2016-2017 Tony Awards

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:02 am

I made treks to New York for the last two Follies revivals. I think I am in line with the other people on this board about them.

In 2001, I was 19 years old and more enamored with the idea of seeing Follies on stage than anything else. I think the production had problems, but I was just taken in by the material itself in a youthful, Sondheim-obsessed way. I remember Treat Williams being wonderful, and I remember some of the one-off numbers being fantastic (Betty Garrett's Broadway Baby and Polly Bergen's I'm Still Here stand out), plus I saw it later in the run with Marni Nixon singing One More Kiss which was a neat experience. But I also remember the ending not working at all, and it being kind of leaden.

I saw the latest revival still in previews, and I think a lot of the same stuff still applies. It was chock full of wonderful performances, although I'm sad to say that Bernadette Peters was the weakest link in the show -- you could feel her fighting her way into the material in a way that everyone else just slipped right into. It was a much livelier production, and the room was electric that night (there were several mid-show standing ovations, as you would expect from a Sondheim-obsessed crowd showing up to previews to be the first to see this show). I think I'm in the minority, but to me, Elaine Page's I'm Still Here is one of the great renditions ever and was a master class. Everyone was first rate, though, which I think is the key to Follies -- the show is never going to be dramaturgically perfect, but if your cast is game enough, it can be an electric night in the theatre.

That said, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (which has been slowly working its way through the Sondheim canon in mostly traditional yet emotionally resonant productions) did a version around the same time that felt like a much more complete work. It didn't have "stars," but a lot of local legends, but reminded that there is something at the core of the show that maybe keeps getting lost in the machinations of Broadway.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:10 pm

Ah -- though in general the exorbitant expense of NY theatre leaves me out of most conversations, two things upon which I can comment (in order of posting):

I watched Falsettos on PBS as well, but for me it was a nostalgic journey. I saw March of the Falsettos off-Broadway in 1981, a revival of In Trousers in 1985 (most of which dealt with pre-March action, but did include Trina's "I'm Breaking Down"), and finally Falsettos in 1992. I guess BJ is correct, that history has moved past the material of March -- a man leaving his wife/family for a man was back then unexplored territory (certainly for musical theater), but may seem quaint today (even the fact of his being in the marriage to begin with something of a relic of pre-liberation days). But I really loved Finn's score: it was Sondheim-ian, but in the best sense of being worthy of standing on the same stage. I guess "Do you love him?/Sorta kinda" might echo "Sorry/Grateful" a bit, but such lines as "We are manipulating people and we need to see our worst sides aren't ignored" strike me as brilliant, and "I'd Kill for That Thrill of First Love" is a song I've always adored. Act II/Falsettoland is interesting, in that its prime subject wasn't even on the radar when March was conceived; it's like how John Updike takes his Rabbit characters, conceived in the Eisenhower year, through history that couldn't have been imagined when he first began the project. I can't say I find this section of the play as dynamic -- even by 1992, it felt like territory already covered -- but it's got a lively, imaginative score (the baseball number has always stuck in my head), and is undeniably moving in the end.

I've seen Follies multiple times, as well -- the original 1971 production, and the 2001 Broadway revival. I had very different reactions to the two productions. The first came just a year after I'd seen Company, which, more than any other thing I'd seen (then or since), opened my eyes to the possibilities of theatre. I felt like Follies wasn't as strong a dramatic piece, but it had a terrific score (anyone who thinks Sondheim can't write melodies should be made to listen to this over and over), a talented cast who delivered at least two show-stoppers ("Who's That Woman?" and "The Story of Lucy and Jessie"), concept to spare, and a physical realization (via the Prince/Bennett direction/choreography and Aronson/Klotz/Musser design) that made the whole thing feel like a beautiful cobweb knit together. So, something of a disappointment after the "greatest show ever" Company had been for me, but a clear work of theatrical art.

I found the 2001 revival a huge letdown. I know Matthew Warchus has gone on to direct other musicals since, but I thought at the time he showed absolutely no sense of musicality/lyricism, and the lack of all those things that had made the original seem special exposed, for me, a vapidity in the script. Part of it was no doubt that I was much older, and the fact that rich man Benjamin Stone wasn't happy may have come as bigger news to me at the age of 19 than it did when I was 49. But all the relationship stuff seemed pretty second-rate soap opera to me, as well. And it didn't help that the cast was largely without musical theatre training. Blythe Danner and Judith Ivey are actresses I've often loved, but neither can really sing/dance; Treat Williams was the only one of the four principals with musical theatre chops. I came out of the show that night thinking the critics of 1971 -- many of whom had been fairly harsh on the show -- were righter than I'd been back then.

But, of course, it's possible that a director who re-discovered the sense of movement and dreams that the original possessed would be able to move me back in the show's direction. That seems to have been the case for both of you, BJ and flipp, and I'm glad for you that you were able to experience the show at its best.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:04 pm

flipp525 wrote:If you know the show at all (not sure there are any fans here or anyone who has even seen it once. Tee?) they did a very faithful job.


I saw the last Broadway revival (albeit in LA, with Victoria Clark replacing Bernadette Peters) and thought it was excellent. A great show, and one of my favorite theatergoing experiences in the past few years.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby flipp525 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:57 pm

I saw the recent “Follies” revival in London this month and, quite honestly, I’m still processing it. More later, but it was one of the best nights of theatre I’ve ever had (I use Jessica Lange in Long Day’s Journey into Night as a barometer). Imelda Staunton gave a legendary performance as Sally Durant Plummer. And the entire production was just stunning. If you know the show at all (not sure there are any fans here or anyone who has even seen it once. Tee?) they did a very faithful job.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:41 am

Okri wrote:BJ, do you have any familiarity with Finn's work outside of Falsettos?


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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Okri » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:00 am

BJ, do you have any familiarity with Finn's work outside of Falsettos?

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:05 am

I was in New York this past week for work, and most of my theatergoing fell into the category of "shows my friends were in," but I did have one additional night free, and I just couldn't pass on the chance to see Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! (At a StubHub resale ticket price, certainly not full price at the box office!) The production certainly isn't anything hugely imaginative -- I was a bit surprised by how similar the staging was to other productions of the show I've seen, as if no one involved wanted to mess with expectations for how this should all be presented -- and the script remains a fairly flimsy thing, one that serves mostly just to connect the (obviously memorable) musical numbers together. But the ensemble -- especially Kate Baldwin, Gavin Creel, Taylor Trensch and Lady Bird's Beanie Feldstein as the key supporting quartet -- keeps things feeling lively throughout.

As for Bette...well, there's certainly a degree to which her performance feels a bit like a Bette Midler lounge act on the set of Hello, Dolly! while a production of Hello, Dolly! is happening around her. And there are times when I wished for an actress who felt more integrated into the production, who really had knockout musical comedy chops. (It's not surprising to me that everyone I know who also saw Donna Murphy in the role easily preferred Murphy.) But Bette is nonetheless a star of enormous magnitude -- a truly superlative entertainer -- and when gifted numbers as obviously crowd-pleasing as "Before the Parade Passes By" or the show-stopping title song, it's hard not to be thrilled by her charisma and sheer joy for performing. It's easy to see why so many theatergoers considered this a major event this season.

(Oh, and that new David Hyde Pierce song? Just as leaden in the theater as it was on the Tony Awards.)

I'll also chime in on the revival of Falsettos, having just watched the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast. I wasn't familiar with the show at all, and I can't say I really connected to it very strongly -- much of the first act felt like a poor man's Company, a concept musical about relationships in the '70s albeit with a concept that often baffled me (the opening number with the characters dressed as old Jews, the March of the Falsettos number). I found the second act considerably stronger, with the AIDS plot line providing a more obvious emotional center. But on the whole I think it's the kind of show that likely felt much more urgent and modern in its era -- I imagine much of it just came off as fresher than it does today, after we've been exposed to far more creative works that have mined similar terrain. As for the performers, I've never been much of a fan of Christian Borle -- I generally find his work has a smugness to it that often makes me dislike his characters, and that definitely was an issue for me here -- but, as usual, both Andrew Rannells and Stephanie J. Block were top-notch.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:26 am

Mister Tee wrote:The Tina Fey-produced musical of Mean Girls is playing DC in the Fall, and will do Broadway next Spring.

I had that one listed and then I deleted my post and forgot to add it back. It doesn't sound like anything that would appeal to me at all, but it probably has pretty solid commercial prospects.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:38 am

I don't know if the Roman Holiday musical is going to make it. The San Francisco production got really bad reviews including a devastating one in Variety. The San Francisco production is a revamped version of the 2001 St. Louis and 2012 Minneapolis productions.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:37 pm

dws1982 wrote:Original musicals: Frozen is the big one. From a critical perspective, The Band's Visit is probably the big one. It opens in November. There's a Roman Holiday musical, using Cole Porter songs, that's doing a tryout in San Francisco before (its producers hope) moving to Broadway. A more niche item, Hadestown, played off-Broadway last season and is a possibility for a transfer. Escape to Margaritaville, based on the music of Jimmy Buffett, probably won't get any awards attention, but I guess it could make some money. I guess? I could see it doing well at some community theatre in a beach town in Florida, but I don't know how popular Buffett is in New York. Prince of Broadway is a Hal Prince revue; it opens fairly early in the season, and these don't usually get major awards attention unless it's a weak season, but it could be popular enough. Oh yeah, Spongebob Squarepants is definitely happening. Cher has a bio-musical that's planning on a 2018 launch as well. Whether that's early 2018 or late 2018, I'm not sure.

The Tina Fey-produced musical of Mean Girls is playing DC in the Fall, and will do Broadway next Spring.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby dws1982 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:46 pm

Six Degrees of Separation, Sweat, and Indecent have all posted early-closing noticed in the wake of the Tonys. Oslo extended its run, but it's still closing in mid-July.

What's on the horizon for next season?

The long-expected revival of My Fair Lady is opening in April at the Vivan Beaumont. No casting announced yet. The revival of Once On This Island opens at Circle in the Square in December. A revival of Carousel seems to be on the way, as well, with Jessie Mueller. The off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity with Sutton Foster might transfer, but nothing is confirmed. Kathleen Marshall has a Crazy for You revival that's trying out in Los Angeles before Broadway, but I'm not sure what the timeline is. Dreamgirls is supposedly shooting for a Broadway transfer. I guess the production of Gypsy with Imelda Staunton is probably off the table (and it has been revived a lot), but you never know, I suppose.

Original musicals: Frozen is the big one. From a critical perspective, The Band's Visit is probably the big one. It opens in November. There's a Roman Holiday musical, using Cole Porter songs, that's doing a tryout in San Francisco before (its producers hope) moving to Broadway. A more niche item, Hadestown, played off-Broadway last season and is a possibility for a transfer. Escape to Margaritaville, based on the music of Jimmy Buffett, probably won't get any awards attention, but I guess it could make some money. I guess? I could see it doing well at some community theatre in a beach town in Florida, but I don't know how popular Buffett is in New York. Prince of Broadway is a Hal Prince revue; it opens fairly early in the season, and these don't usually get major awards attention unless it's a weak season, but it could be popular enough. Oh yeah, Spongebob Squarepants is definitely happening. Cher has a bio-musical that's planning on a 2018 launch as well. Whether that's early 2018 or late 2018, I'm not sure.

For play revivals, we have Marvin's Room currently in previews, which is technically its Broadway debut, but for awards purposes, it would be considered a revival. Not that we probably have anything to worry about there. Also new to Broadway but not new is Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, which will supposedly star this year's Tony winner Laurie Metcalf, and Glenda Jackson in a return to Broadway. After almost 80 years, Time and the Conways is being revived this fall, with Elizabeth McGovern. M. Butterfly starring Clive Owen and directed by Julie Taymor is a definite. Not much else has been announced, though--plays tend not to get announced far in advance the way musicals do.

Original plays: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is probably the only thing that rivals Frozen in terms of box-office potential and commercial anticipation. It's a late-season opener, not sure if it'll have a new cast or the West End cast. 1984 is about to open (it's currently in previews), not sure if it's supposed to be any good or not. Tracy Letts' latest, The Minutes, is set for a late winter opening. Steve Martin's Meteor Shower is aiming for a fall opening. John Patrick Shanley has a play opening off-Broadway, The Portuguese Kid, with Jason Alexander, that I'd guess is hoping for a transfer. Farinelli and the King, starring Mark Rylance, is definitely coming. Also Junk, the latest from Ayad Akhtar. There's also The Children, a limited run opening this fall.

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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:53 pm

The poster has the author's name in smaller letters than title of the play as does the marquee, both of which put the title in all caps. It is referred to in reviews as August Wilson's "Jitney" with italics around the actual title just as "Hamlet" is almost always referred to as William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" out of respect for the author without officially inserting his name into the title.

Even if Wilson's estate were to allow the producers to officially rename his play "August Wilson's Jitney" to bring attention to the author's name now that "Fences" has made him a name outside of the theatre, it wouldn't be as silly as renaming "The Little Foxes" as "Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes" after all these years even though Hellman's name, too, appears in letters smaller than the title of her play in the poster and on the marquee.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:18 am

I'm telling you that August Wilson's Jitney was produced precisely as that even if the original production was just called "Jitney." I'm not sure why you're pressing this whole thing since the question of titling still has not been answered, nor can it be since none of us are all that attuned to the Broadway universe.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:20 am

The idbd. is generally reliable. It does list the recent revivals of Porgy and Bess and Cinderella with their composers' names attached because those were the official names of the productions.

As for posters, you can find movie posters for Billy Wilder's this, Alfred Hitchcok's that and John Ford's such-and-such among the works of many other directors. That doesn't make their names part of the title, although there have been exceptions such as Fellini Satyricon and Akira Kurosawa's Dreams.
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Re: 2016-2017 Tony Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:31 am

The IBDB doesn't have a lot of variance in their design philosophy, so I don't think it's a good idea to use them as anything more than a general source of information. Neither is Wikipedia for that matter. They show it as just "Jitney" in most places, but the poster on display shows very distinctly "August Wilson's Jitney"
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