Thursday, June 28, 2007

They Don't Know

I'm tired tonight. The Spike Lee phone calls of the last two days truly exhausted me. But I want to take this post to defend the Roundabout's selection of Old Acquaintance for their season.

A bunch of industry people have told me that they believe Roundabout should be doing edgier, riskier work, revivals that stand for something or whatever. I don't personally agree with this argument. I often disagree with Roundabout's particular selections in a major way, but I support a theater company's right to do whatever types of things they want. I don't believe that just because they get government money means they need to do plays that comment on the public welfare. I see the other side of this argument. I know that we need theater companies that take real risks. I just don't think we need every theater company to do that. (Plus, Roundabout has done risky things in the past, but, even if they hadn't, I'd still stand behind the choice to just do old chestnuts.)

I would rather see Old Acquaintance five more times than sit through even just the first act of MTC's acclaimed production of Translations again. Same for Constant Wife or Prelude to a Kiss (though I might have to kill Annie Parisse after time two of that one). I realize that Translations is a more "important" work and I'm happy MTC did it, but I didn't like it and I don't think every theater company needs to do complete seasons of Translations-like productions.

I JUST realized that I previously defended Roundabout's selection of Cabaret on this blog and I don't want it to come off that I'm really pro-Roundabout (because I'm not particularly). I just think there are things that should be attacked and things that it's stupid to criticize. I mean, I heard someone coming out of the American Airlines saying: "Well, it was enjoyable, but it's really not the type of thing that they should be doing." What does that even mean? Who sets those guidelines? I just don't get it. There are a lot of things I think are idiotic to revive, but that is because of the individual selection based on its own merits, not because I have some kind of over-arching belief about what should be done by a particular theater.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

You'll Be In My Heart

Weisslers = Barklays of Broadway... Someone asked if I knew who was producing and that is what I know.

Meanwhile, I am very sad about the state of daily theater journalism. In the last few weeks, things have changed closing dates, said they were limited runs when that was never said before... yet the news sites are silent. No one even got a quote about the Les Miz firings. I mean, I'm very fond of saying only 100 people care about 99% of this stuff, but, if those 100 people are the core of your loyal readership, you should give them the complete story to the best of your ability. I totally understand not breaking casting stories, but, this is not that... Anyway, I'm saying that as a reader. That's it.

I am extremely tired tonight and have so much more to do, so I won't go on really. I did want to comment about Tarzan closing--you always know how bad a show is doing by the time of year it closes. I know that sounds idiotic--I don't want emails saying "of course you know it's doing bad if it closes!" What I mean is, unless family-friendly shows are doing HORRIBLY they don't close before September (unless there is something that NEEDS the theater in August and absolutely cannot open later). Summer is their prime time. Summer is a time when Hairspray has that extra bounce. The Lion King rules. It is a sad sad statement about Tarzan's appeal that it is closing now... Because, you have to think generally, Disney + Summer = Gold. But, not always.

Man, I've lost my train of thought. Work time. Because I'm clearly in the shape for work.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let Me Hear Ya

Any sound designers out there excited about your Tony Award? I'm not, no offense. Here is why I think these things are a bad idea--93% of Tony voters will not be able to judge sound design (and I am being generous). This is going to be another one of those awards that goes with the sweep. Like, things usually don't win Lighting Design and then no other Tonys. This is because people aren't really voting for lighting design--they are voting for shows they loved. It's unclear what lighting design is to a lot of people--I once yelled at a producer who told me he voted for The Producers for lighting design and then defended the choice by saying, "Well, The Producers is funny."

And lighting design is more obvious than sound design, if you ask me.... Certain shows sound horrible, it's true--my poor beloved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang suffered from this--but, in general, not many people can judge the distinctions in sound design. (My friend Billy just promoted to me the LoveMusik sound design, which was apparently, as per him, amazing. I didn't notice.) It's like there used to be Tony Awards for Stage Technician and Conductor/Musical Director. How many voters can judge conductors? I know I wouldn't be able to... (Though--for those of you who know Don Summa--one of my favorite Summa lines about a conductor is "He could make anything sound like a dirge." So clearly he'd be one of the few wise conductor voters.)

So, sorry sound designers, but, even if you win in 2008, I just don't think you are winning on your merits.

On another note, I rarely read comments if they are written more than a day or two later. But, recently, someone pointed out this one to me:

Anonymous said...
Susann Brinkley never stolefrom anybody in her life....How fucking dare you say somethingnonchalant...Get the facts "first" before bloggingPeace out Biatch

Tom Brinkley

Now, I don't know if this person is named Tom Brinkley or if the comment is a fake or whatever, but, I will address it because I like randomness.

Let me draw your attention to this News Release from the NY DA's office, dated May 24, 2005.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today that a former off-Broadway theatre producer pleaded guilty to stealing $48,000 from the non-profit theatre company where she had been employed as executive director.

SUSANN BRINKLEY, 48, pleaded guilty today to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.
BRINKLEY has produced and directed numerous theatrical productions including Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which played Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre in Manhattan and at the Broadway Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. The investigation leading to today's plea revealed that, during 2001, BRINKLEY contracted with playwright Annie Reiner and accepted $48,000 from three investors - Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, and George Shapiro - to produce Ms. Reiner's play, The New Living Room. BRINKLEY never produced that play; instead, she misappropriated the money for Reiner's play to use on her own production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was failing in Chicago.

So... yeah... that's it for me. I am very tired and I still have some writing to do tonight.... (If I wasn't afraid of upsetting my 12 loyal readers I would so have taken the night off.) Plus, on top of that, I think it is wise to end on grand larceny. That happens so rarely.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shall We Dance

Since we last were in touch, half of the Les Miz leads got fired and Thommie Walsh died. I could talk about either of those things, but I believe I said I'd post news and all the news about those two things is known. So those are non-topics and I shall report new news, as pledged. (Speaking of which, my Charles Mee news was finally confirmed... And I was a little weirded out that one of his shows was named Queens Boulevard--is it only me that naturally thinks of Entourage when that name comes up?)

So, those of you who watched the Tony pre-show may have heard Tommy Tune say he was working on two projects, but he couldn't say what either of them were. I've known one for a while... I have heard about it from more than one source and I don't know who the press agent is, so, I feel I'm pretty safe in sharing it here....

It is a stage version of The Barkleys of Broadway, which was the last Fred and Ginger movie. It was written by Comden and Green and Sidney Sheldon and centers on a musical comedy team. There was a whole drama behind the filming--it was supposed to star Astaire and Judy Garland and have a totally different name, but, allegedly, Gardland's drug and alcohol problems got to be too much, so she was replaced with Rogers (who hadn't done a film with Astaire for about a decade at this point).

As most of you know, Tune hasn't had a Broadway project since 1994. He had that dismal White Tie and Tails off-Broadway in 2002 and recently humiliated himself in the Dr. Doolittle tour, but he's been absent from the Great White Way in this century.

So, that's that. Are any of you fans of the movie? If so, comment. I saw it a long time ago, but I'm no expert.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Do You Know What Side My Corn Is Buttered On?

Well... so.... this was an active week. How long can Xanadu delay opening? How can a headline say "Tony Takes its Casualties" and lead the story with Company, which won the Best Revival of a Musical Tony? What did the League President mean when, in referencing the broadcast's horrible ratings, she told The Times "We suspect our loyal viewers were there"? (Was that supposed to be like "Have no fear--1000 freaks are going to be tuning in no matter how crappy we make it"?)

Anyway, I am sorry when calling-out Donna Karger below I accidentally wrote her name totally wrong. Donna Carter is a model. Dixie Carter is a shining star. And, then, well, Donna Karger of NY-1 was the one I was referencing. All apologies for making my own mistake while pointing out hers.

So--the Tonys... It's too painful to discuss the broadcast, but I did say I'd talk briefly about some parties. At my old job, I had to work through the parties, but, not so this year. Though parties are not like things you can share, really, so, this is going to be lame. Plus, these aren't press events, so I don't want to cross the line in reporting happenings. That would not be appropriate... even for a blogger... So, again, these highlights will be lame.

I started my night at Carmines, celebrating the spectacular win of David Hyde Pierce with the Curtains folks. (Sadly I left before David Hyde Pierce got there.) I ended my night at the Spring Awakening bash at Spotlight Live, along with almost every print theater journalist.

Here are some highlights of the evening for me:

There are some people in this industry that I consider part of my family and two of them happen to be involved in Grey Gardens, so it was nice to go celebrate with them. But they weren't really the highlight there. The highlight of the Grey Gardens party at Tony DiNapoli's was that there were plant centerpieces in Grey Gardens wrapping... And, walking out, they gave us stress balls with plastic corn kernels all over it and a card that says "Jerry liked Edie's corn and we love Grey Gardens. Thanks for celebrating with us." (There was also a popcorn version, but I have the kernels, which I believe is far superior in its weirdness.)

On the street outside of Spotlight Live, Liev Schreiber said to his friends, "Yeah, we're going into Spring Awakening, they won something." (I should note that this was said in jest. Hear me: in jest.)

Taye Diggs helping out a drunk-seeming Zach Braff and saying: "Yeah, it's all about you tonight, man, it's all about you." (Or something basically like that.... I have only told one person that and I was not going to tell it here, because I am so not New York's Intelligencer, but it's just randomness to give you a chuckle.)

Also, I was looking for my friend Brad all over the Spring Awakening party--because he moves around a lot--and I'm walking up the stairs and I hear: "You're Cara, right?" And of course I answer in the affirmative because, even though I wasn't wearing my typical shiny sneakers, I felt there was no point in trying to hide. So this girl says "Why don't you write news? Isn't that what you are supposed to do?" I was so confused! This was a blog reader, so I'm sure she is reading this now and is upset I'm not mentioning her name, but, to be honest, I don't remember it. I dissed her accidentally, but I will answer now. Sometimes I write news, but I don't if I know the press agent and I know that press agent will be upset. When it was my job to break stories, I didn't care who was upset, I was semi-ruthless. Now though... there is sort of no point to stealing another journalist's thunder or upsetting a press person. (That said, I might write some news Sunday relating to a show I don't know the press agent for...)

Ummm... every other story involves drunk/high people and I don't want hate mail, so, there we go. Adios. Enjoy your corn.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jerry Likes My Corn

I ended up not going to Boston this weekend---I had tons to do and I was going to an outdoor event and there was an 80% chance of rain for both days there, so I got talked out of it---and thus I actually got to watch the awards. While I was procrastinating my real work yesterday, I also read all the pundit reports. What was Elysa Gardner thinking when she picked Talk Radio?

Anyway, I'm now back from a slew of parties, which maybe I'll report on on Wednesday.

For now, as promised, my biggest surprise of the night. And it was... Carla Gugino's hair. Seriously. What was she thinking? I hope it is for a role... because, if it isn't, it's clear not living up to her normal standard with her performance on Entourage has traumatized her.

I mean, there were no real surprises. I was THRILLED with David Hyde Pierce. So happy. I picked him here, but I believe the only journalist to pick him in a major outlet was Campbell Robertson. So we rock. (If some of you other people out there predicted David Hyde Pierce, you rock too, have no fear.)

I was also very happy with Julie White, who, I picked on this blog, but I was a little afraid would not triumph because of those pesky out-of-towners.

Also, I just want you all to know, even though this is not my party report... I walked up to Mary Louise Wilson and I said to her: "Hey, you don't know who I am and it's not important, but I just want to say I think you're a genius." I mean, I was really thrilled when she won. I knew she would, there wasn't a question, but it still made me happy to see her up there. I'm sure "Jerry" was happy as well.

Yeah, I can't think of anything else. It was so boring I could barely get through it. I actually didn't get through the whole thing... I thought those commercial intros were dreadful--not as bad when they said who they were, but, then, like the 110 in the Shade intro... that just an 'oy.' AND THERE IS NOT A LITTLE BIT OF BROADWAY IN EVERYONE. I KNOW THAT FOR A FACT.

Oh--I was also taken with the fact that the Tony announcer didn't know what category Liev Schreiber got his Tony in. They said "leading actor for Glengarry" and, well, that's wrong. Of course that is not as big a screw-up as when Donna Carter on the red carpet said to John Mahoney "nominated for his performance in Prelude to a Kiss..." and he had to correct her. That was a real low-point.

I have to sleep. I have to be up at 8am.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You Live in a World of Your Own

I've had a fairly long day--and at least one of you out there knows why--so I was happy when I realized I had already given today's blog post away. I will say as my small part that I have spoken to 79 Tony voters in the last two weeks and done and informal poll in all major categories and, while there have been very few surprises, I do have many more people voting for David Hyde Pierce (yay) than Raul Esparza (whatever). Now that could just be the result of the fact that my Tony voters have taste and then we'll see Sunday that most of the rest don't, but, it could also forshadow Sunday's events. I hope that's what it is.

And, also, a note about Sunday... I will try to post my biggest surprise that night, but, I won't be home until mid-award show and then I have some parties I might attend, so I don't know how exhausted I'll be. So, if there isn't a post first thing Monday, forgive me.

Anyway... and now... without further ado.


Best Play
The Coast of Utopia

Best Musical
Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical
Spring Awakening - I don't see Grey Gardens as a contender in this category the way some do, and I'm reminded of 1992 when everyone thought Jelly's Last Jam would win book, but Falsettos won both.

Best Original Score
Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Play
Journey's End

Best Revival of a Musical
Company - I think 110 in the Shade could win. But I guess Company will. Alas.

Best Special Theatrical Event
Jay Johnson: The Two and Only - Kiki could win though.

Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon

Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play
Eve Best, A Moon for the Misbegotten - I think anyone except Swooze could win, though Angela is unlikely because Deuce is so dreadful. That leaves Best, Vanessa and Julie White. I fear that not enough people actually saw White, so that leaves Redgrave and Best to duke it out. I think Best bests Nessa.

Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical
David Hyde Pierce, Curtains - I know, I'm living in a dream world. But I'm sorry, Raul Esparza is BAD in Company. He totally misses the point of "Being Alive" - it's about discovering something, moron, not staying morose! - and overall it was the most self-indulgent performance ever. He makes Kevin Spacey seem giving. But, I think what will happen is, the lemmings will all vote for Esparza, and the people with taste will actually be split among Pierce, Gavin Lee - he dances upside down, people! - and Jonathan Groff, who actually could sneak in and win. So, really, I should predict Raul Esparza, but I just can't. Just can't.

Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical
Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens - I know, I've been shouting Audra Ann's name since August. But I don't think she'll pull it off. Kudos to Cara Joy's Mikey for the Witchel piece on Ebersole in this Sunday's Times magazine, by the way.

Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play
Anthony Chisholm, Radio Golf - or Billy Crudup. He could win. But Tony loves an August Wilson featured performance! Laurence Fishburne. Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Viola Davis. Anthony Chisholm.

Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Play
Jennifer Ehle, The Coast of Utopia - I fear that not enough people saw the very talented Martha Plimpton in The Coast of Utopia, Part 80 - what was it called? Catastrophe? Coma? - so they will pick Ehle for her lovely performance in Part 1 and her role in Part 2 (which was better than her performance, but maybe she got better.)

Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical
John Gallagher, Jr., Spring Awakening

Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical
Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens - I'm actually looking forward to seeing her win more than anyone. She is great in the show, and SHE is the epitome of someone who's been around for years and deserves it, not the Raul Esparzas of the world. He's been around for 7 years, people! 7 LONG years, yes. But Ms. Wilson was in Flora, the Red Menace. 1965. More than 7 years. DESERVED. Can't wait... Oh, someone on Gold Derby picked Orfeh, which I loved.

Best Direction of a Play
Jack O'Brien, The Coast of Utopia

Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening

Best Choreography
Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, Mary Poppins

Best Orchestrations
Jonathan Tunick, LoveMusik

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bob Crowley & Scott Pask, The Coast of Utopia

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Mary Poppins

Best Costume Design of a Play
Catherine Zuber, The Coast of Utopia

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Mary Poppins

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner, and Natasha Katz, The Coast of Utopia

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, Spring Awakening

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Simple Life

No one emailed me questions oddly. And no one commented on the Cara-ness of the last blog entry title. Alas.

Before I do anything else I need to point out another Times story. This blog is so not about me promoting NY Times stories, but I REALLY want to recommend Campbell Robertson's genius story about John Gallagher Jr.. ( ) This story is not genius for anything in particular in it (though I do like "Remember: a fretter."), it's genius because it talks about something that is important that a lot of people outside the industry don't get. More than movies, theater is about the campaign. Because of the small size of the industry, every facet of theater is about "getting out there." This is particularly the case with the Tony Awards. Sure it could be argued that film, tv and music awards are all about the schmooze, but I believe the Tonys are much more about it, again because of the tininess of the industry. We're a close-knit bunch, there is no fourth wall. Last year I heard tons of times, "Well, Harry really isn't attending a lot..." What does that mean? Well, it means people don't feel he is a community member and the community likes its members and they like to vote for those members (aka the John Lloyd Young strategy so wins out). Now maybe this is not the first story ever about Tony campaigning, but it presents the facts well and even I don't remember when the last one was, so, read this one. Do it.

Speaking of campaigning, we all know Jennifer Holliday has been campaigning for something for the last year or so. And it's pretty clear that is the chance to play Effie again in a major venue. Now, she is doing it this summer in Atlanta (as she did in 1994 and 2002) and I'm hearing yet again the rumor that the production just may be part of Encores! Summer Stars series at some point. Roles people were born to play... Yeah, makes sense. I think the issue might be getting the rights, but, I don't want to rain on a parade.

So Wednesday my guest blogger is going to be in full force with Tony picks, as requested. Thus, I am going to throw some of my picks out there now. These aren't based on my conversations with Tony voters (and one goes against those conversations), but they are representations of my gut, which is often wrong. So: Julie White, Frank Langella, David Hyde Pierce, Christine Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, John Gallagher Jr. and that's it because my gut doesn't extend to featured people in plays this year (not having seen all the Coast entries). I could give you my picks for everything else, but I've lost the energy and I figure you wouldn't care. But, I will say, I do hope Rob Ashford wins.