Friday, February 19, 2010

Directors and Choreographers

Now for the directors.  Overall, I tried to look at what the best received productions were, because while many people don't really get what a director does, they know (or, at least, think they know) when they've seen a good result from a director.  With that said, as a reminder, my choices on the play side were:

Gregory Mosher for A View From the Bridge.  This production has received the most unanimously stellar reviews of any show this season, both from critics and audiences, as a direct result of Mosher's work.

Daniel Sullivan, Time Stands Still.  This is another production that received stellar reviews for all its actors, for the script, and almost everything else about it.  The nominators would be silly not to pick the one who put it all together.

Tina Landau, Superior Donuts.  I picked Tina Landau here for a few reasons.  First, because her show dealt well with a tricky issue and was a major play by a popular playwright and second, because she is a woman, and I think I'm not the only one to see the benefit that a nomination for a female director can do. Besides which, after Anna D. Shapiro won the best director Tony 2 years ago for the Broadway transfer of another Tracy Letts play that started at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater, I think Tina has a good shot in this category.

David Cromer, Brighton Beach Memoirs.  This is the one I am most shaky on, but still think (hope, maybe?) could happen.  This show got great reviews for its acting and for bringing out a strong depression era feel, but failed to pick up enough advanced sales to last longer than a week.  This one may be too far gone for anyone to remember, but I think it deserves a nod here out of nostalgia.

There are a few possible threats in this category.  Kate Whoriskey, who is directing the upcoming revival of "The Miracle Worker" has a few things going for her.  First, a female director is always a plus when it comes to these things (Kate Bigelo at the Oscars, anyone?).  Second, she is doing an innovative production of a classic play that hasn't been back to Broadway since its debut 50 years ago, and is bringing a stellar cast with her.  If the show actually turns out to be good, I think she will have a great shot at a nomination.

The other threat here could be David Mamet for directing his own play, "Race".  While it is always a tricky proposition  for writers to start directing their own work (for those who saw the movie "Synecoche, New York", the only movie that Charlie Kaufman, who wrote "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", both wrote AND directed, you know what I mean), it sometimes can work out.  Also, since this play is not really secure in any nomination other than a likely Best Play nod, the committee may be looking for an excuse to nominate Mamet for an award, particularly as he has never won a Tony before.

The third (and probably strongest) threat is Nicholas Martin, who directed this season's production of "Present Laughter" at the Roundabout.  The show got strong reviews for its actors and for some of its designers, and is likely to get a Best Revival nomination, but if it gets a nomination for direction is still a question in my mind.

As for the Director of a Musical category, my picks are:
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Warren Carlyle – Finian’s Rainbow
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Trevor Nunn – A Little Night Music

I have picked these based on their having been the most successful and best received musicals this year.  Bill T. Jones and Marcia Milgrom Dodge have also been singled out by many critics for their work, adding to the likelihood that there is a nomination in their future.  Terry Johnson's production of La Cage Aux Folles and Eric Schaeffer's Million Dollar Quartet also pose potential threats to Warren Carlyle and Ms. Dodge, but the reviews and buzz that will come after they open will tell if these will come true.

Finally (for the moment) for choreography, I have chosen four shows that are, pretty much, all about the dancing.

Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis
Warren Carlyle – Finian’s Rainbow
Major Threat: Lynne Page – La Cage Aux Folles

For starters, I should say that I think this season is one that is light on choreography.  There is only a handful of shows that, in my mind, have choreography that would even make the shortlist to be considered.  After discussing my nomination choices, I will also mention the other shows that I think may have a chance.  In "Fela!" we have Bill T. Jones, a previous Tony winner for choreographing "Spring Awakening" a few seasons back, on the boards again in a show which is likely to take home the Best Musical Tony and received raves for his direction and choreography.  "Come Fly Away" brings Twyla Tharp and her dancers back to Broadway after "Movin' Out" a few years ago in a danced-through collection of Frank Sinatra's songs.  This combination of talent (Tharp and Sinatra are two of New York's most beloved artists within their fields) and momentum are sure to net Tharp a nomination for her choreography.  In "Memphis," we have a show that received mixed reviews, but whose high energy choreography was pretty well praised and that sounds nomination worthy to me.  Lastly, I have chosen "Finian's Rainbow" which, as I have stated before, is a glorious spectacle harkening back to the old fashioned, M-G-M movie musical production style.  For those of you who have seen enough movie musicals to know what that means, you'll also remember all the big production numbers and the exciting dancing.  The only potential threat I can think of is "La Cage Aux Folles" -- the show that won Jerry Mitchell is first Tony back in 2005.  This show has strong potential for great dancing, so we will have to see how good it really is once the show opens.  The only other shows that could potentially make my shortlist are "The Addams Family", "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Promises, Promises".  "A Little Night Music" has a very little bit of dancing in it, but that consists only of a waltz, as best I can remember.  Not much to nominate for Best Choreography, if you ask me.

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