a theatre, film & pop culture review
Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winners will be in orange.
Only a category since 1997, Best Orchestrations is a bit of a sticky wicket for me, much like that pesky Sound Design. But I shall do my best.
I’m certainly not going to enflame Mr. Sondheim’s ire by placing Porgy and Bess anywhere but at the bottom of this list. William David Brohn (Tony winner for Ragtime. Ahem.) and Christopher Jahnke (Legally Blonde, Les Mis) “streamlined” the orchestrations, forcing this 1935 American folk opera in a more jazzy direction that’s supposedly more “appropriate” for a Broadway theatre. When I should have been hearing warm and full, richly glorious spiritual numbers, I heard tinniness. Dislike.
Danny Troob’s work on Newsies has the bouncy, earnest energy and tone of any good Disney musical, which makes sense considering Troob also orchestrated The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
There are few good things to be said about Nice Work If You Can Get It, but thankfully, first-time nominee Bill Elliott’s work is one of them. Let’s hear it for the Gershwins, only this time they sound as they ought considering the 1920s tuners that Elliott strung together to form an old-fangled sounding songbook score. Luscious and authentic in sound, Elliott even craftily incorporated Gershwin instrumentals, and with a wink, a burst of “Rhapsody in Blue” accompanies every onstage kiss.