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SteveandSara

You guys know that there are a bunch of organized Tony Awards viewing parties in New York City this weekend. The ceremony is being broadcast in Times Square. 54 Below is doing a thing. But there are also scads of private parties thrown by industry folks at all levels who (GASP!) aren’t actually going to the awards. Because guess what? Not all industry folks in New York City go to the awards. Amazing, right?

Our favorite annual house party is thrown by Steve Tate, who heads up the marketing department at the Atlantic Theater, and his girlfriend Sara Jayne Blackmore, who’s an actress. They live on the Upper West Side in an apartment that was featured in the New York Times, which is clearly amazing. We chatted with Steve over drinks about what makes an amazing Tony party, and what he’s planning for this year.

Lucky: Why a Tonys party?

Steve Tate: It’s the seventh year doing it. I’ve been to the Tonys a few times – the last time was when I was working on the Spring Awakening account at Situation Marketing. And going to the Tonys is totally different than watching the Tonys. Going is very much more formal. You can’t make any little side remarks.

L: Basically, you have to behave.

ST: Exactly. And I just wanted to pull together some people what we know, that work in the industry and love getting together. And the environment is not the same as an official party. It’s totally unbiased. It started out as six or seven people, and it’s grown over the years.

L: What are you doing for prep?

ST: Today I ordered 100 balloons. I called around and priced things out. Balloons are not cheap. And oddly enough, people don’t eat that much food during the Tonys.

L: Really? What, they just want to drink?

ST: Yeah, it’s all about the alcohol. I’m making a punch so I don’t have to mix cocktails.

L: Any theme to go along with the shows?

ST: No, I don’t geek out that way.

L: What single element really makes a great party?

ST: The people. If it’s all actors, they can get kind of catty because they’re not onstage. And theater is collaborative, so you have to have a variety of people at your party. Actors, directors, marketing people, writers. They all come in with a different perspective. And when categories come up that some people don’t care about – Best Book of a Musical, for example. Well, the writer at the party cares about the book. So when that award come up, he tells everyone to shut up. It’s good. And also booze. Gotta have booze.

L: So who’s coming?

ST: It’s all up-and-coming people. But the coolest thing is when people you don’t know show up. I met my girlfriend because of this Tony party. A couple of years ago, my friend brought a friend to the party who was like, “Are you single and straight? I have a girlfriend for you. And also, here’s my play. Would you read my play?” So from that one introduction, I got a play that I optioned, and I also got a girlfriend.

L: Has there every been something on the Tonys that was a game-changer for your party?

ST: When Alice Ripley won for Next to Normal and she gave the crazy speech, people in the room were like, ‘What?’ And in 2007 when In the Heights performed, there were some people at the party who were working on the show, and they did that medley. After that, people were on their feet. Because the energy of that moment was great.

photo: Steve Tate

Going to a Tonys party — or throwing your own? Tell us about it in the comments section.

 

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Hedwig and the Allure of the Un-Tainted Show

The end of a very long story is this: I did not see Hedwig and the Angry Inch in the late 90s or early ‘aughts. Despite ample opportunity, and friends urging me to do so, I opted out of the whole thing. Even the movie. My reason was stupid and not worth getting into and totally, typically, annoyingly me.

For years and years I meant to fix that mistake. But with so much new out there — new theater, new movies, new books, new friends — I just never got around to it. Then the rumors started. Hedwig was going to make its way to Broadway. That’s when I got this totally tantalizing idea in my head: I could see this show on stage for the first time, totally pure. With no knowledge of what happens, of how it starts or where it goes or how it ends.

This is an idea that I’m kind of obsessed with — not just with Hedwig, but more generally, conceptually. Perhaps especially because in 2014, it feels increasingly rare: the opportunity to see a musical I know almost nothing about. To experience it the way I used to experience theater as a kid, when it was all new, each show unfolding before me with nothing but the power of its own storytelling to take me on the journey.

Because the internet exists, because I cover Broadway theater on this website in my spare time, because we keep turning movies into musicals, because I am no longer nine, I basically never go into a show with no concept of what’s about to unfold anymore. It’s basically impossible.

And I suppose it’s unfair to say I had NO concept of Hedwig. Any obsessed Hanson fan worth her salt has watched the YouTube video of Hanson-adjacent singer-songwriter Ben Jelen performing “Wicked Little Town” at The Knitting Factory in 2008 (Lucky was actually there that night!). Last year Norbert Leo Butz sang “Wig in a Box” in his cabaret Girls, Girls, Girls. Just a few weeks ago I heard Matt Doyle and Katie Gassert sing “Origin of Love” at Matt Murphy and Ryan Scott Oliver’s wedding. But somehow, improbable though it may be, I didn’t know much more.

In fact, I made it into the Belasco last week knowing only this:

1. It stars someone named Hedwig, who is either in drag or transgender, though I was leaning toward transgender.
2. It features someone named Yitzak, who is a man, but who is played by a female actress.
3. There is a song called “Wig in a Box,” and a song called “Origin of Love” and a song called “Wicked Little Town.”

That’s it. That’s all I had going in. That, and the knowledge that some of the people whose taste I trust most in this world absolutely adored this show. Lucky, for example. Hedwig is her favorite musical. This all seemed like great news. I was so excited. I’d spent the past few years working really hard at not getting spoiled, and I’d succeeded, and I was going to see this show with fresh eyes, and no baggage, and Hedwig was going to tell me its own story. In its own words. In its own style. All by itself.

I maybe regret this now.

I mean. Hindsight is 20/20 and yadda yadda yadda. But… wow. Wow, did I have an unenjoyable experience at Hedwig.

I spent the last 10 minutes of the show confused out of my mind. And not like… in this awesome, omg, this show is so cool and it’s not forcing a strict interpretation on me and I totally get to make up my own mind about what just happened on that stage. But in a very literal way, in a like… I actually do not know what just happened and none of the ideas I can come up with based upon the story I just saw and the set of facts it presented me make even the remotest bit of sense or even seem possible.

I’ve felt confused by the way shows have ended before. I didn’t even realize Memphis was ending until I noticed all the actors were suddenly in in matching costumes, and thus, I was witnessing the final number. There was a song about Bananas in Bullets Over Broadway that I definitely do not understand, but I do know it was definitely the end of that musical. And shit, more than a year later I still have NO IDEA how The Bodyguard ended, and I’ve even talked to someone involved with the production team (they changed the ending from the movie, y’all).

But what those shows have in common is this: I hated them. And I walked out of the theater knowing — incontrovertibly — that they were not pieces I thought of as high quality, intelligent, thoughtful, well-crafted theater. They were pander-y, or schlock or even just plain bad. They were not my shows.

Leaving the Belasco after Hedwig, I did not feel that way. I did not think: that is an inherently bad show. Instead I felt… deeply disappointed. And utterly confused. I emerged onto 43rd street feeling stupid and lost, and wondering how on earth I had missed what was going on. Thinking something must have been wrong with me because I couldn’t follow the story.

I don’t normally react that way to musicals. Plays? Yes, sometimes. With plays I sometimes think I just must have missed some genius allusion that would have unlocked the whole rest of the show for me. That I’m just not smart enough and it’s my fault I didn’t enjoy it.

But musicals… I feel pretty confident when I experience musicals that I’ve understood what’s going on. And that my enjoyment, or lack thereof, is what it is. Not the result of some personal failing, but the result of the show itself.

In that way, Hedwig was a stand-out. But here’s the other remarkable thing about Hedwig: the more I thought about it, and talked about it with friends, and listened to the cast recording (because I did immediately love the songs)… the more I began to fall in love with it. To see the end of the show as a flexible bit of magic that was meant to allow me to make up my own mind, that could and should be interpreted in multiple ways. As something that was not literal.

I began to see the layers — the Platonic allegory, the history of rock and punk, the cold war parable, the unpacking of gender and identity and freedom — that had been totally obscured by my very concrete confusion at the end of the show.

And I began to realize that my problem was not with the show itself, really. But with the particular production I’d just seen. One that made a handful of very literal choices that pulled me completely away from the emotional thrust of the material. I became so wrapped up in untangling the facts of who Tommy and Hedwig were — one person? two? — that I couldn’t see the bigger stories being told.

And if I’d gone into Hedwig with even a basic understanding of what was about to unfold, even a basic understanding that Tommy and Hedwig were definitely two different people at the outset, then maybe I would actually have loved the show right off the bat. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so confused by that newspaper cover with two pictures of the same person — because both were so clearly Neil Patrick Harris — in different outfits. (Is Tommy cross-dressing as Hedwig and he was mug-shotted in and out of drag? Does Hedwig actually have an alter-ego named Tommy?) Maybe without that confusion stopping me in my tracks and pulling me fully out of the narrative so early in the show, and then again, later, during the final scenes, I would have been better able to follow the Platonic allegory or the cold war parable or or or or.

And I don’t know. Maybe a show shouldn’t require me to have background to understand what’s going on. And maybe that is entirely the material’s fault, and not the fault of a production that made some choices — glaring timeline issues, two pics of NPH on that newspaper cover — that fucked with my ability to suspend disbelief. Or maybe it IS the production’s fault, because how can you fuck with my ability to suspend disbelief in the theater? ESPECIALLY with a show that has such a theatrical ending?

But maybe the idea of seeing a show totally “pure” is bollocks anyway. Because even if we don’t know the story we’re about to be told, we all enter the theater with expectations in tow. And those are things we can never, ever escape.

 

Photo: Joan Marcus

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The Craptacular Presents: The 2014 Fauxny Awards

Last night some of theater’s most elite were given some of theater’s most elite fictional awards. As tradition dictates, these awards are voted on by a committee of two, and doled out in a lavish, imaginary ceremony hosted at The Pierre that lasted approximately 5 minutes. There were lots of dick jokes, handsome men, and beautiful dresses.  And lots of gin at the after-party.

We’re really sorry you weren’t there to watch us make fools of ourselves over multi-hyphenate, multi-award-winner writer-director-general-hot-person Alex Timbers. Or beg Kelli O’Hara for tips on how to give our hair the perfect, glossy shine and bodacious waves. Maybe next year.

For now, at least, you can scope the list of winners.

Best Magic Trick Stolen From Another Show That’s Been Open For The Last 25 Years
The Magic Phantom Chair, Aladdin

Best Newly Elected Baricade Boy Hottie/Member of History’s First Boyband
Jason Forbach, Feuilly, Les Miserables

Best Rack on Broadway and Maybe of Ever
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Performance by Ankles in a Musical
The Ones Attached to Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and The Angry Inch 

Best Attempt at Disguising Real Tattoos with Fake Tattoos
Andy Karl, Rocky: Das Musical

Best Crazy Interview with a Tony Nominee About How It’s Hotter to Have Sex with her Husband Now That He’s All Jacked Up for His Tony Nominated Role
Orfeh

Best/Most Shaggable Javert Ever
Will Swenson

Best Singing While Dying by a Canadian on Broadway
Tie – Ramin Karimloo & Caissie Levy, Les Miserables
First Runner Up: Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Hair That’s Not on Alex Timbers’ Head
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Use of A Vowel on Broadway
The “Aaaaaaa’s,” Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Gratuitous Acapella Singing in a Place Where It’s Probably Not Necesssary
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Shirtless Chest on Broadway
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Barefoot Performance
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Distracting eCigarette in a Broadway Show
The One Smoked by Amber Iman, Soul Doctor

Best Direction that Has Literally Ever Graced the Great White Way and What the Fuck Why Are We Giving You Awards Because Shouldn’t You Be Getting Actual Tonys?
Alex Timbers, Rocky: Das Musical

Best Rent Sequel
If/Then

Best Playbill
The Hurt Locker, the Musical

Best Bewitching Eyebrows
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Norbert Leo Butz Impersonation That’s Not Supposed to be a Norbert Leo Butz Impersonation on Broadway
Michael C Hall, The Realistic Joneses

Best Entrance Applause for a Set and Not an Actor
The Sides of Beef, Rocky: Das Musical

Best Portrayal of a Rock Star by Someone Who Looks Nothing Like Said Rock Star
Jessie Mueller as Carole King, Beautiful

Best Oversimplification of A Rock Star’s Tragic, Life-Ending Addiction
That Single Bottle of Jim Beam that Mary Bridget Davies Takes a Few Swigs From, A Night with Janis Joplin

Best Performance by Andrew Kober Playing Andrew Kober in Various Roles in a Musical
Andrew Kober, Les Miserables, The Foreman, Innkeeper, Babet, u/s Bamatabois

Best Threesome That Never Happens Except You Spend Basically The Entire Show Kind of Wishing That It Would
Colin Donnell, Sutton Foster & Joshua Henry, Violet

Best Biceps in a Musical
Tie: Colin Donnell, Violet & Andy Karl, Rocky: Das Musical

Best Cherry Red Christmas Dress Worn by an Adorable Actress With Bangs in a Musical
The Cherry Red Christmas Dress on Margot Siebert, Rocky: Das Musical

Best Performance by a Woman Playing a Man Playing a Woman
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Performance by a Man Playing a Woman Playing a Man
Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night

Best Reuse of A Car Hanging from the Ceiling in a Musical Directed by Michael Mayer
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Book of a Musical by a Man Who Makes Us Wish We Were Gay Men So We Could Maybe Marry Him
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell

Best Composer Who We Totally Want to Shag
Stephen Trask, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Performance by Teeth in a Broadway Actor’s Mouth
Adam Jacobs, Aladdin

Best Portrayal of a Rock Group That’s Wildly Different Than the Last Portrayal of the Same Rock Group in a Broadway show Two Seasons Ago
Alysha Delsorieux, Ashley Blanchet, Carly Hughes, and Rashidra Scott as The Shirelles in Beautiful

Best Chest That Remains Mostly Disappointingly Clothed in a Broadway Show
Wallace Smith, Rocky

Best Decision to Omit Neil Diamond as a Character in a Broadway Show
Beautiful

Best Second Floor of a Set of a Musical Directed by Michael Greif This Season
If/Then

Best Attempt at Making Totally Suspect Cultural References and Appropriation Like, Totally Not a Problem, Dude
Aladdin

Best Stage Within a Stage Within a Stage
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Period Costumes That We Kind of Want to Wear This Weekend
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Performance by Derek Klena in a Musical
Derek Klena, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Reuse of Music from Riverdance
The Cripple of Inishmaan

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JarrodSpector

Hey cutie,

Playing a real person in a Broadway musical is hard. You have to do somewhat contradictory things — convince an audience that you really are this person, but also make the role your own, and steer clear of cartoony caricature and that dreaded word… “impression.”

You succeed without a lot of fuss, and we’re eternally grateful for that. Fuss is a killer on Broadway, and we’re sure it was tempting to fuss, given your show’s dogged emphasis on your character’s hypochondria. Instead, we’re able to see beyond Barry Mann’s quirks to his songwriterly soul — and to his devotion to his pretty partner, Cynthia Weil. And let’s be real. Your performance of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” kinda stole the show there for a minute – no small feat when you’re competing for stage time with better-known legends of rock.

Jarrod, your performance in Beautiful wins the Tony of our hearts. And you, personally, win our hearts, period – Tony nomination or no – because you’re sexy and you can rock some vintage flat-front khakis like no one else on a Broadway stage this season. Not that we were looking…

photo: Broadway.com

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Bryce Pinkham

Oh, Bryce Pinkham.

How far we’ve come from the days where you were clutching a creepy fox fur in the sort-of ensemble. And the days where you were the handsome bad guy in Ghost, the show that won all the Tonys of our Craptacular hearts because it featured an enormous LED screen that flashed skyscraper-height projections of a naked butt.

Fast-forward to today, and you still have the handsome bad guy market cornered, but there are no projections of naked butts in sight — which frankly, is kind of too bad — and you’re starring in a bigger role in a distinctly more serious show. And by serious, we mean good.

A tip of the hat to you and your dastardly performance in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. May every role you play give you what this one does: velvet swag, a permanently cocked eyebrow, like fifteen songs, all the women, and a Tony nomination.

Take the Tony of our hearts, will you? And next time, take your shirt off.

Photo: Frank Rizzo

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Paul Chahidi, You Win the Tony of My Heart


Here’s the thing, Paul, I almost forgot you were a Paul and not, say, a Paula. Which, I’m guessing, just looking at how purely manly you actually are, is not a thing you heard very often before the Twelfth Night. But like… That’s how good your Maria was. So good I totally forgot she was being played by a man.

On a stage where it would have been easy for Mark Rylance to swallow the sun, to make all the eyes his, your performance stood tall and graceful and refused to be overlooked. That’s pretty fucking cool. Even cooler, that your performance as a woman never felt like a thin substitute for the real deal, someone affecting airs to try and put something past the audience. It felt serious, and carefully considered and about what made Maria human — with all her funny, sharp, lovely curves and angles, her needs and desires and hopes — and relatable to everyone on stage and in the audience. Even when we all knew what was really happening under that dress (shit, we’d watched you put it on!).

So thanks. For doing us ladies proud. And for making us laugh. I hope you enjoy winning the Tony of My Heart even a fraction as much as I enjoyed your performance.

 

Photo: Caitlin McNaney 

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Dear Kelli O’Hara–We’re crying.

We’re crying over Bridges of Madison County‘s untimely closing. We’re crying over the snubbing of your handsome costar Steven Pasquale at this year’s awards. We’re crying because your character, Francesca, lived in a time before WhatsApp, and therefore saw the communication gap between herself and The Photographer of Light, Robert Kinkaid, as hugely insurmountable, even after the death of her husband.

There are so many reason to cry, here!

And yet, we’re shedding a few happy tears, too, because I suspect that 2014 might just be the Year of Kelli O’Hara’s Tony Award Win. After a bazillion nominations for a bazillion perfect performances, we love the idea that you could win for playing a woman and not a dewy-eyed little girl. (Not that we didn’t love those little girls. Clara in Light in the Piazza — basically Francesca on Opposite Day — left us so dreamy-eyed, and so utterly obsessed with her wardrobe, that we considered going blonde and moving to Italy. I mean, more than we already were.)

We hope you win. With all of our weepy, ugly-crying hearts. But even if you don’t, you still get to be half of a Broadway power couple, a complete MILF, and a Broadway legend-in-training. Also, we’re basically counting on you to have the best dress at this year’s ceremony, so trophy or no trophy, we the Tony of Our Hearts is essentially yours.
Photo: Walter McBride

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Lauren Worsham, You Win the Tony of My Heart

I mean. It helps that you’re in one of the best musicals we’ve seen in a long time. Gentleman’s Guide is a marvel of technical excellence on basically every level of existence, and your perfectly-pitched performance is no exception.

And, sure, we always have a soft spot for the gal who’s not playing the obvious-choice-willowy-blonde-love interest, being those girls ourselves over here in reality.

But really, we just think you’re super rad and hope to be as cool as you are someday.

So yeah. Your smart, pretty-voiced Phoebe was a great start. But then we found out you’re in a sort of nerdy-cool underground band called Sky Pony that puts on rock performances with a theatrical bent (the ultimate in craptacularity) at like, 54 Below and the Under the Radar Festival and we were like… this girl is our soul sister. And THEN you gave this amazing interview to Playbill and told the world all about how you celebrated your actual Tony nom by bonding with a homeless dude over music on the subway and you nabbed the Tony of My Heart for sure.

The good news this season is that you’re already a winner in our eyes. (That should take a load off your mind! Nothing stressful left to get through now!) But the better news is… well, we dunno, but can we be besties now?

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Sunday night Jeremy Shamos danced across the Kimmel Center stage before taking off into a sudden run and leaping  into Steven Pasquale’s strong arms (where, truth be told, he was caught and held quite tenderly). And Steven Boyer sang the back half of his acceptance speech to the tune provided by his play-off music instead of leaving. And Megan Mullally, struggling with an unruly teleprompter, said “Mary Testa” so many times she couldn’t keep a straight face any longer.

And this, by the way, was before the party even started. This was just the ceremony. Because, sure, there’s a party after the Lucille Lortel Awards, but in a way, the awards themselves are a bit of a party, too. Or at least, a real celebration of the people winning them.

There’s not a lot of pomp and circumstance. There’s an opener, and video presentations from nominated musicals. There’s usually at least one more musical act. And there are tons of star-studded presenters, to be sure. But everyone goes about their business pretty swiftly, no big introduction speeches, no ages and ages of uncomfortable banter. People get up, state the category, read the names, call out the winner.

Because it’s not about these people, not at the Lortels – there’s no race for ratings here. It’s just about off-Broadway, and the people who made it shine in the last year. They are the lifeblood of the community, and they are the ones who get to bask in the spotlight.

Seriously. If you get a chance, you should go some year. Afterward there’s a lovely cocktail party at the top of the Kimmel Center looking out over Washington Square Park. There’s wine, and if you’re very lucky, you might run into Nick Cordero – WHO IS SO TALL AND HANDSOME YOU GUYS – in line for pasta.

This year, though, we were there in your stead. And we asked the off-Broadway stars some questions. Like great off-Broadway experiences. And their favorite books, or pop songs from the 90s. Check out their answers, below:

 

Brian J Smith, Tony Nominee, The Glass Menagerie

M: What’s your favorite off-Broadway show you’ve ever seen?

B: I would say Circle Mirror Transformation, that was really amazing.

M: Favorite mid-to-late 90s pop song?

B: Heart is like, early 90s, right?

A: You can go with the early 90s, we’ll allow it.

M: I’d say “Alone”, by Heart. I mean, I listen to that on the subway all the time.

Vincent Piazza, Jersey Boys movie, Boardwalk Empire

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway experience?

V: There isn’t one that’s coming to mind right now. I can tell you that the intimacy of a smaller house sometimes gives the most profound experiences. Working off-Broadway, or off-off-Broadway, there is that relationship that you have with the audience, that you may not get in a larger house that’s so special.

M: Do you have a favorite mid-to-late-90s pop song?

V: The end of the 90s is a blur!

M: I always go with Mmmbop, that’s my favorite.

V: Mmmbop, that comes into my head every once in a while. But, let me see, you’ve really stumped me… there was that Free Willy song that was like, a big thing for a while and then of course, there was Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On.”

Shuler Hensley, Encores! Most Happy Fella, The Whale

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway experience, whether it was a show you were in, or something you got to see?

S: For me, definitely The Whale last year was one of those experiences. You’re in a very small house, it’s an immaculate piece of material, and it was embraced by everybody and it was an amazing experience.

M: Do you have a favorite book?

S:I would say To Kill a Mockingbird is tied with All the King’s Men. But my son’s middle name is Atticus, so, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Laura Osnes, Threepenny Opera, Cinderella

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show you’ve ever seen?

L: I saw Tribes a few years ago. It was a-may-zing. My friend Mare Winningham was in it and I saw it twice, actually, and I cried both times, it was so powerful and so amazing. I love that work like that is being done and it’s not about having to be a commercial hit. Like, that show wouldn’t work in a gigantic space. It’s made for off-Broadway for that reason, and you get to be kind of up close and personal with the actors telling this beautiful story. I would say that was my most amazing off-Broadway experience.

M: If you could dreamcast Sandy in Grease for this live TV show version on Fox, who would it be?

L: Oh gosh, I don’t know. It depends! I don’t know if they have plans to go the movie star route, or the Broadway route. If they’re going the Broadway route, I don’t know if I’m too old but it might be fun if they would have me. [laughs] My agent is probably like “Stay away from Grease!” But it would be fun! Okay, but, people ask me this and I thought of Chloe Grace Moretz. She would be cute.

M: What advice do you have for someone playing the role?

L: I feel like when I did the reality show my goal was just to be myself with a Sandy touch. You can’t try to be anyone you’re not, so it’s like… you have to have a sweet side, but you have to be able to turn on the sexy. I feel like every woman, no matter who they are, has both sides in them. So just have fun, it’s a fun show!

Molly Ranson, Bad Jews, Carrie

M: What’s your favorite off-Broadway show that you got to see?

MR: I really loved Hand to God. That was pretty intense and funny and crazy. Loved that show.

M:  Do you have a favorite memory of working off-Broadway?

MR: I guess one that was pretty incredible was when we [the cast of Bad Jews] made the move from the black box to the Laura Pels. That was pretty exciting because we were the first show in the history of that theater to make that move.

M: Do you have a favorite book?

MR: I’m reading  The Goldfinch right now and really liking it. I would recommend it.

Mortiz von Stuelpnagel, Director, Hand to God

M: Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

MvS: I mean, where do you start? Okay, well, let’s start with Milli Vanilli, just incredible… But also, anything They Might Be Giants, anything Pearl Jam, anything Nirvana, late Pixies. There’s a lot of really amazing things to choose from in there.

M: Okay, so what if I held a gun to your head and made you choose a favorite.

MvS: If you held a gun to my head, then perhaps we’d have to go with “November Rain” by Guns and Roses. It’s epic, okay.

Tracee Chimo, Bad Jews

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show you’ve ever gotten to see?

T: I’m blanking because I just saw Cabaret and I was so blown away from that – my mind is melted – but that’s on Broadway. Well… when I first moved to New York they did The Last Sunday in June and that was off-Broadway at the old Signature Theater and that was awesome. That blew my mind, and I remember that.

M: Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

T: Good one! “Pump up the Jam”? Does that count? I love that song, that’s on my gym mix!

Steven Boyer, Winner, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for Hand to God

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show that you’ve ever seen?

S: EVER? Oh, man. There are so many. I’m really, oh my god, this is like… I’m drawing a huge blank right now because I feel like I’ve seen so many amazing things.

M: Anything really recent that you liked a lot?

S: Yeah, I saw Good Person of Szechwan this season and I loved it. I thought it was amazing, thought Taylor Mac was incredible and the entire cast was like… Usually in a show there’s like, one or two people you can’t stop watching? Every single person in that show, I couldn’t stop watching them. I couldn’t take my eyes off each person because they were so unique and so different and so vibrant.

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway experience of yours?

S: You know what, I really, really enjoyed doing Modern Terrorism last year at Second Stage. I think Jon Kern is hilarious and a really amazing writer and I thought that play really divided the audience and I really loved that about it. Some people just were not having it, they thought that the subject matter was too touchy. And the people that loved it absolutely loved it. I think it’s really cool that off-Broadway you can do plays that divide people in that way and ake people feel passionately about the work that they’re seeing.

M: Okay, what’s your favorite 90s pop song?

S: I mean, I’m not sure if it counts as pop… It doesn’t count as pop, but I like “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Lynn Cohen, Sex and the City, Hunger Games, EVERYTHING EVER SHE IS THE BEST

M: What was it like working on The Sonnet Project with the New York Shakespeare Exchange?

L: I loved it. It was shot by somebody wonderful, my husband was in the one that I filmed – and he did his own, too! – but it was really wonderful. It was very, very special. And I could pick the one I wanted, so of course it was all about my husband.

M: Do you have a favorite book?

L: Oh, sure I do. There’s War and Peace, by Tolstoy, and The Great Gatsby, and then Camus’ first Notebooks, they’re in my dressing room – it’s everything about what an artist is, and the courage you have to have.

Jeremy Shamos, Winner, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for Dinner with Friends

M: Famous Shamos! Can I ask you a few questions?

J: Please, I would be honored, and I would be insulted if you didn’t.

M:Yay! Do you have a favorite off-Broadway sho—

J: No!

M: Wow!

J: Actually, someone asked me that earlier and I was really lame…  I really haven’t had a good schedule to see things this year, so what’d I see… I saw Appropriate. I saw that and it was very enjoyable.

M: Okay, well, what’s a great book that you’ve read recently?

J: I started reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to my kids. I know I remember reading it, but I’m still surprised by little plot twists I don’t remember that well. And my kids at first were like ‘this is boring…’ and then they just got quieter and quieter and they just got really into it, so, it’s great. So now I guess I’m committing to The Chronicles of Narnia. And we’re going to start doing Harry Potter soon.

Barrett Weed, Heathers

M: When you first saw the Heathers script, what did you think when you read it?

B: That… I don’t know what I have to do to get this part, but I have to get it. I have to get it. I’m convinced  it’s the greatest part that’s been written for a woman in contemporary musical theater in the past like, 10 years.

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show that you’ve seen recently?

B: Oh my gosh, well, it’s not running right now, but I saw Bad Jews and I lost my shit over it. I thought it was amazing.

M: One more question. Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

B: I mean, probably “Wannabe”. Does that count? That’s the first thing that came to mind. I was obsessed with the Spice Girls when I was a kid.

Kyle Riabko, What’s it All About

M: Favorite off-Broadway show that you’ve seen like, ever?

K: You know what? This was the year! I mean, I loved Natasha [Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812] I loved Here Lies Love. It’s really hard to pick. And this is my first experience off-Broadway, really. I come from music, not theater, so it’s all a little new to me. But it seems like this year was a good year.

M: I know you’ve been on Broadway, so what did you like about working off-Broadway?

K:  You can push the edges of the form out a little bit further, or at least try and experiment, and you have people looking back at you who are accepting of that experimentation. It’s nice.

M: Okay, two music questions. Number one: favorite Bacharach song.

K: That’s a tricky one, but, “This Guy’s in Love With You” has always been close to my heart.

M: Number two, favorite pop song from the 90s.

K: I was just jamming with my friend on Oasis the other day. We were doing “Wonderwall” and I hadn’t thought of that song in a while. I love “Wonderwall.”

Lucas Steele, Winner, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show that you’ve gotten to see recently?

L: I appreciate a ton of work they do down at The Public, but you caught me with my pants down on this question…

M: Well, then, do you have a favorite experience working on Natasha, Pierre…?

L: My favorite experience working on Comet was the night before we closed. We had an incredible audience in the house, it was pretty much all peers, and people whose work that you’ve known for years. Everybody always builds up closing as being a momentous event, but I feel like somehow because people know that it’s closing, it becomes something… It’s not the best representation of the show. The night before we closed was an experience I’ll never forget. Just the reaction at the end. And feeling like, all the people that have been working and hitting the streets for years are here, appreciating this.

M: Favorite pop song from the 90s?

L: Ugh. “I Want it That Way!”

Of note: Lucas came and found me at the after-party to let me know he’d felt terribly that he didn’t have a better answer for my question about favorite off-Broadway shows, so he’d thought about it all night. His answer? Love and Information, by Caryl Churchill at New York Theater Workshop. YOU GUYS IT WAS SO SWEET AND THOUGHTFUL AND HE’S SO HANDSOME I ALMOST FELL OVER AND DIED.

Alexandra Socha, Fun Home

M: Do you have a favorite off-Broadway show that you’ve ever seen?

A: I don’t know! Does Sleep No More count as off-Broadway?

M: I’m counting it!

A: I went to Sleep No More for my birthday, which was not even a month ago, so I think that’s the last thing I went to.  And that was amazing.

M: Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

A: That’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child! I guess anything by the Spice Girls. Just anything. Can I say the Soundtrack to Spice World? Can that be my answer?

David Byrne, Here Lies Love

M: I know this is the first off-Broadway show you’ve brought to the stage, but have you seen a lot of off-Broadway theater?

D: Oh, yeah!

M: Do you have a favorite?

D: Oh my gosh, there was a show that was part of Under the Radar last year. It was called Life and Times Part 1 & 2, and the entire thing was sung. I loved it.

M: Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

D: Oh jeez, I probably do! I probably covered some of them. Is Whitney Houston 90s? I did a cover of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

Carson Elrod, The Heir Apparent, The Explorers Club

M: Favorite pop song from the 90s?

C: It’s like The Matrix in my head right now, there’s like a whole catalogue that’s coming down. I don’t know why “Steal My Sunshine” is coming into my head? That’s coming into my head. “Alive” by Pearl Jam is coming into my head. Oh, oh! “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim, that’s coming into my head. Man… “Steal My Sunshine” where did that even come from?

Uzo Aduba, Venice, Orange is the New Black

M: Do you have a favorite pop song from the 90s?

U: Oh, anything ‘N Sync. Like, anything. “No Strings Attached” goes right to my head, right away. Or “Pop”!

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Tony Nominees 2014: The Shafted

Spoiler alert, love does not win in awards season…
Sure we may not have loved everything about this multi-million dollar tuner but this is shocking. Rocky was not nominated for Best Musical. Or Best Score (okay, that one’s not shocking). Or Best Direction. Or Best Actress in a Featured Role. Or… Lots of things , clearly, because the show received a grand total of only four nominations, three of them in design categories that, while well deserved are, let’s face it, not exactly lucrative prizes for a struggling show. The dearth of nominations here is especially shocking given that not only does Disney musical Aladdin — typically no favorites at the Tonys — have more nominations, but Beautiful, a show with a lukewarm critical response much like the one Rocky received, has a full three more nominations. As does jukebox musical revue After Midnight. That’s just harsh.

Your mom’s favorite show gets the shaft…
It feels kind of lame to be mad about four Tony nominations, but fuck that. We’re pretty mad. The lovely Bridges of Madison County was overlooked in so many important categories, including Best Musical. This feels especially touchy because Bridges, with its front-and-center female lead, emotional sensibility, and themes of love and family, makes it a show squarely geared toward women in a season of burly boxers and half-naked showgirls. If a great show for and about women is rewarded for its efforts with a tepid shrug from the Tony nominating committee, what the hell are we in for next season? More dick jokes from Woody Allen? Let’s hope not.

No one is keeping up with the Joneses…
Not a single nomination for The Realistic Joneses. Even with a wonderful (all-star) cast featuring past Tony winners, not a single nod. This just seems like an obvious, noteworthy stand-out, even if Joneses wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. This was unexpected.

It was an outside shot, but…
We’re not sure she was even eligible in the Featured Actress in a Musical category, but we were a little sad that Keala Settle’s Tony luck didn’t span two seasons with another nomination for Les Miserables. She’s basically playing the best, most crass, most evil Madame Thenardier we’ve ever seen, and she walks off with all the show’s laughs.

Poor Daniel Radcliffe, yo…
Jesu Maria, team, what does the consistently excellent, unbelievably hardworking Daniel Radcliffe have to do to get some Tony Nomination love? I mean. He played a cripple (his body morphing so completely the disability seemed more a part of him than an affectation). He learned to dance like a mofo, and sing, too (his hardworking charm giving just the extra bit of shine to his performance as power-hungry upstart J Pierrepont Finch). He even fucking got ass-naked, letting his meat and two veg dangle right on out there in the cold NYC air, which is typically the kind of shit that wins you an Oscar. And here Radcakes is, wanting for even a Tony NOMINATION over here on the Broadway. We’re sorry, bro. We really do adore you, and the fact that you keep coming back for more grinding punishment on our boards. And we’ll be sad to see you go. So please, give it at least one more try? Next time we’ll buy our way onto the nominating committee, or something. We swear.

Sorry you weren’t nominated Steven Pasquale… now take your shirt off…
Are you kidding me right now? To see this fine actor (and we do mean fiiine) left out of this category shattered our hearts to bits, and frankly left us a little baffled. Did the nominating committee sleep through the season? Were they too dazzled and distracted by Kelli O’Hara’s boobs to notice the other performance onstage in The Bridges of Madison County? Is Laura Benanti shoving pins into a voodoo doll somewhere? Whatever the reason, Steven’s omission feels terribly unfair. We’re chalking it up to a strong season for leading men (I mean, shit, when is it not?), because we can’t honestly say we’d trade any of the other very deserving nominees for this one. But couldn’t they sneak in a fifth nominee just on the grounds of sexiness, blazing blue eyes, and notes that float to the ears of God on the wings of chubby angels? Ok, maybe not. At any rate, Steven Pasquale may not have a Tony nomination, but he still gets to be Steven Pasquale. That, we think, certainly counts for something.

Alex Timbers gets… WHAT?!
Okay. So we’re going to be totally calm about this BUT NEVERMIND — FUCK IT ALL — ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SHITTING US YOU DIDN’T NOMINATE ALEX TIMBERS FOR BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL? What did he ever do to you, besides take a sub-par musical and — purely through the power of his direction — turn it into something vital, gripping, authentic and wholly modern? But seriously. Did he murder someone on the nominating committee’s mother? Beloved cat? Steal someone’s girlfriend? Is his hair too perfect? You don’t have to love Rocky. You don’t even have to like it. But to look at the work on that stage — the new style of stage fighting, the marriage of old-school stage magic with modern technology, the balls-to-the-wall bravura and refusal to accept the impossible — and say that it wasn’t of the absolutely highest caliber of direction Broadway has maybe ever seen is just bullshit. Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine don’t choreograph that show the way they did without him. Christopher Barecca doesn’t craft a set that remarkable without Alex’s vision. Andy Karl doesn’t give the same authentic, gentle, intricate performance without Alex drawing it out. None of any of that even exists without Timbers basically reinventing the the direction of musicals on Broadway altogether and fuck you for overlooking that. I hope he lights Radio City Musical Hall on fire come June. We’ll dance in the flames. He can film it and take it to Hollywood, because Broadway doesn’t even deserve him anymore.

 

Photo: Christopher Anderson

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