Oh God, Raul Esparza
How do you solve a problem like Raul Esparza? He’s passionate and gorgeous and intelligent and so profoundly important to the fabric of modern musical theater. And then he goes and sucks and makes us all feel crazy! His Jonas Nightingale in Leap of Faith should have been one of the most badass performances of the year. Instead, it was a weirdly curt exercise in non-charisma. I mean, really. Raul Esparza being something other than totally charismatic? How is that even possible? His omission from the Lead Actor category wasn’t a total shock, but when you put the words RAUL ESPARZA above the title of anything — even Leap of Faith — there’s always a little discomfort when the nominations don’t automatically follow. We want Raul to win a Tony more than we want the faucets to run melted chocolate, but this wasn’t the year, and this wasn’t the show. Here’s hoping to better things for Raul in the future. Or at least better roles.
Sure, Matthew Broderick was bad. But doesn’t the Tony nominating committee usually adore this particular brand of bad? The cheeky, not-really-acting, B-list star kind of bad? We’re not sad that he wasn’t included, but we’re a little surprised that the Tony nominating committee didn’t take the bait on him. Maybe there is hope for those guys and their sense of justice and reality after all. Or maybe they really just really, really wanted to squeeze another nod for Follies in there. Because it clearly didn’t have enough.
Bonnie and… Blanche?
Oh fuck everyone, how did this nomination not happen? Nominated for basically every other theater award of the season, the amazing Melissa van der Schyff, who was so winning as Blanche in Bonnie & Clyde, got no love from the Tonys. We hope that her performance was enough to put her on everyone’s radar for coming seasons — and we think it was — but it’s still disappointing to see her left off this list.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark was an epic mess of messes, but Patrick Page’s performance as the Green Goblin was a rare pleasure amidst all that craziness. His hammy bad guy schtick was fun, and held more than a glimmer of something that Spider-Man badly, badly needed: some damn self-awareness. If the whole show could have managed to present itself with the same clever wink, it might have been nominated for a whole lot more awards.
The Other Dames in Follies
Follies wasn’t our favorite show of the year, but it was hard to argue with the strength of its wonderful supporting cast. Jayne Houdyshell’s nomination is well-deserved, but we kind of had to wonder: Where the hell were the magnificent Elaine Paige and Terri White? In the case of the latter, we’re especially annoyed. Terri has been snubbed twice now — for this, and for her fab performance in Finnian’s Rainbow. And Elaine? Elaine is a legend. Attention must be paid! We’re sure she thinks so, anyway.
Requiem for Che and Eva
Here’s the thing. If you’re going to follow in the footsteps of Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone on Broadway, you’d better bring it like you have never brought it before. The memory of those two performances looms large in New York City, and this season, we even had a little refresher course. In Patti & Mandy, the Evita sequence brought the house down. So if you’re Elena Roger and Ricky Martin, and you’re doing something other than bringing the house down, if you’re something less than witty and mightily sung and fiercely passionate, you’re not going to be nominated for Tony awards. And that’s just how that works.