Tuesday, May 16, 2006

TONY Nominations + Movie Suggestions

STOP! Don't scroll down or click away. I know that theater news probably provokes that response in moviegoers reading this blog. But as is my way, I filter everything through a celluloid lens. We're looking briefly at the top two musical categories and offering movie counterparts to inspire your jazz hands. Pretend it's the Oscars if you must. I'll throw in movie rental ideas to keep you informed even if you're as far from glitzy Times Square as you can be.

MUSICAL the nominees are...
The Color Purple. This one's easy to enjoy on your entertainment center at home. Guess why? This category is for "new" material. But whenever they "adapt" a movie it becomes a "new" play or musical. Which is very annoying as trends go but there you have it. The music is new but I was hoping they'd at least keep "Miss Celie's Blues" (Sister) the song that was so excellent (and Oscar Nominated) in the 1985 film. *sigh* No the Steven Spielberg film version lost every Oscar it was up for...even though it was up for a whole bushel full of them. Will the same fate await Oprah Winfrey's baby musical?

The Drowsy Chaperone It's a cheeky quite funny look at a musical theater fans obsession with a particular (fictional) musical comedy. There's lots of meta joking rather like a Charlie Kauffman movie (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) except that it's sweet too and with less serious resonant subtext. So imagine one of those as a musical only with more slapsticky hijinx. Or something lighter with excessive 'aren't I adorably naughty?' narration like maybe Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's hard to describe but it's a really fun show. It's a kindred spirit to Noises Off too, if less hyper and brilliant in its construction. But with Noises Off I'm speaking of the play (brilliant) as opposed to the movie version (merely OK)

Jersey Boys This musical about Franki Valli and the Four Seasons is a runaway hit and the frontrunner for the win --unless the Broadway-specificity of Chaperone pushes it over the edge, which it might. Movie Suggestion? Any musical biopic would work to put you in that jukebox frame of mind. But if you're looking for matching outfits too maybe you oughta take another spin with the red jackets and shades of That Thing You Do!, remember that? Say what you will about its disposable quality but with Schaech, Scott, Tyler, Embry, and Zahn in tow it was easy on the eyes.

The Wedding Singer Like The Color Purple this is a musical adapation of a film everyone knows and presumably loves. It was a fun night at the theater but a nomination is quite excessive. It's basically the movie plunked down on stage only with the charisma of Drew Barrymore removed and some funnier bits from the periphery --as I've mentioned before Felicia Finley playing the ex-girlfriend rocker is gangbusters (she was snubbed for a supporting nomination. argh!)

Snubbed The much maligned Elton John musical Lestat based on Anne Rice's famous character. Somehow rich producer types are still trying to make vampire musicals work. Money make you stupid. Just ask les soeurs Hilton. Tarzan, which we covered earlier in our film fashion was also beaten to a pulp by Tony voters.

REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL and the nominees are...
There were only three revivals this year so view the achievement of these three nominations with that in mind.

The Pajama Game Remember when Harry Connick Jr played a psycho in that Sigourney Weaver/Holly Hunter serial thriller movie Copycat? Well that has nothing to do with this really (sorry!) but I was thinking of it during the first half hour of this musical because Harry's acting was just a little "severe" for what is ostensibly a purely oldfashioned fluffy musical comedy. At any rate this is based on the original musical which became this movie starring Doris Day. And for trivia fiends. The original Broadway musical was the one that famously gave the movie world the great Shirley Maclaine. She was an understudy who went on suddenly one night for an injured Carol Haney. Director/Producer Hal B Wallis was in the audience and Shirley was almost immediately whisked off to fame and fortune in the movies. Welcome to Hollywood!

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
In this you're on your own filmwise. Sondheim musicals are still the great untapped territory for the movie musical genre. (If you don't count his very early (mostly) lyricist work in greats like West Side Story). I think this will and should win the revival prize. It's a canonized masterpiece of the musical theater given a new intriguing minimalist spin. And, yes, the movie version which has been in development hell forever is still trying to get itself made. They're looking at 2008 now. Still now word on whether or not those Russell Crowe, Johnn Depp, or Kevin Spacey as "Sweeney" rumors were true.

The Threepenny Opera
Bertol Brecht, the creator of this über influential musical (famous songs include "Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jenny"), was recently quoted (rather horrifically I might add) on the Oscar stage. The quote "art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it” is a great quote when looking at Brecht's work and a super annoying when used to defend Crash. To get a sense of this musical you'll want to grab a DVD focused on Weimar Germany, say, Cabaret (you can't go wrong with Cabaret) and then make it a double feature with something by Lars Von Trier, let's say Dogville since he's one of many filmmakers influenced by Brecht's theory of alienating the audience. You can substitue the Von Trier with anything by Godard or Fassbinder . Sounds like a light double feature, right?

the complete list of nominations What you'll need to know right away is that Julia Roberts was snubbed (must've been those savage reviews) for her Broadway debut. Ross David Schwimmer was also given the heave ho for his work in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. And in the saddest news, Cyndi Lauper was also ignored even though she was the best thing (by far) about the misguided Threepenny Opera.

Other celebrity film and television stars were luckier. Mark Ruffalo, Ian McDiarmid (You know, The Emperor in the Star Wars flicks), Ralph Fiennes, Oliver Platt, Tyne Daly, Lynn Redgrave, and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda!) will all receive congratulatory phone calls this morning.

Break a leg! And if you're nowhere near a Broadway stage rent some movies as it heals and you'll be all pumped for the Tony Awards on CBS June 11th, 2006.

tags: Tarzan, Broadway, theater, movies, Tarzan, Sweeney Todd, Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Drew Barrymore, musical theater, Oprah Winfrey, Lestat, Stephen Sondheim, Cyndi Lauper


par3182 said...

spookily, 'the color purple' received 11 nominations, just as the film version did at the oscars. do you think it will suffer the same fate?


as i suggested in the article. it might. i'll have to study the races more closely to see if that's likely though...

John T said...

Yeah-I always love it when actors I adore are nominated at the Tonys (even though I never get to see the actors onstage)-so bravo to Mark Ruffalo and Ralph Fiennes!

Anonymous said...

Cherry Jones was shut out too. That means all stars of Erin Brockovich were passed over. However, the stars of Flatliners had a 50% success rate in nods.

Anonymous said...

I have to take issue with your statement that calling a musical that is adapted from a work in another medium, a "new musical" is an "annoying" "trend". First of all, it's far from a trend. That's the way musicals have been categorized for, oh, about eighty years now. The fact that all of the music and, in most cases, a good deal of the book, is BRAND NEW, and that it's being adapted for a completely different medium with new requirements is not enough to qualify as a new work? I don't get that. For the record, 90% of musicals are adapted from movies, books or other pre-existing works. Under your theory, only the 10% of the 100% original musicals would be considered new? That makes zero sense. "The Color Purple" is a new musical. Period.


my apologies if i wasn't specific enough but it is most definitely a TREND to have movies adapted into new musicals these days. It's really become par for the course these past several seasons.

this is a trend and not the way it's always been. in the past it was more common for it to happen in the other direction from broadway to film.

Anonymous said...


Glenn Dunks said...

I bet the producers are all secretly thinking they'll lose 'em all for Purple. I just watched that the other night and it was really good. Why didn't Whoopi win? aah. And I agree that "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)" is a GREAT song and in the movie it is beautiful.

The thing is while I was watching it on DVD I could perfectly see it on stage? I could see the how it would go and how the characters would walk on stage and how scenes would play. Something that I can't exactly say about The Wedding Singer.

Are they already making The History Boys into a movie or is it a completely unrelated movie with the same name?

Nice to see the Tony comitee (The American Theatre Wing?) don't reduce the producer credits down to 2 (lol). Stupid Academy.

And all you Von Trier fans should be happy to see Zeljko Ivanek nominated!

Nice to know even the Tony's have a Best Play/Director split.


History Boys the movie is the same play and it's also the same cast. it's already finished. they're trying to decide when to release it. could obviously be an Oscar contender.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of The Color Purple, I couldn't make out from you 1985 retro-awards if you liked the movie or not. Lots of nominations, but no Top 10 listing. What's the verdict?

- Adam


i am not a big fan, no. But there are definitely attractive elements within.