Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The 2024 JKTS Awards!

It's that time of year again! Awards season is about to culminate with The Tony Awards, but we'd like to give out a few on our own first. Some are serious, others are just for fun. Your Reader's Choice winners will be announced tomorrow, June 13th!

Movers & Shapers
Those artists who stood out this season, influencing and advancing the artform.

The Maverick Award:
  • Adam Guettel - Days of Wine and Roses
  • Sufjan Stevens/Justin Peck/Jackie Sibblies Drury - Illinoise
This season, these creatives have crafted new works that push the boundaries of modern musical theater. They took risks, and we theater fans are all the better for it.

The Unsung Hero Award:
  • Brent Comer (Actor) - The Outsiders
  • Michael Greif (Director) - The Notebook and Days of Wine and Roses
Sure, the guys who play Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally deserve all of the accolades they've been getting. But Mr. Comer gives a powerfully emotional performance that grounds the whole production. Mr. Greif's work on only one of the three shows he brought in has received accolades, yet he has done wonderful work on the other two. All three shows are so different from each other. Surely, he deserves more praise!

Breakout Performance:
  • Ricky Ubeda as Henry in Illinoise
He's been wonderful in each of his Broadway appearances, but here, he is next level.

Star on the Rise - Play:
  • Graham Campbell - Appropriate
  • Sarah Pidgeon - Stereophonic

Star on the Rise - Musical:
  • Hannah Cruz - Suffs
  • Brody Grant - The Outsiders
Couldn't take my eyes off any of these four - always a good sign. Each brings an amazing and unique skill set to the stage. The future looks bright!

Best Comeback:
  • Sara Gettelfinger - Water For Elephants
  • Adam Guettel - Days of Wine and Roses
They've been gone from the theater scene for different reasons, but it's really great to have them back!

Outstanding Understudy:
  • Samantha Gershman on as Marlena in Water For Elephants
She was wonderful. Here's to seeing her in a part that's all her own!

In Performance
Artists that deserve recognition that The Tony Awards don't include

The Julie Andrews Award for "The Egregiously Overlooked":
  • Best Score: The Notebook - Music and lyrics: Ingrid Michaelson
  • Best Orchestrations: Days of Wine and Roses - Adam Guettel and Jamie Lawrence
  • Best Direction of a Musical: Alex Timbers - Here Lies Love
  • Featured Actress in a Musical: Gaby Diaz - Illinoise 
  • Featured Actress in a Musical: Joy Woods - The Notebook
  • Featured Actor in a Musical: Ben Cook - Illinoise 
  • Featured Actor in a Musical: Ricky Ubeda - Illinoise 
Seriously, nominators...

Outstanding Ensemble - Full Cast - Play:
  • Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Not a weak link in this company, each contributes to such an extent that if even one was gone from the mix, I can't imagine it would be as wonderful as it was.

Outstanding Ensemble - Full Cast - Musical:
  • Illinoise
Amazing. Breathtaking. All the feelings, all overwhelming.

Outstanding Ensemble - Supporting Cast - Musical:
  • The Kinkers and Rousts - Water For Elephants
These people do way more than your average Broadway chorus. And they are all magnificent.

Sorry We Missed It Award:
  • The Heart of Rock and Roll
 Maybe we'll get to it...or maybe it'll tour. Starting to feel real FOMO!

The Art of Stage Craft
Those elements that dazzled and surprised

The AAA Award for Automotive Excellence:
  • The DeLorean - Back to the Future
In all seriousness, the design of this makes me believe in stage magic all over again.

The John Napier Utility Vehicle of the Year:
  • The Greaser's Car - The Outsiders
Not since Cats has an onstage car been used for so many things! It's a bed, a piece of living room furniture, a gang hangout, and even a drive-in movie concessions stand! Jennyanydots would purr!

NOTE: To say anything about the next four awards would be to spoil them for those who haven't seen these shows yet. You'll just have to trust me that each are peak theatricality!

Best Special Effects Sequence - Play:
  • Appropriate: the final scene

Best Special Effects Sequence - Musical:
  • Back to the Future: Doc Brown on the Clock Tower

Jaw-Dropper Award - Play:
  • Purlie Victorious: a Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Field: the church transformation

Jaw-Dropper Award - Musical:
  • Back to the Future: Marty and the DeLorean escape to 1985

Best Prop in a Supporting Role:
  • The Journal: The Outsiders, The Notebook, Illinoise, Suffs
  • Horse Head: Water For Elephants, Suffs
Introspective writers and equine characters are just two of the things several shows shared this season. (Like old guys looking back, rain storms, etc.)

Best Animal in a Supporting Role:
  • Rosie and Silver Star: Water For Elephants

The Thrill of Live Theater
Those elements that dazzled and surprised

The Singing (and Dancing) In the Rain Award:
  • Singing (& Kissing): The Notebook
  • Dancing (& Fighting): The Outsiders

Best Entrance:
  • Ainsley (Lincoln Cohen) - Appropriate (if you saw it, you know what we mean!)
It is one of the most shocking entrances of all time! The collective gasp of the audience should've sucked the kid right off the stage. No spoilers here.

Best Exit:
  • Silver Star (Antoine Boissereau) - Water For Elephants
It is a doozy of an exit. But you need to see it for yourself. Again, no spoilers here.

Pass the Tissues, Please Award:
  • Illinoise - sad tears: Carl's last scene & happy tears: Henry finds himself & love
  • The Notebook - that final scene hurt...

Best Kiss - Straight:
  • George and Lorraine McFly (Hugh Coles and Liana Hunt) - Back to the Future
  • Young Allie and Noah (Jordan Tyson and John Cardoza) - The Notebook
You might have thought I'd pick the obvious Notebook kiss, but there's something about young love's first kiss...

Best Kiss - Queer:
  • Tamara and Rafaela (Eden Espinosa and Amber Iman) - Lempicka

The Give Me a Head With Hair Award:
  • Doc Brown (Roger Bart, wig by Campbell Young Associates) - Back to the Future
  • Inez Milholland (Hannah Cruz, wig by Charles G. LaPointe) - Suffs

Best Place to Catch a Diva Award:
  • A late 50's/early 60's sleazy motel room - The Diva: Kelli O'Hara as Kirsten Arnesen - Days of Wine and Roses
  • Le Monocle - The Divas: Eden Espinosa as Tamara de Lempicka, Amber Iman as Rafaela, and Natalie Joy Johnson as Suzy Solidor - Lempicka

The Grin and Bear It Award
(aka The Shit End of the Stick Award):
  • The Companies of Lempicka and Days of Wine and Roses
Last year, it was Bad Cinderella. This year, with 15 shows, there was bound to be more. The nastiness of social media didn't disappoint. It's not the best side of theater fandom.

Around the District
Broadway wouldn't be the same without these amazing winners

Welcome to Broadway - People:
  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (playwright) - Appropriate

Welcome to Broadway - Institution:
  • The Kennedy Center's Broadway Center Stage Series - Spamalot

Best Broadway Eats - New:
  • Raising Cane's - Times Square
How nice that Times Square's latest tourist trap eatery actually has reasonably priced, thoroughly delicious food. It's always busy, so the food is always hot and fresh. And where else can you sit on Texas Toast furniture and listen to an in-house DJ?

Best Broadway Eats - Established:
  • Breakfast: The Buffet at the Marriott Marquis
  • Lunch: Junior's - W. 45th at Shubert Alley
  • Dinner: Virgil's - W. 44th
Ok, so the Marriott is expensive, but the buffet (all-you-can-eat) is always fresh, with good variety. And the bacon is sooo good! Junior's makes the list for the 2nd year in a row, and Virgil's has amazing BBQ, sides and drinks. The portions are huge at both places, too!

The Starlite Deli Memorial Award:
  • Carve - 8th Avenue & W. 47th
They make great sandwiches, full of flavor on amazing breads. Great desserts, too!

Best Libations:
  • Glass House Tavern - W. 47th
Who knew there was a way to make a superior screw driver? Or a berry-filled, hand-crafted sangria? There is, and this is where to get both. Pricey and worth every penny in this case.

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