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2017-18 PRODUCTIONS REDUX

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  • Djoko
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    There will probably be 5 nominees for Revival of a Play, but Iceman could be left out. Still, no one is touching Angels so who really cares if there will be 4 or 5 nominees.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    Reviews are out for the West End stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, and they’re mixed. https://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/article/Review-Roundup-STRICTLY-BALLROOM-Waltzes-to-the-West-End-20180425

    If the upcoming stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge! ends up having a similar outcome to this, it’ll probably prove that Baz Luhrmann films can’t really work anywhere at all (not even on the big screen).

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    adamunc
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    Did my annual spring trip the last few days to check out some of the shows opening in the second half of the season. Here are some random thoughts:

    FROZEN (Thursday, 4/26)
    The first act is quite well done and enjoyable. There’s some good choreography and creative staging, particularly in “For the First Time in Forever”, which covers significant story and character beats and flows nicely. The story is brisk and pretty focused, culminating inevitably in “Let It Go”. The costume reveal effect is stunning—to use a cliché, it’s “pure Disney magic”. My only complaint would be that it probably comes a bit too late and steps on the end of the song a bit. Caissie Levy is belting her face off and people are still buzzing about the quick change that’s quicker than quick. They should have considered moving that bit back to the bridge section.

    Then comes the second act, and the train jumps off the track into a Dumpster fire. It starts with that misguided “Hygge” number and doesn’t recover. It’s a poor man’s “Hakuna Matata”. The show loses the thread of the emotional story, which should be Anna and Elsa, and becomes more about Anna’s love life. If I were doctoring the show (no one’s ever asked me to doctor a show and no one ever will, but anyway), I would put a new “double solo” for the sisters and the top of act two to remind us what the stakes are. But as it is, the plot points are made baldly (a problem with the film as well) and there’s choreography for the sake of choreography. The use of two different concepts for the Sven and Olaf puppets didn’t work for me either—you’re either doing Julie Taymor or Avenue Q, so pick one and stick with it. Patti Murin is quite charming and Jelani Alladin is appealing. I can understand why Caissie Levy has been passed over in many of the nominations so far; she belts her songs nicely enough (and her new coronation song, “Dangerous To Dream”, is really the only worthy addition to the score), but she doesn’t really have any emotions or much of an arc to play. The book lets down the character so it comes off flat.

    Pro tip: Because of the configuration of the mezzanine, row J has blessed extra legroom and good sightlines. Except when the dingbat grown women in front of you are high-fiving every time the big scenes from the movie come up.

    MY FAIR LADY (Friday, 4/27)
    A respectful, polished, and lovingly mounted production of a classic. I had a bit of trepidation at first, because the Covent Garden scene never really landed for me. “Why Can’t the English” was missing the bite I remember from other productions, and I didn’t really feel the intense conflict/curiosity between Higgins and Eliza. But after that, it was smooth sailing. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are magnificent, as per usual. There’s an awful lot of scenery being moved about and you do have to wait a few beats each time Higgins’s townhome set has to be trundled downstage, but it’s used well within the scenes. I very much liked the Ascot set, with its striped awning against a stark backdrop that descends from the flies and unfolds over the scene. It erased any remaining memories of that bizarre Magritte tableau in the 1994 revival. Hadden-Paton is fine. Butz didn’t wow me as much as I thought he might in this role, but he’s in grand voice. Riggs is Riggs in the very definition of luxury casting. Lauren Ambrose was the revelation for me. I rolled my eyes when I read she had been cast, but once again Bart Sher proves he knows better than most of the rest of us. She acted the part beautifully and her crystalline top notes were a joy. In the much-discussed finale, I loved how much care she took with every beat and gesture. One of the grandest exits in recent memory.

    LOBBY HERO (Saturday matinee, 4/28)
    A very entertaining play. It’s not going to go down in the canon as one of the great ones, but this Broadway home debut for Second Stage also doesn’t have the feel of a minor play getting a major production. It’s perfectly scaled and allows a fine cast the right space to do their work. Kenneth Lonergan never lets his characters off easy and that’s the case here as well, but at least things to end on a little more hopeful note than usual with this work. Michael Cera has to hold down the fort with the most stage time and he’s playing the type of character he’s done many times before, but he’s good at it. Brian Tyree Henry has some of the most dramatic and memorable moments, so if there’s any Tony love for this production, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it be for him. Bel Powley feel like she’s “doing an accent” with her Noo Yawk speech, but her emotional presence is spot-on and she connects well to her scene partners. Chris Evans wisely took a smaller part for his Broadway debut so that the whole play doesn’t hinge on him, but he’s quite good in the part and definitely shows his range. David Rockwell’s single set feels authentic and it’s set up on a revolve so that we get slightly different angles in different scenes. It runs about 2:25, but never feels long. The renovation of the Hayes is a bust, though, with it’s distracting blue walls and bilious orange patterning on the seats. The legroom in the mezzanine is a disaster as well, and I don’t remember that being the case in the past.

    CAROUSEL (Saturday evening, 4/28)
    Oh dear. I really tried to keep an open mind and not compare this too much to the NT revival, but when that one is so perfect and this is often a mess, it’s hard to avoid. We never feel any connection to Julie and that brings up an issue I hadn’t considered before—it’s unusual for a R&H leading lady, but she’s incredibly passive. Other than making the poor decision to stay with Billy instead of going back to the mill at the beginning, she doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t have any agency and doesn’t make any decisions. She even has a song to say that there’s no use thinking about why things are the way they are. The staging here exacerbates that issue so it’s more noticeable than in other versions. Anyway, there are too many characters wandering on and off stage for no good reason and though the choreography is danced well, there’s too much of it at times and it becomes repetitious instead of joyous. The sets are also often singularly ugly, especially that Marvin the Martian space backdrop for the finale and the little stars hanging everywhere that look like post-Christmas leftovers on the sale table at Pier One. The singing is often glorious, particularly the “Soliloquy”, but the direction steps on the ending—why do we leave poor Joshua Henry looking offstage for a few beats after the end before going to blackout? It’s odd. (And the end of the fairground ballet also gets stepped on and doesn’t have its full emotional resonance.) Lindsay Mendez and Alexander Gemignani get special kudos, since their scenes all work and are a pleasure to watch. Renee Fleming’s rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is everything you could wish.

    THREE TALL WOMEN (Sunday matinee, 4/29)
    What can be added here? Joe Mantello brings crystal-clear, precise direction to a piece that would be confounding without it and three marvelous women act their socks off and make it look effortless. So many stunning moments and the brilliant transitional coup de theatre involving Miriam Buether’s ravishing set serves story as well as visual purposes. As Homer Simpson once said, “I have a history of missing the point of things like this”, but with this production, I think the author’s points come through beautifully. Very special.

    ONCE ON THIS ISLAND (Sunday evening, 4/29)
    Made a repeat visit to this extraordinary production because this staging will be near-impossible to replicate on tour or elsewhere. It’s lost none of its magic or wonder since I saw it in January, and young Hailey Kilgore has grown even more poignant and powerful as Ti Moune. Her final scene at the gate may now rank as the most moving moment in a musical currently on Broadway. She will richly deserve the Tony nomination I expect she will receive in the morning. If I had my way, I would throw lots of Tonys at this production.

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    Awardsfan1990
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    The following two awards don’t usually get much coverage, so I thought I’d post the nominees here rather than give them their own separate thread. First, here are the nominees for this year’s Off-Broadway Alliance Awards:

    Best New Musical
    Bastard Jones
    Desperate Measures
    Goldstein
    Pharma Bro: An American Douchical
    Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie

    Best New Play
    Dutch Masters
    Mary Jane
    School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play
    The Amateurs
    Transfers

    Best Revival
    Artificial Jungle
    At Home at the Zoo
    Hindle Wakes
    The Government Inspector
    Torch Song

    Best Solo Performance
    Bright Colors and Bold Patterns
    Harry Clarke
    In & Of Itself
    Squeamish
    Who’s Holiday!

    Best Unique Theatrical Experience
    Babette’s Feast
    Ghost Light
    KPOP
    Pride and Prejudice
    Randy Writes a Novel

    Best Family Show
    Addy & Uno (Tom and Michael D’Angora)
    Pete the Cat (Theatreworks USA)
    Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical (Atlantic for Kids)
    The Snowy Day and Other Stories (Julia Beardsley O’Brien)
    The Stowaway (Classic Stage Company and Trusty Sidekick Theater Company)

    Four Legend of Off Broadway Awards will be presented to artists who have made extraordinary contributions to Off-Broadway: director Jo Bonney, actor André De Shields, playwright David Rabe, and actor Mary Testa.

    Theatrical attorney Donald Farber and playwright-actor Sam Shepard will be posthumously honored with induction into the Off Broadway Hall of Fame. Photographer Carol Rosegg will be honored with the 2018 Friend of Off Broadway Award.

    Winners will be announced May 16, followed by a June 19 ceremony at Sardi’s.

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Now, here are the nominees for this year’s Chita Rivera Awards:

    THEATRE AWARDS

    Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show
    Camille A. Brown-Once On This Island
    Christopher Gattelli-SpongeBob SquarePants
    Casey Nicholaw-Mean Girls
    Justin Peck-Carousel
    Sergio Trujillo-Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show
    Carousel
    Mean Girls
    Once On This Island
    SpongeBob SquarePants
    Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show
    Norbert Leo Butz-My Fair Lady
    Andrei Chagas-Carousel
    Gavin Lee-SpongeBob SquarePants
    Amar Ramasar-Carousel
    Tony Yazbeck-Prince of Broadway

    Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show
    Yesenia Ayala-Carousel
    Ariana DeBose-Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
    Hailey Kilgore-Once On This Island
    Katrina Lenk-The Band’s Visit
    Skye Mattox-Carousel
    Ashley Park-Mean Girls
    Brittany Pollack-Carousel

    Outstanding Choreography in an Off-Broadway Show
    Nejla Yatkin-The Boy Who Danced on Air
    Sonya Tayeh-Hundred Days
    Zach Morris & Jennine Willet-Ghost Light
    Chris Bailey-Jerry Springer: The Opera
    Monica Bill Barnes-One Night Only

    Outstanding Female Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show
    Anna Bass-One Night Only
    Monica Bill Barnes-One Night Only
    Elizabeth Carena-Ghost Light
    Tiffany Mann-Jerry Springer: The Opera
    Kenita R. Miller-Bella: An American Tall Tale

    Outstanding Male Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show
    Colin Campbell-Disco Pigs
    Robert Fairchild-Frankenstein
    Troy Iwata-The Boy Who Danced on Air
    Evan Ruggiero-Bastard Jones
    Nikhil Saboo-The Boy Who Danced on Air

    FILM AWARDS

    Theatrical Release
    Basmati Blues-Choreographed by Noemie LaFrance, Rajeev, Dimple Ganguly, Vijay Ganguly, and Ryan Heffington
    Finding Your Feet-Choreographed by Mark Jennings
    Hello Again -Choreographed by Todd Underwood
    Polina, danser sa vie-Choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj
    The Greatest Showman-Choreographed by Shannon Holtzapffel and Ashley Wallen

    Documentaries
    Step-Directed by Amanda Lipitz
    Bobbi Jene-Directed by Elvira Lind
    Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer-Directed by David Barba and James Pellerito

    Special Awards:

    Lifetime Achievement Award: Carmen De Lavallade

    Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater Award: John Kander

    SDC Director Award for Exemplary Collaboration with Choreographers: Harold Prince

    The ceremony will be held on May 20 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by  Alex Meyer.
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    Awardsfan1990
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    The Actors Equity Foundation has announced their winners for the 2018 Clarence Derwent Awards for best male and female breakout performances of the season: Sean Carvajal for Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train and Ashley Park for Mean Girls and KPOP. Meanwhile, the Richard Seff Awards for veteran actors in supporting roles will go to Michael Potts for The Iceman Cometh and Margaret Colin for Carousel. http://www.playbill.com/article/ashley-park-and-sean-carvajal-win-actors-equitys-2018-clarence-derwent-awards

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by  Alex Meyer.
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    Awardsfan1990
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    Steven Hoggett will receive the inaugural Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award at the Chita Rivera Awards. Meanwhile, Joel Grey, Ben Vereen, Maurice Hines, Lea Salonga, Jessie Mueller, Norbert Leo Butz, Gavin Creel, Patricia Birch, Len Cariou, Laura Osnes, Robert Fairchild, Karen Ziemba and Andy Karl have all been tapped as presenters for the event. https://www.broadway.com/buzz/192140/steven-hoggett-to-receive-special-chita-rivera-award-for-his-work-on-harry-potter-angels/

    A fine presenters list, with one glaring exception: Ben Vereen. In the wake of the #MeToo movment, some of Vereen’s ugly past behaviors have come to light, namely his sexual harassment of female cast members during a 2015 production of Hair in Florida that he directed. In my opinion, he should do what Casey Affleck did for the Oscars and voluntarily withdraw himself, and if he won’t, the Chita Rivera Awards should do it for him. While Hollywood is finally starting to wake up to sexual harassment, it sadly seems like Broadway is not. http://variety.com/2018/legit/news/ben-vereen-accused-sexual-harassment-1202654320/

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Last fall’s New York City Center production of Brigadoon starring Kelli O’Hara, Patrick Wilson and Aasif Mandvi will release a cast recording. I was in a production of Brigadoon myself in 9th grade, where I played a Scotsman as part of the ensemble. And yes, I had to wear a kilt onstage. https://www.broadway.com/buzz/192183/brigadoon-starring-kelli-ohara-patrick-wilson-to-receive-cast-album/

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Alex Meyer.
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    Awardsfan1990
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    Andy Karl and Orfeh will host the Chita Rivera Awards. http://www.playbill.com/article/andy-karl-and-orfeh-to-co-host-the-2018-chita-rivera-awards

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Winners have been announced for the Off-Broadway Alliance Awards:

    Best New Musical
    Desperate Measures

    Best New Play
    Transfers

    Best Revival
    The Government Inspector

    Best Solo Performance
    Harry Clarke

    Best Unique Theatrical Experience
    KPOP

    Best Family Show
    Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical (Atlantic for Kids)

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Awardsfan1990
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    Winners have been announced for the Chita Rivera Awards:

    THEATRE AWARDS

    Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show
    Sergio Trujillo-Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show (Tie)
    Carousel
    Mean Girls

    Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show
    Tony Yazbeck-Prince of Broadway

    Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show
    Ariana DeBose-Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Outstanding Choreography in an Off-Broadway Show
    Zach Morris & Jennine Willet-Ghost Light

    Outstanding Female Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show
    Monica Bill Barnes-One Night Only

    Outstanding Male Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show
    Robert Fairchild-Frankenstein

    FILM AWARDS

    Theatrical Release
    The Greatest Showman-Choreographed by Shannon Holtzapffel and Ashley Wallen

    Documentaries
    Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer-Directed by David Barba and James Pellerito

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 1 week ago by  Alex Meyer.
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    Awardsfan1990
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    Merle Dandridge will return to the role of Papa Ge in Once On This Island from June 18-August 19. On August 20, Tamyra Gray will once again resume playing the role. https://www.broadway.com/buzz/192277/merle-dandridge-sets-return-date-to-broadways-once-on-this-island/

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    Awardsfan1990
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    The cast recording for the revival of Carousel will be released digitally on June 8 and physically on July 13. http://www.playbill.com/article/carousel-revival-sets-cast-recording-release-dates

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Three Tall Women will add an extra performance on its closing day of June 24. http://www.playbill.com/article/three-tall-women-will-offer-added-show-on-final-day-on-broadway

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