2015 Tony Nominations

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The Original BJ
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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:52 pm

I spent some time in NY a couple weeks ago, and naturally caught up with many of the current Broadway tickets. Here are my takes:

Every once in a while, a show comes along that makes you rethink the idea of what a Broadway musical can be. Next to Normal was such a show. So was In the Heights. And, going further back to eras I wasn't watching in real time, so were many of the shows Mister Tee discussed in his post. I think Fun Home deserves to be mentioned in that company. It's such a confident piece of work in every respect -- the book is a dazzlingly structured mix of time hopping throughout memories, the lyrics are full of clever craft and great insight, the score is full of music you're eager to hear again, and the inventive staging places numerous characters in different settings (and time periods) on stage all at once so the audience can essentially choose who to watch at any given point. And the cast is excellent, with a powerful Michael Cerveris as the repressed father, Judy Kuhn as the mother who sacrificed so much for a life that doesn't truly make her happy, an adorable Emily Skeggs as the college student finding the thrill of first love, and the preternaturally gifted Sydney Lucas in one of the most commanding child performances I've ever seen onstage. As for my girl Beth Malone, she's more the solid center of the show than a tour de force -- it's easy to see why, despite being attached to an award-magnet show, she was never really in the conversation to win her Tony category -- but after seeing her in mostly musical comedienne parts over the years, it was great to watch her show a completely different side of her dramatic range in this show. One of the things I liked most about Fun Home was how much joy and humor there is throughout much of it -- you really sense the happiness in the bond between Alison and her father over the years -- so that when tragedy comes, it's just brutally painful. I can't ever remember sobbing as much in a musical as I did during the last number of this show. A beautiful piece of work, and highly recommended.

Something Rotten! is, of course, a musical of a very different type, and while I'm very glad something like Fun Home dominated the Tonys, I wouldn't want to demean Something Rotten! simply for being an entertainment. I found it pretty laugh-out-loud funny throughout, and quite well executed -- I thought it had some of the same cleverness of Shakespeare in Love. The show is essentially comprised of two big in-jokes -- Shakespeare references, and musical theater references, and while I have often groaned at the self-congratulatory nature of material like this, I was surprised by how organically incorporated these were into the storyline here. Brian d'Arcy James is an actor I associate more with musical drama than big laughs, but I found him very funny throughout. And flipp, your friend Brad Oscar was hysterical -- I thought his big number, "A Musical" was the highlight of the show. I'm not the biggest Christian Borle fan, but I acknowledge his typical smugness was used to perfectly appropriate effect as a self-absorbed version of the Bard this go-round. This is frivolous stuff, but perfectly delightful frivolity.

An American in Paris excels in one area above all -- perhaps unsurprisingly, it's spectacularly choreographed and danced. At pretty much any point when Robbie Fairchild and (especially) Leanne Cope are dancing, the show is utterly captivating. But I thought the book fell far short. I'm a fan of the movie, but even I would admit that the plot there is pretty thin -- it's mostly an excuse to get from one musical number to another. On stage, the creators made a decision to expand the size of the roles of all the non-Gene Kelly characters, but there just wasn't much to those characters to begin with, and I felt book writer Craig Lucas didn't deepen them in any way to justify the extra stage time. I honestly felt a lot of the dramatic portions of the show just sort of sat there. And then there are the completely unnecessary Gerswhin numbers added to the show just to full the necessary song quotient. This was probably my biggest disappointment, given expectations, of the week.

On the revival side, I had a somewhat similar reaction to On the Town. There's some high-spirited dancing throughout, but the rest of the show left quite a bit to be desired. I'd only ever seen the movie before, which is enjoyable enough, but mostly because the cast are the kind of performers you'd want to watch in a movie musical. The actual story is pretty hokey -- with a really ridiculous "I saw this girl's picture, I have to find her because now I'm in love with her" set-up -- and the score, outside of "New York, New York" and "I Can Cook, Too" is quite weak. And a little thing -- Tony Yazbeck, while certainly gifted in the dance department, looks way too old for his female costar. It's amazing this show has actually lasted as long as it has, and unsurprising it'll finally be closing the curtains soon.

As for the biggest pleasant surprise, I have to say that I mostly went dutifully to The King and I, and was completely taken aback by how beautifully mounted a production this is. From the opening moment, when Anna's boat docks on stage in a breathtaking bit of stage craft, to the dazzlingly designed and choreographed Uncle Tom's Cabin number, the show is just a classy production from top to bottom. And, as with the previous Rodgers & Hammerstein musical mounted by this theater/director/choreographer/leading lady, South Pacific, it manages to make the dramatic conflicts feel fresh and urgent rather than stale and musty. (I think that last scene is pretty much a guaranteed emotional knockout in any production, but this cast and creative team really did a terrific job with it nonetheless.) As I've said before here, Kelli O'Hara has never been an obsession of mine -- while I've never doubted her merits as an actress and (even more) as a vocalist, I don't think of her as an especially singular performer. And while The King and I didn't exactly make me change my mind, I still found her about as lovely and perfect an Anna as I could have expected. Put another way, this part is exactly in her wheelhouse, and she performs it splendidly, and I have no objection to her finally being honored for doing what she does so well. (As for the show's other Tony-winning actress, Ruthie Ann Miles, she was out sick both times I saw the show, so I unfortunately missed her.) As for an odd side note, I saw the show sitting not that far from Donna Murphy, who of course was the last actress to win a Tony for playing Anna in the '90's revival of The King and I.

On the play side, I found Hand to God quite funny -- with the extended puppet sex sequence near uproarious -- and terrifically acted by the cast, though I didn't think, in the end, it amounted to all that much. The show essentially follows the terror caused by the protagonist after a demon puppet/split personality (?) takes over his hand, and while these actions grow increasingly more outrageous (and gruesome), I didn't think it had much more on its mind. It definitely flirts with some interesting ideas -- regarding religion, grief -- but for me it was more successful simply as comedy rather than anything profound.

Last, and certainly not least, an entry from NEXT season: Hamilton. Since seeing it, most of the questions I've gotten from people have been less "How was it?" and more "Is it as brilliant as everyone says it is?" And here, I must dissent slightly from the overall critical reaction. I say "slightly" because I do think Hamilton is a strong piece -- it's very ambitious, often quite interesting, and full of some impeccable craft (particularly lyrically). But I can't say that I LOVED it, certainly not the way I expect to when I'm told I'm seeing a landmark piece of theater that is a virtual lock for the Pulitzer Prize. (Full disclosure: creator-star Lin Manuel-Miranda was out of the performance I saw with a neck injury, so I saw his understudy, which I imagine could make the show a different experience.)

But...maybe not, because none of my issues were performance-based. For starters, I didn't feel much emotional connection to the material. I felt like a lot of history was presented to me, sometimes in very inventive ways, but portions of it made me feel like I was eating my vegetables. A number of characters die throughout the course of the show, and in each case, I thought, I'm not moved by this moment at all, partly because there's just so much material packed into the show it's hard to become deeply invested in most of the characters' stories. Another issue is just that I think it's way too long -- at a full three hours, I'm not sure that every moment is completely earned, and by the middle of act two I was really desperate for that duel to come.

I also found that there was a lot of monotony in the show, and here's where I have to wave my old fogey flag and admit that I'm not really such a big fan of rap. So many of the songs here just sounded the same to me, and when they were all choreographed in a similar manner, and lit in a similar manner...well...I started to long for some variety. (One reason why I think the King George sequences work so well -- aside from the fact that Jonathan Groff plays the part with such impish glee -- is that musically they sound so DIFFERENT from everything else we're hearing, and that change of pace is nice.) I also got kind of frustrated with how much Miranda recycled from his own In the Heights -- I acknowledge that the average theatergoer won't be able to make this distinction, but he virtually refashions entire songs musically, rhythmically, and lyrically from his earlier show, even putting them in the same spots in the show. And so, while many have characterized the show as a groundbreaking musical, I found it difficult to do so, simply because I felt like I had seen and heard large portions of it before. As for the part that IS definitely groundbreaking -- the casting of all non-white actors as the founding fathers -- I certainly tip my hat to that choice as an exciting casting decision, but I also have to acknowledge that that doesn't make the show significantly deeper than some critics have made it out to be because of said casting.

The really interesting thing for me, actually, has been talking with the half dozen or so friends I know who have also seen the show. And with every person, the conversation is essentially them asking me, "Did you see Hamilton?" "Yes." "What did you think?" "I liked it." "Me too...But...did you LOVE it?" "No, not really." "Oh thank GOD, I thought I was the only one." One friend of mine even argued it's basically a case of the emperor's new clothes. I definitely wouldn't go that far -- I think the emperor here is wearing something, and it's actually something quite interesting, something that a lot of craft went into. And I'm looking forward to seeing it again, just to get a better handle on all of it. But did I want it to start all over again the second it ended, the way I did with Fun Home? Not remotely.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:52 am

Mister Tee, I really enjoyed reading your post. The evolution of a show like A Chorus Line which seemed like such a true workshop collaboration feels like something of an outlier now in the Harvey Weinstein/Scott Rudin, heavily producer-driven era of Broadway we currently find ourselves in. That a show such as Fun Home was able to slip in and take the Tony this year over more standard fare still seems like a pretty significant event to me.

I also find it interesting that the three shows that are becoming central to this argument of watershed moments in musical theater all explore homosexuality in some fashion. Fun Home, while a deconstructing one American family, is also very much about learning to love and accept who you are (and, in the case of Alison and Bruce Bechdel, who they are is a gay person). A Chorus Line, of course, features several gay characters and, in many ways, hits the same buttons as Fun Home - that the struggle to identify who are you and come out to yourself as who you are is an important part of finally living your most authentic and artistic self. RENT sees gay and straight people trying to make sense out of how to live in America during the dark days of AIDS. Not sure what kind of point I'm making with that, but it does seem significant that these shows that became such long-running Broadway standards (and, of course, we don't know what kind of run Fun Home will pull off) have all explored homosexuality in America, not exactly a topic that the public at large has completely embraced.

Semi-related tidbit: I found an original David Edward Byrd Follies lithograph poster from 1970 going for $80 on eBay. I was actually kind of shocked when I came across it and immediately bought it. The usual range for that poster is in the $700-800 ballpark. There is even one going for $1,995. This poster was originally sold out of Triton Gallery in NYC. There are no cast or production credits that appear on the poster (not even Sondheim's name) except for the "Winter Garden Theatre" at the bottom so it is definitely a rare piece. It really is one of the most beautiful posters of 20th century musical theater--it's displayed in the American History Museum here in D.C. (It is also huge; having it framed actually cost more than the actual poster).

Inspired by my find, I also managed to track down an original A Chorus Line poster which is also hard to find.
Last edited by flipp525 on Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:20 pm

flipp, what you wrote about A Chorus Line and its place in musical theatre history got me thinking about how the form has evolved in my lifetime. As usual, it led to a plethora of thoughts, which I found difficult to condense, but here’s an attempt at as terse a version as possible.

The modern musical (that aspiring beyond a mix of gags, tunes and dancing girls) is thought to have begun in 1943 with Oklahoma!, and dominated Broadway theatre for the next 20 years – a period called the Golden Age by some, viewed as musty museum pieces by others. Some shows from the era are clearly stronger than others (Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof), but what they all share is quite traditional structure – they were essentially well-made plays, told in sequence, with, at intervals, songs (and occasionally dances), and the staging generally followed the George Abbott format: fly in the flats (most designed by Oliver Smith), play the scene/song, blackout. There was some small level of experimentation – beginning with Rodgers & Hammerstein themselves, in the Agnes deMille portions of Oklahoma! and Carousel, and including the work of Jerome Robbins (especially in West Side Story) and maybe Bob Fosse (off in his own choreographic corner). But most of the shows -- the ones your parents/grandparents/maybe great-grand-parents grew up on and presumably still love – were conventional-minded, almost to the point of stratification.

I’d argue the person most responsible for changing this was Hal Prince. Prince, as a quite young man, had paid his theatre dues producing a bunch of these Golden Age shows –in the process observing the work of both the traditional Abbott and the more inventive Robbins and Fosse. When he moved over into directing, Prince showed more affinity for the Robbins/Fosse side of the fence; he also, it seems, absorbed what was happening in off-Broadway theatres and movie-houses in the culturally turbulent early/mid-60s – striking out in new directions; exploring riskier material than Broadway standard. After a couple of minor hits (She Loves Me, Baker Street) and an ambitious (really!) flop in It’s a Bird It’s a Plane It’s Superman, he finally achieved a breakthrough with Cabaret, the long-run Tony-winning musical of the 1966-67 season, and an unmistakable work of a new era.

We should note, though, looking back, that Cabaret was more a half-step forward. Thanks to Fosse’s subsequent film, and adjustments made in the famed Mendes revival, people tend to think of the show as being blazingly original throughout. In reality, while the Kit Kat Klub scenes, with their Berliner Ensemble influence and ironic commentary on the story, were fresh and exciting for the time, the book scenes – the “Perfectly Marvelous” parts – were largely traditional (albeit leading to tragic end). This was fully intentional on Prince’s part: commenting later on Fosse’s film, Prince said that, while he loved the movie, he knew if he had gone as far with the material, he’d never have got his three-year Broadway run. Broadway audiences could only move so far so fast.

Presumably buoyed by his massive Cabaret success, Prince soon formed his legendary alliance with Stephen Sondheim. The two (with collaborators) created, over the course of a single decade, five shows: Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd. And these shows didn’t hold back the way Cabaret had; they left the Golden Age musical format in the dust. It’s hard to communicate just what it was like seeing Company in 1970. My experience was, I think, like what many filmmakers experienced in 1941 when they got a look at Citizen Kane – it wasn’t just I thought I was seeing something great; it was that I was seeing something of which I could not have even conceived prior to that moment. The show was, by 1970 Broadway standards, full-on surrealism: it used Brechtian comment-on-the-action; its plot jumped around in time; it had musical numbers that didn’t attempt to integrate into the story; and it was framed by a birthday party that changed in content each time we revisited it. This was so far away from what audiences were accustomed to that, while the dominant critical response was rapture, there was a fair minority (led by Times critic Walter Kerr) who turned up their noses at the show, describing it as filled with “unlikable” people.

And, as if to prove Prince’s later point about Cabaret, the show wasn’t a smash. Those who loved it adored it, but that group never expanded to the level a long-run hit needs. Company stopped being a sellout by Fall, and, though its commercial fortunes were revived by the Tonys nearly a year later, it ended with a 700 performance run – quite decent, but nothing like what its partisans felt it deserved. And this was the commercial pinnacle of the five shows. The subsequent musicals continued to break barriers (A Little Night Music was the most conventional of the group, but even it was structurally ambitious, and based on a Bergman movie, for Christ’s sake). In success terms, though, they were middling hits (Pacific Overtures less than that) –and shows like Grease, Annie and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas far out-performed them.

And, so, I finally come to A Chorus Line, which followed in Prince’s footsteps but, crucially, managed to bring audiences along. Michael Bennett had choreographed both Company and Follies (getting a co-directing credit on the latter), and he was very much in sync with Prince’s conceptual approach to staging. A Chorus Line was developed, as we all know, through improvisation; the story that evolved may operate within traditional unities (one night in one place), but it uses full-on theatricality to take us beyond that small world – to let us see the full life and struggle of the grunt-level Broadway dancer. This was not Golden Age stuff at all; it was ambitious, and it let parts of the real world in that had never been seen on a Broadway stage. I’ve never actually been quite sure why such a show had such widespread appeal. It’s a moving piece of work, with a good score and some great dancing, but you’d have thought the parochial aspect of it – theatre people talking about themselves – might have been of limited interest. It may be that the show’s concentration on people trying to get by/prove themselves struck a deep chord (especially in the down economic period in which it opened). I recall reading about an account executive who said the process of auditioning, of always having to prove he was good enough, made him feel the show was about HIS life. However it happened, A Chorus Line struck major gold, becoming at the time by far the longest running musical in history.

Did that success open doors for other such musicals? The only show in the years just after that seemed clearly influenced by it was Liz Swados’ Runaways -- which, like Chorus Line (and Fun Home), began at the Public Theatre, and structurally resembled Bennett’s show. But it was only a middling hit. You could say that, by showing surrealism/theatricality/seriousness didn’t scare audiences off – and wasn’t just for Prince and Sondheim -- A Chorus Line made it easier for those ambitious musicals that followed : Nine, and, later, Grand Hotel; The Secret Garden; Jelly’s Last Jam; Kiss of the Spider Woman. None of these were exactly smash hits…but they performed well enough to hold down the fort until finally another breakthrough show – Rent -- achieved sensation level. And Rent in turn made it easier for Ragtime, Urinetown, Light in the Piazza, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, and, now, Fun Home to get into production.

But another legacy of Chorus Line was to loosen the rules for staging: the Abbott formula was pretty much tossed out as time went on. Unmistakably entertainment-oriented shows, like Barnum and Bennett’s own Dreamgirls, merged traditional Broadway material with highly innovative staging. Later The Will Rogers Follies, The Lion King, even Jersey Boys were visualized in ways far more indebted to theatre visionaries than to Mr. Abbott. Some of the Brit mega-musicals followed more in traditional modes (Les Miz reminded many of us of Oliver!), but two of the most successful – Evita and Phantom itself – were staged by Hal Prince in styles that made the shows seem far more exciting than the material allowed. When you go to popular musicals today – from Hairspray through Spamalot through Matilda or Kinky Boots – you’re seeing shows that benefited in small or large ways from what Chorus Line wrought.

As for, can Fun Home have similar effect? Well, I doubt it can ever be a blockbuster on the level of A Chorus Line or Rent. It’s selling out now – and probably will for a while, Tony be thanked – but that’s partly because it’s a smaller theatre. I think most likely it will simply be another in that line of ambitious shows that continue to pop up in spite of all the pressure to stick to jukebox compilations, London-proven shows and Disney transfers. What is encouraging is, it’s the latest in a series of shows this millennium – including The Book of Mormon, Once, and A Gentleman’s Guide – that came in with no real pre-sell value and succeeded on quality/strong reviews alone. This was something that commonly happened in my earlier years – most of us had heard literally nothing about Chorus Line until the morning the rave reviews appeared – but had become disappearingly scarce in an era where Mamma Mia! or Miss Saigon could have hype-drive record-shattering runs despite little critical enthusiasm. Anytime quality gets the upper hand, it strikes me as good news.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:49 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
flipp525 wrote:dws, what about Hazel: A Musical Maid in America based on the TV show of the same name? I really can't imagine what audience something like that is aiming for. Big Magilla-esque folks with a tinge of nostalgia for '60s-era sitcoms perhaps?

Um, no, just fucking no.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:01 pm

The Original BJ wrote:Just wanted to point out that Fathom Events is screening a filmed performance of The Audience in movie theaters nationwide on June 25th, in case anyone is interested in catching Helen Mirren's Tony-winning role.

This kind of thing got Oscar nominations back in the day a la James Whitmore in Give 'em Hell, Harry and Maximillian Schell in The Man in the Glass Booth Elevator (both nominated in 1975, in fact - was that just a moribund year for lead acting candidates in general? If you'll recall, Ellen Burstyn famously said that they should just cancel the category on the distaff side.)
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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:51 pm

It was just announced that the Young Vic's revival of A View From the Bridge will play on Broadway this fall. Yeah, this was just revived about five years ago, but this one--directed by Ivo van Hove--was very very different from traditional stagings of the piece, so I'm not surprised to see it transfer.

dws, what about Hazel: A Musical Maid in America based on the TV show of the same name? I didn't see that on your list.

I hadn't heard of it actually. Seems like a pretty dubious prospect, commercially, but I guess you never know.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:48 pm

Just wanted to point out that Fathom Events is screening a filmed performance of The Audience in movie theaters nationwide on June 25th, in case anyone is interested in catching Helen Mirren's Tony-winning role.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:11 am

flipp525 wrote:dws, what about Hazel: A Musical Maid in America based on the TV show of the same name? I really can't imagine what audience something like that is aiming for. Big Magilla-esque folks with a tinge of nostalgia for '60s-era sitcoms perhaps?

Um, no, just fucking no.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:56 am

dws, what about Hazel: A Musical Maid in America based on the TV show of the same name? I didn't see that on your list. I know it's being done for an Equity Lab right now with Klea Blackhurst (Hello, Dolly!) in the lead and directed by Lucie Arnaz. Invitation-only readings took place on May 28 and 29 at the Lyric Theatre Performance Space. I really can't imagine for what audience something like that is aiming. Big Magilla-esque folks with a tinge of nostalgia for '60s-era sitcoms perhaps?
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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby dws1982 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:15 pm

Did some research about what's coming up for the current Broadway season. As always at this point, there are a lot more things rumored than set in stone.

So, for next season, on the musical side:

- For revivals, Bartlett Sher is directing the 50th Anniversary Revival of Fiddler on the Roof starring Danny Burstein as Tevye. Maybe this is his Tony-winning role. The Color Purple is also coming back, making it the first show to originate in the 2000's to be revived on Broadway. It's supposedly a stripped-down and significantly-altered version of what played on Broadway, directed by John Doyle. It got very good reviews when it played in London about a year ago. There's also a revival of Dames At Sea, which sounds an awful lot like it could be the title of the next Maggie Smith/Judi Dench vehicle. No word on casting, etc. Probably won't happen, but there was a production of Carousel in Chicago that's supposedly hoping to transfer. Other possibles: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Falsettos, She Loves Me, The Wiz (but with the NBC special coming up, will the interest be there?), a re-imagined but still unneeded revival of Titanic, and that long-rumored Miss Saigon revival that no one's really asking for.

- Hamilton is the big original musical that everyone's talking about. It's due to transfer from off-Broadway in a few weeks, just won most of the Drama Desk awards for the 2014-2015 season. On a more niche level, you've got Amazing Grace, a bio-musical of the author of the hymn, opening in mid-July. I've heard good things about the it, but I don't really see an audience for it on Broadway. There's also Allegiance, based on the experiences of George Takei's family in interment camps during WWII. It opens in mid/late fall. Hard to imagine it or Amazing Grace attracting the crowds they'd need to stay open into award's season. Another big original musical is School of Rock, based on the movie. Sounds like it would be a solid bet for a big hit, but the combo of music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and book by Julian Fellowes seems like a really odd fit. Also On Your Feet! a bio-musical of Gloria Estefan. No thanks. Audra McDonald is headlining a musical called Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. I think it tells the story of the musical that became a surprise sensation on Broadway in 1921. Others that have been rumored for awhile now: Bull Durham, Tuck Everlasting, American Psycho, Waitress, Ever After, Beaches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gotta Dance. Most of those won't make it this season, obviously, and many may not at all.

For plays:

- On the original side, An Act of God was the Broadway equivalent of a January movie release--it opened during awards season for this year, mainly to accommodate Jim Parson's TV schedule. Olivier winner King Charles III is playing a limited run with Tim Pigott-Smith reprising his role. David Mamet's new play, China Doll, opens in November with Al Pacino. Richard Greenberg's Our Mother's Brief Affair, starring Linda Lavin opens in January. Therese Raquin starring Keira Knightley, Judith Light, and Gabriel Ebert. Bruce Willis is making his Broadway debut in Misery, based off of the Stephen King novel. Shakespeare in Love is hoping to make the jump, and I've read that Taken At Midnight, which won an Olivier award for Penelope Wilton, is a possibility.

- As far as revivals go, we've got Fool For Love (although this is its Broadway debut) starring Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda; Also in the "new to Broadway but not 'new'" category, A.R. Gurney's Sylvia is expected to open this fall, starring new Tony-winner Annaleigh Ashford. Noises Off--I think Andrea Martin is the only official cast member so far. Pinter's Old Times is coming, with Clive Owen, Eve Best, and Kelly Reilly; The Gin Game, with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson. Long Day's Journey Into Night, with Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne, and John Gallagher Jr. Lange starred in a production of this in London about fifteen years ago, and it's by far the most acclaimed stage role she's performed, so hopefully it'll go better for her than Menagerie or Streetcar. (Still hate that the Suchet/Metcalf revival won't cross over, though.) It's not set in stone, but Angela Lansbury may be coming for one more go-around in The Chalk Garden. Children of a Lesser God has been thrown out as a possibility, as well as a revival of The Crucible. The rumors around that one are all over the place. Depending on what message board you read, Richard Armitage is reprising the Proctor role from the London production; Sophie Okonedo is playing Elizabeth Proctor; it's going to be stripped down and "updated" (which doesn't make a lot of sense to me for this play).
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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:21 pm

Jefforey Smith wrote:From what I'm told FUN HOME won because of politics. People who I know who have seen many of the shows say SOMETHING ROTTEN! was robbed.


I'm not going to debate your friends' personal opinions -- especially when I haven't seen any of the nominees myself -- but this argument doesn't make a ton of sense to me. Fun Home was BY FAR the most acclaimed new musical of the year -- heck, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Though all of the Best Musical nominees had solid notices, none of them even came close in terms of critical praise.

If anything, politics would have seemed to be working AGAINST Fun Home, simply due to all of the factors that would likely make it less of a hit on tour (size, subject matter) compared to its competition.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby Jefforey Smith » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:59 am

From what I'm told FUN HOME won because of politics. People who I know who have seen many of the shows say SOMETHING ROTTEN! was robbed.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:58 pm

None of these are at Chorus Line-level phenomenon, but...

In the Heights would probably also qualify as a recent musical that clicked with both critics and audiences, and very much redefined what a musical could be, both aesthetically (i.e. rap music) and in terms of representation (an entirely non-white, contemporary urban cast of characters).

And, though of course it wasn't a Wicked-size hit, a two year run for a dark musical about mental illness was pretty noteworthy, and, like Fun Home, the Pulitzer-minted Next to Normal is one of the few recent musicals that really tapped into issues related to How We Live Now. (Plus, given how easy that show is to produce, it's pretty much exploded in the regional theater scene in recent years, and I know many people who have seen it in that context completely caught off guard by the fact that it's just so unlike anything they thought a musical could be.)

And it hasn't even opened on Broadway yet, but Hamilton is going to be a big deal both critically and commercially, and all signs suggest it fits exactly into the "no one has seen anything like this before" category you outlined.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:57 pm

We need to remember that Yul Brunner wasn't eligible for lead in the original production of The King and I because he was billed below the title, an ironclad rule in those days. Mary Beth Piel was nominated in featured in the only year in which there were no lead nominees for Actress in a Musical. Leilani Jones, the female lead in Grind won in Featured.

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Re: 2015 Tony Nominations

Postby flipp525 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:18 am

The success of something as unconventional as Fun Home would seem to bode well for more challenging work in the years to come (rather than the constant, never-ending barrage of jukebox musicals and movie-to-stage adaptations we tend to see nowadays). I was trying to think of the last time something so unorthodox became such a big hit and I came up with A Chorus Line. I don't know for sure whether or not CL's success led to other groundbreaking works, or if it was a total one-off. My thought though, is that the envelope gets moved one play/musical at a time, and Fun Home moved it quite a ways.

See also: RENT
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