Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tony Nominations & Movie Connections

The whatever annual Tony nominations are here. You'll want to go directly to ModFab (always the place for great theater buzz) if you're looking for a complete list. My habit is to briefly comment and throw out movie suggestions... but really: Broadway is closer and closer to the movies (what with all the cross pollination) so I'm not in the mood. I'm just going to talk about the Best Musical Nominees.

Still, if you a) can't afford a ticket --that'd be most of the population or b) don't get to NYC often, you can play along at home by renting the movies these things are based on and then watching the TONY Awards in June.

In the category of "Best Musical" which, despite the presence of a correlative "Best Play" prize is really the grand kahuna. The "Best Picture" if you're thinking Oscar because it's the one with the $$$ should you manage a win. The voters went for

Curtains from the legendary team of Kander & Ebb (you know and love them even if you don't think you know them: They wrote Cabaret and Chicago --two of the bigges Oscar hauling musicals ever)
Grey Gardens pictured above. It's based on the legendary documentary about Jackie O's infamous relatives
Mary Poppins you're already familiar.
Spring Awakening which is an original from Duncan Sheik, former pop star.

The box office is with: Mary Poppins
The critics and the cool kids are behind: Spring Awakenings
I've only seen: Grey Gardens... which was pretty damn good with a great performance by Christine Ebersole which will undoubtedly win the TONY.
Snubbed: Legally Blonde --some say is a pretty shoddy movie to stage transfer but it could still prove a tourist trap. And LoveMusik which had all the buzz on paper since it had a great topic (the love affair between Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya) and cast (Tony winners Michael Cerveris, last season's Sweeney Todd, and diva extraodinaire Donna Murphy who moviegoers will recognize as Doctor Octopus wife from Spider-Man 2 but really she's an insanely talented woman. Easily among the best performers anywhere.)

"Best Musical Revival" isn't usually as exciting. Broadway shouldn't repeat themselves as often as they do. But it's not all their fault. Audiences, just like at the movies, tend to flock to familiar looking stuff even if the great stuff is elsewhere. *sigh* The voters chose:

The Apple Tree which was another success for Kristin Chenowith who is pure joy on stage. She plays to the back row and she does it with such enthusiasm and comic inspiration that you're always laughing and in love. As my friend Kay remarked the other night while we were applauding Kristin at a concert "She knows she's in a barn" Hee. Kristin is also one of those rare Broadway stars with some general off stage fame as well, CDs, concerts, the talk show circuit and movie work (she was last seen onscreen as Annette Bening's lover in Running With Scissors).
110 in the Shade This is the latest for TONY champion Audra McDonald. She's crazy beloved on Broadway (she's only 36 and she's nearing the record for most TONY winning performances ever)
A Chorus Line Previously adapted into a not-very-good movie in 1985. If you've got a hankering to witness the dancers life I'd watch All That Jazz instead.
Company Broadway sensation Raul Esparza headlines the latest Sondheim revival --this one uses the same technique that Sweeney Todd did last season: the actors play their own instruments.

The box office is with: A Chorus Line
The critics are behind: Company
I've seen: both of those. A Chorus Line deserves its immense fame as a landmark musical. But when it comes to these reworks I Sondheim's genius marital angst musical has a much stronger cast and production and deserves the win. A Chorus Line feels like it's trapped under glass. To me at least. For a show that's all about being a fly on the wall for a gritty look at Broadway babies it needs to feel more contemporary and spontaneous to really work.

And once again, for the complete list with acting nominees and such, head over to Modern Fabulousity. There's several movie faces in the mix but big stars like Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore were shunned.


The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Wow, I never realized Audra McDonald is gunning for Julie Harris territory. =/

Anonymous said...

SO utterly awesome to think Grey Gardens will get Tonys!

~ Perc

Anonymous said...

There's a production of Company opening in Sydney in late June that I've got tickets to see in late July (love me some Sondheim). Of course the chances of it reflecting the latest Broadway version are, oh, infinitesimal. If there was a Broadway revival of Company in about 1995, that's probably the version we'll be getting in Sydney. Grrr.

Steven said...

Spring Awakening isn't exactly original... It's based on a play by the same name.


Colin said...

But it's not all their fault. Audiences, just like at the movies, tend to flock to familiar looking stuff even if the great stuff is elsewhere. *sigh*

Disagreed - while the film experience can be replicated with widescreen TVs, microwaved popcorn, dimmed lights and a rental DVD, the theatre/musical performance stands legitimate in one form only. I have no issue with extended/revival runs of good plays, and wish them a continued audience.


good point

but it's not good for any artform to dwell continually on the past. and we certainly don't need revivals of things like Les Mis (which I think is a great show incidentally) taking up space so soon after their last curtain when we could be supporting original work by emerging artists. it's a real problem for Broadway.

and now Cabaret is returning and that just left too.

Anonymous said...

My friend is in Spring Awakening, playing Gregor...so I'm rooting for that!