Friday, January 29, 2010

Time Stands Still

Donald Margulies' new play "Time Stands Still" opened last night at Manhattan Theater Club to pretty good reviews, with Charles Isherwood of the NY Times calling it a "thoughtful drama ... in a flawless production directed by Daniel Sullivan ... Handily Mr. Margulies' finest play since the Pulitzer Prize winning 'Dinner With Friends'."  Isherwood also gave positive notices to stars "Laura Linney and Brian d'Arcy James, [who give] performances of complementary sensitivity and richness."  With the respect these four theater folk have within the Broadway community, I'm predicting nominations for Linney and d'Arcy James for lead actress and actor, best director for Sullivan, and best play for Margulies.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A View From the Bridge

Reviews came in this morning for the revival of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge".  They were extraordinarily positive, and make me think this one might be the front-runner for the best play revival Tony this year.  Liev Schreiver, Jessica Hecht, and Scarlett Johansson got stellar reviews, as well, and are likely to get nominated for their performances, as are the design elements and Gregory Mosher's direction.  I haven't yet seen it, but will review it if/when I do.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Present Laughter

Howdy, y'all.  I know it's been a while since my last post.  There hasn't been much going on lately, but I wanted to share that Present Laughter, a Noel Coward play from 1939, just opened last night at the Roundabout to relatively good reviews.  Based on the review, the production overall looks likely for a best revival nomination, and Victor Garber's got such great notices that he seems a cinch for a nomination.  Considering the respect he has form the Broadway community and the fact that he has had 4 previous nominations without ever winning, there's a chance he could be at the head of the pack come Tony night.  I'm seeing the show on February 7th, so I'll give you my review of the show as soon as I get back from it, but just wanted to give you this update to remind you all that I'm still here and paying attention.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finian's Rainbow

I just got back from seeing the closing performance of "Finian's Rainbow", and it was FABULOUS.  This production was a big, old fashioned, MGM movie musical style show with a great score, bright costumes, and big, colorful sets.  It also reminded me what the golden age of theater was about ... why it was golden. While I think there is definitely a place for heavy, dramatic shows like "Billy Elliot" or "Sweeney Todd" or  others like them, there is definitely a great benefit to remembering and seeing lighter shows such as this one.

Jim Norton, as the Finian of the show's title, was passable, if not the best I've ever seen (though I must admit I'm spoiled in that the first production of "Finian's Rainbow" I ever saw was the movie, starring the wonderful Fred Astaire, for whom you could almost imagine the part was written).  The only true Irishman in the cast (that I am aware of, anyhow), Norton had the right feel for the part's particulars and energy (and, certainly, the accent), but was not the song-and-dance man I was expecting, nor did he have enough star presence for a show in which he is the title character.

Kate Baldwin, as Finian's daughter, Sharon, was great in the part.  She was charming and charismatic, and you could see the hopeful glint in her eye from the last row of the second balcony.  Though she doesn't have a big voice, making her hard to hear sometimes, she does have a strong voice that was able to deliver the classic songs, like "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "That Old Devil Moon", easily.

The other performer that I thought was of note was Terri White as Dottie, one of the black sharecroppers in the fictional land of Missitucky.  Though she had only one solo number and a handful of lines peppered throughout the show, she stole whatever scenes she had with her larger than life presence and great singing voice.  There is certainly a Tony nomination in her future.  Chuck Cooper and Christopher Fitzgerald, as a white senator turned black and an unfortunate leprechaun, respectively, also gave scene stealing supporting turns with a clear nomination coming down the pike for Fitzgerald, and one likely (but not a sure bet) for Cooper, who won a Tony in (I think) 1997 for "The Life".

Well, those are my thoughts for the moment.  I will discuss more of the politics and my thoughts when I arrive at my nominations prediction list later in the season.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cross Promotion and the Golden Globes

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to my parent blog, Scott Feinberg's  With the Golden Globe Awards being presented tomorrow, I know that Scott already has his final predictions up and I'm sure he's going to have great coverage of the awards during the show.  I'm not sure how much pre-show and/or post-show coverage he will do, but it will all be interesting and make for a much better, more enriching experience.  Check it out!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Production Categories

Well ... based on my post from the other day, I've gone ahead and grouped each production into the categories in which it will be eligible come Tony night.  All productions, with the exception of "Special Theatrical Events", are eligible for acting/design/directing/etc. awards, so I won't get into that right now.  I will have an update with another analysis like this one listing all actors and the categories in which they are eligible once all those decisions have been made.

A few notes about the categories I am creating here.  I am putting a few productions here into the "Special Theatrical Event" category.  This is a category that comes into and goes out of play seemingly at the whim of the American Theater Wing (the people who give out the Tony's, comparable to "The Academy" at the Oscars).  It was created for things that aren't easily definable as either a play or a musical, like Liza Minnelli's one woman performance piece last year at the Palace.  Shows in this category are only eligible in this category since, being neither plays nor musicals, don't have the same design/acting/directing structure as other shows.  I am not sure if the category is coming back this year, but if it does, we will know who can be in it!  Also, new musicals are eligible in the additional categories of Book (the script between the songs) and Score.  Other than that, all plays, musicals, and revivals compete in the same categories that one would expect.

So, without further ado, here are all the eligible productions of the 2009-2010 season, including those that have been announced but have yet to open.  Of course, if any of the announced shows don't open, they will simply be removed from the list.

New Play:
A Steady Rain
Superior Donuts
In the Next Room ... or the Vibrator Play
A Behanding in Spokane
Time Stands Still
Next Fall
Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Play Revival:
The Royal Family
After Miss Julie
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Present Laughter
A View From the Bridge
Miracle Worker
Collected Stories
Lend Me a Tenor

New Musical (also eligible for book and score):
Adams Family
Million Dollar Quartet
Come Fly Away
American Idiot
Sondheim on Sondheim

Musical Revival:
Bye Bye Birdie
Finian's Rainbow
A Little Night Music
La Cage Aux Folles
Promises, Promises

Special Theatrical Event:
Burn the Foor
All About Me
Wishful Drinking

As I was typing this list, there is one other thing that occurred to me.  Though new musicals are eligible for nomination in the categories of book and score, there are three shows this year that break that rule.  The scores for "Come Fly Away", "American Idiot", and "Sondheim on Sondheim" will not be Tony eligible this year because their scores were not newly written for the theater for this production.  "Come Fly Away" takes its music from popular songs written for and/or recorded by Frank Sinatra during his long career, and the score for "American Idiot" comes to the stage from the 2004 studio album by Green Day.  Lastly, while "Sondheim on Sondheim" gets its music from one of the theater's most prolific composers, and the songs in this production are all taken from shows of his that were produced on Broadway, the songs in this show were not newly written for this show.  All three of these shows will, however, still be eligible as new musicals, and their books are eligible for nomination, as well.

As for my predictions, we will have to wait until more productions open for me to generate opinions about them.  I will post my thoughts tomorrow about the likelihood of all the productions so far, and will discuss the buzz on the upcoming ones, as well.

Eligibility Rulings, Round 1

Every year, the Tony Committee (a group of 15 New York based Broadway insiders that sees every show, determines in what way each aspect of a show will be eligible for the upcoming awards cycle, and determines who, in the end, gets nominated) meets 4 or 5 times to decide how they want to consider nominating any given show.  The first such meeting happened about a month ago, on December 10th.  Here's what they determined, as copied from

  • Michael McKean will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play category for his performance in Superior Donuts.
  • Jude Law will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play category for his performance in Hamlet.
  • Jan Maxwell will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play category for her performance in The Royal Family.
  • Oleanna will be considered eligible in the Best Revival of a Play category.
  • Bill Irwin will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical category for his performance in Bye Bye Birdie.
  • Chad Kimball and Montego Glover will be considered eligible in the categories of Best Performance by a Leading Actor/Actress in a Musical respectively for their performances in Memphis.
  • After Miss Julie will be considered eligible in the Best Revival of a Play category.
  • Marin Ireland will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play category for her performance in After Miss Julie.
All other decisions were consistent with the opening night credits.

It's the dawning of a NEW age of aquarius on Broadway

Wanna be part of Broadway's most exciting tribe?  Well, this could be your chance!  I just read on that there will be an open (non-Equity) casting call down at the Public Theater for the replacement cast of Hair.  The auditions will be on January 21st with doors opening at 9am.  For more details, see the full article at

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 or These are two great resources for theater fanatics like me. Fan out and check them out.