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TONY Predictions 2017!


I am so in love with the idea that this year’s Tony Awards might heavily feature two of my all time favorite theatrical events. “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” the genre-busting pop-opera and “Little Foxes” which makes audiences (and critics) see double with the divine Laura Linney switching up with Cynthia Nixon. I admit to bias here, but I have the Drama Desks Awards this past Sunday to second my emotions.

Yes, I think “Natasha, Pierre…” will win many, many of its 10 nominations on TONY night, this coming Sunday. Including, I’m calling it now, Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical Rachel Chavkin, who won the DD on Sunday, Best Set of a Musical Mimi Lien, Best Lighting of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations Dave Malloy, who also wrote the incredibly, ketchy and thrilling  sung-through musical score, which may also get Malloy ANOTHER Tony in that hotly contested category.

I’m going to go with the more influential than ever Drama Desk Winner for Best Actor in a Musical and think that in a surprise Andy Karl will prevail in this category.He tore his ACL, and I’ve torn mine and trust me, it’s VERY, VERY painful, and takes a LONG time to heal, and Karl, formerly nominated as Bway’s “Rocky” overcame this excruciating experience to OPEN “GROUND HOG DAY” and continue on performing it, singing and dancing as he did before, turning it into a hit, where people are coming to see HIM as well as the show. He also won an Olivier Award in London for this performance. THAT counts bigly with Tony Voters.

And his HUGE, BLACK, frightening-looking knee brace is in full view the ELEVEN times he has to change into his clothes in front of the audience. And he’s clearly in pain doing all this. This counts heavily with the TONY voters, who know the show must go on, no matter what the pain level.

I think Broadway vet Karl wins this category over 23-year-old newcomer Ben Platt in “Dear Evan Hansen.” The TONY voters, I have to add, are older and more homogeneous than even the #Oscarssowhite Academy members. Yes, AMPAS is more diverse and forward thinking than the TONYs. And pain counts. Ben Platt will have other chances.

They’re not necessarily going to GET a musical about the Internet. Some of them DON’T EVEN HAVE INTERNET. So…It’s too young for TONY, but “Natasha, Pierre…” is a masterpiece based on a masterpiece, Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, so it’s just right. It’s got the most nominations. It’s right in the Tony voters comfort zone(s). Usually the show with the most nominations wins. Let’s see if that holds true this year on Sunday night when the awards are handed out at 8pm EST on CBS.

Surprisingly, “Natasha, Pierre…” won in EVERY CATEGORY for the Drama Desks that it was nominated for. And because it opened earlier Off-Off Bway, it was only eligible for the parts of it that were NEW to this production. And those category were Best Director of a Musical, Best Set of a Musical, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

Another category that I think “NPATGCO1812” will win is Best Featured Actor in a Musical. I think the TONYs will help the astonishing Lucas Steele along on his way to mega-stardom. It doesn’t hurt that though he’s cited as Supporting, he has a larger part than Pop Superstar Josh Groban, who is also nominated in the lead category, where he faces Karl AND Platt, unfortunately, or the award  handily would be his.

Lucas Steele is Anatole, Groban’s Pierre’s wayward, hedonistic brother-in-law, a very, complicated. LARGE part of the villain, as it were, of the extremely small section of “War and Peace” that has here been excerpted. He’s hot. He’s a little dumb. And he plays the violin. And he’s charismatic beyond belief and has been with “NPATGCO1812” for FIVE YEARS in all its’ growing and re-growing on its’ way to Bway. And he hits notes that are stratospheric, to say the least.

Bway vet Gavin Creel of “Hello, Dolly”, although he won the Drama Desk Award in this category, is funny, yes. But that’s about all there is to that part. , AND he was not up against his main competition, Lucas Steele that night.

Bette Midler, of course, even though she DIDN’T SHOW to pick up her Drama Desk win, as Best Actress in a Musical, will easily win in this category.

If I’m leaving out Best Play, it’s because “Oslo,” a play that bored me to death, has won every other Best Play award this year. And,yes, will probably devour the TONY, too. I wish my former guest Michael Aronov was going to win Best Featured Actor in a Play.

But I think that award, like it did at the Drama Desks, will go to Danny DeVito for “The Price.”LITTLE fOXES 3lITTLE FOXES 14

And as far as the Supporting or Featured Actresses are concerned, I think, like the Drama Desk it will go to Jenn Collela for “Come From Away.” And Best Featured Actress in a Play will be Cynthia Nixon. Pairing up for a win with her co-star Laura Linney, giving the performance(s) of their careers in the brilliantly double cast “Little Foxes.”  What a theatrical event! And this was all Laura’s IDEA! And the Tony Voters know it and she’s never won.</a
And Best Actor in a Play? Oops, I almost forgot. Kevin Kline in “Present Laughter” and yes, he won the Drama Desk, too.

#Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, #Josh Groban, #Lucas Steele, #Bette Midler # Hello, Dolly, #Gavin Creel, #Dear Evan Hansen, #Ben Platt, #Andy Karl, #Groundhog Day, #Kevin Kline, #Present Laughter #Rachel Chavkin, #Laura Linney, #Little Foxes, # Cynthia Nixon

National Society of Film Critics Names “Spotlight” Best Film

Spotlight 4The National Society of Film Critics perhaps the most esoteric of the awards-giving critics groups have named “Spotlight” the Best Film of the Year. It also won Best Screenplay. Already way out ahead of every other film this year, “Spotlight” just solidifies its’ lead and is making this year’s Best Picture race seem more like the year “Slumdog Millionaire” trounced everything in its’ path and won every award heading up the ultimate, the Oscars.

Surprisingly, the overlooked Michael P. Jordan won Best Actor for “Creed”.Michael P. Jordon 1

It’s also interesting to note that Geza Rohrig came in second place for “The Son of Saul.” I still think he’s going to get nominated by the Academy for Best Actor. Only Leonardo Di Caprio and Eddie Redmayne are the locks in that category. Anything can happen. Especially with the critical and box-office strength “The Big Short” is showing. Although the National Society didn’t give it anything. Although it came in third for Screenplay behind the winner “Spotlight” and the stop-action animated film by Charlie Kaufman.

Best Actress went to Charlotte Rampling who really needed this boost for “45 Years.”Charlotte Rampling 1 Best Supporting Actress  Kristen Stewart for “The Clouds of Sils Maria.” Second place went to Alicia Vikander for “Ex Machina” solidifying her march to TWO possible nominations as I’ve noted in the previous post.Ex Machina 2 Supporting for “Ex Machina” sexy, manipulative robot Eva and in Lead for “The Danish Girl.” The Awards Coronation of Vikander is well underway.

And Best Supporting Actor is once again Mark Rylance for “The Bridge of Spies” for his comical/sad/shifty Russian spy, who also doubles as a painter. Rylance a four-time Tony Award winner is beginning to be the assumed front-runner for the Steven Spielberg Cold War spy thriller.

Best Director was also surprisingly Todd Haynes for “Carol.” It also won Best Cinematography for the great Ed Lachman beautiful 16 mm. lensing of this Patricia Highsmith lesbian love story.Carol 3

Live Blogging the Tonys! Tommy Tune’s Acceptance Speech! Breaking News!

Tommy Tune

BREAKING:

TOMMY TUNE’S

10th TONY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

 

DELIVERED LIVE FROM RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL

MOMENTS AGO

AT THE 69th ANNUAL TONY AWARDS

UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF TUNE’S

2015 LIFETIME ACHEIVEMENT AWARD

 

“Right now I’m thinking of Texas in the 50s. You see, my father’s great dream for me was the same as every Texas father’s dream for their first born son – they wanted us all to leave Texas, go to New York, and dance in the chorus of a Broadway show. And I did it and I loved every single time step. Especially tonight – this is a great honor. My father thanks you, my mother thanks you, my sister Gracey thanks you, my brother Peter also, and I want to thank each and every one of you who through the years have either attended or contributed to my Broadway offerings. They would not have worked without you. We know that Broadway has a universal mystique, and I am proud and humbled to be part of our Broadway universe. It is vast and inclusive and I believe that all of it, ALL OF IT, is simply an expression of love. What I did for love. What we do for love. On with the show.”

In a few minutes, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth will start co-hosting the Tonys. I don’t know how I feel about them, singly, or together.

 

 

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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!

I’m Going to Live Blog the Tonys tonight!

I’m going to live Blog the Tonys tonight! I’ve never done this before! We’ll see how this works! Stay tuned! It starts at 8pm on CBS.

7:42pm ~ Waiting for the Tonys to start, CBS’ “60 Minutes” is re-running its’ excellent piece on “The King’s Speech” with a new intro saying that yes, The Picture, Colin Firth, Director Tom Hooper and Screenwriter David Seidler all did indeed go on to win Oscars!

What a lovely surprise!

7:52pm – The exit line is now Colin Firth and the film with its’ Oscar win “has reclaimed History.” Bravo!

7:54pm – Daniel Patrick Harris promo “You have the best in the house.No. *wink*smile* No, this is the best seat!” And he pats his ass! How gay is this going to be?

8:03pm-Answer ~ VERY GAY! Opening number Neil Patrick Harris “Broadway is not for Gays anymore!”

8:07 pm – Alex Baldwin announces the first award of the evening. Best Featured Actress in a Play. Ellen Barkin wins! Great performance! Well deserved! Her Broadway debut! Great that it starts off with the awards so quickly! Nice black dress. She thanks Larry Kramer! A bit overlong, but impassioned. She got the “Wrap it up sign.”

8:13pm- First number of the nominated Best Musicals “How to Succeed in Business…” with Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, “The Brotherhood of Man.” It looks smushed on this small(er)stage. Did they bump into each other? The crowd goes wild, anyway.

8:30pm- John Benjamin Hickey wins for Best Featured Actor in a Play! Awesome moment! I met him in 1984 when he was a waiter! This is before he went to Juilliard, even. And now he thanks his partner on National TV! Congratulations John! I always knew you would win! His performance, and Ellen Barkin’s too, were unforgettably powerful in “Normal Heart.” He got short shrift with his speech. Ellen Barkin was sooo long it’s cut into the others’ running time! Yikes!

8:34pm ~ Norbert Leo Butz’ is leading “Catch Me If you Can”s chorus in a semi-rousing “Break the Rules” number. Again the stage looks small, too small for this. Why did they take it out of Radio City Music Hall where it FIT!?!

John Leguizamo’s excerpt from his one man show “Ghetto Clown” worked the best so far because, well, it was just HIM. Being funny.  This stage, the Beacon, is NEVER used for this sort of thing. So, a one-person show works the best so far…

8:42 – During the commercial breaks, they are giving out awards. Like Best Orchestras which went to “Book of Mormon” and Kathleen Marshall for “Anything Goes” Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker win Best Director for “Book of Morman”!!! South Park Rules! Scott Rudin is shown laughing and smiling when thanked. Trey thanks “South Park fans!”

“War Horse” wins Best Direction of a Play. Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris. This probably means that “War Horse” is going to win Best Play. Oh well…It’s not a good play…It’s a great spectacle. A great production…but the writing…ugh…

Marianne Elliot gets played off….Droopy purple dress…

8:50pm-Don Cheadle introduces the long ago-closed, but worthy “The Scottsboro Boys,” which is also looking awkward and the sound…it’s not good…echoey…The audio even went off during Norbert’s number from “Catch Me…” for a bit! Yes, it did! Very SHORT number. Did not represent that really admirable musical very well at all.

The Musicals are allll looking bad.

Winner so far of Best Overall Presence and Presentation ~ John Leguizamo.

Tony Nominees ~ The Final Parsing

Dear Cineastes, dear readers, dear theatrelovers of literature, my Tony nominee show aired last week in my NYC cable TV time slot, and this week is another brand-new show containing interviews with Emma Roberts and Paul Giamatti and Tony nominee for Best Actor Bobby Cannavale.

The videos of this show have been up for awhile now on You Tube www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

But how right were we? And would I change anything now that so many of my critical colleagues have weighed in? And what HAS changed?

Well, for those you of you who don’t want to, or can’t, click on the above link for some reason, here’s the latest.

“The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” All three of us pundits on my show DID pick that, too. And it was the only time we all agreed. So that as they say is that. The question remains just how big are its’ coattails? Will it sweep in the Acting categories?

On my show, in the Best Actor in a Musical category, we all agreed that Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad would cancel each other out. But the NY Times’ Patrick Healy, thinks that Josh Gad might have a slight edge. Norbert Leo Butz is what my two TV colleagues said. And I felt it was Tony Shelton for “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”

EVERYbody on Theatertalk, which shot a Tony show that I couldn’t find(it’s on You Tube under CUNY-TV) because of the pledge week goings-on, all thought Tony Shelton, too.

Norbert Leo Butz won the Drama Desk Award in this category and gave an evidently heart-rending speech. But how much of an overlap is there between the Tony Voters and the Drama Desk? If the show bookers, the tour operators, who supposedly make up  a sizable chunk of the Tony Voters, are looking to award someone who will tour…Tony Shelton is the most likely to do that…

Drag queens with awards? Well, the Tonys have a long history of that. Only last year Douglas Hodge won for his poignant plucky Zaza in the umpteenth revival of “La Cage Aux Folles” They like giving the Tony to an Old Man in a Dress.

But that’s a category that is definitely a toss-up with so many could-win contenders in it.

Two categories that have yielded a clear front runner since we filmed my show at the Bombay Palace restaurant…on a rainy day in May…are Best Actress in a Play, which I agreed at the time with Sherry Eaker, was Frances McDormand. And the other category is Best Actress in a Musical with Sutton Foster! My two compadres, Sherry and Scott Siegel, said Sutton, too. And everyone on Theatertalk did, too.

I said “Patina Miller” in “Sister Act” but since then Sutton seems to be experiencing a groundswell of support, just like “The Book of Mormon” and “Frances McDormand” are. The New York Times didn’t even mention Patina Miller!

The two revival categories~ Play and Musical~ also drew consensus. It’s “Normal Heart” and “Anything Goes” by all. Except me, who said “How To Succeed…”

Oh, Time Out New York agreed with this too. “Mormon”, McDormand and Sutton…

Best Actor in a Play is as up in the air as Best Actor in a Musical. I said Bobby Cannavale for “The Motherfucker with a Hat” but Sherry said “Mark Rylance” for “Jerusalelm” and Scott Siegel said “Al Pacino” for “Merchant of Venice.”

On Theatertalk(you really should try to watch it on YouTube. It’s worth the search.) Surprisingly someone who neither Sherry nor Scott nor I mentioned Joe Mantello from “A Normal Heart” was the consensus winner. With Mark Rylance on the outside. Time Out New York thought Rylance, too….

So THAT category is definitely a toss-up.

And Best Play? Another toss-up. With all four candidates having supporters. Me? I said “Motherfucker with a Hat”. And Scott and Sherry thought “War Horse” as did Time out and a lot of pundits on Theatertalk. “Good People” also just won the New York Critics Circle Award just today after FOUR ROUNDS of voting. And that says something…or does it?

Lots of surprises, toss-ups and blindsides in many, many categories this year, which means it’s been a VERY good year for Broadway.

Watch the Tonys on Sunday night at 8pm on CBS!

“Catch Me If You Can” A Waste of a Lot of Terrific Talent

“Catch Me If You Can” was a terrific Stephen Spielberg-directed, entertaining, sexy movie. It had speed, style, wry humor, Leonardo DiCaprio at his charming best, Tom Hanks as his frazzled, funny pursuer, Christopher Walken’s best before-0r-since performance as Di Caprio’s complex, concerned dad and French film legend Natalie Baye as Walken’s wayward wife and Di Caprio’s dazzlingly young French mother. RENT IT IMMEDIATELY.

Because if you drop a bundle of cash on Broadway’s over-priced tickets to the new musical version of “Catch Me if You Can”, you are going to feel gypped. Really, really gypped.

First let me say that I LOVED Aaron Tveit. He was memorable, haunting and engaging as the ghost of the manic-depressive Mom of the brilliant Alice Ripley in the far superior “Next to Normal.” He egregiously didn’t get a Tony Nomination, when everything else in the musical, including the rug, got nominated a few years back.

And I really did look forward to seeing him emerge as a musical comedy star, in a musical specifically written for him by the same team that successfully brought us the musical of “Hairspray” but alas ~ no. He has to carry this HUGE, WEIGHTED DOWN, dull, dull show almost entirely on his own.

His pursuer, Hanratty, played with great gusto, but disfiguring horn-rimmed glasses and a fat suit by the great Norbert Leo Butz, is a supporting player here. Whereas Tom Hanks in the movie, was the superbly slick Leonardo DiCaprio’s co-star. When he got frustrated chasing this ace con man around the world, Hanks was always funny in his frazzeledness. But Butz, in this awful outfit, seems simply sad and middle-aged. Not great qualities to buoy up a sinking Broadway musical. Ditto the defeated-edness of Tom Wopat as our hero’s father.

Chirstopher Walken was so complex and moving as the Dad in the movie, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. That 2002 performance has stayed in my mind and reminds me of just how terrific an actor Walken can be when he is not doing schtick.

But mostly I worried about the handsome, young Tveit. And how he seemed endlessly flat, but bright and spritely, as this lumpen musical wore on and on. Wearing out its’ questionable welcome hours before it was over.

One kept hoping it would pick up and become like “Hairspray” i.e. tuneful and funny. But it doesn’t. It certainly doesn’t. And the music is flat, too. What a shame.

Will the promising Tveit’s career overcome what surely is going to be seen as HIS great failure. But then, “Catch Me If You Can” may not be able to outrun its’ critics pans. Like this one. The sooner this show closes, the better for Aaron Tveit’s  budding career.

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