Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2010 Tony Nominations: Initial Reaction

Ok, I'm reversing what I've said earlier - kind of.  I am going to comment on the Tony Award nominations, just out this morning, but I will not comment on what I think the outcome of any particular category will be.  I will, however, end with some sweeping generalizations.

First, last week I put together a list of those people, shows, etc. that I hoped the nominating committee wouldn't overlook.  Let's see how I did.  (Those that were nominated are in red.)

Catherine Zeta-Jones in A Little Night Music (Lead Actress in a Musical)

Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music (Featured Actress in a Musical)
John Gallagher, Jr. in American Idiot (Lead Actor in a Musical)
Stark Sands in American Idiot (Featured Actor in a Musical)
Tom Kitt for American Idiot (Orchestrations)
Kevin Adams for American Idiot (Lighting)
Twyla Tharp for Come Fly Away (Choreography)
Jim Norton in Finian's Rainbow (Lead Actor in a Musical)
Kate Baldwin in Finian's Rainbow (Lead Actress in a Musical)
Euan Morton in Sondheim on Sondheim (Featured Actor in a Musical)
Vanessa Williams in Sondheim on Sondheim (Featured Actress in a Musical)
Chad Kimball in Memphis (Lead Actor in a Musical)
Montego Glover in Memphis (Lead Actress in a Musical)
Sergio Trujillo for Memphis (Choreography)
Levi Kreis in Million Dollar Quartet (Featured Actor in a Musical)
Elizabeth Stanley in Million Dollar Quartet (Featured Actress in a Musical)
Kelsey Grammer in La Cage aux Folles (Lead Actor in a Musical)
Next Fall for Best Play

10 out of 18 on my "wish list" isn't bad.  And considering how the overall nominations went, none of my wishes were necessarily a given.

    Kelsey Grammer!  Anyone else now looking
    forward to his Zsa Zsa?  I am!
  • Out of all of my list, I am most happy about Kelsey Grammer's nomination.  He is truly an anchor in a sea of chaos, and stands out by not standing out.
  • And I am glad that Next Fall made the cut, especially considering which still-running plays did not, in favor of two closed productions.

    Great Cast, Great Play
  • Out of all my list, I am most disappointed about Tom Kitt's snub for American Idiot.  It is pretty clear that the nominators didn't know what they were hearing.  Of course, the Cast Recording critic for Playbill, who I generally respect, seemed to think that strings were added for the recording only.  Though how he missed the strings onstage when he saw the show mystifies me, especially the poor girl getting flung around under the portable steps.  So, if he missed it, it isn't a surprise.  And I bet there is some backlash for Kitt getting the Pultizer, too.
  • I am also somewhat disappointed in Sergio Trujillo's lack of a nod for Memphis.  The dancing in the show is smoking hot.  The La Cage choreography, which was nominated, was dinner theatre level at best - no offense to dinner theatre choreographers...

    Memphis' dancing is electrifying!
    Tony-nominee Levis Kreis is very deserving,
    Million Dollar Quartet not so much.
  • The only reason I can think of for Million Dollar Quartet's Best Musical nomination was just so they didn't nominate The Addams Family.  Is it really that bad?
  • And the lack of more nods for Come Fly Away and Sondheim on Sondheim clearly shows why there needs to still be a Special Theatrical Event category.  Did the committee not know how to treat them?  Both are clearly superior to Million Dollar Quartet, but neither are as conventional.
  • Send hate mail if you want, but Barbara Cook should get the Tony for most overrated star, and nothing more.  I'm glad she can still show up 8 times a week, but attendance and a reputation aren't enough.

Sondheim on Sondheim (top) and
Come Fly Away (bottom)
Where is the love?

PREDICTION (of the sweeping kind, not specifics):  The buzz-less Fela! will either win everything, or its gift will be the most nominations this year.  If the latter is the case, look for every show to get a little something.

Given that there were no huge hits and a ton of mixed reviewed shows that got high praise in specific areas, the nominations (and eventual winners) should make this a very interesting race to the finish line.  But with no huge rivalries or camps to root for, will anyone care?

Comments?  Leave one here or email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.


  1. I'm rooting for RED. I did not expect to like this play as much. Thought it was going to be fairly didactic, based on Brantley's London write up earlier this year. It's electric, moving, a great story with great characters and relationships. I'm now more in love with Rothko than ever.

    Next Fall had a lot to recommend, and I admit I teared up--but ultimately, I didn't feel that the central relationship evolved over time. You would think that after 5 years, the issue of each other's religious beliefs, or lack therof, would have come to some sort of understanding or compromise. It's the central idea and I felt the argument fell short.

    As far as musicals, I still have yet to see Fly Away and Million Dollar, but I have to say I've been disappointed with the pickings this year. Both Fela and American Idiot had moments of genius, but neither could sustain itself and I soon became bored in both. While Memphis's lyrics are trite and its music somewhat derivative, I had such a good time! Great story that has you rooting for every character. The creatives really know how to build a crowd pleaser. Because of that emotional connection it created, so far, it has my vote.

  2. Hey! Thanks for writing in with your thoughts.

    I've heard the same thing about RED from several people! Almost word-for-word! Definitely adding it to my must-see list.

    You know, I can see your point about NEXT FALL, and for the most part, I agree with you. Until I think about my aunt and uncle - married 27 years, and the religion thing is still a dark cloud - no compromise, no understanding. Yet they stay together...

    I've really fallen for the AI cast recording, and am hoping a 2nd viewing will increase my initial opinion (did you read my reviews on them?). I haven't seen Fela!, so I can't say. But all of the reasons you give for supporting MEMPHIS, flaws and all, are why I hope it wins too. I saw it in previews and remember details today, as well as the overwhelmingly good feelng I had when I left. Nothing wrong with being a crowd-pleaser! Ask the folks at Mamma Mia! LOL


  3. I did read your review of AI and I agree with it. I've seen it twice now, once at Berkeley and once on Broadway. I too am a huge Green Day fan...the music is just gorgeous...and I too think Kitt was robbed of an orchestrations nod. I also love Johnny Gallagher, but I think he was hurt by the fact that the characters in AI are so shallow, almost archtypes. You love the first 40 minutes or so and then you realize, "wow, these characters are not going to get any deeper."

  4. I completely forgot about Sergio Trujillo's choreography when I made my list of Tony omissions. You're right - it was great. I'm also rooting for Montego Glover and Chad Kimball from Memphis. I'm glad to see that so many of the shows I saw in the fall were recognized. It makes watching the Tonys much more fun. Wish I'd seen some of the shows that opened in 2010. Hopefully I'll get a chance.

  5. Esther!

    So good to hear from you again...

    What makes his omission all the worse is that La Cage's weakest element (aside from the script being at odds completely with the "cheap, run down, sleazy-ish" club in this version) is it's choreography, which boils down to about 3 faux production numbers for 6 "Cagelles" and a Zsa Zsa that simply stands in the middle of it. They are not bad dancers, but the choreography is so pedestrian.

    I am super happy for Memphis all the way around. The little show that could, and did!

    Email me about maybe collaborating on Tony predictions between our little slices of the blogosphere!



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