Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mr. and Ms. Broadway 2011

WHY THEY ARE MR. AND MRS. BROADWAY OF THE YEAR:  This year the people of the Broadway year represent the most important people in theatre.  Without them, they shows they represent wouldn't even exist!  If they do their job well, most audience members don't really think about them - they think about the actors, the scenery, the singing and dancing... But when they do the job poorly, they are they first ones to get the blame (unless they are working on a Frank Wildhorn show)!  I'm talking, of course, all about the playwrights!  Collectively, they have 5 Broadway shows currently on the boards - 3 musicals and two plays.  It has been quite a year for all 4 of them!  Yes, four!

MR. BROADWAY 2011: Douglas Carter Beane
MS. BROADWAY 2011: Lydia R. Diamond, 
Katori Hall and Suzan-Lori Parks

Work of his you might have seen before 2011: Film: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; Stage: As Bees in Honey Drown, The Little Dog Laughed (Tony nomination - Best Play), Xanadu (Tony nomination - Best Book of a Musical)
Works of his that brought him to the top in 2011: Sister Act (Tony nomination - Best Book of a Musical) and Lysistrata Jones.  Nearly everyone - including producer and film star Whoopi Goldberg - loves the improvements he made to the London version of Sister Act, and it is a riot!  Funnier still is his original musical Lysistrata Jones, which is silly and smart, campy and sincere, and pretty damned sexy!

Beane with Kerry Butler, the director of
Family Equality Council and Lewis Flinn

Beane and Flinn with their children

Beane (TOP, CENTER) with the writing team of
Sister Act: The Musical

 Sister Act: The Musical

Lewis Flinn and Douglas Carter Beane at the
Broadway opening of Lysistrata Jones

 Lysistrata Jones on Broadway

Works of hers you might have seen before 2011: The Bluest Eye, Stage Black, and The Gift Horse.
Work of hers that took her to the top in 2011: Stick Fly, currently playing an acclaimed run at the Cort Theatre.  She and her co-Ms. Broadways represent an important modern voice for African-American women.

Diamond at the Broadway opening
of Stick Fly

Stick Fly

Works of hers that you might have seen before 2011: Remembrance, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, Pussy Valley
Work that put her on top in 2011: The Mountaintop, which is currently having an acclaimed run on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.  Its limited run ends January 22.   She and her co-Ms. Broadways represent an important modern voice for African-American women.

Katori Hall at the Broadway
opening of The Mountaintop

The Mountaintop

Works of hers you might have seen before 2011: Film: Their Eyes Are Watching God, Girl 6, The Great Debaters; Stage: Fucking A, The America Play, In the Blood, Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
Work that put her on top in 2011: The new book for The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.  The controversial re-working of the book has made headlines for the show and Ms. Parks.  The revival is currently playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway.

Parks with Diane Paules at the
A.R.T. opening of Porgy and Bess

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

(Photos from opening nights and headshots: Getty Images,; Sister Act Lysistrata Jones: Joan Marcus; Stick Fly: Richard Termine; The Mountaintop: Joan Marcus; The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess: Michael Lutch, A.R.T)

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review: JK's Theatrescene Awards, Part II: The Performance Awards

To see the Non-Performance Winners: 2011 JK's TheatreScene Awards, Part 1, click  HERE.

The other day, I named 39 winners in 37 categories covering non-performance achievement on Broadway. Today,  I will do the same (44 winners in 41 categories) in performance related achievement on Broadway. This year's awards cover all the productions I saw in 2011.

If you can think of a snazzier name for these awards or some interesting categories to consider for next year, send them in!


Best Chemistry: Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes in Bonnie and Clyde (BELOW)
Best Cast Chemistry: The Normal Heart (BELOW)

Best Rise-Above-It Moment: Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano singing from Spider-Man at the Tony Awards BEFORE it even opened.
The Grin-and-Bear-It Award (Cast): Wonderland
The Grin-and-Bear-It Award (Individual): Frank Wildhorn composer of  Wonderland and Bonnie and Clyde

Best Dancing by a Non-dancer in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz in Catch Me If You Can (BELOW)

Best New Song Written for a Broadway Musical: TIE "How 'Bout a Dance" from Bonnie and Clydeand "Sal Tlay Ka Siti " from The Book of Mormon and "Good Bye" from Catch Me If You Can
Best Complete Score of Songs NOT Written for a Broadway Musical: Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Best Underscoring: Anything the orchestra plays during an action sequence in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Best Understudy: Julia Mattison in Godspell. "Turn Back, O Man" was never funnier, sexier or dazzling.

Best Debut - Play: Ellen Barkin in The Normal Heart (ABOVE)
Best Debut - Musical: Rosalind Elias in Follies
Most Under-appreciated Actor: Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  He's done drama with full nudity.  He sings and dances like he was born to do it.  Why can't Broadway recognize the Entertainer of the Year like the rest of the world? (ABOVE)
Most Under-appreciated Actress: Rose Hemingway in How to Succeed in Business.  I suppose it is easy to get lost in the media frenzy when you are Harry Potter's leading lady. (ABOVE)
Most Under-appreciated Cast: The Cast of Chinglish.  Don't miss this cast, people!  Really!

Best Kiss - Straight: Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (BELOW)
Best Kiss - Gay: Teddy Toye and Ato Blankson-Wood in Lysistrata Jones (will Batman and Robin ever be the same again?)
Best Kiss - Period: Joey and Seth Numrich in War Horse Is there anything more touching than the bond between a boy and his puppet horse?

Best Strip Tease - Play: Jay Armstrong Johnson in Wild Animals You Should Know (BELOW)
Best Strip Tease - Musical: Josh Segarra in Lysistrata Jones 
Best Underwear in a Play (Male): Jay Armstrong Johnson in Wild Animals You Should Know
Best Underwear in a Play (Female): Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur (BELOW)
Best Underwear in a Musical (Male): Alexander Aguilar in Lysistrata Jones (BELOW)
Best Underwear in a Musical (Female): Liz Mikel in Lysistrata Jones

Best Blocking in a Musical: The Ghosts in Follies
Worst Blocking in a Musical: Baby, It's You! (The whole show)
Best Cameo in a Musical: Darth Vader and friends in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" in The Book of Mormon (BELOW)
Worst Cameo in a Musical: Lewis Carroll in Wonderland The most lame scene in the lamest musical in years...

The "Say a Little Prayer" Award (for too much of a good thing):  Use of confetti cannons.  Make it stop.  Please.
The Alice Ripley Award (for acting intensity):  Ellen Barkin in The Normal Heart.  A living dynamo.
The Scottsboro Boys Award (for a too short run): Bonnie and Clyde
The Shirelles Award (for back up singer excellence): The 4 Cowboys in Lucky Guy (as Indians, BELOW)

The Get-the-Show-on-the-Road Award - Best Touring Cast: The Non-Equity Company of Spring Awakening (ABOVE)
The Get-the-Show-on-the-Road Award - Best Actor: Joshua Kobak as St. Jimmy in American Idiot
The Get-the-Show-on-the-Road Award - Best Actress: Courtney Markowitz as Ilse in Spring Awakening

Best Surprise Show: Lysistrata Jones.
Best "Hit" Show: War Horse
Best "Flop" Show: Catch Me If You Can
Best Challenging Show: Queen of the Mist
Best Broadway-related Web Series: Submissions Only 

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