a theatre, film & pop culture review
The winner of this category is obvious (to this reviewer at any rate), but many will vote for the still-running, star-studded Fences. Kenny Leon‘s (Best Direction nominee) production, while wonderful in so many ways, is flawed and id not the cohesive masterpiece that many claim it to be. There is the misstep in sound design (Best Sound Design nominee) that slows the pace and confuses the tone. But the real error involves the charismatic Denzel Washington (Best Leading Actor nominee): instead of tempering Troy Mason’s bravura with equal parts fear and rage, director Kenny Leons allows Washington to highlight the endearingly brash showman within Troy, causing the final significant scenes to peter off anti-climatically. But if Washington isn’t the revelation that everyone wants him to be, no matter: for that we have Viola Davis (Best Leading Actress Nominee), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Best Featured Actor nominee), and rest of the fantastic supporting cast, who each master their own moments of heartbreak, creating an affective, if not innovative, production.
Total Nominations: 10
Lend Me a Tenor is hit and miss, but mostly it misses. The hits: Jan Maxwell‘s (Best Featured Actress nominee) hilariously tempestuous Italian wife; Tony Shalhoub as the desperate, no-nonsense opera GM; Anthony Lapaglia’s dopey Italian tenor; the fantastically frantic and fun curtain call wherein the cast reenacts the entire show in two hilarious minutes… and the blackface? Yep, the blackface is a definite highlight. The misses: Jay Klaitz’s obnoxious singing bellhop, the miscast Brooke Adams as the pointless Chairman of the Opera Guild; Justin Bartha’s “singing”; and much of Ken Ludwig’s script which is not so funny as it is silly. For the most part, director Stanley Tucci does what he can to keep the production moving (lots of running in and out of and slamming of doors; constant flinging onto sofas and beds and chairs; repeated spitting of indiscernible items into the audience), but this farcical production simply isn’t as good as the company it keeps in this category.
Total Nominations: 3
How does Ken Ludwig even survive in a category that includes Arthur Miller? And a damn fine production of an Arthur Miller work at that. Director Gregory Mosher (nominee) takes a quiet approach to the tragic A View from the Bridge, carefully keeping in check emotions that could easily become high-pitched and overwrought (there is, after all, a Greek chorus present). The tone is low but warm, both visually and aurally (Best Sound Design nominee), letting the melancholy design reflect the quiet anguish simmering beneath the surface, and allowing the familial tension to gradually imbue the entire production. If there was a “Best Ensemble Cast” award it would certainly go to Liev Schrieber, Jessica Hecht, Scarlett Johansson (all nominated), and the rest of the superb supporting cast. Mosher’s A View from the Bridge comes to a slow boil, and when tragedy finally fells the Carbone family, you feel your very bones ache along with them in despair, making this View a masterful production of a master’s work.
Total Nominations: 6
The Royal Family (unseen)
Total Nominations: 5
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
1. A Little Night music
2. La Cage aux Folles
3. Finian’s Rainbow
With a whopping eleven nominations, La Cage aux Folles‘s win here is pretty much guaranteed. The performances by both Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge (Best Leading Actor nominees) have been widely praised, the costumes are absolutely fabulous (Best Costume nominee), the lighting is sexy and smart (Best Lighting nominee), choreography is cheeky and clever (Best Choreography nominee), and Terry Johnson (Best Direction nominee) smartly doesn’t get in the way of the inherent hilarity and endearing cast of characters; he simply allows those fabulous Cagelles to be What They Are, and What They Are in is a finely tuned production.
Total Nominations: 11
Tony voters’ runner- up would be my top pick. A Little Night Music is by far the most accomplished musical revived this year, and while Director Trevor Nunn’s production isn’t innovative, it’s tight and cohesive, both in direction and design (Best Sound Design nominee). The cast creates a terrific ensemble, including the always brilliant and saucy Angela Lansbury (Best Featured Actress nominee), though decidedly excluding the shrill Ramona Mallory as the virginal Anne. All in all, a fine production of a fine musical.
Total Nominations: 4
The remaining two nominees each closed early after brief runs to mixed reviews, and so practically bow out of the running altogether. Ragtime was a mess of misguided minimalism (thanks to Best Direction nominee, Marcia Milgrom Dodge), and Finian’s Rainbow should probably just be thankful it made it to Broadway in the first place (what an odd — and oddly delightful — obscure little musical).
Ragtime‘s Total Nominations: 6
Finian‘s Total Nominations: 3