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.

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!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Don't Say That This Is The End

If Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock can have three weddings, I can have three of these posts. (Though I hear they are having/already had a fourth and I won't make it that far...)
Remember When...

David Hasselhoff was going to star in a revival of Paint Your Wagon?

Julie Taymor was at work on a Pinocchio musical?

An autobiographical Ben Vereen musical was supposed to play on Broadway?

R. Kelly was supposedly writing the score for a Rocky musical? (I can't remember whether this news came out pre-criminal charges or not...)

Paper Mill Playhouse was going to present the world premiere of a musical version of the Cher triumph Mask?

Mark Ruffalo was in talks to star in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

Liam Neeson was going to headline a Camelot revival with either Audra McDonald or Laura Benanti at his side?

Anne Hathaway was supposed to star in The Woman in White?

William Shatner and Richard Chamberlain were both considering visits to Urinetown?

Hilary Swank and Liev Schreiber were the ones who were supposed to star in After the Fall at the Roundabout?

That's it for this random series. As I'm a little tired and need time for my brain to heal, the next few posts are going to be done by a special guest columnist. He's keeping the whole Sunday/Wednesday schedule alive. I don't know if he wants his identify revealed, so I am not going to share it; he can choose to give his name or not. We'll see what he has to say--I'm going to have no more idea than you before the post actually goes up. I just hope he doesn't attack any of my favorite people. If he does, I'll step in of course. But, for now, the plan is for me to take a week or so off. I need to think of nothing but clouds and rainbows.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Don't you leave my heart in misery

Anyone who read the bottom of the long post last Sunday or has more recently read the trade papers, knows that Jane Krakowski has been cast in the series 30 Rock, which stars Alec Baldwin. What you all may not remember is that Krakowski was in a reading of Twentieth Century with Baldwin (Anne Heche later appeared opposite him on Broadway in the show) and a tabloid reported that, during that reading, the two shared a long, unscripted kiss and subsequently went off together. Nothing about that report was ever confirmed, but it's something I oddly recall and thus I believed it was a good way to kick off today's "Remember When" entry.

Remember When...

Neve Campbell was going to be dancing at the Longacre Theater in Syncopation?

Neve Campbell was going to star off-Broadway in Michael Weller's Loose Ends off-Broadway in fall 2005 produced by her brother, Christian Campbell?

Liz Smith reported that a music by the name of Samson and Delilah (I'm serious here) was headed to the Great White Way?

Camryn Manheim was the one who was supposed to star in the Broadway revival of 'night, Mother? (Watching it with Edie Falco, I wished Manheim had made it to the stage...)

Jerry Mitchell was discussed as the director/choreographer of a big West Side Story revival?

Colour My World, a tuner with the music and lyrics of the group Chicago, was going to premiere in 2005? (Is that a worse title that Hot Feet? It might be... Hard to call.)

Danny Aiello and Rosie O'Donnell were going to star in the play Folding the Monster by some unknown playwright?

Robert Evans announced his story would be seen up on a Broadway stage?

OK, that is it for today. I think I can only squeeze one more post out of this semi-lame concept. Too bad my notes don't start before six years ago...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Think of All That We've Been Through

Because I cleaned out my office, I found my old notes. A lot of the stuff in them, even I had forgotten over the years (though not as much as I should have). Thus I am going to do a series of blog posts about them. Why not? Little thought/skill required of me. It's the lazy time of summer, after all. So, without further rambling, I offer the first of the "Remember When" series.

Remember When….

The Shuberts were supposed to produce a revised version of Chess? (Too bad the Richard Maltby Jr. script was apparently too bad to put on stage.)

Margo Lion was supposedly developing a musical version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

Clear Channel presented workshops of A Bronx Tale musical?

There were supposed to be dueling basketball musicals on Broadway? (Neither ever happened--even the Disney one, which had a tryout theater, never materialized.)

Harold and Maude was bound for NYC? (Actually, if you check on the Kaye Ballard website it says she is up for a Broadway mounting of the musical to take place during the 2007-2008 season... Umm... I saw it and... Well, I won't be nasty.)

Jordan Roth was going to present Broadway Bares on Broadway?

Tim Burton was going to direct the Jim Steinman/David Ives take on Batman in Gotham?

Burt Reynolds was set to return to the New York stage in a comedy about television producers entitled Pitch?

A stage version of Rosie O'Donnell's book Find Me, featuring assistance from Cyndi Lauper, was inevitable?

The Weisslers' were producing a musical version of The Blue Angel by Peter Parnell and Stephen Trask?

The Helen Hayes Theater Company in Nyack, New York was going to present Rupert Holmes' musical take on his television show Remember WENN with some of its original cast?

Monday, August 14, 2006

I Dreamed a Dream...

Rick Miramontez would like you all to know that "when" (his word) Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave are on Broadway at the same time, there will be no feuding between them. I keep forgetting to share that important bit of info.

Now onto my actual posting...

It was recently announced that Lea Michele would be dropping out of the Les Miz revival to appear in the Broadway transfer of Spring Awakening. This got me thinking about why people choose the projects they do.... What kinds of things factor into these decisions? And Les Miz is a good show to focus on for a discussion of this topic.

Before casting was announced, Eden Espinosa opted not to appear in Lez Miz because it would conflict with the Los Angeles mounting of Wicked. Shortly after this, I heard Daphne Rubin-Vega for Fantine. Then I heard Daphne Rubin-Vega for High Fidelity. Would she dream a dream or sing some rock songs with lyrics by Amanda Green? Well, we now know she did choose Les Miz, but let us pretend we are back during the decision making process. Les Miz is something that will at least be bringing in a pay check for six months; this show also offers her the opportunity to put a new spin on a well-known character. Fantine is not however going to be the focus of the reviews, which will probably largely concentrate on the viability of Les Miz today. On the other hand, High Fidelity offered an opportunity to possibly receive real stand-out reviews, as there was talk of bulking up the role of Liz (I think that is the right name) had Rubin-Vega signed on. But High Fidelity does not have as much emotional resonance and also has a shelf life that is currently hard to judge. Definite pros and cons to both. A possible swaying factor was that she has a young child and Fidelity is trying out away from her NYC home. But I believe, in this particular case, the thing that tipped the scales was something I have yet to mention: Les Miz is letting her out in the winter to appear in Jack Goes Boating with Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Public and I heard that High Fidelity would not guarantee such an out. Though decide for yourself why you believe she chose what she did.

Michele was in many ways in a more difficult position. Rubin-Vega is established in the theater world--she is a two-time Tony nominee who always works. No matter which project she chose, her long-run would likely not be effected. Michele is at a pivotal place in her career--she is waiting for the role that will establish her. She hasn't had her Mimi yet. Who knows if it is Wendla or Eponine? (Who knew those names would sound so stupid when I listed them one after the other?)

We already know Michele likely won't receive "a star is born" reviews for her performance in Spring Awakening on Broadway, she didn't receive those off-Broadway. She received positive mentions. She likely would have gotten positive mentions for her work in Les Miz as well. (Though they probably would have been very, very short--Rubin-Vega at least will reinvent Fantine a little, Michele is the standard Eponine type and thus less worthy of examination.) So I don't think pull quotes factored into the decision really.

What were the real pros and cons for Michele? As noted above, Les Miz will run and tons of people would have seen her up on that stage. That said, I really don't know how many people are going to be focusing on Eponine in 2006 when they've already seen so many people of the same ilk do it. Spring Awakening is offering Michele the chance to be a real Broadway leading lady. It is also a project she has been with for years, thus it likely carries tremendous emotional importance to her. But it's probably not as safe a bet if she needs a steady check or desires mass exposure. It is a risk--one that I understand why she took. Hopefully it will work out for her.

Oh my god (you guys)--which you'll soon know what is referencing if you don't already--this was a super long post. Sorry.... I want to give you a scoop if you're still reading... Ummm... Tony winner Jane Krakowski has been cast in the new Tina Fey sitcom. Is that a good bit of info?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dancing Queen

I don’t have that much to say today, but I do want to start with a shout out to Team Cara. Somewhere in my youth or childhood….

Anyway, when I heard back in the day that they signed Leah Hocking to Mamma Mia! for only three months (now, note, I never verified this rumor), I thought: “The producers are waiting for Lestat to close so Carolee can return.” So, when I was told this weekend that Ms. Carmello was indeed on her way back to the Winter Garden, I was none too surprised. That said, I have not confirmed that she is, so let’s talk in the hypothetical for fairness sake. If Carolee Carmello is indeed returning to Mamma Mia! (and, again, I cannot swear she is), I urge you all to see her in it. I’m not a huge fan of the show—I don’t sing “Money, Money, Money” in the shower---but Carolee makes everything about it work.

I am so going to have more to say on Sunday… Now I’m just exhausted. Kevin promised me a Joe Iconis (aka “the future of musical theater”) protest song and I’m waiting for that to revitalize me. Though I shouldn’t expect anymore from my friend Kevin—“he’s stronger than he looks,” according to my mother—what else can I ask of someone?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Getting All Your Ducks in a Row

OK, OK... I missed my Wednesday post, but it's been a kind of odd week... Monday I had a job, Tuesday I didn't. More on that on another day... maybe.

Now onto the past week in theater. I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change celebrated its tenth anniversary off-Broadway last week. And I want to say something about it... That show has one of the best names ever. It has a title that middle-aged people see and think: "I NEED TO SEE THAT!" I mean, here is a show that got mixed reviews and is, in some circles, picked on. Yet it's still open... No offense to the show Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts created, but I really give the majority of credit for the show's success to the ingenious title. I also believe Hot Feet would have sold more tickets if it was called Boogie Wonderland. And if only In My Life could have been called You Light Up My Life… Though that would have been confusing.

On an unrelated note... A little something you people out there may not know is that Bill Nighy (currently on screen in the perplexing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) will join Julianne Moore in The Vertical Hour on Broadway. I tell you this, not because I think you care about Bill Nighy (though some of you might), but mostly because further casting insures the show actually is happening. I was worried for a while. Oh, and another thing you may not know, The Vertical Hour used to randomly be titled Eight Ducks. I have no idea why.