By Karen Isaacs
Sunday is Tony Night and while some awards seem a sure thing, others are up-for-grabs.
One question is will the Tony voters follow the lead of the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk voters? Of course, these two programs have slightly different rules: they include off-Broadway productions and may exclude Broadway offerings that moved from an off-Broadway productions in a prior season. This year, Dear Evan Hanse and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 were impacted.
Bette Midler will win the Tony for outstanding female performer in a musical AND Hello, Dolly! will win the Best Revival of a Musical Tony. Even with Midler not doing eight performances a week (Donna Murphy fills in) and despite the rumor that she will take off additional performances in the future, she seems a certainty.
Some voters may be annoyed that she is apparently NOT performing on the Tony show; the rumor is that she demanded that the performance be at the Shubert Theater in a cut away, not actually at the awards ceremony.
Both groups agreed that Oslo was the Outstanding New Play and Come from Away the Outstanding New Musical. They also agreed on all the major acting awards: Kevin Kline (Present Laughter) and Laura Linney (The Little Foxes) for leading roles in plays with Danny DeVito (The Price) and Cynthia Nixon (The Little Foxes) for featured actor in a play. Bette Midler and Andy Karl (Groundhog Day) won for musicals with Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!) and Jenn Colella (Come from Away) for featured actor in a musical.
They also agreed on the best revivals: Hello, Dolly! and Jitney.
Where were the differences? The Outer Critics gave the direction of a play award to Rebecca Taichman for Indecent and the Drama Desk to Reuben Santiago-Hudson for Jitney. Similarly for direction of a musical the Drama Desk award went to Rachel Chavkin for The Great Comet while the OCC gave it to Warren Carlyle for Come from Away.
It could be the year of Dear Evan Hansen with the show winning best musical and Ben Platt beating out Andy Karl for the leading actor award. Yet the outstanding musical category is tough with three terrific shows: Hansen, Come from Away and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.
Oslo should win the Tony but A Doll House Part 2 has been getting a lot of buzz. Its leading lady, Laurie Metcalf might give Laura Linney a run for the top acting award.
The revials? Hello, Dolly! because most of the other musical revivals were weak and Jitney.
Kevin Kline should take home another Tony though Jefferson May (Oslo) deserves strong consideration.
For musicals: Gavin Creel will probably join Bette Midler in receiving Tonys. The featured actor in a play category is super competitive. Danny DeVito’s been picking all the wins but I preferred the performances of Richard Thomas (The Little Foxes), Michael Aronov (Oslo) and John Douglas Thompson (Jitney).
Deciding among the actress in a featured role category will be tough; Cynthia Nixon could easily win but I really liked Johanna Day in Sweat. I hope Jenn Colella takes home the featured role in a musical Tony but certainly Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen) and Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos) are strong contenders.
Directorial award categories are jammed with great productions. I’d like Rebecca Taichman for Indecent and Rachel Chavkin for The Great Comet to win. But all of the nominees are very worth.
So let’s see how I do
Inside notes and comments about Connecticut and New York Professional TheaterBy Karen Isaacs
Music Theater Institute: In conjunction with the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, the Yale Institute for Music Theater will present two new musicals for development. The Festival culminates in open-to-the public rehearsal readings on Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25. The musicals are Blessings which takes place during Spirit Week in Blessing, Alabama, and The White City that takes place around the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbia Exposition. For tickets visit artidea.org/tickets or call 203-498-3772.
Revised Musical: Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater at Chester will present what it calls a “bold reimagining” of the Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse musical The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd from Friday, May 20 to Sunday, June 26. Tony Sheldon, who was Horace VanderGelder in the Goodspeed production of Hello, Dolly! leads the cast as Sir. Among the familiar songs from this 1960s musical are “Who Can I Turn To?” “Feeling Good,” “A Wonderful Day Like Today” and “The Joker.” For tickets visit goodspeed.org or call 860-873-8668.
Tony Nominations: Tony award nominations were announced May3; it was no surprise that Hamilton the show everyone wants to see but can’t get tickets, received a whopping 18 nominations — a record. You can expect that it will haul home a load of awards at the Sunday, June 12 ceremony. Also Audra McDonald will not be racking up her seventh Tony award; she was not nominated for her role in the new musical Shuffle Along…. Multiple major nominations went to the revivals of Arthur Miller’s The View from the Bridge and The Crucible, new plays Eclipsed (which began at Yale Rep), The Humans, King Charles III, Blackbird, and the revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night. Besides Hamilton, multiple major nominations went to the new musicals Shuffle Along…,Waitress, Bright Star, and School of Rock as well as the revivals of The Color Purple, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening and Fiddler on the Roof. The new musicals Tuck Everlasting, American Psycho, Disaster! and On Your Feet! were pretty much shut out.
Collaborations on the Schedule: Long Wharf has announced its 2016-17 season and it includes some familiar names working with the theater. Steve Martins newest play, Meteor Shower, opens the season (Sept. 28 – Oct. 23). Then comes the 1980s comedy about corporate takeovers, Other People’s Money (Nov. 23 to Dec. 18). Brian Dennehy and John Douglas Thompson return to the Long Wharf stage with Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, Jan. 4 to Feb. 5. The world premiere of Napoli, Brooklyn (Feb. 15-March 12) will be produced in collaboration with NY’s Roundabout Theater. The last two shows are Smart Money (March 15 – April 9), a recent off-Broadway production and the season closes with a new musical Table (May 3-28). For information and subscriptions visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282
Hartford Next Year: Hartford Stage has announced four productions for next year though with no specific dates, plus two more to be announced soon. The season will open with a world premiere of Queens for a Year; also on the schedule in the fall is August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize drama, The Piano Lesson. The new year begins with Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors directed by Darko Tresnjak, and The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkev. As usual, the holiday season will feature its outstanding production of A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story. For information or subscriptions call 860-527-5151 or visit hartfordstage.org.
Inside notes and comments about Connecticut and New York Professional Theater
By Karen Isaacs
Legally Blonde: The Summer Theater of New Canaan is presenting the musical Legally Blonde in Waverly Park, New Canaan, June 24 to Aug. 9. In addition, the theater is presenting three productions for children: Charlotte’s Web, The Wizard of Oz and a new musical version of Cinderella — A Fairy’s Tale, told from the point of view of the fairy godmother. The three shows run in rotation through Aug. 9. For information or tickets, call 203-966-4634 or visit www.stonc.org.
Encores! Off-Center: The City Center Encores! series of semi-staged “forgotten” or seldom revived musicals has been a huge success with several shows transferring to Broadway — the long-running Chicago is most notable — and other productions resulting in successful cast CDs. Two years ago, City Center in New York City began the Off-Center series in the summer for just one or few nights — it features off-Broadway shows. One such production, Violet transferred to Broadway and earned Tony nominations for several of its cast last year. This summer’s series will feature the William Finn-James Lapine musical A New Brain starring Jonathan Groff from June 24 to 27. Little Shop of Horrors is only playing July 1 with Jake Gyllenhaal as Seymour together with the original Audrey, Ellen Greene. The series concludes with The Wild Party starring Sutton Foster and her Violet co-star Joshua Henry, July 15 -18. For tickets visit NYCityCenter.org.
Tony Reactions: The Tony Awards are come and gone. The big winners were Fun House, King & I, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and American in Paris. I was so glad that Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) finally won a Tony; she had been nominated five other times and richly deserved it each time, particularly last year for The Bridges of Madison County. In the wake of the Tony’s both Gigi which had only one major nomination and The Visit which had a number of major nominations but no victories closed. How you felt about the various humorous interludes by the hosts, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth, is up for debate. I would have preferred less of that and more actually seeing the winners. It was too bad that so many awards were presented during commercial breaks including the special award to Tommy Tune — he deserved better.
This Summer on Broadway: Summer is usually a quiet time for Broadway openings; producers are afraid award voters will forget about their shows — particularly if they have closed — by the time next April rolls around. But two musicals are opening this summer. Hamilton which has already won numerous awards this year for its off-Broadway production is making the move to the Richard Rodgers Theater. The musical about Alexander Hamilton, one of our founding fathers, has book, music, lyrics and stars Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote Up in the Heights. Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster. It begins previews July 13 and opens officially Aug. 6. Amazing Grace about the composer of that famous song is also making it to Broadway. The show began life at the Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater in Chester. It will begin previews June 25 and open officially July 16. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
This content is courtesy of Shore Publications and Zip06.com
Inside notes and comments about Connecticut and New York Professional Theater
By Karen Isaacs
Lucy at the Palace: I Love Lucy was an iconic TV sitcom, so much so that though it last original episode aired in 1957, it is still popular today. On May 30 and 31, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, audiences can experience I Love Lucy® Live on Stage. The production takes audience members back to 1952 as members of the studio audience when two iconic episodes are being filmed. It is the complete “behind the scenes” experience with a host to warm-up the audience and singers to perform the commercials. For tickets, visit palacetheaterct.org.
This Summer in Storrs: The Connecticut Repertory Theater on the UConn campus in Storrs will present its Nutmeg Summer Series featuring Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann returning to Storrs. Mann will direct and place Inspector Javert (for which he received a Tony nomination) in Les Miserables from May 28 to June 7. Following that is Peter Pan with Mann playing Captain Hook. It runs June 15 to July 3. The season concludes with the musical Xanadu from July 9 to 19. Based on the film – though much better than it – it combines Greek goddesses with the creation of a roller disco. For either subscription or individual tickets, call 860-486-2113 or visit www.crt.uconn.edu.
Tony Winner: The Bushnell will host the touring production of Once which won the Tony Award for best musical in 2012. The show won seven other Tonys as well. It will play May 26 to May 31. According to the press materials, “[with an] ensemble cast of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, Once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights… but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance.” For tickets visit http://www.busnell.org or call 860-987-5900.
Producer: The Bushnell through a consortium of four other national theaters and a Broadway producer is a producing partner of the new Broadway musical An American in Paris which has been nominated for multiple awards, including 12 Tonys.
Tony Nominations: In the musical categories An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The King and I were the big winners in nominations; The Visit, On the Twentieth Century, On the Town and The Last Ship also received multiple nominations. Shut out were Honymoon in Vegas, Finding Neverland, Dr. Zhivago and It Shoulda Been You; Gigi received one nomination. In the play categories, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two , Skylight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time had the most nominations. Multiple nominations also went to Hand to God, You Can’t Take It with You, Airline Highway, The Elephant Man and The Audience. Constellations, Disgraced, The Heidi Chronicles, It’s Only a Play, and This Is Our Youth all received single nominations. The winners will be presented on June 7 with Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming as hosts.
TheaterWorks: Next up at TheaterWorks in Hartford, is Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire. When it opened in New York in 2011 it was nominated for many awards including a Tony as best play and was named Best Play by the Drama Critics Circle. The play is set in the Southie neighborhood of Boston and tells the story of those who are still trapped there and one who got out. According to the press material, “Margie has spent her whole life in South Boston and most of it down on her luck, but she’s never had it this bad. A middle-aged single mother with a disabled adult daughter at home, she is unemployed, facing eviction and cut off from opportunity in her insular working-class neighborhood. When Margie discovers that a brief high school flame is now a successful doctor, she swallows her pride and seeks his help, sparking questions about class, commitment and what it means to be a ‘good person’.” Rob Ruggiero is directing. It runs May 22 to June 28. For tickets contact 860.527.7838. I saw this play, I found it interesting leading to many discussions about the characters and who is truly “good people.”