Monday, August 28, 2006

A Happy Medium

Like Dick Cheney on a dark, terror-tinged day, our blog mistress has been secreted away to an undisclosed location. But never fear! Theater musing continues full force! I shall endeavor to conjure not only her spirit but her unmistakable syntax as well. And it's much more than throwing the word "random" around. It's that, but it's other things, too. It's a happy medium, which, in turn, is what I am for you. A happy medium. Well, not happy. The Fedex guy woke me up at 10am, late for many of you, but early for me, especially since I got in late last night from out of town and didn't get to bed until 3am. See? Conjuring already.

One of the things I love to do this early in any season is try to guess what next year's Tony nominations will look like. Often, this is a fool's errand: witness Busker Alley all over my fall 1995 list. But just as often, it's pretty clear what will rise to the top... or the bottom... or the middle, depending on your view of the Tony nominating committee. So, let's rub our trusty crystal balls I mean ball and see what happens. Oooh, I said rub.

Best Play

The first nominee, and probable winner, is Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia, Parts One, Two, Three, A Five, Six, Seven, Eight. Sorry. Musical Theater fart. It happens. Be prepared. I fully expect The Coast of Utopia to be a sensation, both with critics and audiences. It's Lincoln Center, the cast is starry - well, starryish - and most importantly, Tom Stoppard has not won a Tony since The Real Thing, and both Arcadia and The Invention of Love were arguably better than the plays that beat them (Love! Valour!! Compassion!!! and Proof. I liked Proof, but, um...). Tom Stoppard will ascend, and be honored by Tony one last time... until Rock 'n' Roll comes next season, though I hear some people aren't loving it.

The second nominee, though it's not officially announced for this season, will be Radio Golf. Some theater somewhere is doing it shortly, and it will undoubtedly make its way to New York, be overpraised but justly celebrated as August Wilson's last, and find its way to a poorly edited montage on the Tony Broadcast. I, for one, can't wait. I want my ham!

The third nominee? The Year of Magical Thinking. Pretty much in like Flynn. People love that book, and more importantly, the Times loves that book and they love Joan Didion. It will be a big hit. And it will be nominated. So that leaves just one slot open. What will fill it? Some random, yet-to-open transfer from Off-Broadway? Possibly. Probably: there's always at least one a season, usually two, and they often win (Love! Valour!! Compassion!!!, Side Man, Proof, Take Me Out, I Am My Own Wife!, Doubt). Also possible: Kenneth Lonergan's Starry Messenger due in the spring from California with Matthew Broderick, or something unpromisingly called Coram Boy from London that those National Theatre transferrers are threatening to Wow. Another play from London. I... can't... wait... zzzzzzzzz.

Best Musical

, the first of the last of the Kander and Ebb shows, which now appears to be opening in the spring, seems assured of a nomination. It's John Kander and Dead I mean Fred Ebb, it's about the theater, it's fun. It's in. It will probably win.

Whether it runs or not, Grey Gardens is also in. If its creators have brains in their gay little heads, they are recasting and rewriting as I blog. I hear they are recasting (the ingenue leads), I pray they are rewriting, especially that first act, which starts out so strong and then John McMartin sings that "Being Bouvier" song and I wanted to Be Bouvier all over the lobby and out onto 42nd Street if possible. Don't get me wrong. The show has some great stuff in it, especially in Act Two, which is truly inspired, and Christine Ebersole has been justly celebrated for her fabulous performance. And I support Mary Louise Wilson in everything, except Cabaret, but she was miscast, so... (Please note that the last sentence was highly reminiscent of you know who.)

If Spring Awakening can catch on and last, it has a good shot. Now, I don't know anyone who likes it especially, but I also didn't know anyone who liked The Light in the Piazza, and look what happened there. And Duncan Sheik is just as cute as Adam Guettel, though not as pedigreed. But who is? Anyway, it's new, it's not based on a movie, and even if it closes, Tony is not afraid to nominate closed shows over running ones. Remember when we were all Swinging on a Death Foretold at the 1996 Tony Awards? The nominators (wisely) chose to nominate two very closed shows - Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Swinging on a Star - instead of two very bad open shows - Victor/Victoria and Big. And State Fair, but that didn't have much of a shot anyway. Likewise, Juan Darien was closed but remembered in 1997 (over Jekyll and Hyde and Play On!), Side Show in 1998 (over High Society), Parade in 1999 (over Fascinating Rhythm and Marlene), Jane Eyre in 2001 (over Seussical and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) and Amour in 2003 (over Urban Cowboy and The Look of Love). Precedent.

The fourth nominee? Not The Pirate Queen! A Disney show (Mary Poppins) will probably once again be battling it out with shows based on movies (Legally Blonde and High Fidelity) and shows based on vampires (The Times, They Are A Changin'). OK, The Times, They Are A Changin' is not based on vampires, but Twyla Tharp is like a vampire, come on. I've heard the stories. If she's not a member of the undead, I don't have 16 cast albums of Show Boat. And Bob Dylan is creepy too.

Come Wednesday, the acting categories! And a very special Audra McDonald thinkpiece. Is she overrated? Was it wise to drop the Ann? Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this! Ken, keep up the good work.