The Playgoer: June 2012

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tony Blogcast 2012

For Twitter followers: additional Tony observations were tweeted at: @theplaygoer

11:10 Once for Best Musical. What can I say. I didn't see it coming. And I'm glad they didn't follow my advice to fold. But the reason I was skeptical about their B'way prospects was that I've seen way too many "small" and good shows die on Broadway in pursuit of some antiquated retro dream of a Broadway that is no more. But, hey, they made it work! How did they do that? A subject worthy of further reporting... Meanwhile, Parker & Stone presenting Best Musical? Craven plea for audience? Yes. But brilliant nonetheless. And why? Because the big question hovering over Broadway this year--from Book of Mormon to Smash--is: can Broadway take back its place in truly "Popular Culture"--the realm from which it came.  More to come....Good night!

10:55 The anointing of Nina Arianda! Look, she's great. But Venus in Fur? As a play? Crap, no? (Also, love how CBS announcer pronounced her character's name as "VAnda" ('a' as in "Mandy")... Audra is indeed fantastic in Porgy. Pretty much the reason to see it.....Ad-Buy Watch: the new Woody film (there's your demographic indicator)

10:48 Re: James Corden's Best Actor Tony: 1) Yes, PS Hoffman was clearly pissed. I liked him very much in Salesman. But now I realize... did he do this for the Tony? 2) Corden is fabulous. And he embodies how, at its best, 1Man/2Guvs wonderfully displays the inherent porousness of stage comedy. (i.e. actors/audience interaction). But, look, this award (and 2Guvs' B'way success) was Anglophilia all the way

10:40 Upset for Steve Kazee, another harbinger of Once's big night. Big upset. The anointing of Jeremy Jordan will have to wait....Add to CBS-unworthy list: Michael Kahn's Regional Theatre Tony for his Shakespeare DC Theatre...And yet Hugh Jackman's Special "Humanitarian" Tony gets primetime, replete with clips from Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway! And presented to him by... Mrs. Hugh Jackman. Why? To prove to Middle America that there is a Mrs. Hugh Jackman...

10:30 Tony Low Point: A musical number Live from a Cruise Ship! Ok, admittedly, those cruise ships do employ, at any given moment, probably 50% of AEA musical performers* (And Ish tweets that Royal Caribbean has bought mucho ad time on the broadcast) .....Awkward as it must have been for CBS Primetime viewers, Mandy & Patti's singing back & forth of classic lyrics was the first true theatrical-talent moment of the night.... Big upset for Porgy over Follies (hmm, a little FU to the latter's composer, Sondheim's trashing of the former?)

10:20 Ricky Martin makes such a happy "Che" doesn't he? And poor Elena Rogers (playing, ahem, Evita!) doesn't get to do a thing.... Note Bene: One important thing to keep in mind about all these production numbers on the broadcast: the shows pay for them themselves. Yes. Really. Infomercials within an informercial, if you will...."Blah-Blah-Blah Unimportant Drama Fag" awards update: Lighting Design/Play: Peter/Starcatcher... Ad-Buy watch: Les Miz The Movie!


10: 10 Jim Parson's intro to Best Play? Just plain weird. ... Same goes for slow-mo blocking of Clybourne Park actors. Oh wait, are those even the real actors? And...cue B-Roll. (CBS just doesn't know what to do with plays, do they?)... Kudos to Clybourne Park and kudos for Tony voters for not finding a way out of it.  But for anyone watching the broadcast... it might as well be in a different universe, right?  It's like Best Foreign Film at the Oscars...


10:00 "Other Awards" update: Lighting/Play for Once ....Ad-Buy Watch: Rebecca: The Musical...

9:55 Haven't seen Once yet. (Maybe because I'm still humiliated from predicting its demise!) But that number they did tonight, I bet, goes over much better than the rest with most of America.  Why? Because at least they won't find it cheezy.... Meanwhile stay tuned for Ricky Martin and a cruise ship....(kid you not)

9:45 "Those Other Awards" update: Bob Crowely, Set Design/Play for Once.... BigTime bow to genuine Pop Culture: Tyler Perry presents Best Play/Revival

9:40 I'm afraid any progress the current Porgy & Bess was striving for in the depiction of "simple negro folk" was not helped by their on-air speed-freak medley..... Meanwhile in Broadcast Ad-Buy watch: Rock of Ages--the MOVIE!

9:35 A while ago, Ellen Barkin delivered the official B'way statistics that  it's been "another record breaking box office season." Eerily reminded me of Politburo announcements about crops in the latest 5-Year Plan...

9:30 More "killing time during commercials" awards: Best Set Design (Play): Peter/Starcatcher... As I just tweeted: "Is it too much for ATW and THEMSELVES to tweet out the winners of offscreen awards? Really?"  It really hasn't been easy to find that info online tonight. There's only so many twitter feeds I can troll....
 
9:23 Who says the Tony broadcast doesn't honor plays. "Here's one line of B-roll from each play!"  EXCEPT, any "Play with Music" gets a break. Hence: Peter/Starcatcher and End of the Rainbow. Dangerous precedent? As for One Man Two Guvs,viewers out there must be wondering what the hell the otherwise brilliant James Corden is doing slapping himself with a weird British accent...

9:13 In "Other Awards" news.... Best Costumes to Peter/Starcatcher and Follies... CBS Advertising Watch: Roundabout's Harvey w/ Jim Parsons

9:08 During the Nice Work segment I realized: I miss the excerpts that were just about one great number sung by one great star.  But now, since Matthew Broderick is still (still!) a bigger media star than Kelli O'Hara, we get three seconds of her "Someone to Watch Over Me" and three minutes of his "college try" at "Sweet and Low Down."  It's Production Number by Committee.

9:01 No, I have not seen Peter/Starcatcher and Christian Borle is undeniably a fab actor.  But is his award a Smash shout-out?  How could it not be...

8:55 Not-ready-for-prime-time awards are indeed still being handed out...during commercials.  Latest: Sound Design for Once (musical) and Peter/Starcatcher (play)

8:49 Lowpoint so far: Orchestra cutting off Mike Nichols.  Mike Frickin' Nichols!

8:40 Buddy's number from Follies must seem pretty weirdly out of context to viewers. (It's kind of a crazy dream sequence--hence the trippy vaudeville suit.) But while such uninformed rabble are thinking this typifies everything they hate about Broadway, I just want to pay tribute to Danny Burstein, one of those hundreds of NYC actors who in any other era would be considered major stars. (And as McNulty points out, he just got in on the redeye from LA, where Follies just ended its tour.)

8:31  Michael McGrath is indeed excellent in Nice Work--a show I enjoyed more than most. The rare "revisal" that honors and retains the spirit of the original.

8:30 Shows so far buying advertising time during the broadcast: The Best Man. Developing....


8:25 That Newsies music sure wouldn't inspire me  to dance like that. Although I do appreciate the cheesy attempt to musicalize Waiting for Lefty--"Strike!Strike! Strike!"--although Odets probably didn't imagine a funky beat

8:20 Tony Mysteries--Why was Patti LuPone pushing a lawnmower? What was Amanda Seyfreid doing there? (And why didn't her mike work?)

If Neil's special opening number was another Shaiman & Wittman special commission.... not up to their usual. No big laughs. Which makes it just...a...waste...of...airtime.

8:15 While I love Book of Mormon, odd choice to start with "Hello." This really assumes a "target demographic" for the broadcast, doesn't it. If you don't know the musical, would you think those decadent Broadway heathens are just making fun of Mormons? No use in questioning motive, though, since that's easy: extend advance sales for Book of Mormon! (and Scott Rudin, inc)... James Earl Jones with the Darth Vader autograph equipment, though, was pretty priceless

All in all, pales in comparison's to last year's far more original, elaborate, and even confrontational number,  "Broadway: It's Not Just for Gays Any More."
 
8:00 Let's start the festivities the way I always like to start: unearthing from off-screen obscurity the not-so-trivial awards already handed out. And, quite frustratingly, I must say TonyAwards.com does not make this info very easily accessible, something they--of all websites--should be able to do immediately, you'd think.... First there's the little matter of Best Book--that is, script or play in the musical category--going to Irish playwright Enda Walsh for Once. Kinda important, don't you think. Anyway, that plus Martin Lowe's intimate orchestrations signal a good night for Once.

Also in major non-network news is the Choreography award to Christopher Gattelli for Newsies--which apparently is the chief reason that show is in such contention.  Go figure.  I guess all that matters to them is we'll see some of the dancing on the broadcast.

No sign at all of the design awards yet, which usually join these other "obscure" categories in preshow exile.  What's up with them?

*UPDATE: Martha Plimpton tweets me straight on the cruise issue: "Now non-union cruise ships are the same as Broadway, FYI. Good performers should have union protection."

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Annual Playgoer Tony Live Blogcast

...is on!

Yes, sorry we've been absent here a long time. But help nurse Playgoer back to life by visiting and taking part in the traditional Tony Live Blogcast here tomorrow night starting at 8:00 EST.

Past blogcast archive--going all the way back to 2005!--here.