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!”
From The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler:
As much as I wanted to stand up and cheer for Jerry Mitchell’s choreography (note how I didn’t say direction, even though I thoroughly enjoyed Kinky Boots), it was Peter Darling’s wildly erratic and syncopated vocabulary for Matilda The Musical that left me feeling as if I had seen something wholly original. Mitchell’s high kicks and acrobatics deserve applause, but in terms of storytelling, Darling is my darling.
But back to Kinky Boots… Cyndi Lauper, make room on your mantle for a Tony for Best Original Score. Riffing on melodies that suit the period and lyrics that concisely deliver the story, Lauper’s decades of experience in pop music have paid off in an unexpected way.
Controversy! I thought Patina Miller would be a shoe-in winner for her intoxicating performance as The Leading Player in Pippin, but according to Patrick Healy in The New York Times, Tony voters might be more enchanted by Laura Osnes in Cinderella. Really? Looks like Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical may be a race to the finish. I do know one thing… Andrea Martin should be waiting at the finish line for her upside down theatrics in Pippin.
And on a final note, every year there is a snub or two — some poor thespian who, for whatever reason, slips through the cracks by the nominating committee. Drag seemed to dominate this year’s nominations for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical and that left Anthony Warlow’s heartwarming performance as Oliver Warbucks (Annie) in the dust. Charming, strong, vulnerable, and most of all — believable — Warlow could be my daddy anytime.