Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out with the old...

I doubt this week is going to be a big one in terms of blog reading, but I post nonetheless. Let me start out by wishing you all a joyous 2007. Actually, some of my readers are evil and to those people I wish a crappy 2007. But for the majority of you, I hope for you all the happiness possible.

Instead of continuing my list of stories of 2006, as I had planned to do originally, I am going to do something a little different. After all, you know the stories of 2006. So I want to discuss my answer to the question of 2006: Is the jukebox musical back?

With the success of Jersey Boys, all types of industry folks were heard saying "The jukebox musical is back." (They didn't stop saying this when Hot Feet and The Times They Are A-Changin' opened and closed because those were just considered crap.) This was odd for me to hear because, to the best of my knowledge, it never left. It's not like the movie musical. Jukebox musicals were never gone. Even as Good Vibrations and All Shook Up crashed and burned on Broadway, more were being announced and Mamma Mia! was still going strong. I am sure Jersey Boys made producers less nervous about their upcoming jukebox project, but to say the show had a huge effect on the industry is to give it too much credit. (Those who are going to post a comment or email and tell me that Jersey Boys opened on Broadway in 2005, please resist the urge. I know it opened in 2005, but its long-standing success was not 100% guaranteed until 2006.)

Even if 200 jukebox musicals fail in a row, someone will always be trying to create one, I fear. Because while it's easy to say every year, "Out with the old, in with the new," it's hard to create the new. And most people are lazy. They'll be that way in 2007 and forever.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bah, humbug!

As I have been out of touch, I don't have that much to say. But I do want to write about something that annoyed me this holiday season--The Grinch.

I love children's musicals, I really do. I saw Seussical multiple times even. But The Grinch disappointed me. I'm sure it's fun for kids, but so is Happy Feet and Happy Feet is a lot less money. It really, really bothers me that a ticket to The Grinch is so expensive because you are paying so much for so little.

The show is 70 minutes long and they didn't even have enough material to make it that long. So they added random plots and repeat some Whoville song. Basically people are paying for maybe 50 minutes tops (and i'm being very generous) of substantial material, which means a person in the orchestra is probably paying about $2 a minute. Again, they may think it is worth it for happy kids, but, please, Happy Feet in IMAX would also cause joy. (Penguins that sing!)

Yet The Grinch is a huge hit--toppling Wicked and other Broadway giants this holiday season. Now I try to wish every show success, so part of me is glad, but, part of me is also annoyed. This is not theater. And I fear people who are first-time theatregoers (which I'm sure many in the Hilton audience are) are going to think this is what Broadway shows are like. I mean, at least there is some vision behind Tarzan (however cloudy a vision that may be); The Grinch is all green spectacle and little else.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dear readers...

Cara here. I have internet access back! Yay! But sadly I don't have time to write a full post. I promise I'll do one on Wednesday.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I do not have internet access

Someone else is typing this for me. Thus, no blog post today. The person typing is refusing to transcribe more than this.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2007 Starts Soon

I was thinking of writing about watching Debbie Reynolds watch Carrie Fisher perform, but instead I will appeal to a broader base of my readers by starting my list of top 2006 theater news. This list is in no particular order and will be continued in later posts. Today's entry is just the start. I will not be including any deaths in the list because, well, I always hated writing obits or tributes. And I'm not doing any research for this list, so I am sure I will miss things. But these are the things that made a mark on me and it is my blog.

--Broadway producers are always trying to attract celebrities to appear in shows, yet the Broadway community isn't always very welcoming to them when they are here. Before Julia Roberts even started performances in Three Days of Rain, theater insiders were already balking and complaining about the traffic the stage door crowds would cause. Then she came, wasn't very good and didn't get a Tony nomination. Shortly after Three Days of Rain ended, it was sort of like it hadn't even happened. She sold tickets like crazy, but nothing about the show left a mark (even the performance of my beloved Bradley Cooper). So, goodbye, Julia, we hardly knew ya.

--Everyone I know who saw History Boys in London thought it was great, but too British (aka intellectual) to work in America. Then it came here, was a sold-out smash and won a lot of Tonys (though didn't break the record for a play, as had originally been reported by many). See--Americans do go see smart things. But please, no more Irish monologue plays.

--Warner Brothers Theatre Ventures was so gung-ho about their first Broadway show--they poured tons of money into it and had a general enthusiasm for the process. Too bad that first show had to be Lestat. Will they ever gamble that big again? On a related note, the last few seasons have brought us Dance of the Vampires, Dracula and Lestat. I believe we're done now.

--So many people assumed that Tharp could fix the problems with The Times They Are A-Changin' before it came to New York. I kept hearing "Movin' Out was in worse shape and looked what happened to that." But, um, Times was no Movin' Out (which I loved). An odd concept and bizarre execution of that concept buried the show. I am all for people trying to do new things, but if you have clowns taking attention away from your main actors, you have a problem. One of the many problems she could not fix. So, sorry Twyla isn't magic, but hopefully she'll try again. Without it being a circus.

--I am the first person to say that I thought Drowsy Chaperone would bomb. I saw it in LA and pictured it crashing and burning on the Great White Way. It wasn't the name really, it was more the subject matter. I saw it in LA and simply didn't buy the whole "it's about any collector anywhere" crap--it seemed to me to be for people who really, truly love old-fashioned musical theater and that group ain't big enough to fill the Marquis for even one night. Also, I thought the music wasn't great enough to engage anyone and... well, there is more... But this isn't a review, this is a story of success. The Drowsy Chaperone is a big hit, despite no stars and an odd name. It gives others hope and that is a great, great thing. I applaud the people that were smarter than me and brought this show in.

That's it for tonight. More someday soon... And if you have something that struck you this year, post or email away.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A 9% Chance of Success...

I'm really tired tonight. VERY exhausted. So a long post would just fall into rambling...

But I do want to post a short thing about High Fidelity. It caught me by surprise on Monday when I heard posting this week was an inevitability. I assumed the show would try to last through the holiday weeks, as most do. I was taking odds on a January 7 closing. I really can't remember the last time something opened in December and closed before New Year's (other than a holiday concert or special event).

Is it again in vogue to actually close things that should be closed? For a while it was all about hanging on--even if some sad producer had to mortgage his/her house. But this season has seen two things open and close quickly. I for one hope that producers have again realized, usually, things don't miraculously get better for faltering shows post-opening. I always hate when people involved with a show at like 32% capacity each week justify staying open by saying "People love it." Ok, even if that is true, it doesn't matter unless they love it enough to get many other people in there. Once you look at the advance and know that that 32% hasn't referred all their nearest and dearest, pull the plug. So, even though I can't admire High Fidelity's producers for putting the show on Broadway without having the main character go visit his ex-girlfriends and with a song about his latest conquest sleeping with Lyle Lovett, I can admire them for making a smart decision now.

Monday, December 11, 2006

In my crystal ball...

First I tackled Best Actress in a Musical and now… drumroll… Best Actress in a Play.

So let’s break ‘em down:

Swoosie Kurtz, Heartbreak House
---I loved Swoosie in Heartbreak House because I swear she was channeling Anne Heche. I might have been the only one who saw it, but it was there. I actually thought that she’d get a bunch of bad reviews for it, but she was well received in the role (yay). Despite her good notices, she doesn’t really have a chance at a nomination. The show will be long gone and this season, unlike last season, is a very tough one for leading ladies.

Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
--Julie White deserves the momentum Christine Ebersole has going into the tough months ahead, but she sadly doesn’t have it. She has a well-deserved nomination on the way, it is just that she faces tough competition from esteemed stage veterans. (Does anyone want to go up against Angela Lansbury, Marian Seldes and Vanessa Redgrave?!?!) But I personally hope she has a chance at the win. It’s time for everyone to catch the Julie White fever. I know a lot of you have it, but we need more, more, more. I thought everyone should catch it back when Bad Dates was here, so I am hoping the rest of you are simply a few years behind.

Julianne Moore, The Vertical Hour
--I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again, I’m a Julianne Moore fan. I was excited to see her onstage and I was thrilled when, in Act II, she did her trademark big cry. Some critics went for her, some didn’t. I myself have to admit she wasn’t amazing or anything, but, if it was last season, she’d still have a shot of being nominated. Sadly it’s 2006-2007 and she has very, very little chance of getting a plaque.

Vanessa Redgrave, The Year of Magical Thinking
--I never read the book, but I know there is a lot of material here to go crazy, cry and show emotional depth. These are things that Redgrave is good at. If it wasn’t for Lansbury, she’d be the front-runner. As it is now, they are very close to the top position with Redgrave a little behind in the odds.

Eve Best, A Moon for the Misbegotten
--If I had to put money down now, I’d say she has a nomination. I’d also say she has very little chance of winning. She got really good reviews in London and I’m sure she will here too, but it won’t be enough this year.

Angela Lansbury, Deuce
--It’s been over two decades since Angela Lansbury was on Broadway for an actual run in anything. Plus this four-time Tony winner is a pretty beloved figure. I don’t think I need to say any more.

Marian Seldes, Deuce
--People always love Seldes, but she is around so often, we’re all sort of used to her shtick. Unless she is more amazing that she has ever been, most people will probably spend the majority of their time focusing on Lansbury. That will amount to a Seldes nomination and that is about it.

Prelude to a Kiss lead TBA
--You know, I should have asked my sources who this was going to be, so I could better write these odds. But I’ve been busy. So, let’s just say, whoever it is, is going to have a tough time. If it’s White, Redgrave, Best, Lansbury and Seldes that is it. So the Prelude star will have to knock one of those people out--probably Best will be the most vulnerable—and that might be extremely challenging. Anything can happen, this lead could be amazing and others could falter, it is just not looking like it is going to be an easy nomination for this actress.

NOTE: I do not think Translations or Radio Golf have lead actresses, but, if I find out I am wrong, I will update you all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You better shape up; You better understand

With You’re The One That I Want gearing up, I thought it was a good time to look back at the last American reality show that promised to bring us a new theater star. Does no one else remember?

Fame, which was on NBC (home to You’re The One That I Want), was supposed to place its winner in Fame on 42nd Street, which had yet to begin at the Little Shubert Theatre. But then the guy who won was a 35-year-old bald guy, so clearly he was not going to be in Fame onstage. And thus the producers had to make some “Oh, the winner just had to be offered a role” type excuse to explain why Harlemm Lee would not be seen off-Broadway.

You may wonder why this is important and it’s not. But it is essential for people watching You’re The One That I Want to remember that it’s about casting Sandy and Danny. (They are also not casting from a totally unknown pool--I know an actress that was called about doing it--but that is another story.) Therefore no fat girl, no matter how great she sings, is going to be in it at the end. That’s completely sad (and very non-PC), but it’s true. This is a reality show that is not about finding the most talented singer or dancer, it’s about being right for one of two very specific roles.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Last season my friend Kevin Manganaro and I, both big Julianne Moore fans, were sitting at Junior’s in Brooklyn discussing how we wouldn’t likely see Ms. Moore on the stage anytime soon. See, Moore had often discussed in interviews how she didn’t like to do the same thing twice—multiple takes annoyed her; we reasoned that doing the same show eight times a week would be worse than doing three crying takes. A week later she was announced for The Vertical Hour.

I have never enjoyed any David Hare play I sat through or read. While I wasn’t bored by Stuff Happens, I felt it wasn’t really a play. And the rest of his canon has just generally made me want to sleep. So I wasn’t thinking I’d love it, but I thought that it would receive good reviews (The Times loves Hare, I naively reasoned) and I was semi-confident she would be somewhat well-received. I believed she would be rewarded for being better than Broadway’s last celebrity, Julia Roberts. This is of course all before The Vertical Hour started performances. I tend to think if Vertical Hour had opened right after Three Days of Rain, Moore would have received better reviews that she did when it opened last week. But, that’s not what happened. And, while she did receive some positive notices, her performance rightly won’t go down in the history books as much of anything. Even critics who liked Moore, spent more time focusing on the acclaimed performance of her co-star, Bill Nighy.

Was it a bad move for her to come to Broadway? And, more importantly, will others see her Broadway run as a bad move? I ask this last question because it has been a while since Antonio Banderas was lauded for Nine. The reception received by Denzel Washington, Roberts and Moore doesn’t exactly encourage celebrities to flock to the Great White Way. (I won't consider Hugh Jackman in this discussion because he was known to be a stage actor.) Indeed, I know of one major celebrity who was looking for a project for next season and is now being advised by agents to wait a little bit. Alas. (I refuse to answer those of you who respond to these sort of things by saying, “Good, more work for a real stage actor.” Because it must be understood that many worthy projects will simply never be produced or revived without a celebrity.)

I tend to think overall celebrities will do what they want—if they really want to come to Broadway, they are not going to care what was said of Julianne Moore in a snoozer play. Their agents might care for a minute, but, there is a “well, we can still rock it” egotism involved that often wins out. And, of course, critics should not go easy on celebrities just because it could mean a better chance of seeing Brad Pitt next season. But it is interesting to consider what current reviews do in fact mean to seemingly unrelated projects in development.

I just realized that the majority of you are probably bored by this. And it’s 7:49am and I haven’t been to bed yet, so, I’m done.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I’m a little too swamped to write a full force post tonight. I mean, my head is about to combust. It’s part stress from my day and part the fact that I’m very confused by the Company reviews (other than the AP one)…. But, moving on.

Now that a second Claire Danes/Tamar Ragoff PS122 dance piece has been announced, I need to take a moment to reflect on the first one. I will be talking about it for the rest of my life, assuming people still know who Claire Danes is when I’m 80. Each time someone at the Kornberg office (which reps PS122) asks me to go to something there I say: “Does it feature Claire Danes with her feet bleeding?” I sat in the second row the last time and poor Claire’s feet actually did bleed as she continually ran around in circles and into a curtain and then around in circles again. The show also featured a video of her crawling across the street and up the PS122 stairs. Uh, huh. And this one, entitled Edith & Jenny, sounds better. Somehow about film debuts (the “Edith” in the title refers to Danes’ character Edith in her film debut, Dreams of Love) and it features two people—the other one is Ragoff’s daughter, a lifelong friend of Danes’ named Ariel Flavin. Now, apparently, the other girl is an actress who was in the movie Coyote Mountain and played a character named Jenny. But, there aren’t any IMDB or Google mentions of her or it, so, moving on.

I also want to say that there seems to be some confusion about the title of one of my previous posts. I feared not many people would get it and, indeed, that was a problem. “Like most intellectuals, he's intensely stupid...”=my favorite line from the movie Dangerous Liasons. It has nothing to do with Michael Borowski, who I spoke about in that post. Mikey is one of my favorite people, so I would never call him stupid in a public forum. I also wouldn’t really call anyone I’m close with an intellectual (despite their esteemed educations), so, there you go. Speaking of Dangerous Liasons, and, thus, Les Liasons Dangereuses, I’ve heard a couple of things about the Roundabout. I haven't really cared enough to check any of them out and I actually forgot I knew them until mid-writing of this. I heard a rumor about Prelude to a Kiss this season… I also heard that they are thinking of reviving Applause at some point. I'd like to see that. But, they were also at one point thinking of reviving On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and countless other shows, so, moving on.

Actually, that’s it. I will say that my mother will be so very happy that a Times story in theory about The Big Voice: God or Merman? focused on the history of a temple. I mean, those of you who know her, know that’s going to make her day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's with my feet? They're happy!

I don't know how many of you readers out there know this, but the three final names mentioned for this last revival of Sweet Charity were Christina Applegate, Brittany Murphy and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Applegate of course was the one who ended up in the show. But, recently, while I was listening to Murphy sing during Happy Feet (which I rushed to see in IMAX), I began wondering what her Charity would have been like. Then I jumped to a more important topic—would her name have sold more tickets than Applegate’s name did? Now, I’m not talking about after reviews, I’m talking advance.

I have a feeling, out of those three people, the name Christina Applegate probably sold more tickets to people who would buy Sweet Charity tickets than the names Brittany Murphy or Maggie Gyllenhaal would have. (And, before anyone points this out, I am aware that the name Christina Applegate did not sell many tickets.) I think this because Applegate had been getting a lot of press for Friends and that show had tons of fans of all ages. Whereas, my mother (who always serves as my litmus test for the ticket-buying suburban audience) probably couldn’t spot Brittany Murphy or Maggie Gyllenhaal out in a lineup. This is all speculative on my part—I haven’t run any focus groups on the matter.

But this thinking led me to an even more important topic… How big a star does one have to be to really sell tons of tickets to a Broadway show? Now, any of the three above mentioned actresses would get a bunch of press, which is helpful to a show. And if they sold 200 tickets to fans, that’s sadly probably 170 more tickets than an actress known primarily for her theater work would sell to her fans. So I see the advantage of having any one of them in a show, but I also know none of them would make tickets fly out of the box office. I mean, I’ve long thought it would be great to lure Murphy back to the stage, but I accept the fact that that would mean nothing to the majority of Americans.

So how big a star does a show need to guarantee a healthy advance? It depends on the project and a host of other issues, I know, but, I ask this question with the assumption that all other things are equal. Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise… those are names that are sure to sell. But what happens when you step down a level? Sure Jake Gyllenhaal would sell more tickets than Patrick Wilson, but would a Broadway show with him be an automatic smash? If Josh Harnett had taken Journey’s End would that have made it instantly huge? I’m not convinced. We know Hilary Swank didn’t sell The Miracle Worker

OK, I’m really, really tired, but I want everyone to think on this, as I shall. On another topic--I have heard a bunch of shows for the replacement Roundabout slot. I think I know the correct one, but, as I am not 100% sure, I’ll wait for the actual announcement like a good little girl. I think it’s coming very soon. Though, if they don’t make it in the next few days, I may grow impatient. Right now I’m too tired to be impatient.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Like most intellectuals, he's intensely stupid...

I told Michael Borowski I would write an ode to him, but I can't remember why I said that and I honestly don't know what to write about him. Maybe the last drink erased my memory or maybe, just maybe, I'm too tired at 2:30am to truly think. I do love Mikey, so, I tried...

Moving on, I had been wondering why I hadn't heard any concrete casting news for the Roundabout revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Well today I found out the reason--there is no Roundabout revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It appears to be off. Bye bye Christopher Hampton play. This leaves the Roundabout with two Broadway slots to be announced.

I can't say I'm surprised by this cancellation--every season there is a Roundabout revival that is called off. Maybe this one will resurface at the same time Roundabout finally does Fool For Love. Does anyone remember that planned revival? That one I sort of wanted to see. Oh, well.

OK, I am indeed exhausted and fuzzy now. And I have many a dish to prepare tomorrow... I hope someone understands the title to this entry, but, I can't worry about it now. So, happy holiday to all and to all a goodnight.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The answers my friends...

I feel like the season is halfway through. That’s not true actually, but I feel like since the Tonys I’ve lived through half a season or more, so, as far as I am concerned, I can do a mid-season column. Pretending that we’re about half done, I think this is a good time to look at those probably eligible for the Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award.

These comments are based on what I expect to take place. Shockingly not everything always works out as I think it will, so, much of it could be wrong. I actually get a kick out of being surprised, so I hope some of it indeed turns out to be incorrect...

And, now, on with the show:

Charlotte d’Amboise, A Chorus Line
-- D’Amboise is in the role that everyone roots for. But not everyone has embraced her performance, most noting that she is not nearly as good as Donna McKechnie (who won a Tony for playing Cassie in the original production). She could possibly squeak in with a nomination, but she’ll have tough competition.

Lisa Brescia, The Times They Are A-Changin'
--I’m even sure Brescia would be lead, they could leave her in featured. Either way, she won’t be nominated. I’m not saying she wasn’t good, I’m just saying no chance.

Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
--Front-runner. Duh. Though, just as Julie White has Angela Lansbury coming up, Ebersole has some biggies in her way. (Though, Ebersole is facing biggies who frequently do theater, making them less intimidating than Jessica Fletcher.) Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald and Donna Murphy are all critical darlings and thus should be feared a tiny bit. But the Ebersole acclaim is unlike anything we’ve experience recently in the theater and it is likely to hold up come June.

Daphne Rubin-Vega, Les Misérables
--Will she be lead or featured? I know Patti was lead in London, but Graff wasn’t nominated and I certainly don’t remember what she was eligible for, so… I don’t know. I tend to think featured, but, either way, she is sadly unlikely to be picking up another Tony nomination plaque.

Ashley Brown, Mary Poppins
--Brown was practically perfect technically, but not transcendent in anyway. Many critics noted her big smile and the last time that happened, it involved Sutton Foster, who went on to win a Tony for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Of course teeth isn’t all there is to it. Brown could possibly get a nomination—she is in the maybe pile along with d’Amboise, Debra Monk and more—but she certainly is not in contention for the statuette.

Jenn Colella, High Fidelity
--Umm…. No. I remember liking Colella in Urban Cowboy, but her out-of-town reviews for this don’t exactly spell Tony nomination. I guess she could totally turn it around—it’s just unlikely. (Though I root for everyone!)

Lea Michele, Spring Awakening
--This is another one where I’m not quite sure which side of the lead/featured fence she will fall on. I tend to think, based on what I’ve heard, lead. Though I didn’t see it… If she is lead, she would be in the ‘maybe’ stack I would think. She received good notices off-Broadway, but she wasn’t really made a big deal about. She would need some buzz for the nominators to select her.

Kristin Chenoweth, The Apple Tree
--Kristin is basically a nomination shoe-in because 1) she is Kristin Chenoweth and 2) she already received rave reviews for her performance in this show at Encores!. It is of course doubtful she will win. To her disadvantage, the show will be long gone in June and she will probably already be back in LA making another unsuccessful movie.

Debra Monk, Curtains
--I’m not 100% sure she is lead, but I think she is and I hear she is great in this. We can definitely count on there being some support behind her because she is an industry favorite. The problem is, with Ebersole, Chenoweth, McDonald and Murphy, there isn’t much room. Of course one of them could fail, but, if not, Monk will find herself in tight competition for the fifth slot. I think she could very well be the one who gets it though.

Audra McDonald, 110 in the Shade
--I honestly know nothing about 110 in the Shade. But, I mean, it’s Audra McDonald, so, barring horrible incident, she’ll certainly get a nomination. She has a history of winning these gold things, so, even though I think the Ebersole train will be hard to derail, I can’t count her out.

Stephanie J. Block, The Pirate Queen
--Well… She’s supposedly good, but…. The Pirate Queen is a sinking ship. I’m sure she’ll float to the surface with the help of a life ring and come out unscathed, it’s just going to be hard to score a nomination amid tough competition unless the musical's rewritten book and new staging helps float the boat. I’m not counting her out though, with this show, we’ll have to wait and see.

Laura Bell Bundy, Legally Blonde
--This show is a huge break for Bundy, if she can really carry it off, she could be honored with a nomination (no more than that). But she is another one who is going to fall into the large maybe pile.

Donna Murphy, Love Musik
--I cannot really picture what they are going to do with the character of Lotte Lenya based on the differing things I’ve heard during this show’s development. It’s just that it’s Donna Murphy and she has received nominations for her last three Broadway performances (winning two). There is still some bad feeling in the community towards her because of her Wonderful Town absences, but it’s hard to imagine that she won’t be nominated for what is bound to be a tricky role in a challenging musical. Winning is really another issue, though she could be helped if Ebersole starts missing performances and Riedel gets on her…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here?

I had a very good intro written, I used the word “moron” in it and I do love that word, but my friend Billy read it and he told me it would cause too much trouble. Now, usually I like to cause trouble, but I’m too busy these days to spend time dealing with the aftermath, so… There goes my fun. I will now just get into the major news of this post:

I recently heard from multiple sources that the Harold Prince-helmed musical Love Musik, the one about Kurt Weill’s marriage to actress/singer Lotte Lenya, is headed for the Biltmore Theater under the auspices of Manhattan Theater Club. The tuner, which uses Weill’s music and has a book by Alfred Uhry, will allegedly star Michael Cerveris and Donna Murphy in the main roles. (Now, when this show was first conceived I heard Sutton Foster for it, and, in my mind, Sutton Foster and Donna Murphy are not all that similar, but… that’s showbiz, I suppose.) Prince’s goal is probably to move it to a commercial house after this run is over. We’ll see about that.

There you go—I rarely do straight news, but, when I heard this, I figured you’d all want to know. I cannot verify the authenticity of the news—we’ll have to wait on the edge of our seats (uh huh) to see if MTC spokesperson Jim Byk announces it someday. (Off topic, Jim Byk has a huge mental archive regarding old shows, so if you know him or ever meet him, I encourage quizzing him. I mean quizzing most other press agents on such things might be funnier, because it is very possible they would just stare at you, but if you want to know answers, I’d go with Byk.) Anyway, I also cannot verify the authenticity of the following tidbit: apparently, in addition to everyone who has been posted on the message boards, Philip Bosco is in the Encores! mounting of Follies. And I was so hoping Chitty would be his last musical ever…

Meanwhile, in the last two minutes, three people have IMed me about what is supposedly Hunter Foster’s Talkin’ Broadway response to the Urinetown drama reported in The Times today. While I respect and agree with a lot of what Hunter is saying, I do wish he had mentioned that his wife, Jen Cody (another Urinetown original cast member), directed one of the productions in question. The omission of this fact naturally makes me think: “What else is missing?” That might be somewhat unfair of me, but I think it is sort of human nature. (NOTE: The TB post was removed shortly after I wrote this. In the post, the user, "blindspot," said, essentially, that he believed this action by the Urinetown team was ridiculous. He said certain shows always have certain things associated with them--for example, he noted, every dinner theater production of Fiddler uses a similar bottle dance--and so you should expect to see these elements in subsequent productions without considering legal action. He also said that he had seen the Ohio production and that he viewed it to be a "cousin" of the Broadway production, not a copy. Blindspot then went on to note that the John Rando/John Caraffa mounting of The Pajama Game featured a version of "Steam Heat" that had a nod to Fosse with the use of Bowler hats and some of the moves, but he doubted they were giving money to the Fosse estate. It just basically went on like that. It was very well thought out. If you want to read it in its entirety, it's floating around or you can email me at

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rest In Peace

When I woke up this afternoon, I was planning on writing a post with some theater news. Then I heard the news of Bob Fennell's passing and I decided this space would be better spent in tribute to him.

Those of you not in the industry, might not have known Bob personally or even of him. In 1996, after working at Boneau/Bryan-Brown, he co-founded the press agency The Publicity Office with Marc Thibodeau. He remained co-head of the office until his death. Shows he worked on there included Wicked, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Three Days of Rain, The Good Body, Man of La Mancha, Follies, Imaginary Friends, The Blonde in the Thunderbird, Jane Eyre, Swan Lake and more. (Also of note--at BBB his shows included Moon Over Buffalo and therefore he has a brief cameo in the Moon Over Broadway documentary.)

As a journalist, I work with tons of press agents, many of whom yearn to escape the industry. Bob was not like that--he genuinely loved the theater and was completely dedicated to his job. Often he worked at nights, on weekends and holidays. He never forgot anything and could offer stories on any show he ever worked on. He was also fiercely protective of his clients--he once spent 45 minutes trying to convince me I should not write that The Good Body was closing early in deference to Eve Ensler's feelings. While he had a temper, he never resorted to below-the-belt shots, even if someone deserved them. And, though he had a reserved look about him, he could be very exuberant.

He was so proud of Wicked, considering it his biggest accomplishment in this industry. About a month ago, after he had already been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, I got him on the phone at his office and he went on an on about how much he loved the current cast. Even in the face of illness, he was still confidently doing his job.

I could tell many stories involving him, but he was a private man and I don't think he'd want that. So I'll just leave it at the above. For those of you who knew him, a wake will be held Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16, 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM at The Whalen & Ball Funeral Home in Yonkers. A funeral service will be held on Friday, November 17 at 10:30 AM at The Monastery Church of the Sacred Heart, 110 Shonnard Place, Yonkers. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Robert A. Fennell Scholarship Fund at Brooklyn College (

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I just need to make one thing clear...

I don't have much to say, but I do have a clarification. I've gotten these: "Do you think there is ANY chance Orlando Bloom will do it?" emails. I blame myself for this because I didn't make the whole "no Orlando" thing clear. It's Hugh Dancy INSTEAD OF Orlando Bloom. Now, I guess if Hugh gets a movie and Orlando Bloom suddenly wants to do it and has nothing else to do, it could possibly happen... Never say "never," but, I'm thinking you can basically say "not gonna see it." Sorry I did not make that clear. Bloom was mentioned for Captain Stanhope and now Dancy is Captain Stanhope. I am happy they ended up with Dancy rather than a random actor I had never heard of in the sense that, if Journey's End is boring, I'm so just going to sit there picturing him lip syncing to "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" at the end of Ella Enchanted. Meanwhile, one of those Bloom emails asked me if I knew anything about what kind of character Jefferson Mays would play. In a review of the London production, Variety described the character I believe Mays will play, Mason, as: "the resident chef with an avidity for cutlets." So there that is. Now, again, note that none of this casting is confirmed. I am pretty confident about it, but I can't swear by any of it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's all in the details

So, in my previous post, I answered four of the five questions you readers emailed me last week. I had hoped to have the fifth answer today, but I don't think there really is one. The question asked whether I knew who the ladies of Encores! Follies were going to be. Now, I have a list of people who have been offered roles, but, beyond Victoria Clark (who has already been announced), I don't think any of them have accepted yet. Thus I honestly don't know who we'll see onstage at City Center. And I don't think anyone does. I could list you the people who have offers, but it would be a tiny bit ridiculous. It's like if I listed you everyone who had been offered Roxie Hart in Chicago, we'd be here for years.

Now onto something that really bothers me--that even some theater journalists seem to not know/care the difference between off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway. They are not the same thing. People who write about such things for a living should know that. To quote my guest blogger--enough I say! If you don't know what category a show falls into, just name the theater and don't say off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway. That's a good way to go. Because I know it's honestly confusing. If you are writing about a production at a 55-seat theater that is performing 3 performances a week for 3 weeks, it's a safe bet that it's off-off-Broadway. But, sometimes, productions at tiny houses have actors under off-Broadway contracts. (This typically happens after a show has been at the same house awhile.) So I understand the possibility that justifiably journalists could not know whether a show is off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway. I know there are times when I read a press release and have no idea which one the show in question is. But journalists have the ability of calling the show's press agent and asking. I've asked that question many a time. Sometimes even the press agent does not know and, in these cases, a journalist can either persist until a answer is found or, and here is a novel concept, they can just write something like "New York's In The Middle of Nowhere Theater [insert actual theater name and not my smart ass theater name]." Now, I know some people are going to think I'm crazy for caring because the difference is irrelevant to the majority of readers, but there is a difference. And it confuses things to label shows incorrectly.

OK, I am going to stop while three people in this industry are still speaking to me. I can't handle everyone thinking I'm a pompous jerk. As I did with the Cry Baby post (which I got nasty emails about), I will say, that I'm sure I have in the past been guilty of what I criticize. That does not mean I cannot know it's wrong. It's good to learn. I've grown. I make other stupid mistakes now--like printing a dead guy is on the Tony nominating committee. Now that's stellar journalism.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Still rollin', keep a-rollin'

Has everyone read The Times story on Little Dog Laughed yet? I hope so. Now, of course, I mean the Sunday Times story, not today's story about how Julie White was chomping down instead of being at her matinee. That just made me sad.

Anyway, better late than never with this posting.... I received five emails from you all in the last week. I am answering four below to the best of my ability. Tomorrow hopefully I'll have the answer to the fifth...

Q: What do you know about Rock of Ages?

A: Not that much. I know people who saw this "hair band musical" (a term I hope to use frequently from now on) in LA and thought it was campy and ridiculous. I know that it includes the songs "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Nothin' But A Good Time," making me happy. And I know it will begin performances at the Daryl Roth Theatre (soon to be home to a limited engagement of Striking 12, a musical I support) in March--I clearly am marking my calender now. I don't know who will be in it--certainly not Los Angeles star Laura Bell Bundy.

Q: Have you heard anyone other than Boyd Gaines for Journey's End? I heard Orlando Bloom.

A: I loved this email because I didn't know that name was really out there until I received it. I too heard Bloom at some point and, when I did hear it, I laughed. I haven't heard it since. Now I am all for random Hollywood actors coming to Broadway, but Bloom (who always seems in interviews like a very nice guy) really, really can't act, so I actually felt like it might be painful. I don't think we'll have to worry about it though, because I do not believe it is happening. I have heard Gaines (who told Playbill he was doing it), Hugh Dancy (who I recently watched in Basic Instinct 2), Jefferson Mays and Sam Barnett (who Rocco asked me about in a previous comment). These names are not official--they are "mentioned," as Ken Mandelbaum would write.

Q: Who is in 110 in the Shade with Audra?

A: I've heard the names Christopher Innvar, Steve Kazee and Bobby Steggert. I can't swear by any of them, but they make sense to me.

Q: Who is going to be in Adrift in Macao off-Broadway?

A: Well, I sort of don't know the answer. The original plan was to import the company directly from last fall's mounting at the Philadelphia Theater Company. I think that is a huge mistake, but, that is beyond the point. That company included Rachel de Benedet, Michele Ragusa (in a role that I saw Kaitlin Hopkins do in a reading to better effect), David McDonald and Michael Rupert. I think you will see most of them off-Broadway in January, but you will not see Rupert, as he is headed to Legally Blonde. I have not heard yet who will replace him, so, I've partially failed on this one.

OK--was this posting worth the wait? (That was rhetorical.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

While we were talking I saw you nodding out...

I have read your emails about what you want to read here and I’m thinking… This Sunday will be the day for me to report some casting scoops. I believe. Assuming I don’t go through some Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wipe prior to then.

But, today, I have a little past business to finish up. I got three emails about my last column. Two people said I forgot Sunday in the Park with George and one person said I omitted Don Carlos. For those of you who do not know about Don Carlos—the production of Friedrich Schiller's tragedy that was supposed to come to Broadway, was one that starred Derek Jacobi and opened in the West End in February 2005. It was supposed to come to New York in fall 2005. Now we never saw it here and I heard very little about it after the initial reports that it would come. There are apparently still those hoping to bring it, but I tend to think it will go the way of Breath of Life, Fallen Angels and countless others.

Sunday in the Park with George: I am going on a limb here and assume everyone that reads this blog, other than possibly my close friends, knows what this musical is about. It opened on Broadway in May 1984, closed October 1985 and has never been revived on the Great White Way. The production heading to New York originated at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a tiny UK fringe venue that is very hip, and transferred to the West End, where it played from May to September of this year. The production, directed by Sam Buntrock (who I’d never heard of previously), was called “exquisite” by The London Times, but my friends who saw it oddly didn’t love it. Regardless of what they thought (apparently they don't rule the world), it was quickly touted for a transfer and even put “headed to Broadway” or something of the like in its UK advertisements. Of course, no theater was ever announced.

So that is it. I have to be somewhere VERY early tomorrow morning, so I am going to sleep. I am looking forward to reading the inevitable announcement tomorrow of Curtains at the Beck (also known as the Hirschfeld, to those not hanging on to the past). I hope no journalist writes that it received “rave” reviews in LA. I don’t want to lose faith in the profession.

Monday, October 23, 2006

London Calling

Hmmm... For some reason my last post is gone. If you didn't read it, you didn't miss much, but it's odd.

Anyway… I thought I’d take this time to write about some London shows rumored for Broadway berths. I get questions all the time about these titles—not many people know what all of them are.


Journey’s End: Playbill reported that it was coming this spring. Now it was also casting for a production last spring, so I wouldn’t bank on buying your tickets just yet. That being said—based on what I’ve heard about theater availability, I expect it, so let me tell you a little bit about it. Directed by David Grindley (who I do not believe has ever done anything on Broadway), it first opened in the West End in January 2004 at the Comedy Theatre. It switched houses many times, also playing at the Playhouse Theatre, Duke of York's and New Ambassadors Theatre. Based on scribe R.C. Sherriff’s own time in the trenches, the play itself first opened in 1929 and centers on a captain, Stanhope, as he prepares his men for a daring raid and epic battle. The production got great reviews—everyone in London said it was very powerful and graphic and, while not totally overtly anti-war, would really appeal to anti-war activists (aka New York liberals).

Coram Boy: Riedel reported this for the Imperial should High Fidelity fail early. Adapted from a Jamila Gavin novel, this dark tale first opened at the National Theatre last holiday season and was such a hit it is coming back this one. There are three major plots to this show: one has as its central characters Otis Gardiner, known as the Coram Man, and his unstable son, who take money from women who give birth to illegitimate children and, um, gets rid of the children; there is also the plot centering on Alexander Ashbrook who dreams of being a composer like Handel (his storyline involves a lot of music and singing); the other plot involves two orphans at the Coram Hospital for Deserted Children. Reviews said it was disturbing but also thrilling.

Frost/Nixon: Everyone has written that this show is coming to Gotham. And, indeed, the website for the West end transfer, beginning November 10 at the Gielgud, proudly boasts “12 weeks only prior to Broadway.” Starring Michael Sheen and Frank Langella as Frost and Nixon, respectively, the play just closed a limited run at the Donmar Warehouse. It centers on David Frost's post-Watergate interviews with Richard Nixon. I didn’t read one bad review of it and receiving big raves in each of the reviews was Langella. He just might need to make room on his mantle for a third Tony.

Rock ‘n’ Roll: Who originally thought this was about the origin of the music form? Just me? I sort of wish it was in some respect, but that would be a little tired and not be very Tom Stoppard. Here is the actual description: “Rock 'n' Roll spans the years from 1968 to 1990 from the double perspective of Prague, where a rock 'n' roll band comes to symbolize resistance to the Communist regime, and of Cambridge where the verities of love and death are shaping the lives of three generations in the family of a Marxist philosopher.” The show was a huge sold-out hit at the Royal Court and moved to the Duke of York's Theatre in July. Rufus Sewell and Sinead Cusack are among its stars. Some critics noted that it is at times overly complex, but they all seemed to go with it regardless. Trevor Nunn’s production received raves and apparently the show has a lot of spirit.

A Moon for the Misbegotten: They worked together on The Iceman Cometh and now director Howard Davies and star Kevin Spacey have reunited on another Eugene O'Neill classic. Spacey was having trouble receiving acclaim at the Old Vic, but this revival changed all that. Spacey’s co-stars Eve Best and Colm Meaney also both received their share of good notices. It’s at the Old Vic until December 23 and we could definitely be seeing it afterwards. Apparently they want Best and she is already scheduled to be in As You Like It (playing the Crucible Theater in Sheffield in the winter and then Stratford-on-Avon starting in March 2007) post-Moon, but I don’t think that will stop it. I mean, the play was just on Broadway in 2000 and that is not stopping this transfer…

I know I am forgetting something. Did one of these announce a theater and I’ve blocked it? Or am I forgetting a member of the list? Hmmm… If it was not 3am maybe I could answer my own questions.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's all over but the crying

Everyone who knows me well knows the following things about me (and more): I think Slurpees are man’s perfect food, I am a television addict, I love Spy Kids 2, my 7-CD player always has at least one Go-Go’s CD and one Garbage CD in it, I once worked for a moron (who hasn’t?), Anne Heche played my favorite childhood soap opera character, I say “random” a lot, I tend to answer all questions asked of me even when I shouldn’t and I can’t miss a campy live production. That’s right, the campier the better. So, following from that, it should be no surprise that my most highly-anticipated theatrical production of the year is Legends!. (More than Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical because this one is in North America.)

I have followed the first tour stop of Legends! closely. I was getting a little impatient because it took so long for the show to have its official Toronto opening and, now that it has, I feel a little sad. Not that I was expecting it to receive good reviews, because of course I was not. But these notices don’t even make it seem fun. These are not In My Life reviews. Alas.

Judge for yourself…

The Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian: “What winds up onstage is pretty soggy, thanks to the mildewed script and limp direction of John Bowab. Even the big cat fight between the ladies is a snoozy, offstage affair… Joan Collins plays, uh, Joan Collins. She does it very well. She's been doing it for a long time. Linda Evans, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise. With a husky voice and a haughty air, she actually hints that something might be going on inside her character.”

The Globe and Mail’s Kamal Al-Solaylee: “Picking on Legends!, a comedy that was probably hopelessly out of date when it opened in 1986, is like flogging a horse that's been sent to the glue factory. If the production moved any faster, it might, with some serious caveats, qualify for the morbidly redeeming quality of a train wreck, but John Bowab's staging--to call it direction is an act of generosity to which I don't feel inclined--is anesthetically, mind-numbingly slow... I suppose two feisty stage performers or real-life Hollywood legends could resuscitate this DOA material or lend it a self-reflexive twist. That seems to be beyond Collins or Evans... Collins approaches each scene with a predetermined agenda to steal it or at the very least project a stage confidence that suggests she ultimately lacks it. The kindest thing one can say about Evans is that she doesn't quite embarrass herself in this, her theatrical debut. Enough said.”

(Variety also has a review from Ouzounian with just slightly different wording.)

You see? Doesn’t sound fun… Though it does sound much like what I witnessed the other day when I turned on My Network TV’s Fashion House. I leave you with an exchange from that show that took place betweek Bo Derek and Morgan Fairchild right after Morgan broke up Bo’s wedding.

Scene: Bo is now at home and she opens the door to Morgan.

Morgan: If it isn’t the woman who put the “whore” back in horrible.
Bo: How dare you come here? What the hell do you think you are doing?
Morgan: Well, you left the church so quickly, I didn’t even get to offer my best wishes to the blushing bride.
Bo: Save your cheap wit for someone else.
Morgan: Well you would know from cheap, wouldn’t you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's A Long Road to Turkey Point

I was going to write some random casting news today, but instead I come to you with a timely public service announcement: Do not believe everything you read. Please. Even if it is on this blog. Blind trust is bad (believe only that).

Why do I feel compelled to write this now? Well, about a month ago I heard that Cry-Baby was being delayed in Seattle. Now I thought this news had been reported when I was out-of-town and not paying attention, so I was surprised to read it everywhere just today. I was also saddened when I read it because it brought to light something I have long known--journalists spout press agent bullshit like it's fact. You see, Cry-Baby is not really being delayed because there is no available Broadway house. That's a crap excuse--convenient but not 100% true. If Cry-Baby was in great shape and had a cast, it would be doing its tryout this winter, regardless of the housing situation. It would have back-up deals on some Broadway houses and be ready to come in when one became available. I love the Cry-Baby score, I am a fan of its producer and I support it wholeheartedly, honestly, but the truth is, not many people left its recent workshop thinking the show was ready to go. It needs work and two new leads who they have yet to find. I respect them delaying it to deal with these issues--that is what should be done. And, also, I understand the production's need to use a excuse that does in fact have some merit and won't hurt the future of the show. This is all wise on their part. But it just upsets me a little to read it Variety: "The 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle has delayed the pre-Broadway tryout of the tuner adaptation of John Waters' Cry-Baby because the production could not lock in a Broadway theater for an immediate transfer to Gotham."

Again you may ask "why?" If I agree that it's wise to use such an excuse and I want the production to succeed, it should not bother me when that excuse is printed. Yet it does. The reason is, journalists should not print things like they are 100% factual, when it's not clear they are. I understand writing things according to a production statement, lord knows I've had to do it even when I knew that the statement was crap. I mean--we all knew in our hearts Jenna Elfman was never rejoining Nine, but they said she was, so that was the thing to write. But then, blame the production for the lie. In other words write: "While Elfman will not start on schedule, she will be rejoining the production at a later time, according to a production spokesperson." That last part after the comma is key. If you write these things without attribution to the production, you write it as if it is 100% fact and it's often not. You then have an untrue report. It's not like this is the reporting of a factual thing, such as "the production lasted two hours," this is the reporting of an unverifiable causal relationship. Such things, when written in news stories, should be attributed. End of story. I know I am guilty of not always following this rule--I am sure you can find stories where I stated non-factual items as fact (don't send them to me; I am already admitting guilt)--but it's the wrong thing to do as a journalist.

And as a reader, I believe I have the right to know where such things come from. Is this the reporter's opinion? Is it coming from the production? Does it belong to a random expert? Are all people "in the know" saying the same thing? We all need to question the source of the information. That is what people in an educated society should do. But, unfortunately, sometimes things are just stated as fact and we don't know anything else. We don't know where it came from--we cannot fully analyze it. As readers, we do not typically call journalists and say: "Hey--is this really true? Who told you?" I doubt they'd like it... I know I wouldn't... So, sometimes as a reader you just need to make up your mind.

I urge you to be skeptical of all things (especially ones that are not totally verifiable and/or supported by a large amount of accompanying facts). Don't believe just because it's in The Times or Variety it is true. Think.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ummm... I screwed up...

One of Broadway's brightest observers emailed me this morning to correct my last post. While there were 27 people on the nominating committee in July, there are now 26. That is because Larry Sacharow, a well-respected professor, died in August before ever serving. I do not know why the Tony people have yet to remove him from the Tony site. I apologize for my sloppiness--I should have checked their list more closely. After all--who trusts them?

So, now, here is the total list:

Victoria Bailey - Executive Director, Theatre Development Fund
Joe Benincasa - President, The Actors' Fund of America
Susan Birkenhead - Lyricist
Edward Burbridge - Scenic Designer
Robert Callely - Theatre Executive
Ben Cameron - Program Director for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Betty Corwin - Retired Director of the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts
John Dias - Producer, Dramaturg, Educator
Mercedes Ellington - Choreographer
Sue Frost - Producer/Company Manager
Joanna Gleason - Actor
Andrew Jackness - Scenic Designer
David Henry Hwang - Playwright
Betty Jacobs - Script Consultant/Theatre Historian
Robert Kamlot - Retired General Manager
Todd London - Artistic Director, New Dramatists
Brian Stokes Mitchell - Actor
Peter Neufeld - Former General Manager
Phyllis Newman - Actor/Writer/Lyricist
Lynn Nottage - Playwright
Gilbert Parker - Retired Senior Vice President of the William Morris Agency
Jonathan Reynolds - Playwright/Screenwriter
Steve Suskin - Theatre Author
Jac Venza - Retired Executive, WNET
Tom Viola - President, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Franklin Weissberg - Retired Judge of the New York State Court of Claims

My comments remain the same.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where have you gone Mr. Fisher?

At the beginning of every theatrical season, I like to look at the list of Tony nominators. I know come May I am going to be bombarded with: “Who chooses these things anyway?!?!” So it’s best to prepare ahead.

We could debate the long-lasting effect (or lack thereof) of Tony nominations for weeks, but, regardless, these people are important. Last year, there were 27 nominators at the start of the season and 23 by season’s end, this year there are again 27 at the start. (A statement I read from The League said there were 28, but I keep re-counting and getting 27, so, I am going with my number.)

For those who don't know, nominators serve three-year terms. So, this year, Stephen Bogardus, Kirsten Childs, Jacqueline Davis, Nancy Ford, Geoffrey Johnson and Enid Nemy are off the list because they already served their three. Dana Ivey has also recused herself because she is in Butley--she'll be back next year, in theory.

This year, the new people are Actors' Fund President Joe Benincasa, Robert Callely (best known for running playwright foundations, I think), Public Theater Associate Artistic Director John Dias, producer/company manager Sue Frost (who hasn't worked on Broadway in over a decade), actress Joanna Gleason, Betty Jacobs (a script consultant who has served before), actress Phyllis Newman, Fordham professor Larry Sacharow, writer Steve Suskin and BC/EFA head Tom Viola.

So here is the total list:

Victoria Bailey - Executive Director, Theatre Development Fund
Joe Benincasa - President, The Actors' Fund of America
Susan Birkenhead - Lyricist
Edward Burbridge - Scenic Designer
Robert Callely - Theatre Executive
Ben Cameron - Program Director for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Betty Corwin - Retired Director of the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts
John Dias - Producer, Dramaturg, Educator
Mercedes Ellington - Choreographer
Sue Frost - Producer/Company Manager
Joanna Gleason - Actor
Andrew Jackness - Scenic Designer
David Henry Hwang - Playwright
Betty Jacobs - Script Consultant/Theatre Historian
Robert Kamlot - Retired General Manager
Todd London - Artistic Director, New Dramatists
Brian Stokes Mitchell - Actor
Peter Neufeld - Former General Manager
Phyllis Newman - Actor/Writer/Lyricist
Lynn Nottage - Playwright
Gilbert Parker - Retired Senior Vice President of the William Morris Agency
Jonathan Reynolds - Playwright/Screenwriter
Larry Sacharow - Theatre Professor, Fordham University
Steve Suskin - Theatre Author
Jac Venza - Retired Executive, WNET
Tom Viola - President, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Franklin Weissberg - Retired Judge of the New York State Court of Claims

Now there are some interesting things about this list… Without names such as Marc Shaiman (who served fairly recently) and Kirsten Childs, there are no composers on this list. There are also no directors. The majority of people on this list—for better or worse--are people who watch shows, not those directly involved in the creation of shows. I could write an interesting feature on this, but I feel like no one would run it.

Now the most notable thing about the above list is who is missing. Before the 2005-2006 season, Sarah Jessica Parker was announced for the nominating committee, but she had to pull out for the year because of hubby Matthew Broderick’s involvement in The Odd Couple. This year, she would again have to take a year leave because he has another Broadway gig, The Starry Messenger. Except oddly there was no mention whatsoever of her when the committee was announced—no note that she had another year off. Even stranger is the absence of Rob Fisher from the list. Rob Fisher, a musical director probably best known for his work with the Encores! series, was also announced as a nominator last year, except he didn’t serve on the committee. This year his absence could because of his involvement in The Apple Tree (which started at Encores!)—though there is no note to prove that--but it’s still curious. Why did he not even participate last year?

Now each year, somehow nominators are lost along the way. There are various reasons why—I’m assuming in most cases it is either a conflict of interest or a failure to see every show. For instance, last season Marc Shaiman disappeared from the list by season’s end. But this usually happens after the person has served for at least one year. Rob Fisher never served.

Regardless of all this, the people on that list are ones who will dash hopes or make dreams come true this season. Let’s hope they have some taste (that agrees with mine).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 5?

While most people in this industry are concerned tonight with whether A Chorus Line will be a singular sensation, I myself have my attention focused on beantown, where High Fidelity has opened its tryout. I am really pulling for it, as I hope all new shows succeed, especially ones with Will Chase. I was supposed to go to see it last weekend, but, my fever has kept me home bound and thus I just have the reviews to give me a glimpse of the show. And you'll read them here as I read them. Now, note, this is a tryout. As we all know, Movin' Out got bad reviews in Chicago and look at that.

The first High Fidelity review I've seen is from The Boston Herald's Terry Byrne. Byrne isn't having it, in the second paragraph stating: "Composer Tom Kitt’s songs are a forgettable collection of regurgitated rock and show tunes that borrow from all the wrong people. In a story that celebrates a guy’s love for real music, that’s not acceptable."
But Byrne likes most of the cast, including Will. The one exception is Jenn Colella, who had probably been having a good week as she watched The Times They Are A-Changin' drama from far away, but now has a little rain falling on her parade. Byrne notes Colella "is a strong singer, but she’s a little bland, so it’s hard to understand why Rob wants her back."
Other comments: "The characters surrounding the two leads are more compelling than the ones we’re supposed to focus on.... Director Walter Bobbie has worked in a few clever moments on Anna Louizos’ fascinating fold-out set...But there aren’t enough of these over-the-top moments to sustain interest. Lindsay-Abaire has written some clever dialogue (with references to John Tesh and other faux icons of the early ’90s), but Amanda Green’s lyrics try too hard."

OK, it's 1am and the second review is up... It's by Joan Anderman of The Boston Globe and I have to say it's not great either. She calls the show "mildly witty and amusing" but she sadly does not mean that in a good way. Anderman: "In an effort to straddle the hip, indie world of its characters and the mainstream demands of Broadway, the show misses both marks." Anderman likes Green's lyrics, calling them "very smart," but the music gets slammed again here. It seems so far that these two critics just think the show is too darn generic. But, again, this is a tryout, so there is hope.

The third major review is in and it is... drumroll... GOOD! Variety's Frank Rizzo writes: "Even with all its out-of-town try-out flaws, High Fidelity is a musical that celebrates the power of pop culture with wit, verve and a killer beat." Rizzo thinks David Lindsay-Abaire does a good job with the book. He sadly doesn't love Will and thinks the female lead role is a bit "underwritten." But he loves the music and the lyrics, becoming the first critic to really praise the tunes. He also calls the production values "solid." All in all, this is a good sign for the show. Rizzo notes that the second act needs help and some other issue, but it is still by far the tuner's best review.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The room is spinning

I have long been a supporter of Meredith Patterson's career (not that it has helped her any), so it made me very happy to see her re-appear on Boston Legal Tuesday night. For those of you who did not see it--let me share with you a highlight.

Scene: Meredith's character is crying because she just found out her husband is a cheater
Candice Bergen: "Look at the lungs on you..."
Meredith: "I learned to project in Gypsy."

Now that is mildly funny regardless of your knowledge of Meredith's career, but it becomes genuinely amusing when you know she spent a little while this summer starring in the title role of Gypsy at the St. Louis Muny. (She received good reviews, Karen Mason, the production's Rose, did not fare as well.) Looks like David Kelley knows his actors...

You know, that was lame written out like that, but, I swear it was amusing at the time. Now I had a lot more to write today, but the fever seems to have over-heated my brain and caused malfunction. So I don't remember what any of it was. But wait until Sunday, it will so all come back to me by then. Actually, come back before then if you don't want to read all the High Fidelity reviews, but do want excerpts from them. They will be up here.

I leave you with this thought--
If Tracey Ullman can write a book about knitting (seriously), why can she not get her Broadway show together?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

If this ever changing world in which we live in...

This past week, while walking on my way to pick up a Slurpee, I ran into an investor who scolded me for breaking some story on this blog a while ago. I stood there for some time, listened and nodded, but then I blurted out: "Umm... you should be happy that anyone cares!" And it reminded me that for years I've been listening to people scream about how, because of the internet, nothing is private anymore. I used to hate having that same conversation over and over again--me defending the right of the people to know, all the while thinking: "If I say thirty people really care, I'm being generous." In this particular case, when this investor went with 'You people won't let anything just die--you have to put it out there," I just zoned out, thinking about whether they would have Pina Colada flavor at the 7-11. But it got me thinking afterwards--can things just go away in today's community? Or is everything, even things that only one person cares about, brought to light somewhere?

Well, shortly after this encounter, I was flipping thought The Times and saw Campbell Robertson's piece on "dueling magicians" Eric Walton and Ricky Jay. Now I'm a fan of Campbell's work and I do tend to read all his stories, but this one I got to about line 10 on before going back to watching my soap opera safe in the knowledge that I don't care about slight of hand artists. As I was watching Erica Kane try to reclaim the son she thought she aborted, something hit me--I remembered Marc Salem, another magician, and how he pulled a disappearing act with his own Broadway show. See, in 2004, his Mind Games on Broadway played Mondays (and at some point Tuesdays) at the Lyceum Theatre. It went on a scheduled hiatus in late November, never came back and no one wrote about it. I think I noticed about a month too late. Proof that if no one cares, things can just vanish, smoke and mirrors or no.

Another thing no one wrote about is the death of the Tribeca Theater Festival. For those who don't remember what it was, it opened in the fall of 2004 and was supposed to be a big annual event in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival. The Drama Dept., which was mired in debt and could not produce an actual season as it had in the past, was the prime theater force behind it. The central feature of the festival was The Downtown Plays, an evening of short works by playwrights Jon Robin Baitz, Douglas Carter Beane, David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Kenneth Lonergan, Paul Rudnick and Wendy Wasserstein. So, it's not like there were just a bunch of slouches involved. Yet, when the next year came and there was no Tribeca Theater Festival, no one seemed to miss it.

These are just two examples of the many things that still don't get reported. I mean--how many people noticed when Aunjanue Ellis was replaced in rehearsals of Doubt with Adriane Lenox? MTC has a few more instance of that in its recent history... So it's not like there cannot be a secret in this world, it's just hard to keep things secret that people care about. And is that so bad?

Well, I am of the belief that people should just chill about it. When there was a Friday Times column, I understood producers holding onto their scoops for dear life, knowing that a break in the column was a big deal. That column rightfully tended not to print old news, so if it was on on Tuesday, it was bye bye Times. But now there is no column and The Times and Variety frequently print things that have appeared online previously.

There is also the argument that word of casting or theater news before there are signed deals, jeopardizes the project. But I would counter with the fact that trade papers frequently print that people are "in talks" for movies and, while it does produce some drama, it is not a huge ridiculous scandal. Additionally, many film companies just ignore when random websites print such things in passing. In the theater world, print "in talks" on a website and it is like you are single-handedly responsible for killing something (I am not sure what). It is shocking that theater producers and their representatives tend to take these things so much more seriously than movie-folk do, because theater news reaches much fewer people than movie news does. And for every 100 people that care the casting of Kenneth Lonergan's latest movie, 1 person cares about the casting for The Starry Messenger.

So, basically my point is, theater people (myself included) often take things too seriously. It helps to have perspective. I hope this 'live and let live' message means that the investor I ran into won't call me and yell about this column.

Anyway, I must go prepare myself for Yom Kippur. I wish "easy fast" to those reading this who are fasting.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What About Tears When I'm Happy?

Does everyone out there know about the musical How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes? It's a musical that was at the Fringe two years ago... I'm sure the fact that it is coming back has been reported somewhere--it starts at New World Stages in November. I know its cast includes Anika Larsen, Nicole Ruth Snelson (who was good in that Have a Nice Life NYMF show I saw), Natalie Joy Johnson (always to be best known in my mind from Bare), Stephen Bienskie and Michael McEachran, but I don't know much else about it, which is scary because I saw it. That's right, I sat at the Lortel watching it in August 2004 and yet I remember none of it. I think it takes place at the UN. I think I laughed a couple of times during it, but I don't recall thinking it was a definite transfer. And clearly it wasn't memorable! Yet it's coming off-Broadway. I continue to be surprised at how many off-Broadway musicals get produced. Each year, there is a crowded crop of hopefuls, despite the dismal odds of success.

In the next few months, New World Stages' five spaces will be completely filled with musicals (if you count Drumstruck as a musical and, I mean, they do play music on those drums). Of the new crop--there is How to Save the World in the tiny Stage 5, Mimi le Duck (which i support) in the 499-seat Stage 3 and Evil Dead in the other 499-seater, Stage 1. I wish all of them the best of luck, especially Mimi. And, as a theater fan, I'm happy they're getting done. I just really, really question the business model at play here. Is there even one? Or in the increasing world of investors as producers are people just basically following their hearts?

I leave you to ponder that question--and please feel free to email me at or leave a comment if you have any answers. Today I was going to write about why the mediocre musical The Color Purple (which will soon welcome Alton Fitzgerald White to its cast) continues to be popular, but I've lost the energy. Actually, even writing that sentence completely tired me out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Don't Ya Think

Greetings all. The Jewish holiday just ended a few hours ago and I'm still away with family. Thus there will be no real posting today. I will say that I was reading my guest blogger's columns over and I want to make a correction--Jane Eyre was not closed when it was nominated for its Tony. I remember vividly the whole "we're closing/we're not" drama because it geniusly involved Alanis Morisette (who bailed the show out) and it also involved Tony Award broadcast time (the Tonys took away the show's performance time-slot when it announced it was closing and originally refused to give it back even though the show was remaining open). In the end, Jane Eyre was indeed still open when it was nominated for its Tony and when it lost on Tony night (which of course was inevitable). After a fight, the show was allowed to perform on the broadcast. I can't remember what they performed--the only thing I remember from that night was timing the number on a stop watch and, additionally, being upset when Christine Ebersole won. OK, back to the family now. It's time for dinner. I'll have a good post on Wednesday to make up for this random one.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Just Can't Wait...

It is my favorite time of year ladies and gentlemen -- fall television premiere time. This is really the time of year when there is an extra spring in my step, that full force cara glimmer in the eye (that you likely cannot see behind my glasses).

This season has been particularly special so far because it has been full of theater folk. Did everyone see that Megan Mullallay opened her show with a musical number? I mean, sure she has no idea how to be a talk show host, but she can sing. That's what these critics need to focus on. And Heather Goldenhersh... I really thought she would tone the lisp down before hitting the airways... But there it was, full force as she talked to theater vet Jesse Tyler Ferguson on the CBS show The Class. Really warms my heart.

Speaking of making me happy, and we always are, my friend Michael made me very happy when he sent me this link on Monday:

I love these photos. I mean, look at these two women. Look at the differences... As far as I am concerned, more Legends! stalking people. Get out there. Just don't get arrested--I spent a night in jail once and I think everyone should try to avoid it.

OK, now I need to take a moment to applaud the sheer strength of Disney marketing. They really can push anything. I have often said that if Seussical or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were Disney shows--they would have survived much longer than they did. And if Cats opened during the Disney era, it would have never survived; it would have been crushed by the Disney family fare. Disney is a child friendly machine. I see those Tarzan commercials and I think "oy" but I was sitting in a roomful of people earlier today and the commercial came on and I heard a mother say "I HAVE TO get tickets to that." And it's on all the time. So is that "Just can't wait to see King" ultra NYC-centered Lion King commercial--even I had that stupid line in my head today. Disney marketing is unavoidable--it's not that what they have is so clever, it's simply that it is slick and omnipresent. I can't compliment the company's genius, but I do admire the amount of money they put behind their shows. Of course they are the only Broadway producers who have billions to spare.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Week's Hot Topic

I got a few emails from people asking me why I found NYMF sort of "scam-ish," as I referred to it last posting. I have to say, I'm no expert on this topic. I've never really researched it or paid that much attention when people spoke to me about it. BUT here is why I have always been a little confused by the way they work things there...

For Fringe, most press people are sent a pass that they can use to attend any show they want, as long as that show is not sold out. So, at the last minute, one can decide to just run into a show (as long as it does not have a very catchy title, aka is not sold out), show their little press pass and there is no drama. For NYMF, the situation is very different. Producers pay to put things on as part of the festival and yet don't really control their own tickets. What do I mean? Let's say I'm producing The Flight of the Lawnchair Man (which I have seen in enough incarnations to be part of its team). I am probably paying a good amount of money to put it on--not anywhere near the amount needed to produce a real run, but some mullah nonetheless. The festival gives me, let's say 16 comps for the 6 performances. So, less than 3 per performance. If I give some to the cast and some to potential money people and a few to reviewers, I'm out. Now, let's say my Tuesday at 4pm performance has not sold well and there are plenty of empty seats and I want to use those empty seats to invite every press person I know in hopes that they'll mention Lawnchair in future stories. I have to buy those press people their tickets. They are not mine to give away, even if they will just sit empty. So, after my first 16 tickets are gone, I'm paying $20 for every person I want to invite. So clearly I am keeping those invites down. And clearly I don't want random press just wandering in--I need to be stingy. Meanwhile, Kris Stewart gets up there and talks about how every ticket bought only pays for 1/3 of NYMF expenses... I'm not saying I doubt that, these kinds of festivals are expensive to do and I 100% admire anyone who takes it on, but.... I don't feel really bad for them because I feel, in the back of my head, there is something not quite right about how they handle things.

That being said, they do some good shows. Some shows that are not so feasible to produce--like I loved But I'm a Cheerleader (the musical, not the movie on which it is based), but watching it at last year's festival I knew it wasn't a smart Broadway or off-Broadway investment because the topic isn't Broadway and the cast is too big for off-Broadway. So I'm extremely happy NYMF exists.

This year I am particularly happy because they are doing some solo shows, including ones from Joe Iconis and Donna Lynne Champlin. Now I usually hate solo shows like this, please don't ask me to come to your cabaret, yet I've seen both of these shows before and want to recommend both. Joe Iconis--September 26 at Ars Nova--be there. He's not singing like he does on the demos I've linked to from here before. Don't worry. Now onto Donna Lynne. Anyone who reads this blog knows that she is one of my very favorite people--honestly. But, even if she wasn't, I would recommend this show. Actually, I was harder on this show than most (I was very objective reviewer watching it), and I still loved it. It's genius. You sit there and you laugh and laugh. I knew some of the stories beforehand and I still laughed and laughed. I saw it twice! She tells this story about stalking Brian d'Arcy James and, now, every time I see him I picture him hiding behind a lamppost to avoid her. It's at Ars Nova on October 1 and I say, with all sincerity, if you like musical comedy, go to this. I wouldn't push it if I didn't think it was actually damn funny. I am not on commission.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Come Look At The Freaks

This is another blog posting that I have not really had time to think about. What is wrong with me these days? I think NYMF craziness has gotten to me--while I do not frequently attend many Fringe shows, I am an NYMF girl, even though I think the financials behind it are sort of scam-ish.

On Monday night, I was at the very first presentation of the festival, Have a Nice Life at New World Stages. I did not love it, but it had a great cast, which included Emily Skinner. So, for this post, I am going to discuss Alice and Emily. I know that is an old topic and I am so not going to Town Hall to see them (has it happened already?), but they are clearly back together again. If only they were still attached... But, I digress. Anyway, I just want to say that I am excited about them both starring in The Witches of Eastwick at Signature next summer. If all goes according to plan and they are both actually in it (with it so far away, I can't 100% bank on it), I'll totally go. And I'll be excited about going. Though I hope they don't cast Clarke Peters--I know he got good reviews in London, but I really don't get him.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I forgot today was blog day. I don't know how--I'd like to blame jet lag, but, it seems like a lame excuse. The "dog ate my homework" of yuppies. So I'll just say I forgot and that is it.

For a while now, I've been waiting for to stop writing reviews/doing roundups. It was the last step in becoming a marketing site and it seemed inevitable. Now I think it has been taken. No Usher review/roundup. Alas. Let's take a moment to mourn and then completely forget about it.

Done? OK. So what am I going to knock out for this blog posting? A cheer for Rosie O'Donnell, who I don't usually support. Rosie unquestionably did a lot for the theater when she had her daytime talk show--and not just big Broadway shows--she encouraged people to go see smaller projects as well; for instance, she tauted the one-woman play The Syringa Tree (as Jim Randolph frequently mentions). Last week was her first one on The View and she is already starting up again. She promoted The Wedding Singer, mentioning her love of new star Constantine Maroulis and giving away tickets. This is the kind of thing that draws nationwide attention to shows. So, I must applaud her return the daytime, despite her continued praise of Tom Cruise.

I'm busy or else I'd write more. You'll all live without additional remarks, I am pretty sure.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm baaack!!!!

It's Cara again, back where I belong. I want to give a ginormous public thank you to our guest columnist, who, in my opinion, did a great job. I actually loved reading the columns--appreciating the occasional channeling of me and admiring the obscure knowledge contained in the comments. I disagreed with some of the views put forth in the posts, but we have our own ways of looking at things and I'm all for everyone getting a say.

I've returned home at a good time--it's premiere week for My Network TV, the network that is doing everything telenovela style, so as I write this I am watching Bo Derek headline trash. (Does she sing? Because she could totally follow this series up with a stint in Mamma Mia.) Additionally, currently The Wedding Singer features a minimum of three principals that were not around for the show's opening. (Stephen Lynch is on vacation, Laura Benanti is on leave and American Idol playboy Constantine Maroulis has already stepped in.) So this is indeed a big week.

Anyway, people keep telling me I missed nothing while I was relaxing post-employment, but I did miss things. It's just they were all boring, so no one committed them to memory. (Though I am making a special public "yay" for the casting of Gaby Hoffman in subUrbia. Plus, thank you Andrew Gans for your exciting Little Mermaid premiere story--I'm all about The Little Mermaid and I never thought we'd see her float to the surface.) Thus I am not going to talk about anything that happened recently, I am going to talk now about the 1980s.

During the 1980s I was very young. I didn't have high hair like some others of my generation and, most importantly, I didn't see shows. But I know that in 1987 Les Miz, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Fences all opened on Broadway and Talk Radio opened off-Broadway. And, now, this season, we'll likely see all of them again. (Then there are shows like A Chorus Line and The Fantasticks that were also playing during that time.) So, basically, we're partying like it's 1987. Why? What happened to reviving golden oldies? We could have a 1950s hop! Why not?! Well, there is a certain sense that shows that are too old and dated simply do not play to today's TV-influenced audience. Sure The Pajama Game was successful, but that had a big star to help propel it. Other moldy pieces have not fared as well in recent years; times have been especially hard on old-fashioned musicals such as Bells Are Ringing and Wonderful Town. Even Never Gonna Dance, which was technically a new musical, felt extremely stodgy. (OK, it was also bad, but moving on...) So I think that people looking for things to revive are going to increasingly go with newer shows. There will always be a Grease or West Side Story coming down the pike, but mostly we're going to see things revived that I was alive for the first time around. I've decided not to blame that on the fact that I'm simply getting older...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Enough I Say!

Last night, I watched the film version of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. Besides the fact that it's a fabulous movie - Joanne Woodward is fantastic, fierce and funny; the screenplay by Alvin Sargent is a beautiful and thoughtful expansion of the play; and Paul Newman's direction is incredibly sensitive - it would make a wonderful revival for a great star. Meryl Streep. Allison Janney. Edie Falco. How much better off Edie Falco would have been doing this instead of 'night Mother. So if anyone from Manhattan Theatre Club or Second Stage or the poor li'l Roundabout Theatre reads this God forsaken blog that I am still stuck ghost writing I mean that I am thrilled to continue ghost writing even though The Broad of Broadway is back from abroad, consider yourself gifted. But please notice I did NOT mention Cherry Jones above. Enough with that nonsense already! Enough I say!

Some other plays I'd like to see revived on Broadway in the near future: Toys in the Attic, The Children's Hour, Sweet Bird of Youth, I Never Sang For My Father, and Biloxi Blues - just kidding.

I don't have a whole hell of a lot else to say... I mean, I do, but I really don't know where to begin. I have never blogged before, I have never even read a blog before this one, and this is the only one I ever will read... until Katie Holmes starts one up that is. I have been tempted many times to post things on All That Chat, but where do you begin with those lovely, confused people? Tonight, someone asked how the last row of the mezzanine was at the Broadhurst. IT SUCKS! IT'S PRACTICALLY AT THE SHUBERT! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!?! WE HAVE LIVES!!!

As the season begins, I shall continue calling the Jacobs the Royale and the Schoenfeld the Plymouth. I am pretending Chicago is not still running. I am continuing to lobby NY1 to buy Donna Karger a comb. I look forward to seeing A Chorus Line back on Broadway, Les Freres Corbusier's Hell House, The Coast of Utopia, The Clean House, and Regrets Only. I am not looking forward to seeing Talk Radio, Translations or Jay Johnson and his friggin' puppet. What the hell is that? Enough with that nonsense already! Enough I say!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Would Like To Thank My Agent, Francis Del Duca

Before returning to my Tony predictions, I would like to take a moment to applaud the casting of Ari Graynor in the Broadway transfer of The Little Dog Laughed. Miss Graynor is a fabulous actress and should be in everything. Her presence almost makes me forget about ugly Johnny Galecki and boring Tom Everett Scott. Almost.

Now, back to the Tonys.


Though Nathan Lane's performance in Butley will be finito by the time the Tony nominations come out, I bet he will be remembered. Tony has a tempestuous relationship with Nathan - he was blanked for Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Love! Valour!! Compassion!!! and The Frogs - but Butley will show a different side of Nathan - or at least that's what the critics will tell us; I haven't seen a different side of Nathan in about 10 years - and Tony will want to reward that.

I don't know much about The Coast of Utopia (except that the poster art blows), but I'm assuming that among Brian F. O'Byrne, Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke and Richard Easton, one or more of them will be elevated to Lead Actor. Which means one or more of them will be nominated. I bet two get nominated. And I bet one of them is Brian F. O'Byrne. Shining City was his first Broadway performance NOT nominated for a Tony. He will climb back on the Tony horse here. He'll probably win. You heard it here first! Oh, here's something else you heard here first: Ethan Hawke will give a great performance, and be ignored by critics and award givers alike in favor of his co-stars who will be less good.

Who else? Liev Schreiber in Talk Radio? Definitely. That leaves one slot. Let's see... Philip Bosco (Heartbreak House), Bill Nighy (The Vertical Hour), Matthew Broderick (The Starry Messenger)? Possible. The male lead in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the male leads in whatever other underbaked projects Roundabout puts forward this year? All possible. The lead in Radio Golf? Even more possible. Speaking of black males, James Earl Jones has a one man play about Thurgood Marshall he's peddling, Charles Dutton has that August Wilson thing I don't even want to think about, and Laurence Fishburne is in Fences, which will probably come in. But let's leave this last slot blank. David Wilmot would never have made this list last year at this time. Let's see what David Wilmots this season brings.


Poor Best Actress in a Play. She's a mess. She used to be fabulous. Colleen Dewhurst used to battle Julie Harris here on a regular basis. In 1960, Anne Bancroft beat Margaret Leighton, Claudia McNeil, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton and Irene Worth. In 1975, Ellen Burstyn bested Elizabeth Ashley, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith and Liv Ullmann. Last year, Cynthia Nixon beat Lisa Kron and Judy Kaye. Not exactly the same thing, as richly deserving as Ms. Nixon was.

This season, Vanessa Redgrave would appear to have the award all sewn up for The Year of Magical Thinking. If she can remember all her lines and not get fired - I have this strange feeling she will not open in the show - the award would appear to be hers.

Who will she leave in the dust come Tony night? I'm assuming Julie White will be up for Lead, though she might be put in Featured to assure a win. Julianne Moore could be remembered for her by then closed performance in The Vertical Hour. A couple of the above-mentioned, woebegone Roundabout productions' leading ladies will have a shot. And Angela Bassett might be elevated should Fences come in, though Mary Alice won a Tony for that role in Featured, and I think it's very much a Featured role. But billing is billing, and Bassett will be above the title.

BEST ACTOR - Musical

Well, I'm sure if you ask Raul Esparza who will win this award come June, he will say "ME! DON'T YOU LOVE ME?! I DO!" He will surely be nominated - if he could get nominated for his miserable turn in Taboo, I can get nominated for ghost-writing this blog - but I don't think he will win. David Hyde Pierce will probably win for Curtains. Who else is there? Our fearless leader would want me to mention Will Chase for High Fidelity. So, I just did that. There's Gavin Lee in Mary Poppins, Martin Short, the two male leads in the Les Miserables revival. I am a big Alexander Gemignani fan, so I'm hoping he might be invited to Radio City. The Spring Awakening boys might find themselves in this category, though more likely they will all be Featured. Though I didn't see it yet, so I'm actually talking out of my ass right now. But the Tony nominators for the most part nominate out of their asses, so that seems like a pretty good strategy! There's also the Roundabout's coming revival of 110 in the Shade, which has two good male parts, at least one of which will probably be lead.

Speaking of 110 in the Shade, that brings us to...


And this will be a battle. What? Surprised to hear that? Did you think L'Ebersole had it all sewn up? Oh, mother, dahling. She does not.

Because Audra Ann-hold-the-Ann McDonald is coming back to town. She will be very good in 110 in the Shade. She might even be great. No matter what she is, she will be called great. It's a very good role for her, and the show is solid. The critics will go wild for her and probably be happy to see a musical revived that is unjustly little known, in other words, worthy of a revival. Unless Christine Ebersole's married name is Gilooly, she's gonna have to shake every hand in the world and kiss every foot - which she's already been doing for the last 6 months.

The other nominees? Not that it matters, but Charlotte d'Amboise will most likely be nominated for her Cassie, whether she's good or not. Someone from Curtains will probably end up in this category, I'm assuming Debra Monk, and I'm assuming she'll be nominated. That leaves one slot. There's Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Nikki James (The Wiz), the blonde in Legally Blonde, Lea Michele in Spring Awakening (again, probably Featured). I would love to see Daphne Rubin-Vega celebrated for her Fantine. Patti won Best Actress in London for this role, don't forget. Randy Graff may have been snubbed, but... well...

It's all moot. It will be a battle between McDonald and Ebersole. I think Ebersole will win. But she might lose.

As for the Audra question, is she overrated? I think so. She certainly is overTonyed. She should have one Tony Award - for Best Featured Actress in a musical for Carousel in 1994. Her 1996 Tony belongs to Lois Smith for Buried Child, her 1998 Tony belongs to Tsidii le Loka for The Lion King, and her 2004 Tony belongs to her co-star Sanaa Lathan. I wish I could go to people's houses and redistribute Tony Awards. That would be fun. Donna Murphy, lock your doors! She can keep her Tony for Passion, but her King and I Tony? That's Daphne's.