Monday, April 24, 2006

Tony Preview Time!

I am not commenting on the Bridge & Tunnel decision. I refuse to lower myself to discuss such things. After all—what remains to be said? I suppose the only debatable thing now is whether they will nominate Bridge & Tunnel and The Blonde and the Thunderbird or just give Bridge & Tunnel the Special Theatrical Tony when they announce the nominations (ala Blast!). I’m thinking the former, but I really have no clue. Personally, of course, I’m all for a Suzanne nomination to add to the ridiculousness of the proceedings.

OK, onto the main attraction. Below is a Tony odds list. Now, I’m not taking any major risks with it—the only people in “Lock” are people I actually believe are truly 100% locks. The main point of the list is to show who is eligible in what category as many publications have printed incorrect information. (For instance, despite popular belief, Frances Sternhagen and George Grizzard are eligible in the supporting categories for their work in Seascape.) I pretty much guarantee that all information on shows that have already faced the Tony Admin committee is accurate. The other shows, I am basing it on what I’ve heard. Like I thought Sutton Foster would be featured, but I’m now hearing lead, so I put her there. This could all change. I’m hoping they put Zoe Wanamaker in Lead Actress for her work in Awake and Sing!, but she is below-the-title and my friend at LCT told me he thought they were leaning towards leaving here there, so I left her featured for this list. My Threepenny Opera placement is a total guess. Anything could happen with shows that have yet to have their day before the Tony Admin people.

To make the list below, I started out with a long list (graciously donated by the other star of this blog) of basically everyone who has stepped foot on a Broadway stage this season. I completely removed a lot of the people—like the entire ensemble of dancers from Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life—but there are still some random folks stuck in. Also, there are many people in the “I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…” featured categories that probably don’t belong there, but they are in shows I have not seen, so I felt bad making “Ummm… Probably Not” judgments on them.

I’m Thinking… Lock
The History Boys
The Lieutenant of Inishmore

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Rabbit Hole
Shining City

Ummm… Probably Not
After the Night and the Music
A Naked Girl on the Appian Way

I’m Thinking… Lock
The Drowsy Chaperone
Jersey Boys

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
The Color Purple
The Wedding Singer

Ummm… Probably Not
Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life
Hot Feet
In My Life
Ring of Fire
The Woman in White

I’m Thinking… Lock
Awake and Sing!
Faith Healer

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
The Constant Wife
A Touch of the Poet

Ummm… Probably Not
Absurd Person Singular
Barefoot in the Park
The Odd Couple
Three Days of Rain

I Know… Lock
The Pajama Game
Sweeney Todd
The Threepenny Opera

I’m Thinking… Lock
Ralph Fiennes, Faith Healer
Richard Griffiths, The History Boys

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Gabriel Byrne, A Touch of the Poet
Michael Hayden, Festen
Zeljko Ivanek, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
Brian F. O’Byrne, Shining City
Oliver Platt, Shining City
Paul Rudd, Three Days of Rain
Antony Sher, Primo
John Slattery, Rabbit Hole

Ummm… Probably Not
Matthew Broderick, The Odd Couple
Larry Bryggman, Festen
Michael Cumpsty, The Constant Wife
Tim Daly, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
John Dossett, The Constant Wife
Nathan Lane, The Odd Couple
David Schwimmer, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
Richard Thomas, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way
Patrick Wilson, Barefoot in the Park

I’m Thinking… Lock
Cherry Jones, Faith Healer
Cynthia Nixon, Rabbit Hole

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Kate Burton, The Constant Wife
Judy Kaye, Souvenir
Lisa Kron, Well
Lynn Redgrave, The Constant Wife

Julia Roberts, Three Days of Rain

Ummm… Probably Not
Jill Clayburgh, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way
Amanda Peet, Barefoot in the Park

I’m Thinking… Lock
Michael Cerveris, Sweeney Todd
Harry Connick, Jr, The Pajama Game
John Lloyd Young, Jersey Boys

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Alan Cumming, The Threepenny Opera
Stephen Lynch, The Wedding Singer
Bob Martin, The Drowsy Chaperone
Josh Strickland, Tarzan

Ummm… Probably Not
Christopher Hanke, In My Life
Hugh Panaro, Lestat

I’m Thinking… Lock
LaChanze, The Color Purple
Patti LuPone, Sweeney Todd

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Laura Benanti, The Wedding Singer
Sutton Foster, The Drowsy Chaperone
Maria Friedman, The Woman in White
Nellie McKay, The Threepenny Opera
Kelli O’Hara, The Pajama Game
Chita Rivera, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life

Ummm… Probably Not
Jessica Boevers, In My Life
Jennifer Gambatese, Tarzan
Vivian Nixon, Hot Feet

I’m Thinking… Lock
Ian McDiarmid, Faith Healer

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Samuel Barnett, The History Boys
Stephen Campbell Moore, The History Boys
Bradley Cooper, Three Days of Rain
Dominic Cooper, The History Boys
Donald Corren, Souvenir
Dashiell Eaves, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Ned Eisenberg, Awake and Sing!
John Gallagher, Rabbit Hole
Ben Gazzara, Awake and Sing!
Peter Gerety, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Domhnall Gleeson, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
George Grizzard, Seascape
Jonathan Hadary, Awake and Sing!
Brian D’Arcy James, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Clive Merrison, The History Boys
Mark Ruffalo, Awake and Sing!
Peter Scanavino, Shining City
Pablo Schreiber, Awake and Sing!
Frederick Weller, Seascape
David Wilmot, The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Ummm… Probably Not
Samuel Anderson, The History Boys
Rob Bartlett, The Odd Couple
Terry Beaver, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Jeff Binder, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Daniel Breaker, Well
Jere Burns, After the Night and the Music
John Ellison Conlee, The Constant Wife
Andrew Connolly, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
James Corden, The History Boys
Keith Davis, Festen
Eugenio Derbez, Latinologues
Robert L. Devaney, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Sacha Dhawan, The History Boys
Scott Ferrara, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Ben Fox, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Murphy Guyer, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
John Hoffman, Well
John Horton, A Touch of the Poet
Byron Jennings, A Touch of the Poet
David Patrick Kelly, Festen
Brian Kerwin, After the Night and the Music
Andrew Knott, The History Boys
Eddie Korbich, After the Night and the Music
Stephen Kunken, Festen
Peter Kybart, Awake and Sing!
Rene Lavan, Latinologues
Matthew Morrison, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way
Rick Najera, Latinologues
Geoffrey Nauffts, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Tom Nelis, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Randall Newsome, A Touch of the Poet
Ciaran O’Reilly, A Touch of the Poet
Jamie Parker, The History Boys
Brian Reddy, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Sam Robards, Absurd Person Singular
Tony Roberts, Barefoot in the Park
Alan Ruck, Absurd Person Singular
Joe Sikora, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Jeremy Sisto, Festen
Daniel Stewart Sherman, A Touch of the Poet
Paul David Story, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Richard Topol, Awake and Sing!
Russell Tovey, The History Boys
Paxton Whitehead, Absurd Person Singular
Lee Wilkof, The Odd Couple
C.J. Wilson, Festen
James Yaegashi, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way

I’m Thinking… Lock
Tyne Daly, Rabbit Hole
Jayne Houdyshell, Well
Frances de la Tour, The History Boys

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Lauren Ambrose, Awake and Sing!
Emily Bergl, A Touch of the Poet
Jill Clayburgh, Barefoot in the Park
Mary Catherine Garrison, Rabbit Hole
Julianna Margulies, Festen
Elizabeth Marvel, Seascape
Kathryn Meisle, The Constant Wife
Dearbhla Molloy, A Touch of the Poet
Alison Pill, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Martha Plimpton, Shining City
J. Smith-Cameron, After the Night and the Music
Jessica Stone, The Odd Couple
Frances Sternhagen, Seascape
Zoe Wanamaker, Awake and Sing!

Ummm… Probably Not
Leslie Ayvazian, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way
Jeannie Berlin, After the Night and the Music
Olivia d’Abo, The Odd Couple
Diane Davis, Festen
Mireille Enos, Absurd Person Singular
Enid Graham, The Constant Wife
Ann Guilbert, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way
Clea Lewis, Absurd Person Singular
Ali MacGraw, Festen
Kathleen McNenny, The Constant Wife
Kathryn Meisle, A Touch of the Poet
Pamela Merrick, The History Boys
Carrie Preston, Festen
Shirley A. Rumierk, Latinologues
Deborah Rush, Absurd Person Singular
Susan Kelechi Watson, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way

I’m Thinking… Lock
Jim Dale, The Threepenny Opera

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Michael Ball, The Woman in White
Peter Benson, The Pajama Game
Richard H. Blake, The Wedding Singer
Danny Burstein, The Drowsy Chaperone
Kevin Cahoon, The Wedding Singer
Will Chase, Lennon
Manoel Felciano, Sweeney Todd
Chester Gregory II, Tarzan
Shuler Hensley, Tarzan
Edward Hibbert, The Drowsy Chaperone
Christian Hoff, Jersey Boys
Mark Jacoby, Sweeney Todd
Troy Britton Johnson, The Drowsy Chaperone
Kingsley Leggs, The Color Purple
Benjamin Magnuson, Sweeney Todd
Michael McKean, The Pajama Game
Daniel Reichard, Jersey Boys
Matthew Saldivar, The Wedding Singer
J. Robert Spencer, Jersey Boys
Lenny Wolpe, The Drowsy Chaperone

Ummm… Probably Not
Ron Bohmer, The Woman in White
Adam Brazier, The Woman in White
Jeb Brown, Ring of Fire
Walter Charles, The Woman in White
Chuck Cooper, Lennon
Keith David, Hot Feet
Brandon Victor Dixon, The Color Purple
Jason Edwards, Ring of Fire
Jarrod Emick, Ring of Fire
Alexander Gemignani, Sweeney Todd
Michael Genet, Lestat
Peter Gregus, Jersey Boys
Allen Hidalgo, Hot Feet
Roderick Hill, Lestat
Christopher Innvar, The Threepenny Opera
Timothy Jerome, Tarzan
Donnie Kehr, Jersey Boys
Donnie Keshawarz, Tarzan
Chad Kimball, Lennon
Eddie Korbich, The Drowsy Chaperone
Garth Kravits, The Drowsy Chaperone
Jason Kravits, The Drowsy Chaperone
Carlos Leon, The Threepenny Opera
Michael Longoria, Jersey Boys
Mark Lotito, Jersey Boys
Daniel Manche, Tarzan
Terrance Mann, Lennon
Michael McCormick, The Pajama Game
Lou Myers, The Color Purple
Dominic Nolfi, Jersey Boys
Richard Poe, The Pajama Game
Michael Potts, Lennon
Brian Charles Rooney, The Threepenny Opera
Alex Rutherford, Tarzan
Drew Sarich, Lestat
Jim Stanek, Lestat

I’m Thinking… Lock
Felicia P. Fields, The Color Purple

I Wouldn’t Be Completely Surprised If…
Carolee Carmello, Lestat
Merle Dandridge, TarzanAnn Duquesnay, Hot Feet
Georgia Engel, The Drowsy Chaperone
Felicia Finley, The Wedding Singer
Allison Fischer, Lestat
Rita Gardner, The Wedding Singer
Ana Gasteyer, The Threepenny Opera
Cyndi Lauper, The Threepenny Opera
Megan Lawrence, The Pajama Game
Beth Leavel, The Drowsy Chaperone
Lauren Molina, Sweeney Todd
Roz Ryan, The Pajama Game
Amy Spanger, The Wedding Singer
Elisabeth Withers-Mendes, The Color Purple

Ummm… Probably Not
Donna Lynne Champlin, Sweeney Todd
Joyce Chittick, The Pajama Game
Angela Christian, The Woman in White
Julie Danao, Lennon
Carol Dennis, The Color Purple
Diana DiMarzio, Sweeney Todd
Heather Ferguson, Jersey Boys
Mandy Gonzalez, Lennon
Marcy Harriell, Lennon
Kecia Lewis-Evans, The Drowsy Chaperone
Sarah Livingston, Hot Feet
Beth Malone, Ring of Fire
Maureen Moore, The Threepenny Opera
Cass Morgan, Ring of Fire
Julia Murney, Lennon
Jennifer Naimo, Jersey Boys
Liana Ortiz, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life
Jill Paice, The Woman in White
Erica Piccininni, Jersey Boys
Sara Schmidt, Jersey Boys
Wynonna Smith, Hot Feet
Jennifer Smith, The Drowsy Chaperone
Lari White, Ring of Fire
Maia Nkenge Wilson, The Color Purple
Virgina Woodruff, The Color Purple

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A quick post because I care...

I have no time to write a thorough analysis as I'm exhausted, but I wanted to point out what might be evidence of a change in theater journalism. In the last few days, two previewing shows have essentially been reviewed in major publications. There is the New York Magazine cover story on Julia Roberts, which sort of says her screen charm doesn't translate. The author of the theater then notably says: "This isn't a review. That would be unfair (even though my ticket was once more than $250)." More overt is the horrible Roger Friedman review of Lestat posted on I think my favorite line of that is "Almost nothing can prepare you for Lestat." Now would these things be so noticeable if they were both really positive assessments? No. Haven't columnists (Riedel and others) been making little digs like this for years and years? Yes. Nevertheless these stand out--maybe because they both attack huge targets (a gigantic movie star and a big-budget musical) or possibly because they arrived in quick succession.

What does this all mean? Is the Broadway tradition of waiting until opening falling away? I think it just might be, slowly. Personally, I love tradition, so I am sort of for the waiting. However I've often wondered why journalists continue to respect the preview period since reduced-priced previews have been all but demolished. If people who come before opening are paying the same as people who come after, shouldn't they be seeing a performance good enough to be reviewed? Are there shows that are worthy of people paying $100 but not worthy of being assessed by David Rooney? I am all about the questions.

OK, sleep time. I'm getting old.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tonys Part 3: The Battle of Lead v. Featured

How people are determined to be lead or featured is one of the few Tony things I get, mostly because it makes no sense in any award show, so I just accept the randomness of it all. I mean there is never anyone sitting there with a stop watch abiding by rigidly defined time regulations regarding what qualifies someone to be a lead actor or actress. Remember the whole George Clooney Syriana flip-flop? He was featured, then his people wanted him in lead and started campaigning, then they changed their minds (wisely) and he won the Oscar for Supporting... This is the kind of thing that happens--it's all sort of based on what category people want to be considered in. In Tony world it actually makes more sense, in my mind at least. Nevertheless a lot of people don't get it and I receive many questions about it.

Basically if one is billed above-the-title s/he is lead unless a petition is placed and if one is below-the-title s/he is supporting unless a petition is placed. (Now the Tony Awards Administration Committee can go out on its own and move a person based on its exciting sole discretion, but that basically never happens, so let us discount it.) This doesn't always result in placement I understand--for instance, this season Lynn Redgrave will be considered for Lead Actress for her performance in The Constant Wife. Now she was billed above-the-title (and gave a stand-out performance I must promote), but she was undoubtedly a featured performer. On the flip side, I often for some reason think of Randy Graff in A Class Act, which isn't even a glaring example, but it is one I remember. She had the biggest role of any female in that show, yet it was not really a leading performance. She was billed below-the-title, the production petitioned and she bumped up and nominated for a 2001 Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical. I would have been more in favor of her getting a Best Featured Actress nod. These things happen though--Oscar-time too.

I really believe producers look at where their people have a better shot, factoring in the possibly splitting of votes if actors from the same show are nominated in the same category. (Of course actors I'm sure also often make their feelings clear on the matter.) That is them being smart. Do I wish there was a system that would really police it somehow? Sure--I just know it's not happening. And what would it be anyway? Would it be based on time? There are cases where people are always onstage without much to say, surely we would not want them to be considered leading players. Who could actually officially be in charge of deciding the guidelines? The Tony Awards Administration Committee clearly has enough on its plate. Let us, for now, just say it cannot be done. However feel free to submit suggestions!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And now for something more...

Kevin earlier today: "It's cara joy against the world. i've always said so."

In keeping with that, I've received my first blog complaint letter. Apparently I did not say enough about Addictions. Now I'm a people pleaser, so instead of a productive Tonys post, I'm going to try to rectify this Addictions matter.

The first of the one-acts starred Trudie Styler as a woman addicted to alcohol (she had a table and booze beside her, though a woman still read stage directions like "she takes another sip") and the next Jessica Hecht as a recovering smoker. The third was headlined by Jackie Hoffman and Matha Plimpton--I think Hoffman was supposed to be addicted to work in it, though it was never clear to me.

Now onto the speech--the evening was a benefit for a very worthy cause, Caron Treatment Centers (an internationally recognized leader in the treatment of addiction to alcohol and drugs). That was indeed mentioned sometime after the "emotional evening" bit (and, actually, later a Caron rep. spoke for a minute), but the majority of Walsh-Smith's speech was about the play. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but Walsh-Smith spoke of an Italian psychic who read her spirit--I think that was part of what compelled her the pieces we saw, but I couldn't swear to it. She then went on to talk about how Natasha Richardson, who was not in the area, desperately wanted to do the play because Richardson believed no one else was really writing great parts for women. (Walsh-Smith did this while appearing onstage along with the people who actually did show up to do her show.)

It was a really worthwhile evening. Tons of money was raised. I think that is pretty much it. I'm drained. Oh, one more thing--for those of you who asked--I did not request a refund at Wicked (and was actually happt to see the Glinda understudy).

I leave you with this contribution from Billy Finnegan (who is apparently the star of this blog). I told him I scheduled The Threepenny Opera and Three Days of Rain on consecutive days and he believed I should post that fact on Talkin' Broadway.

They would find that very interesting. They would chat about it!
"what other shows with three in the title have you seen?"
"my high school did two for the seesaw"
"this thread is about shows with three in the title not two. If you want to talk about shows with two in the title, start your own thread"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A little educational recap of my week...

I learned a little bit on how things work on tours this week, courtesy of a big Broadway producer. Apparently roles that are above-the-title on Broadway are frequently not on the road--only commercial names get above-the-title billing on tours. This is because Actors Equity requires producers to give refunds (to those who ask for them) when above-the-title players miss. Now producers don't like to give out refunds on Broadway, but resent it even more on the road. Why? Well, it's all about the money.

Let's take the example of the hit musical Wicked, which I saw in Philadelphia this week. The people who play Elphaba and Glinda are above-the-title in NYC. If you go and one of them is out, ask for a refund and ye shall receive one. Now even if Carol Kane, who plays Madame Morrible and is below-the-title, is out, the box office may still agree (even though it is not required) to refund your money or offer you an exchange. They would do that because they know they can resell the tickets--there is always a line outside the Gershwin waiting for cancellations and undoubtably one person on that line would be cool with a Kane understudy. So being nice wouldn't hurt them--they would not be losing income. Cancellation lines are less common in tour cities. So tours like Wicked place everyone below-the-title. That way when the people who play Elphaba, Glinda and Fiyero are all out (as they were for the performance I attended), audience members cannot get a refund. And a refund is what it would be--it's not like there are many tickets lying around for Wicked, so it wouldn't be an exchange, those returned tickets would probably go dead. In other words, accomdating upset audience members would damage the bottom line. And that is a no-no. Of course probably only a handful of ticketholders would ask for refunds and the show makes millions and millions a week, but, still, it is a big deal. I mean, those things add up...

I never knew that Equity mandated the refund policy or understood the logistics of touring economics, so I feel like I had a little education, which I have now shared with you. This past week was also big for another reason--I saw a benefit reading of Addictions, an evening of three one-act plays by Tricia Walsh-Smith (who just happens to be the wife of a big Shubert executive). Readings aren't really for me (I like costumes and big, tacky lighting), but, it closed on a high. Walsh-Smith took the stage at the end of the performance and said something like "This has been a really emotional evening. I laughed, I cried, I hope all you did too." The reason this really, really hit me is it totally reminded me of the original In My Life ending where the little girl who has been dead the whole show said approximately: "I've had a great life--I hope all of you have great lives too." So that was clearly huge.

Tonys Part 2: Do you get the Classics rule?

"A play or musical that is determined by the Tony Awards Administration Committee (in its sole discretion) to be a 'classic' or in the historical or popular repertoire shall not be eligible for an award in the Best Play or Best Musical Category but may be eligible in that appropriate Best Revival category, if any, provided it meets all other eligibility requirements set forth in these rules."

That directly above is the exact wording of the "Classics Rule" (that is what I call it at least, I am sure it has a longer name in actuality). And, look, it's another thing under the sole discretion of the Tony Awards Administration Committee. In other words, it's another iffy matter.

Is Three Days of Rain a classic? I'm sure my mother isn't familiar with it! But it played off-Broadway and is occasionally done at regional theaters and thus will undoubtedly be a revival. A couple of years ago Assassins was the cause of a big debate--it played off-Broadway, but isn't exactly a common offering at theaters around America. Nevertheless that was deemed a revival. So, I think the rule is basically "if an industry professional has heard of it, it's a revival." I wish they'd just say that. It would be so much hipper. Wouldn't it make you feel in the know if you had indeed heard of the show? I know I'd have a personal sense of worth. Uh, huh.

The big question to me about this rule is what about things like Fortune's Fool, which are old, but have just been plucked from obscurity. Fool was a new play but it was done before this handy rule was created. (I think at least. I've sort of blocked the actual show out...) I'm just saying--if I unearthed a Shakespeare play while sorting through the crap under my bed--would it be a revival? Just cause the man is dead? Does the rule have a living clause?