Monday, December 31, 2012

The Unforgettables: 20 Theatre Movers and Shakers in 2012

To paraphrase A Chorus Line, I picked 10 and 10 - 10 Boys and 10 Girls - of the theatre people, who made their biggest mark on the theatre world in 2012.  And I have a feeling we'll be hearing from all 20 of these amazing talents for many years to come.

(In Alphabetical Order)

Nina Arianda, John Bolton, Tom Edden

Nina Arianda - What a pleasure and utter thrill to see such a bravura performance - her turn in Venus in Fur not only ignited her career, but provided the theater world with one of those performances that people will talk about for years to come.

John Bolton - I've been seeing Mr. Bolton in shows for years, on tour and on Broadway, but this year, he really came into his own as The Old Man in A Christmas Story: The Musical.  A riot of physical comedy, with all the right notes of sincerity and emotion, I'll never forget his distress at the broken leg lamp in the window. Fragile, indeed!

Tom Edden - I can take or leave British comedy.  But when barely 30-something Edden took the stage in One Man, Two Guvnors as 1,000-something Alfie, you couldn't help but laugh.  And cry - tears of joy from laughing that hard are rare these days.  Can anyone confirm that Edden is really half man half rubber?  That man can stretch and bend like no other!

Rachel Griffiths, Gregory Haney, Jenn Harris

Rachel Griffiths - An accomplished television and film actress, this Aussie made her Broadway debut as a bi-coastal American in Other Desert Cities.  She not only held the stage with such heavy-hitters as Judith Light and Stockard Channing, she took it over!  If only every TV/film star that comes to Broadway was this good.

Gregory Haney - Leggy, sassy and all woman, Haney brought Broadway's first teenage transgender character, La Cienega, to vibrant, fearless life.  The show was Bring It On, and he brought it alright!

Jenn Harris - The queen of deadpan, Harris did a spot-on tribute to the Oscar-winning role of Jodie Foster, and made you laugh until your stomach hurts while watching her do it.  Silence! is, I'm sure, not the last we'll see of her.

Steve Kazee, Celia Keenan-Bolger

Steve Kazee - One of the truly nice guys of Broadway, Kazee charms, smiles and shares his love of his profession regularly on Twitter.  But it is his sweet, genuine and delightfully low-key turn as Guy in Once that cemented his career - he'll always be known as "Tony-winner Steve Kazee" - but he is just getting started.  I, for one, can't wait to see what's next!

Celia Keenan-Bolger - Not one, but two starring roles this season brought her to the forefront this year.  Apparently, she can do it all... from boozy loudmouth with a broken heart to sassy, self-assured woman-child.  If Merrily We Roll Along and Peter and the Starcatchers didn't show enough of her considerable talents and range, playing Laura in The Glass Menagerie in 2013 should do it!

Derek Klena, Rob McClure

Derek Klena - So he's cute, with a smile that would melt ice.  But this guy is also uber-talented.  How amazing to get to see him twice in one year AND to watch him grow as an artist while doing it!  I really liked him as good guy jock-with-a-heart Tommy in Carrie, and then marvel at the depth of his performance in the most underrated show of 2012, Dogfight.  What's next for this guy?  Whatever it is, I am there!

Rob McClure - Had I been blogging when he was starring as Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q, he'd have made this list years ago.  But I wasn't, but no worries, as his star is really on the rise after his Tony-worthy performance in the title role of Chaplin: The Musical.  Enough has been written about the remarkable menu of skills he had to learn for the role, but without the grace, strength and dignity of his acting/singing performance, none of that would matter.  Bravo!

Cristin Milioti, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jessie Mueller

Cristin Milioti - When I first saw Once, I marveled that I was captivated by Girl from the second she wordlessly appears in the show.  That is very rare.  And she continues to be brilliant in a brilliant show.  I love this girl!

Lin-Manuel Miranda - OK, so the year of In the Heights would really have been the year he made this list.  But I wasn't blogging then - so better late than never!  He sang and danced in Merrily We Roll Along,  was a composer/lyricist for Bring It On and contributed to the revival/revisal of Working.  oh, and he made a movie or two, and is going to be on TV.  There is nothing this quintuple threat can't do!

Jessie Mueller - She started the year as a bright spot in a crap show, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and I had a feeling she was going places.  Then she did the oddity in the Park, Into the Woods and was on much more solid -if risky - ground.  But she has turned a supporting role into a star turn night after night in this winter's smash hit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Please let her be Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.  Please.

Pasek and Paul, Molly Ranson

Pasek and Paul - The 21st Century's Rodgers and Hammerstein?  Well, that remains to be seen.  But so far, so good.  They can do old-fashioned Broadway (A Christmas Story: The Musical) and contemporary with a pastiche twist (Dogfight).  I can't wait to hear what they come up with next!

Molly Ranson - Her heartbreaking performance as the misunderstood Carrie White was memorable enough.  But to belt it out 8 times a week with Marin Mazzie covered with blood takes something extra special.  Carrie might have been a wallflower, but Molly is the kind of actress you can't stop watching.

Ryann Redmond, Jemima Rooper

Ryann Redmond - Every underdog in the world can take heart after seeing her star-making performance as Bridget in Bring It On.  She had me from the second she took off that parrot head.  Find this girl a new vehicle and FAST!

Jemima Rooper - Funny in pants or a dress, this little imp of an actress commanded the stage every second she was on stage in One Man, Two Guvnors.  As SJB will tell you, trouser roles are not easy for girly girls, but Rooper dove in with both feet and threatened to steal the show from James Corden.  Come back soon!

Jeremy Shamos, Ryan Steele, Betsy Wolfe

Jeremy Shamos - With the most difficult to witness role in Clybourne Park, Shamos was the lone reason to see that stinker of a play, Tony and Pulitzer not withstanding.  He, in spite of everything going on around him, was brilliant.  Period.

Ryan Steele - He only has a couple of lines.  And he's but one of more than a dozen hotties in Newsies.  But he still manages to to stick out of the ensemble in all the right ways.  One of the best dancers currently on Broadway (by a mile), he was great in West Side Story, but he was excellent in this show.  Can't wait to see him "Steele" the show in Matilda.  2013 is looking better all the time.

Betsy Wolfe - She is nothing short of brilliant as Rosa Bud in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  I hope I get to see her near legendary confession soon.  But even if I don't, I will still marvel at her gorgeous voice and her campy sense of humor.  I will gladly fluff-ah her bustle!

  • The Best and Worst of 2012: Performance Categories HERE
  • The Joys and Disappointments of 2012 HERE
  • The Best and Worst of 2012: Non-performance Categories HERE
  • 2012 in Review: Top Broadway News Story #2: Les Miserables (The Movie) HERE
  • 2012 in Review: Top Broadway News Story #3: Rebecca HERE


Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review: The Best of the Best: The Performance Categories

The other day, I posted my annual Year in Review Best/Worst Non-Performance Categories.  You can see that HERE.  Today, I present to you my favorite performances in a variety of categories, most of which you'd never see on the Tonys.  Here are 42 winners in 40 categories (there were 2 ties)!

As always, I welcome your comments and your own "winners."  Write in (, Tweet me (@jkstheatrescene), or leave a comment below!  I look forward to hearing from all of you!


Best Debut (Play): Rachel Griffiths, Other Dessert Cities – The TV star proved she has live theatre chops to spare.  ABOVE
Best Debut (Musical): Anthony Warlow, Annie – The international musical star finally made it to Broadway! ABOVE
Best Child Actor: Zachary Unger, Chaplin – Adorable and legitimately excellent, there’s not a dry eye in the place when he turns on the waterworks!  ABOVE
Best Understudy: Taylor Richardson, Annie – She’s the third-string Annie, but she knows what she’s doing.  See her name on a slip in your Playbill, and know you are in good hands!

Most Under-Appreciated Actor: Adam Chanler-Berat, Peter and the Starcatcher – Tough to hold your own against Christian Borle, his sweat and his ‘stache.  But Adam did just that.  Did anyone notice?  I did! ABOVE TOP
Most Under-Appreciated Actress: Caissie Levy, Ghost: The Musical – Of the four major leads in the show, she has the least exciting role.  But I can still feel her grief all these months later.  ABOVE CENTER
Most Under-Appreciated Cast: Bring It On: The Musical – They are great from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.  They are in the best musical no one saw.  ABOVE BOTTOM

Best Chemistry: Guy and Girl, aka Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, Once ABOVE TOP
Best Cast Chemistry: Bring It On: The Musical – Talk about having each others’ backs!  The death-defying acts, the cool choreography… they are a solid unit.
The Grin-and-Bear-It Award (Cast): Scandalous – I’m embarrassed for them.  But they still showed up for 8 a week and gave it 100%.  ABOVE CENTER
The Grin-and-Bear-It Award (Individual): Elena Roger, Evita – She’s not quite the sensation here that she was on the other side of the pond… ABOVE BOTTOM

Best Dancing by a Non-Dancer in a Musical: Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It -  OK. Maybe she’s doesn’t so much dance as dangle from that chandelier, but it did win her a Tony Award. ABOVE TOP
Best New Song Written for a Broadway Musical: TIE “With You” from Ghost: The Musical and “All Falls Down” from Chaplin ABOVE TOP CENTER
Best New Song Written for an Off-Broadway Musical: TIE: “Dogfight” and “First Date/Last Night” both from Dogfight  ABOVE BOTTOM CENTER
Best Underscoring: Peter and the Starcatcher BOTTOM

Best Props in a Play: Venus in Fur – Was I the only one terrified by what else might be in Nina Arianda’s bag?  ABOVE TOP
Best Props in a Musical: Silence! – As endlessly inventive as the entire production.  They did an entire film parody on about a $50.00 prop budget and it was awesome!  ABOVE CENTER
Best Body Part: Legs – As in LEG LAMPS! From A Christmas Story: The Musical ABOVE BOTTOM

Best Kiss (Straight): Sam and Molly in Ghost: The Musical = sexy and romantic! ABOVE TOP
Best Kiss (Gay): Jason and Peter in Bare: The Musical Does Jason Hite kiss like that in real life?  If so, sign me up!  ABOVE CENTER
Best Kiss That Never Happens: Guy and Girl in Once. Has not kissing ever been sexier or romantic?  ABOVE BOTTOM

Best Underwear (Play): Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur ABOVE TOP LEFT
Best Underwear (Musical): Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch’s boxer briefs in Bare: The Musical ABOVE BOTTOM
Best Shirtless Moment: Richard Fleeshman in Ghost: The Musical – Duh.  So hot, it even made a talk show!  ABOVE TOP RIGHT

Teacher of the Year: Sister Joan (Missi Pyle) in Bare: The Musical – Compassionate AND sassy – the perfect combination. TOP
Best Villain (Male): Carl Bruner (Bryce Pinkham) in Ghost: The Musical – He was nasty in pretty much any way you can be nasty.  TOP SECOND
Best Villain (Female): Rita Lyons (Linda Lavin) in The Lyons – Cold.  Ruthless.  Funny as Hell.  TOP THIRD
Best Bathroom Scene: “Delishious” Eileen Evergreen (Jennifer Laura Thompson) and the Bubble Boys and Girls in Nice Work If You Can Get It BOTTOM

Best Victor/Victoria (Musical): Edwin Drood/Alice Nutting (Stephanie J. Block in The Mystery of Edwin Drood) ABOVE FIRST
Best Victor/Victoria (Play): Rachel Crabbe (Jemima Rooper in One Man, Two Guvnors) ABOVE SECOND
In the Heights Award for Best Use of a Cell Phone: Bare: The Musical ABOVE THIRD
Best Peter Parker Rise Above Award: Candy Buckley in Scandalous – Talk about your silk purse…
The Bloody Bloody Award for Best Use of Stage Blood: Carrie: The Musical – E I E I O  ABOVE FOURTH
The Cats Award for Best Use of Junk: From proscenium to set, Peter and the Starcatcher – Talk about going green!  ABOVE FIFTH

The 70,Girls,70 Award for Senior Power (Actor): James Earl Jones in The Best Man ABOVE TOP
The 70,Girls,70 Award for Senior Power (Actress): Angela Lansbury in The Best Man  ABOVE CENTER
The 70,Girls,70 Award for Senior Power (by a non-Senior): Tom Edden in One Man, Two Guvnors  - None of these three act their age, that’s for sure!  ABOVE BOTTOM

The “Say a Little Prayer” Award for Too Much of a Good Thing:  PLEASE…a reprieve from anything Gershwin…
The Alice Ripley Award for Acting Intensity: Christian Borle as Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher.  The sweat proved it!
The Scottsboro Boys Award for Too Short a Run: Chaplin: The Musical
The Baby It’s You/Shirelles Award for Back Up Singer Excellence: The Angels of Mercy in Leap of Faith

  • The Joys and Disappointments of 2012 HERE
  • The Best and Worst of 2012: Non-performance Categories HERE
  • 2012 in Review: Top Broadway News Story #2: Les Miserables (The Movie) HERE
  • 2012 in Review: Top Broadway News Story #3: Rebecca HERE

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