Thursday, January 14, 2010
Let's Start at the Very Beginning ...
Well, this is my first blog post here and I'm pretty excited. I thought I should start off my blog talking a bit about how I envision this blog working. I view this space as a place to post information about the Tony Awards, to review shows that I see right after I see them, and talk about how I think each will fare come Tony night. This last part will primarily be a synthesis of my opinions, critical reception of the production in the press, trends in Tony voting history, and my take on the politics inherent to the whole process.
A good place to start, I think, is to remind everyone that the Tony Award winners will be announced on Sunday, June 13th, 2010 at 8pm, and will be aired on CBS for those who can't make it to Radio City Music Hall that night. Get pumped! The other important date to keep track of is April 29th, 2010 -- that's the last date a production can open and still be eligible for a 2010 Tony. Though no official date has been announced for when the nominations will officially be released, this date tends to come about a week to 10 days after the eligibility cut-off date, so my guess is that we should know who's nominated by about May 11th.
The other item I'd like to cover tonight is to list the new productions that have opened this year and to give a preview of what upcoming productions to look out for during the rest of the spring season.
*The 2009-2010 season danced off to a great start back in August when "Burn the Floor", a dance revue, opened at Broadway's Longacre Theater on 48th Street. This show took its final bow on January 10th, 2010. I never saw this production, but heard good things about it.
*Broadway regulars had to wait until September 29th to get it's next new production, "A Steady Rain", a two-hander starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig that got rave reviews for it's two leading men, but not so much for the script itself. This limited run ended on December 6th. I wish I could have seen this one, but, given the star caliber of the show, I just couldn't get my hands on a ticket.
*Two days later, Tracy Letts returned to Broadway when his spectacular "Superior Donuts" arrived at the Music Box, starring Michael McKean of "Laverne and Shirley" fame. Unfortunately, this wonderful production closed January 3rd.
*Next up came the import of "Hamlet" starring Jude Law that ran for two months, from October to December '09. This production is notable for having performed at the real Elsinor Castle (the castle where the play takes place) in Denmark. This was, in my opinion, the most accessible production of Hamlet I've ever seen. Even though I was pretty familiar with this play before I went, I felt as though anyone who had never seen or read it before would have had no trouble seeing this as their first introduction to the material.
*On October 8th, Broadway royalty returned to the stage at Manhattan Theater Club in their revival of "The Royal Family" starring Jan Maxwell, Rosemary Harris, John Glover, Tony Roberts, and Ana Gasteyer. These kings and queens left the building on December 13th, and will be sorely missed.
*After that came the next (short lived) production in the slew of Mamet plays on Broadway recently. "Oleanna", featuring Bill Pullman and the Broadway debut of Julia Stiles, and played from mid October to early December 2009. I didn't see this one because, for a 75 minute play, a minimum ticket price of $76 was just way too high. Producers ... take a hint here. I think that, combined with mediocre reviews, was the reason for the show's short life.
*Then, the Roundabout revived one of the most well known musicals among high schoolers and their families -- "Bye Bye Birdie" -- which christened their new theater, the Henry Miller. This production, which started on October 15th, will shutter on January 24th. This production was so terrible that I can't even begin to describe it.
*Excitement and buzz surrounded the opening of the first new musical of the 09-10 Broadway season with the opening of "Memphis" back in October. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard great things from friends who've seen it, but only mixed things from the critics. I can't wait till February 21st when I get to see it for myself!
*The Roundabout was hit again on October 22nd, just a week after the "Birdie" opening, when their "After Miss Julie", written by Patrick Marber and starring Sienna Miller, was struck with negative reviews. This production was not extended and closed on December 6th.
*The next show in this Broadway season was the wonderful but short-lived Neil Simon memoir "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at the Nederlander theater. Unfortunately, poor advance sales forced this show to close on November 1st, a week after it opened, and also caused "Broadway Bound", which had been in rehearsals and was intended to play in rep with BBM starting in December, never to open in the first place.
*On October 29th, Yip Harberg's 1947 musical "Finian's Rainbow" returned to Broadway for the first time in over 60 years. This starry and stellar production received absolute RAVE reviews from the critics, but simply does not have the sales to support it beyond this coming Sunday, January 17th. I can foresee a Best Musical Revival Tony in the future for this production (though "A little Night Music" seems best poised to give it a run for its money).
*November 15th at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd Street saw the first revival of any show that originally played Broadway in the 1990's -- "Ragtime". "Ragtime" is one of my favorite musicals, and I had the good fortune of seeing this production in it's final days (thanks, Lynda!) and the music still has the same power and magic it always did and ever will. But the paired down production left something to be desired.
*Sarah Ruhl made her Broadway playwriting debut this season with her play "In the Next Room ... or the Vibrator Play". I really enjoy seeing female playwrights being represented on Broadway this way and regret that the show couldn't last beyond January 10th from its mid-November opening.
*The holiday season swung into high gear right before Thanksgiving with the return engagement of "White Christmas" at the Marquis Theatre, closing January 3rd.
*The second new musical of the season, "Fela!", opened November 23rd to great reviews, particularly for Bill T. Jones' direction and choreography and the performances of Lillias White, Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo. Knowing Jones' amazing and insightful choreography from "Spring Awakening" from a few seasons back, I'm greatly looking forward to seeing this show when I can afford a ticket! Though I wonder what ever became of Jones at the 2009 Brandeis graduation where he was supposed to receive an honorary doctorate but never showed up. I don't know why it happened, but I've been curious ever since.
*Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds who is probably best known these days as the original Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movies of the 1970's and 1980's, opened at the Roundabout's Studio 54 in her one-woman memoir show "Wishful Drinking". In this show, she talks about everything from her parents and Elisabeth Taylor to her presence in the DSM-IV manual.
*David Mamet's next Broadway offering, "Race", came to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in early December, marked the playwright's Broadway directing debut in this production starring Kerry Washington, James Spader, David Alan Grier, and Richard Thomas.
*Mid December brought us the first Broadway revival of Sondheim's great "A Little Night Music". The show, based on Ingmar Bergman's Swedish film "Smiles of a Summer Night", stars Angela Lansbury (who seems poised to win her sixth Tony for this performance) as Madame Armfeldt and Catherine Zeta-Jones as her daughter, Desiree.
Those are the productions that have opened in the season so far. The next section here will list all the upcoming productions that we can expect to see between now and April 29th.
*January 21st, the Roundabout will open it's production of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter", starring Victor Garber.
*January 24th brings us a new production of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" which will star Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson (in her highly anticipated Broadway debut!)
*MTC's next Broadway production will be Donald Marguiles' "Time Stands Still", which will open at the Samuel J. Friedman and will be directed by Daniel Sullivan. It will star Laura Linney, Eric Bogosian, Brian d'Arcy James, and Alicia Silverstone.
*The Circle in the Square Theatre will be up and running again for the first time in a long while with a revival of William Gibson's "Miracle Worker", which is set to star Tony nominee Alison Pill and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin.
*March 4th will bring us a play that I am most excited about. It is Martin McDonagh's new play "A Behanding in Spokane". After seeing McDonagh's "The Pillowman" and "The Lieutenant of Inishmore", he quickly became among my favorite playwrights, so I will be getting my ticket to this as soon as they go on sale!
*A paly called "Next Fall" by Geoffrey Nayffts will be opening at the Hayes. I don't know anything about this one, but here's hoping it's good.
*"Looped", a play about the glorious and legendary Tallulah Bankhead, is coming to the Lyceum this March, starring Valerie Harper as Tallulah in some of the most interesting casting I've heard of in ages.
*The next tenant at the Roundabout's Henry Miller's Theatre, which is the only (so far) commercial Broadway theater run by a not-for-profit company, will be getting a production called "All About Me", with a script by Christopher Durang and starring Dame Edna Everage (the alter ego of Barry Humphries) and Michael Feinstein.
*Twyla Tharp is bringing her through-danced musical concept back to Broadway this season. Tharp has become known on Broadway for creating dance musicals around the songbooks of well loved singers, including Billy Joel ("Movin' Out") and Bob Dylan ("The Times They Are a Changin'"). This time, the artist is Frank Sinatra and the show is "Come Fly Away", which is set to open at the Marquis on March 25th.
*Ken Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor" comes to Broadway's Music Box in April.
*With some of the most inspired casting of late in a musical, "The Addams Family" is set to land on Broadway in April starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams. This production also features Jackie Hoffman, Kevin Chamberlin, and Carolee Carmello.
*"Million Dollar Quartet" is coming to the Nederlander on April 11th.
*The Menier Chocolate Factory, which brought us wonderful productions of "Sunday in the Park With George" and "A Little Night Music" recently will be sending us their production of "La Cage Aux Folles". Only 5 years after the previous production of this Jerry Herman musical closed on Broadway, the timing here is a bit suspect, but we shall see what the market will bear on this one.
*Green Day makes (I think) its Broadway debut with the adaptation of its album, "American Idiot". If anyone has any information about what this experience will be like, please let us know!
*Another production I am very excited about is "Sondheim on Sondheim", a review conceived by James Lapine and starring Barbara Cook, Euan Morton (of "Taboo" fame), Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, and Leslie Kritzer.
*Kristen Chenoweth will be returning to Broadway in a production of Burt Bacharach, Neil Simon, and Hal David's musical "Promises, Promises". This production will also star Sean Hayes. This is the show for which Jerry Orbach (who I had the pleasure of meeting on many occasions and getting to know when he starred in "Law & Order") won his Tony.
*August Wilson's "Fences" will be returning to Broadway in a production directed by Kenny Leon and will star Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.
*"Enron", a musical based on the events surrounding the famous scandal, will open on April 27th at the Broadhurst.
*MTC's last anticipated Broadway entry this season will be Donald Marguiles' "Collected Stories", directed by Lynne Meadow.
*The last new production of the 2009-2010 Broadway season will be another decently hot ticket. It will be a Roundabout production of Terrance McNally's "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" at the American Airlines Theatre. It will star Megan Mullally and be directed by Joe Mantello, who directed (and won a Tony for) the Roundabout production of "Assassins" a few years back.
Well, that's it for now, particularly since this post took me 3 hours to research and write. To paraphrase my friend in my head, Wendy Williams, I love you for reading! Please comment and post if you have more information or just want to add your news. I will add more posts as more news/reviews/etc. become available. Also, I want to credit my sources here. I got most of my information here from either Tonyawards.com or Broadway.com. These are two great resources for theater fanatics like me. Fan out and check them out.