a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Nikki M. James’

“Twelfth Night” in the Park, Cast of Thousands an Amiable Mess


Productions of Shakespeare’s perennial gem of a comedy “Twelfth Night Or What You Will” boasts a cast of literally hundreds, who seem like thousands. Is it too much of a muchness? Almost. 

Directors Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah have taken what is the Shakespeare-in-the-Park’s most enduring positive, the audience, and put all and sundry onstage in the guises of many, many community groups from the Tri-State. It’s overwhelming and it almost overwhelms the play, but not quite. It’s Shakespeare’s best, just about, and seems to weather every storm that is tossed its way. In this case, crowds upon crowds of extras, some of them toddlers, some of them house-wives, all dee-lighted to be onstage at the Delacorte instead of just watching, lining up for hours for tickets and clapping madly.Who can resist a cast that also resolutely SIGNS the play, too? The most beautiful, transcendant moment for me was when an unnamed young, bearded, blonde man, got up and singly signed one of Shakespeare’s more poignant song poems. I wish he was given credit for that in the program. 

Also, because it was virtually the only quiet, thoughtful moment in this amiable, crazy-house of a mess.

There was no intermission. It was only 90 mins. and Shaina Taub’s average music did not send me. It made me long for the first time I saw “Twelfth Night” which was in an historic, traditional production at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1969, when I was in college in the Cotswolds, and young Judi Dench played Viola.

“How will this fadge?” I remember her saying til this day, enunciating Viola’s gender confusion. She’s disguised-as-a-boy Cesario, who everyone is falling in love with. Sir Donald Sindon was the wronged Malvolio, and his performance is awfully close to the present Park’s Malvolio, Andrew Kober, who is the only one of the vast ensemble to capture Shakespeare’s tone of comic absurdity just right.

I also enjoyed Nanya-Akuki Goodrich as an amply-figured Olivia, who is so distraught over her beloved brother’s recent death, she is followed around by a New Orleans jazz band, playing a funeral march every time she enters, black handkerchief in hand, copiously weeping. The tiny little high-heeled shoes that costume designer Andrea Hood has provided her with, ankle straps and all, make her teeter-totter between hilarity, despair, love and high fashion.

And Nikki M. James, a past Tony winner for “Book of Mormon” is quite fine as the business-suited Viola/Cesario. She’s not Judi Dench, but she’s owns the character in her own charming, petite way.Twelfth Night Park 5

 

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Second Half of Live-Blogging the Tonys!

9pm- The Second Half of the Tonys. They’ve hardly given out any awards and all the musical numbers have really, embarrassingly tanked. Oh, except Neil Patrick Harris’ Opening Number.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical! Nikki M. James! She’s hysterical crying!I am so THRILLED for her! She became a true star in that moment and this incredible, tearful speech!  The crowd! Goes! Wild! NOW SHE’s the WINNER of the night! Totally Surprised, she couldn’t stop crying! Very moving! I’m over the moon for her! I told her she would win! The Oscar messenger strikes again! You can go to see me telling her so  at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Andrew Rannells brings down the house with “Book of Mormon’s “I Believe!” a wise choice, because it’s just a solo, so no crowded chorus bumping into each other. Rannells was better tonight than he even was in the show! And they said “Fuck” at one point! And of course it got bleeped! But they said it! IOW, they did the show as it was actually performed. The Melissa Leo effect.

9:18 PM – Brooke Shields got bleeped ! John Larroquette! Wins Best Featured Actor in a Musical!

9:21 Now, Bono and the Edge. What are THEY going to do??? Bono “We used to be members U2” Yikes! They mention the NY Post! Michael Riedel must’ve just jumped through the roof of the press room! “We just wanted to keep the excitement level high at the New York Post!” Lolol…Longest intro of the night! They sound apologetic. OH NO! They are going to do a number from “Spiderman” Oy!…Boring…OMG! The number was as boring as their intro! I haven’t seen it yet, but that’s their best number? At least it was just a duet, so no stumbling. No bodies falling. That was a very bad song, not well done. Ugh! I’m not looking forward to seeing this monstrosity. “Inept” is what Michael Riedel kept saying on “TheaterTalk” and yes, that’s exactly what that number was…”If theWorld Should End” If only that song would end. Oh! It finally did.

My battery ran out.

But I’m back ~ 10:04 ~ “War Horse” just won Best Play. 😦

Wish a play with great PLAYWRITING in it had won…My Tony Predictors Scott Siegel and Sherry Eaker got this right on my TV show. We also got Best Revival of a Play, “Normal Heart” right. “The Motherfucker With A Hat” which hasn’t won anything so far, was robbed.

Larry Kramer moved me to tears with his beautiful SHORT speech. “Our day will come”….He really did the right thing. Short, sweet. Memorable. I’ll never forget it.

The musical numbers have been getting better.

10:11pm- “Anything Goes” probably just won the remaining awards with their concluding tap number that was very well done. Nobody bumped into each other.

But it’s now heading towards the 45 min. mark. Time left, I mean. I can’t believe I’m counting the time til it’s over.

Patina Miller shined it on with her choir of jiving and jumping nuns….They’ve really set up Sutton Foster to win…:( Still thinks she’s miscast as Reeno Sweeney, the bawdy barfly who’s the famous lead in “Anything Goes.” Ethel Merman haunts that role, those songs, those long-held notes. Patti Lu Pone was DIVINE in the ’80s revival at Lincoln Center, when it wasn’t THREE EFFING hours long, as it is now!

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones just got a standing ovation. What are they doing here tonight? Oh, introducing an embarrassingly fast montage of scenes from EVERY SINGLE PLAY that opened on Broadway this year! Even “Elling”!?!?

10:24pm ~ Neil Patrick Harris does a VERY good rendition of “Company/Side by Side” with Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert and Martha Plimpton in his chorus! Embarassing for Patti…

Best Revival of a Musical “Anything Goes” Boo! I enjoyed “How to Succeed” MUCH better. It was simply better done. “The truly magnificent Sutton Foster”…???? The passable, just OK Sutton Foster is more like it. Sheesh! Poor Patina!

Best Actress in a Play! Frances McDormand! In a jean jacket! I predicted this and so did Sherry Eaker. “I love my work!” No make-up a red-and-black striped dress under the jean jacket. I always heard she was a biker. This is her in her no bull-shit biker chick mode. She names and thanks every single member of her cast. Sincere. She burns a serious hole in the screen. Good for her. And she didn’t say “F**k” to do it, Melissa…

And Sutton Foster wins Best Actress, as expected and she reveals she’s going out with Bobby Cannavale! OMG! She breaks out crying thanking her dresser, “who’s leaving me” cries, sobs “AND IT’S A GOOD THING!” Well, if she’s with BC now…I’ll have to hold out hope for her, as an actress. I did totally like her in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and also “Young Frankenstein” but her Reeno Sweeny is more like Judy Moody.

God! What if it’s Bobby who wins Best Actor? As I predicted! Then they would be the first couple to win Tonys in the Same Night? Bobby has been right, front and center all night in the shots and cut-aways and he talked about “The Motherfucker with a Hat.” He’s a great actor. Period.

Paul Shaeffer of the David Letterman show introduced the original songstress of “It’s Raining Men” which he, I forgot, wrote. He comes out and this leads in to FINALLY a number from “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which FINALLY won one award, Best Costumes, for the same two dazzling designed who won an Oscar for the same category.

Mark Rylance wins Best Actor in a Play. An incoherent speech about walking through walls.  Yuck. Sherry Eaker got this right, too! Bobby Cannavale and Al Pacino and Joe Mantello both lost to this jerk. Why? Why? Why? He’s not even the most famous person in this category. I guess his earlier performance in “La Bete” impressed the Tony Voters. That was earlier this season.

Norbert Leo Butz wins Best Actor in a Musical. Sherry Eaker and Scott Siegel BOTH got this right, too. Nice speech. Norbert’s second Tony. Also the second Tony in recent memory for Mark Rylance. Guess the Tonys just do NOT vote like the Oscar voters do, and take previous wins into account AGAINST the nominee. Like for instance, this year with Geoffrey Rush losing for “The King’s Speech” basically, I think, because he already won in the Best Actor category for “Shine!”

Chris Rock says that “Best Musical is like taking a hooker to dinner” LOLOL…Best line of the evening. Book of Mormon wins! Well, I got that one right. Josh Gad is nowhere to be seen.

It ran over by four minutes, according to my computer. See ya next year! I’m going away for awhile. Or rather next week! Give me the Oscars any day.

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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