Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Only Slightly Uninformed Opinion on Tony Noms

Steven Boyer in Hand to God. Photo by Joan Marcus.
I should start with the caveat that I still haven't seen the following shows: The King and I, An American in Paris, Finding Neverland, Fish in the Dark, or Holler if Ya Hear Me (that last one's a lost cause, unfortunately, but I plan to catch the rest in the next month). I've seen the NTLive screening of Skylight, but not the current Broadway run yet.

That being said, here are my general thoughts on nominations and - I don't like the word snubs any more than you do - non-nominations. For a full list of nominees, click here.

While I'm not looking to kick out any of the four nominees for Best Play (Curious Incident ..., Disgraced, Hand to God, and Wolf Hall), I would have liked to see both Constellations and The River remembered, as I found them both such striking pieces of theater, moving and intimate and unusual. As for Best Revival of a Play, I don't have particularly strong opinions about what was included versus what was excluded - it's perhaps a sign that none of the Broadway play revivals this season really grabbed me (whereas the new plays were for the most part pretty exciting). Also, side note - how cool is it that a play got nominated for Best Choreography? And well-deserved - the staging of Curious Incident is something else.

I'm good with three of the nominations on the list for Best Musical - An American in Paris, Fun Home, and The Visit. However, it's no secret I was extremely unimpressed by Something Rotten! and in my cynicism am reading its 10 nominations as credit to the fact that it's ... you know ... open ... or something. What would I swap in? While it had its flaws (an impractical story and a monochromatic design), I enjoyed a lot about The Last Ship. And then there's Honeymoon in Vegas, which everyone (including me) loved at Papermill and somehow found it lackluster when it finally transferred to Broadway. That one still boggles me a bit. And obviously, I'm sad Gigi was left out of the Best Revival of a Musical (though I agree with Side Show's omission), and would probably swap that out with On the 20th Century, which wasn't terrible but also wasn't terribly interesting to me. For Best Book of a Musical, I'd swap in Andrew Bergman for Honeymoon in Vegas and swap out Something Rotten!; and for Best Original Score, probably the same move, shifting in Jason Robert Brown for Honeymoon. Very glad to see Sting's score for The Last Ship remembered. I'm not schooled enough on Orchestrations to have much of an opinion here.

I'm pretty good with the lists for Leading Role in a Play, both Actor and Actress. While it would have been nice to see Douglas Sills or Hugh Jackman included as well, I recognize how tough the competition is. Mostly I'm just glad Steven Boyer's transcendent work was acknowledged. For Featured Role in a Play, I'm again pleased to see who was included, but would have liked to see nods for Bryce Pinkham in The Heidi Chronicles and Cush Jumbo in The River. That being said, I'm ecstatic to see K. Todd Freeman, Richard McCabe, Annaleigh Ashford, Lydia Leonard, and Julie White in the lists. For Leading Role in a Musical, the competition was tough, and there's no one I'd kick out of either list (though it would have been nice to see Lisa Howard, the only part of It Shoulda Been You I enjoyed, get a nod). For Featured Role in a Musical, HOLY CRAP Fun Home. How fantastic that all three Alisons were nominated (Beth Malone for lead, Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs for Featured)? The only thing taking away from my excitement for this (and the additional inclusion of the brilliant Judy Kuhn) is the worry they might cancel each other out. For the menfolk, it was nice to see Max von Essen, whom I first saw as a fantastic Jesus in the 2000 Jesus Christ Superstar, get a nod. Speaking of past Jesuses, I would have liked to see Paul Alexander Nolan's work in Doctor Zhivago - the high point of a show that was completely shut out of the Tony noms - get nominated as well.

For Scenic Design, I'd swap out Tom Scutt's work for Constellations over Christopher Oram's Wolf Hall, and slip in Scott Pask's gorgeous set for The Visit over David Rockwell's more conventional work in On the 20th Century. Costume Design acknowledged good work on the whole, but I thought Jessica Pabst's work for The Heidi Chronicles should be included, as well as Paul Tazewell's work for Side Show. I'm not knowledgeable enough to speak intelligently about Lighting Design, so can't really complain except to once again bemoan the forgotten The River and Charles Balfour's work. And for Choreography, aside from my above joy that Curious Incident's fantastic stagework was included, I would have liked to see Steven Hoggett's percussive and engaging choreography for The Last Ship included as well. And finally, Best Direction. What could I remove to make way for Constellations, where Michael Longhurst's work cannot be overstated? Or what of Ian Rickson's work in The River? Or Joe Mantello's symphonic directing of Airline Highway? And what of John Doyle's signature durgical stamp on The Visit? What is a Zelda to do? Obviously I want to kick Something Rotten! out of the lineup again, but what of the plays? I'd probably knock out Scott Ellis for You Can't Take It with You, since I found it a largely obnoxious production (Annaleigh Ashford and James Earl Jones aside). But I can't kick the others out.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson in Constellations, featuring the set design
by Tom Scutt. Photo by Joan Marcus.

So that's the long and long of it. I'm mostly please with who got acknowledged, and I'm kind of rooting for everyone. which is its own brand of awkward.

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