Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Designer Series, part 4

Today brings us the last part in my designer series in discussing the Tony's and, with it, the last full article on my thinking before simply updating here and there on the ever changing buzz.  Today's update is about possibly the least understood yet simultaneously most powerful aspect of any theatrical production.  It is also amongst the most expensive single aspects of any show, with Broadway productions spending $100,000 or more on lights.  Most often, the big spectacle shows tend to get this award because most nominators fall prey to what I like to call "look at the pretty lights" syndrome (this is why Billy Elliot got the award last year in my opinion).

Based on that logic, Fela! is sure to get a nomination in this category.  The other major contenders in the category are Memphis, The Addams Family, A Little Night Music, Finian's Rainbow and Ragtime.  Finian's Rainbow and A Little Night Music also seem to me to be sure bets in this category based on artistic value, while the last slot is largely up for grabs.  For the moment, I have gone with Ragtime because of the praise it got for its design, while Memphis was not as highly praised in this department, nor did it deserve to be and The Addams Family I think is just not strong enough of a contender in this category.

As for the plays, I'm going with three artistic hits and one play that was praised for the show's ability to bring the audience right into an intended mood.  The first three are, as usual around here, A View From the Bridge, Present Laughter, and The Royal Family.  The last one, which I think will be one of the few awards this show may actually get, is A Behanding in Spokane.  This one, though, is my most questionable because, while Christopher Walken and the set design were praised by Ben Brantley of the NY Times as "such a perfect, demented marriage of character and environment that you can't help grinning like a fool," I'm not sure that the nominating committee will realize the contribution of the lighting design to that environment and mood enough to nominate it.  In case they don't, Brighton Beach Memoirs might get a sentimental nomination or The Miracle Worker for its creativity in the round, even though this last one is unlikely.  We shall see as time wears on what time will bring.

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