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BroadwayGirlNYC: My Tony Nom Reactions pt 1

This is a special week for everyone involved in Broadway theatre -- on & off the stage, professionals & fans, veterans & newbies, et al.

As did many of you, I woke up early on Tuesday to watch the Tony Awards nominations live on NY1.
The categories & nominees (darlingly delivered by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sutton Foster) came quickly, one after the other, so fast I could barely register the names, much less
process a reaction or live tweet my thoughts!
So, now that I've had a couple of days to consider the list, here are my very preliminary thoughts about each of the main categories.
(Today you get part 1! Part 2 is coming soon!)
Keep in mind that 1) there are some shows I haven't seen yet, and 2) these thoughts do not necessarily reflect my "should win" or "will win" predictions -- those come later!

BEST PLAY

The Assembled Parties Author: Richard Greenberg
Lucky Guy Author: Nora Ephron
The Testament of Mary Author: Colm Tóibín
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Author: Christopher Durang

These nominees remind me that I need to see more plays! I love musicals so much that I often return numerous times, and put off seeing dramatic (and comedic, though less often) straight plays. Of these four, the only one I've seen is Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike -- which is, in classic Durang style, a social commentary delivered via absurd dialogue and clever, ridiculous characters. A big disappointment for me is that The Performers, by David West Read, was not -- and in fact could not be -- nominated in this category. In order to be Tony eligible, a show must have 8 performances (not including previews). The Performers were one short, closing after its 7th show. Mine is a somewhat controversial opinion, but I say that The Performers was hands down one of the best plays in the last several seasons. I saw it twice in its short run, and that is one play that, given the opportunity, I'd have returned to even more often than most musicals.

BEST MUSICAL

Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Ma
tilda The Musical

This is a category with two powerhouses and two underdogs -- Matilda and Kinky Boots as the former, and Bring it On! and A Christmas Story as the latter. Matilda, which won just about every award in London, is as smart as funny as it is irreverent and dark. The show boasts a stellar cast across the board (I've seen two of the four young actresses who play Matilda so far). And Tim Minchin's music is delightful and weird, singable yet unlike anything I've ever heard on Broadway. Kinky Boots is not quite as groundbreaking -- I can think of several previous musicals to which it pays homage -- but the combination of humor, heart, Billy Porter(!), and an absolutely fantastic score by Cyndi Lauper, I consider it an extremely strong contender. Bring It On! is a fun show with cheer-tastic choreography, a crowd-pleaser that could tour extremely well especially with the words "Best Musical" next to it on a marquee. That may be its best hope for an upset; many Tony Votes are cast by regional representatives across the country, who arguably benefit most from a show with wide appeal. And A Christmas Story, with music and lyrics by Pasek & Paul... well, I just feel really PROUD of those guys. Not even thirty and they are proving themselves as the real deal. Because the show is seasonal, it won't be as appealing to the "tour" voters who want a show that can run year-round. But I'm glad it was nominated. I was taken (admittedly) by surprise to find myself thoroughly entertained. Bottom line is I think this is largely a two-show contest.

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

A Christmas Story, The Musical - Joseph Robinette
Kinky Boots - Harvey Fierstein
Matilda The Musical - Dennis Kelly
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella - Douglas Carter Beane

Best Book of a Musical, and all of the shows represented are adaptations of stories told elsewhere. A Christmas Story and Kinky Boots from films, Cinderella from a fairy tale and then a TV movie (Douglas Carter Beane is responsible for the "new book"), and Matilda from a Roald Dahl book (a movie version was released in 1996, but this musical is an adaptation of the original text). I feel that, in order to really speak in this category, I'd want to go back to the source material and see how much was changed in creating the Broadway show. Acknowledging that I have not (yet) done that, I do tip my hat considerably to Beane, who put a new spin on the familiar Cinderella story: Ella falls in love because Topher is a kind man who just happens to be a prince, and "living happily ever after" for them means enacting change for the better in the world around them. Source material aside, there's no doubt that all four librettos are engaging, moving, and significantly entertaining.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE

A Christmas Story, The Musical, Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a Hardbody, Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, Lyrics: Amanda Green
Kinky Boots, Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Matilda The Musical, Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Again I feel giddy with pride for Pasek & Paul being recognized. Because they're roughly my age, and I've been around town to watch their rise from "up-and-coming" to successful Broadway composers, I identify with them as if they're my own friends! They did a fantastic job musicalizing A Christmas Story, and (even here in the middle of Spring) I listen to it fairly often. It's a strong score, to be sure. But as with Best Musical, I think this category boils down to two. The pop icon or the quirky comedian? It's going to be a head-to-head battle between Cyndi Lauper for Kinky Boots vs. Tim Minchin for Matilda. For some reason, I have a hunch that one of these two shows will win Best Musical and the other will win Best Score. But who will win which? I have no idea! Kinky Boots is singable and danceable and energetic. Matilda is dark, multilayered, and full of smart wordplay. I LOVE that this category could go either way. What of Trey Anastasio? After all, he's a talented, hugely successful artist. Hands on a Hardbody had some lovely musical moments. Perhaps because the show closed so early, or because it was outshined by Kinky and Matilda, I don't expect Hardbody to get the win here. But who knows? Stranger things have happened... (haven't they?).

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

Golden Boy
Orphans
The Trip to Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Hard for me to comment on this category. In fact, I really can't, since I've only seen two of the shows: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Golden Boy. So I will say this: I love Edward Albee. I don't connect so well with Clifford Odets. But I get that he's brilliant. If I was voting (between the two I've seen) I'd pick Virginia Woolf... but I gotta get to the other two before June 9 so I can make a decent and educated comment on the category.

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

Annie
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Pippin
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

I'm pretty obsessed with Pippin at the moment. I saw it just this week and the acrobatics and stunts are still swimming in my head! More than I'm thinking about who might win, I'm thinking about which number Pippin will perform!!! And that gets me thinking about the other performances in this category. Suddenly my brain is full of cute little orphan girls -- and Jane Lynch performing with them! They HAVE to use her in the broadcast, and her debut as Miss Hannigan will come right at the appropriate moment. And I bet Cinderella will include one of their magical costume changes. And Drood!! We'll get to see the show return to life (won't we? Can we? Please say yes!!). These are my thoughts on Best Revival of a Musical. I'm all tingly about Pippin and I cried a bunch of times at Cinderella and I saw Drood multiple times and Annie is one of my favorite musicals to ever exist. So yay for all of them... bring on the performances!!

My thoughts on the rest of the categories coming soon!

What do YOU think??? Tweet me!!!!


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