, too. Along the Patti LuPone from “Nervous.”

The Tonys DON’T usually give one of their most-prized awards(since they are seen on National television) to a show that’s closed. And Laura has also won, and recently, for “Gypsy.”  Tammy Blanchard, who was not nominated for a Drama Desk (for “How to Succeed…”) and Nikki M. James(“Book of Mormon”) was nominated for BOTH are all competing in that red hot category.

The patchy “Anything Goes” got five Drama Desk Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Choreography for director Kathleen Marshall.

More on all hoopla this later. I have to dash to the Waldorf to interview Christopher Plummer for HIS new movie “Beginners” which Focus is going to push hard for to get Plummer another nomination, and maybe his long-over due Oscar. We’ll see what category they put him in. A beautiful performance as a man coming out of the closet at 75, he could win in Supporting. We’ll see…

So much has happened! So busy! Esp. w/the Drama Desk!

While you may have missed me, dear cineastes, dear readers, dear theater-lovers, there’s a very easy way to catch up with what I’ve been doing.

This busy awards season. No, not the Oscars! Though there already twinkles in Oscar’s eyes whose gaze is directed at Cannes…which is happening right now.

But I’m still here in NYC, having to see literally a play a night, in order to vote this week on my beloved Drama Desk Awards.

So here’s the way to catch up with me, if you don’t see new posts here ~ Go to You Tube!

www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And you’ll see QUITE a batch of Drama Desk nominees, and some of whom, got nominated for a Tony, too!

It all sounds quite perverse and unreasonable, why some are nominated for Drama Desk Awards and then not the Tonys, too. But realize dear readers that these groups are two entirely different groups of people. While there is SOME overlap, mostly they are thinking about different things.

The Tonys threw out almost all of New York’s theater-going press (the revered first night list-ers, the A-list of theater critics and journos) last year, the Drama Desk is ALLLLL press, and supposedly, therefore, more objective.

But there are WTFs?! Like why Tammy Blanchard’s luminous, funny, sexy, moving turn in “How to Succeed…” as the supposedly dumb bimbo(who really isn’t) got a Tony nomination for her dazzling turn as Hedy La Rue, and yet the Drama Desk(DD from here on in) and the Outer Critics Circle ignored her completely. Does that means she doesn’t have the requisite support to win a Tony? No. Not at all.

Her never-having-won a Tony before, and her snagging a Tony nod for the never-before-nominated character of Hedy(there were two other Broadway manifestations of H2S) and her being an Emmy Winner ~ for playing the young Judy Garland, no less, on TV, and her also being a previous Tony nominee for playing the title role in Bernadette Peters’ ill-received Gypsy, AND a Theater World award-winning for that role, too, all give Tammy the sufficient awards gravitas to perhaps get her a win. She’s “due”. She’s a Broadway vet now, and playing the beloved whore -with-a-heart-of-gold character, always a Voter favorite….

Or will she be beaten by the steam-roller that seems to “Book of Mormon” and it’s teenage African virgin, Nabalungi, played so movingly by Nikki M. James(think Anika Noni Rose). That’s her main competition.

In the category of Best Featured Actress in a Musical. It’s Tammy v. Nikki in that race, I’m so sure.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes theater critics think the lovely Laura Benanti will win for her dipsy, daffodil Candela in the long-closed “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” But I think they’re wrong.

You see, dear readers, one thing the Tony Voters take into serious consideration, is a criteria that the Oscar voters don’t have to ~ Is the Show still running? If it isn’t. Like “Breakdown” they are much more likely 90% more likely, I’d say to give it to an actress in a show that’s a success and that’s still running, like “How to Succeed…” and “Book of Mormon.”

Also the beauteous Laura has only recently won a Tony, for playing Gypsy in “Gypsy” opposite Patti LuPone’s Mama Rose, who also won for that category a few seasons back. So in that they ARE like the Oscar Voters. Previous wins will be held against you.

And you can see BOTH Tammy(pts.1 and pts.2) and Nikki on my You Tube channel again ~ www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

More theater awards soon! And reviews! And news! I promise!

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