The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler is hopeful that the sun will come out tomorrow now that Jane Lynch has joined the cast of Annie. Looks like it’s partly cloudy…
Annie was the first “real” musical I ever saw. It was the 2nd National Tour and it starred Marisa Morell (who is now a literary agent and producer). I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday but I remember her name — that is the impact that Annie had on me as a twinkle-eyed musical theater wannabee.
The legacy continues with this past season’s revival and scores of young girls from across the country vied for the little redhead who could. Lilla Crawford won the title role but the show opened to mixed reviews. Ben Brantley of The New York Times, while critical, seemed to caress the show with a gentle hand in light of it’s opening shortly after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City.
Brantley wrote of the director, “It would seem that Mr. Lapine is hoping to introduce at least a tincture of psychological shading to a show that is only, and unapologetically, a singing comic strip. In its first incarnation “Annie” was an unstoppable sunshine steamroller. This version, which flirts with shadows, moves more shakily.”
“The show’s scenic design (by David Korins), which relies largely on two-dimensional cutouts, and choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler) can come across as sketchy and unfocused,” he summed up. “The dance routines and visual jokes are sometimes presented hesitantly and register only peripherally. And adults in the audience may occasionally feel unsettled by some of the reimagined characterizations on display.”
Now Jane Lynch has stepped into the role of Miss Hannigan. Originally played by Dorothy Loudon (who won a Tony for her performance) and subsequently by Carol Burnett and Kathy Bates, among others, Lynch has her hands full with such villainous pedigree.
I can only image what she might have delivered with a different director and a proper rehearsal process. Towering among the orphans, Lynch undoubtedly has stage presence but it gets lost amid a thin characterization, stiff staging and a clunky set that should have been scrapped before it was built.
The supporting cast rises to the occasion to keep things chugging along but it is evident that even after running for more than seven months, Lapine’s dismal vision continues to clash with the inherent hopefulness of the source material.
A few gems keep the production buoyant, led by the charming and heartfelt performance of Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks. The Tony Award nominating committee regretfully ignored Warlow’s booming performance and it’s a shame, as his theatrical craftsmanship is one of the show’s highlights.
While the show may be bumpy, the night I saw it there was a five-year-old girl celebrating her birthday in front of me and another young audience member to my right. Both were enraptured throughout and it was a joy to observe them experiencing the magic of Broadway for the first time.
Contributor Lindsay B. Davis reviews a complex new multimedia theater piece presented by New York Theatre Workshop.
“The journal gives us the workshop of the writer’s soul.”
–Susan Sontag, “The Artist as Exemplary Sufferer “ from Against Interpretations & Other Essays
Famed literary critic, novelist, film director and feminist (she once told The Paris Review “That’s one of the few labels I’m content with but even so, is it a noun? I doubt it.”), Susan Sontag, had a definitive point of view about the importance of a journal. She saw it as a portal or gateway into the writer’s condition, something the “I” voice of a novel could never match in terms of intimacy and revelation. As such, she kept journals throughout her life and read others’ (Andre Gide being one of her earliest inspirations). She eventually published portions of her own that are now serving as source material for The Builders Association’s multi-media theatrical piece Sontag: Reborn at New York Theater Workshop through June 30.
Adapted and performed by Moe Angelos, this solo show imagines a high-strung Sontag in her early teens whose thoughts move quickly and deftly between subjects, emerging in staccato utterances that fly onto the page by way of her own pen. This is rather brilliantly enhanced by a multi-media installation that positions Angelos behind a scrim onto which thoughts and images are beamed in concert with her imagination. This, while an elder Sontag (also portrayed by Angelos and significantly more recognizable by way of Sontag’s trademark hair and ever-present cigarette) looks on and comments, at times adding context for the audience and otherwise engaging with her younger self:
Susan: What do I enjoy?
Young Susan: Music, Being in love, Children, Sleeping Meat.
Susan: What do I dislike?
Young Susan: Freckles, Licking envelopes, Taking Photographs, Ezra Pound.
The Builders Association is known for its experimental theater projects and avoids what could be the trap of distracting from the story, the character and the words. It’s seamlessly executed and very compelling. The directorial decision to place Sontag behind a screen (she is clearly visible, though) and large writing desk could speak to the elder Sontag’s point of view on her relationship to the published, written word. “The book is a wall, “ says the large, looming Sontag, “I put myself behind it, out of sight and out of seeing.”
The nature of Sontag’s journal writing makes for good theater, especially in Angelos and director Marianne Weems’ respectful hands—albeit for a certain kind of audience. The play moves from the late 1940s through the 70s and there are myriad references to books, authors, magazines, films, and people who comprise Sontag’s life in California, Chicago, Paris and Greenwich Village. This is, after all, a Fulbright scholar who finished Berkely by 16, went on to graduate school at the University of Chicago and eventually did more graduate work in philosophy at Harvard and Oxford.
A window into her mind means imagined conversations with Thomas Mann, critiques of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, utterances such as “I saw beyond Kant today” and other oddly specific references. What keeps things interesting, even if you don’t catch it all, is her willful, heroic, Rocky-like desire for rigorous, intellectual training. She reconciles new ideas in the interest of building up herself and her identity, and all while clearing the hurdles that youth brings, including intense emotional highs and lows.
Ultimately, Sontag: Reborn is a story about Sontag’s sexual awakening and the portions of her journal entries that touch upon female lovers and eventual heartbreak (there is one referred to as H and another, painter/playwright Maria Irene Fornes) are like a diary that could’ve been written by a modern teenager. They are youthful, emotional, endearing and timeless. Hers are the struggles to be true to herself — “My desire to write is connected to my homosexuality” — even as she takes a husband at age 18. With characteristic awareness she deadpans, “I marry Philip with full consciousness and fear of my will toward self destructiveness”. Moments of laughter and tenderness about her son, David (David Rieff, editor of the book, Susan Sontag Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963, that serves as source material for the show) balance the emptiness of her marriage, which ended less than 10 years after it began.
Angelos does not quite exude Sontag’s sensuality but does bring her words to life with requisite intelligence, command, humor and clarity of storytelling. As the older Susan, she is sagelike in voice and stature. Most importantly, Angelos builds a relationship between the two that allows Sontag: Reborn to play more like a two-person than solo show and allows the audience to experience Young Susan through the knowing eyes of her older self. Overall, it captures her as a woman who created equally from the head and heart.
New York Theatre Workshop
79 East 4th Street
Through June 30
Lindsay B. Davis is an arts/culture journalist, actress, playwright and director. She resides in New York City.
High heels and high theatrics seemed to be a theme for this year’s Tony Awards, which bestowed six awards on Kinky Boots and four for the revival of Pippin and the same number for Matilda The Musical. Neil Patrick Harris brought down the house with an electric opening number (featuring Mike Tyson) and “rapped” it up in a perfect bow for a finale that featured Audra McDonald.
Equally as entertaining was the mid-show riff featuring celebrated theater actors whose TV shows were recently cancelled. The all-star casualty list included Megan Hilty, Andrew Rannells and Laura Benanti. What fell awkwardly flat were the introductions and award presentations by actors in costume — and character — from currently running shows. It was especially painful to watch those standing around who didn’t have any lines to deliver.
The award speeches ran the gamut from Cyndi Lauper’s heartfelt ode to a lifetime appreciation of Broadway to Cecily Tyson’s… deliberate… final… ode… to… a… life… in… the… theater. And then there was Tom Hanks’ speech — oh, wait. He didn’t win.
Here’s the official winner’s list. But as so many of those making speeches indicated, it’s all about celebrating the community and artistry of live theater.
Best Musical – Kinky Boots
Best Revival of a Musical – Pippin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – Patina Miller, Pippin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Best Lighting Design of a Play – Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Best Revival of a Play – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical
Best Play – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – Andrea Martin, Pippin
Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Best Scenic Design of a Play – John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
Best Choreography – Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Best Direction of a Play – Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Direction of a Musical – Diane Paulus, Pippin
Best Book of a Musical – Dennis Kelly, Matilda The Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play – Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Best Sound Design of a Musical – John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Best Orchestrations – Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Best Costume Design of a Musical – William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Best Costume Design of a Play – Anne Roth, The Nance
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
Ming Cho Lee
Regional Theatre Award:
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA
Isabelle Stevenson Award:
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre:
Career Transition For Dancers
The Lost Colony
The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda The Musical on Broadway – Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro
The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and The American Theater Wing.
We asked the Broadway Blog’s Facebook fans which acceptance speech was most inspiring – congratulations, Patina Miller! (We want to know – who is going to write you a Tina Turner musical? Look at those arms!)
The stars of Broadway are dusting off their patent leather shoes (do they really reflect up?) and breaking out the costume jewelry for the most celebrated night of the year: The Tony Awards. While we’re not going to give you a rundown of every category and projected winner, we do have a few favorites that we’re rooting for and a recap of some zingers from past reviews of our favorite performances.
From contributor Scott Redman:
Diane Paulus without a doubt is the most deserving of the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. Paulus should win on her ability to put Pippin into a modern context that is relevant and theatrical. She has bonded a cast and creative team into a unified vision.
Using the circus as a setting isn’t just a clever excuse to have acrobats doing tricks, its supports the theme and characters in the show. The show feels fresh and is invigorating to watch: stellar cast, beautiful design and finally a show that sounds clear and vibrant.
Pippin also signifies the importance of a well done revival – a remount of an existing show that tells us something new about the material or sheds light on new ideas. Paulus has found her “corner of the sky” and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Good Luck Diane!
Lindsay B. Davis’s recap on two of the nominees for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:
Holland Taylor [in ANN] almost dances across the stage as she entertains and tells jokes, some dirty, which she learned from her warm-hearted dad (Did you hear the one about the Terrier and Great Dane?). She speaks with the delight and skill of a seasoned cabaret artist or vaudevillian comedian. One can’t help but wonder if the real governor Richards was this entertaining but it doesn’t really matter. You’re too busy laughing to care.
I don’t know the last time you watched a radically entertaining, 70-year-old woman perform on stage, uninterrupted, for close to two hours. It commands respect and wins your love. So too, does this production.
Flexing her masterful storytelling muscles and using her real ones (there is a good deal of physical work involved to establish and advance the story), Fiona Shaw in The Testament of Mary delivers a performance that is so visceral, skillful and raw that the 85 minutes performed without an intermission sprint by in a flash. It is a journey marked by incidents in the life of her son, some based on actual Biblical stories — such as when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the sick or turned water into wine, plus the crucifixion itself — and others completely imagined by the author. All manage to illuminate the mother not the messiah. She speaks not to advance the narrative of Christianity but to deeply reveal herself and come to terms with traumatic experience. As an audience it is impossible not to feel her deep torment and fight for survival.
Take the leap for thoughts from The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler, including choreography from Matilda The Musical and our pick for “should have been nominated!”
A handful of very fortunate (and talented) theater artisans are going to walk away with Tony Awards on Sunday night. But one category that does not receive nominations is that of Casting Director. With a keen eye for talent and social skills on par with a highly trained psychologist (have you ever been around theater people?), casting directors are responsible for helping to create the artistic vision for a show.
From A-list celebrities to chorus kids plucked right out of school, casting directors are a critical — and often overlooked — part of the creative process. The Broadway Blog sat down for an exclusive interview with Benton Whitley, Casting Director (CSA) and Partner at Duncan Stewart and Company. Known for their connections with high profile agents and managers, Duncan Stewart and Benton Whitley have been responsible for putting numerous stars, celebrities and international pop stars into theatrical productions including: Mary-Louise Parker, Kelsey Grammer, Christie Brinkley, Sofia Vergara, Harvey Fierstein and Liev Schreiber to name a few.
Their latest project is Pippin, the most nominated show of the year, including 10 Tony Award nominations, 11 Outer Critics nominations, 3 Drama League Nominations and 6 Drama Desk Nominations. We asked Whitley to share the company’s thoughts about casting its three nominated actors and here’s what he had to say:
The Broadway Blog:
Nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.
Patina Miller as the Leading Player is, hands down, spectacular. Was it your concept from the beginning to cast a female or were you looking at all different types? She also has a captivating way of engaging the audience – almost as if they are another character in the show. Was this something you were specifically looking for?
Duncan Stewart and Company:
It was a huge priority in the casting of the role that the actor could break through that fourth wall and engage with the audience. Director Diane Paulus said, “I’m looking for an actor to ingratiate with the audience.”
Somehow this ringleader has the ability to reel you in, from a five-year-old to an 80-year-old man — and not be scared! We saw many actors that had a dominating presence, but didn’t have the heart. It was pivotal in our search.
[Diane] was open to the idea of a female. It was written for a male, the keys, the script, everything was geared toward a man. In auditions we saw men and women, ranging in age from 20- to 60-years-old. It’s our understanding that they’re not sold that Leading Players in the future needs to be an African American female.
By casting Patina, the role has become a showcase for her skill set. She had the edge over people. She’s sexy. She’s young. She’s gorgeous. And (which most people didn’t know) she’s a phenomenal dancer. If she had said no, the dancing would have been a lot more minimal. When it’s time to recast, it’s the bar that we’ll be try reach for, but we believe directors should not try to have actors fit into cookie cutter molds of the originating actors.
The Broadway Blog:
Andrea Martin, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.
Andrea Martin as Berthe — come on! She received a standing ovation in the middle of the show the night that I saw it. Without giving too much away to readers who haven’t see it yet, how did you know that she would be able to ‘rise to the occasion’?
Duncan Stewart and Company:
It’s the beauty of creating an original cast and the time in the rehearsal room. Andrea was hired “offer only,” which means she didn’t have to audition. We knew that she was the right type and fit for the role and this production. She did have one stipulation. She said, “I’m only going to do this if you’re not going to make me the old granny that sits on the stool where everybody dances around me. I want to be shot out of a cannon.” Well, we got pretty damn close.
Now it’s a huge challenge for us moving forward. She’s contracted for a year but we’re already thinking about who could do what she does. There are few women in that age bracket who can do that, but the number has been shaped and we’ll do our best to maintain it.
The Broadway Blog:
Terrence Mann, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
As King Charles, Terrence brings both gravitas and humor (along with his real-life wife, Charlotte d’Amboise, who recently one an Astaire Award for her performance) to the production. How did that all come about?
Duncan Stewart and Company:
He tackles it like Shakespeare. Terry is a classically trained actor and it shows onstage. He also understands the comedy of the show. So many guys came in and played it like a puppet, but he also instilled a sense of realness. When we were pulling the lists together the lightbulb came on. Charlotte was on the list for Fastrada (King Charles’ wife) and we thought the two of them together onstage would be a great combination. They have different representation and were clear that they were both interested in the project independent of one another.
Diane said — and we agree — that Pippin is the definition of musical theater: glorious music, glorious acting and glorious dancing.
Guest contributor Lindsay B. Davis kicks up her heels at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards.
For performers used to being seen not heard (unless they are triple threats who can skillfully sing, story tell and do a grand jeté), last night’s Fred and Adele Astaire Awards was an out loud affirmation of the art of movement. Broadway performers, Hollywood celebrities and cultural critics were on hand to honor the best in dance and choreography on Broadway and in film.
Well, someone’s died and gone to Heaven! That would be me, sitting second row, gaze affixed upon a little podium and very large stage filled with Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Belafonte, Marge Champion, Judith Jamison, Charlotte d’Amboise, performance selections from Contact, 42nd Street, and Carousel, plus video montages highlighting the nominees and honoring the career of Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and 93-year-old dance legend, Marge Champion.
My working emotional age throughout the evening was probably around nine, which is how old I was when I gleefully interviewed Cassie and Diana from the original A Chorus Line in 1986 for a school project and could be found taking ballet, jazz and tap classes hoping to become their replacements (that didn’t happen). My guess is the audience that filled NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for the entertaining, upbeat and oft-times very touching 2-½ hour ceremony held equally powerful memories and appreciation of the art form Martha Graham called “the hidden language of the soul.”
There were simply four categories, two achievement awards and one scholarship recipient (see full list of winners below) so the presenters and performances were as much a central focus as the actual awards. Performance stand-outs included “Simply Irresistible” from Contact (that Yellow Dress!) presented by American Dance Machine for the 21st Century, New York City Ballet dancers Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild’s breathtaking rendition of “Pas de Deux” from Carousel, the “Audition” number from 42nd Street and “Dancin’ Fool,” presented by the adorable and energetic children of Chester, New Jersey’s Art of Dance. Pass me a tissue, please!
Presenters lit up the stage as well, including Broadway heavies Susan Stroman, Karen Ziemba, Cady Huffman and Kathleen Marshall, writers Rex Reed and Michael Riedel, plus TV personalities Carson Kressley, Dancing With the Stars’ Tony Dolovoni and The Real Housewives of New York City‘s Countess LuAnn de Lesepps, but the night belonged to the winners. Each one shared personal stories about the importance of dance and arts community support in their lives.
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show recipient, Eric LaJuan Summers (Motown), recounted how he came to dance late in his career after training mainly as an actor/singer. He was moved to tears by the honor. Another team MOTOWN winner, Warren Adams, became a choreographer only after an Achilles tendon tear ended his dance career. His co-collaborator and winner, Patricia Wilcox, recounted her childhood in dance therapy that eventually led to dance performance followed by choreography. Charlotte d’Amboise (Pippin) won the Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show award and in her excitement actually dropped the trophy (which broke in half)—endearing her to the entire audience. She went on to thank her extraordinary cohorts at Pippin (three of whom were also nominated in the same category) and incredibly supportive husband, Terrance Mann.
But the most heart-warming moment came when Marge Champion, of MGM musicals, Walt Disney, and The Marge & Gower Champion Show fame, accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award from Harry Belafonte. His introduction followed by her speech captured the essence of the night — that love and dance are inseparable. Dance, said Champion, taught her that other people can do the same thing but do it their own way. That dances are none other than love scenes and a graceful, curtsey never gets old. She closed by sharing one of her own favorite quotes, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.”
Outstanding Choreographer in a Feature Film: Sidi Larbi Cherkaouit (ANNA KARENINA)
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show: Charlotte d’Amboise (PIPPIN)
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show: Eric LaJuan Summers (MOTOWN)
Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show: A tie between Chet Walker (PIPPIN) and Patricia Wilcox & Warren Adams (MOTOWN)
Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award: Marge Champion
Outstanding Achievement in the Preservation of Musical Theatre: Ted Chapin
Adele Astaire Scholarship Award: Connor Yockus
Lindsay B. Davis is an arts/culture journalist, actress, playwright and director. She resides in New York City.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words… or more. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS returns with the 23rd installment of their annual fundraiser, which has helped raise more than $225 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. And those dancers are damn hot.
Limited tickets are still available.
CLICK HERE. What are you waiting for?
Contributor Scott Redman discovers that Murder Ballad may not have all the thrills and chills that its title implies.
The Union Square Theatre has been transformed into a gritty downtown dive bar, which sets the scene for the overwrought Murder Ballad — a sung-through rock musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash. The production enjoyed a sold out run earlier in the year at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Studio at Stage II and has transferred to a commercial open-ended run at the Union Square location.
The show is billed as a “love triangle gone wrong,” which may be accurate but not necessarily interesting. Sara (played by Caissie Levy) is a downtown hipster getting it on with her favorite bartender Tom (played by Will Swenson). Things are hot and steamy until she falls for Michael, a brainy scholar (played by John Ellison Conley). The two dash off, get married, move to the Upper West Side and have a kid, but when things start to get a bit dull, Sara seeks out her past love and a volatile mess ensues. Lurking in the background is a narrator/club singer (played by Rebecca Naomi Jones) who has a crush of her own…
The writing suffers most from its over simplistic story joined by a dull score that fails to create nothing more than a white noise underscore. The show is set up as a cautionary tale filled with seduction and lust but delivers itself as an average affair dusted with a bass drum and occasional guitar riff. The tempos rarely change and there is a lack of style to differentiate between scenes and characters. The quartet of onstage actors each exhibit vocal prowess throughout the evening, but it has little dramatic effect due to the empty material.
Rebecca Naomi Jones as the omniscient Narrator and conspirator of the piece is a stand-out. Jones honestly delivers her interpretation of sex and scandal that gives a true reality to her character and performance. Caissie Levy as Sara is another powerhouse belter who tries to sculpt what she can from the lumpy source material. Sara is the most tortured of the group dealing with her demons of lust and trying to maintain her new Upper West Side life. John Ellison Conlee who plays Michael – the older, sophisticated scholar, seems a bit miscast and there seems to be a lack of chemistry with Levy. Sara’s attraction to Michael is never fully developed. Is she chasing his money, attracted to his intelligence or is it just a way to escape her past life living downtown and hanging out with bartenders? Will Swenson embodies his downtown rough and tumble character, but once again, his motivations appear one dimensional.
Director Trip Cullman does an admirable job using the space and trying to give the vacant material some context. The theater space has been configured into a bar and cabaret style seating surround by more stadium seats. The space allows the actors to get unusually close to the audience, creating an interesting environmental tension. This gives the actors and playing space less boundaries as compared to a standard proscenium. The theater’s reconfiguration is the most interesting part of the experience and immediately sets the tone. Being in such close proximity to the actors offers a great opportunity for creative expression, if only Murder Ballad lived up to its potential.
Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th Street
Take the jump for a round-up of other reviews of Murder Ballad along with a video from the show…
After seeing A Chorus Line from the last row of the balcony on my very first trip to New York City, I spent about a week trying to replicate the opening dance sequence in my college apartment. Without the ability to touch my toes or do a single pirouette, it was a futile effort, but it did give me a great appreciation for the art form of dance.
This year’s Fred & Adele Astaire Awards will honor those masters of movement whose skill set is more developed than my own. The Astaire Awards is the only awards show to honor excellence in dance and choreography on Broadway and in film and were first started in 1982 by the late Fred Astaire and the late Douglas Watt (a critic and writer for the NY Daily News and The New Yorker).
Tony Award-winners Susan Stroman, Bebe Neuwirth, Cady Huffman, Kathleen Marshall and Karen Ziemba are set to present at the awards, taking place on Monday, June 3 at 7:30pm at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Also set to present at the awards are Mary Testa, Christiane Noll, Harry Belafonte, Rex Reed, Michael Riedel, Anna Bergman, Lee Roy Reams, Dancing with the Stars’ Tony Dovolani, Carson Kressley and Countess Lu Ann de Lesseps.
This year, The Astaire Awards will also honor dance legend Marge Champion with its Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award and special presentation by Harry Belafonte. Ted Chapin will be presented with a brand new award, Outstanding Achievement in the Preservation of Musical Theatre. Choreographer Warren Carlyle will present the pas de Deux from The New York Philharmonic’s performance of CAROUSEL with New York City Ballet’s Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck as part of this tribute.
This year’s nominees include:
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show
Charlotte d’Amboise (PIPPIN)
Taylor Louderman (BRING IT ON)
Laura Osnes (CINDERELLA)
Patina Miller (PIPPIN)
Andrea Martin (PIPPIN)
Lesli Margherita (MATILDA)
Stephanie Pope (PIPPIN)
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show
Eric LaJuan Summers (MOTOWN)
Rob McClure (CHAPLIN)
Andy Mills (CINDERELLA)
Billy Porter (KINKY BOOTS)
Charlie Sutton (KINKY BOOTS)
Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show
Andy Blankenbuehler (BRING IT ON)
Warren Carlyle (CHAPLIN)
Peter Darling (MATILDA)
Jerry Mitchell (KINKY BOOTS)
Josh Rhodes (CINDERELLA)
Sergio Trujillo (HANDS ON A HARD BODY)
Chet Walker (PIPPIN)
Patricia Wilcox & Warren Adams (MOTOWN)
Outstanding Choreographer in a Feature Film
Sidi Larbi Cherkaouit (Anna Karenina)
Alison Faulk (Magic Mike)
Mia Michaels (Rock Of Ages)
Mandy Moore (Silver Linings Playbook)
Poonam Shyam (Trishna)
Jamal Sims, Christopher Scott, Chuck Maldonado & Travis Wall (Step Up Revolution).
The 31st Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards
Monday, June 3
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University (566 LaGuardia Place).
Select tickets are available to the public priced at $425, $200 & $75
Our new west coast correspondent Gabriella West dives into Tom Stoppard’s complex play about… well, we’ll let her explain it.
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia was a huge hit when it opened in London in 1993. American Conservatory Theater’s then-newish artistic director Carey Perloff staged it at the nearby Stage Door Theatre in 1995, after a lengthy struggle to acquire the production rights. Perloff was still proving herself as artistic director back then, with punchy productions that included Pinter’s Celebration. She has always had a light hand with heavy, intellectual material, and she nurtured a warm friendship with Stoppard that continues to this day.
Now in her twentieth season as artistic director, Perloff has brought Arcadia back, this time to the much-grander Geary Theater, A.C.T.’s home base. She clearly wanted to do the play justice in a bigger, more beautiful venue.
The set of Arcadia is visually stunning. The play begins in a Palladian country house in England in 1809, a light-filled room with big windows looking out onto the garden. Young Thomasina (Rebekah Brockman) is being instructed in higher mathematics by her tutor, Septimus Hodge (Jack Cutmore-Scott). Hodge is a handsome fellow in his early twenties, a contemporary and friend of Byron.
The material turns risqué almost immediately, as Thomasina demands to know what is a “carnal embrace.” The wife of a visiting poet, Ezra Chater, has been spotted in a compromising position in the garden gazebo with—we soon find out—none other than Septimus Hodge himself. Thomasina is innocent enough to be entirely ignorant of sex, yet is clearly drawn to Septimus. Brockman plays her as sweet and precocious but lacks the pathos for a fully realized character.
Cutmore-Scott has a tricky role here—he has to be both a believable seducer and a believable intellectual. He clearly cares about Thomasina and, unlike Byron, is not a scoundrel, but he’s constantly preoccupied by his own sexual life and seems not to grasp that his charge is a budding genius. The wry comedy of the first act continues, with the angry but cowardly Ezra Chater constantly intruding on Thomasina’s lesson to demand satisfaction from Hodge. Finally, Hodge agrees to a duel. The furious notes that Chater sends Hodge are slipped into Hodge’s copy of Chater’s latest book of poems, The Couch of Eros—which will eventually end up in his friend Lord Byron’s hands.
Think that’s it? Take the jump for Act II….