Posted in film, Gwyneth Paltrow, Idina Menzel, musicals, musicals and dramas, Nicolas Cage, riff, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, The Tony Awards

Real-time Alternatives — Serendipity

This year I am making no Tony predictions, but reminiscing about years past. Here is one such meander.

(Reprinted from https://serendipity342791844.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/real-time-alternatives/ )

Family ManSliding Doors, and the Broadway musical If/Then all take a deep dive into questions of alternate realities. They involve shifting time, as does the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves romance The Lake House to slightly disparate effect.

Sliding Doors and Family Man are films which explore what might have been by letting it happen to Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicolas Cage respectively. Similarly, If/Then let Idina Menzel experience a different life if she made different life choices. (The alternate reality I would have liked to see is for the musical play to be honored with a Tony in its 2014 bid.)

It is a giddy fact that the divergent paths the hero or heroine takes leads to different outcomes for him/her in each of these works. Makes you wonder what you might have done had you done differently!

Posted in A Gentleman's Guide Audra McDonald, Bryan Cranston, Bryce Pinkham, Carole King, Hugh Jackman, Idina Menzel, Jefferson Mays, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O'Hara, Neil Patrick Harris, The Tony Awards, Tyne Daly

Give yourself a BEST for a great Tony Ceremony

(L-R) Jefferson Mays as Henry D’Ysquith, Jennifer Smith, and Bryce Pinkham as Monty Navarro in a scene from 2014’s Tony winning Best Musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at the Walter Kerr Theater.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The 2014 Tony Awards show walks away with a BIG Best! Imaginative, creative, entertaining–this was a Tony telecast that reflects the best of the theater it is honoring.

The June 8th broadcast of the 68th Tony Award presentation showcased future Broadway, and shows not in contention like “Cabaret” and a song from the 10th anniversary of “Wicked.”

Hugh Jackman’s skills and charm were so effervescently on display at the ceremonies. He sings, he dances, he patters, he flirts, he raps, Hugh Jackman is really a superhero. We are grateful that while he kicks butt as Wolverine, his heart belongs to Broadway, and on June 8th, he gave it full-out.

The deserving Jessie Mueller won as Best Actress in a musical for her portrayal of Carole King in “Beuatiful…” and had a chance to sing with King at the Tonys! I did not see this award coming, not because Jessie Mueller is not terrific, but because I was self-bamboozled into believing that “If/Then” would not be left out to dry. My prediction for a win for Idina Menzel did not come to pass, and I was also wrong about “Act One” getting the Best Play win.

“If/Then,” despite Menzel’s fans, will probably not survive their complete lack of Tony cred. “Act One” has announced it’s final week closing on June 15th, despite the set designer Beowulf Boritt’s 2014 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play.

During the broadcast, “Bullets Over Broadway,” which also had no wins, and was not nominated in the Best Musical category, and “Rocky” (ditto) each had their shining moments showing off their best stuff on the big Radio City Music Hall stage. “If/Then” depended on a solo from Idina Menzel to pitch their show, and I’m afraid that wasn’t compelling enough to give it the oomph it needs to keep on chugging on the Great White Way, though they are still selling through October 12th.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”— no surprise there with 10 nominations– got the big prize: It is officially the Best Musical of 2014 with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” getting Best for Revival of a Musical.
Neil Patrick Harris, amazing as always, won as Best Actor in a Musical.

Also unsurprising was Bryan Cranston’s win for Best Actor in a Play for his performance as LBJ in Robert Schenkkan’s “All The Way,” which edged out the aforementioned “Act One” as Best Play of 2014.

Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” still has not won a Tony, and the Best Play Revival went to “A Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo, playing Ruth Younger in the revival, won as Best Featured Actress in a play, an award that Audra McDonald got in the 2004 revival.  McDonald won her 6th Tony on June 8th for embodying Billie Holliday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” 

Posted in Anthony Rapp, Brian Yorkey, Idina Menzel, Kinky Boots, LaChanze, Michael Grief, moving musical drama, Pippin, Tom Kitt

If, then …The Tonys

We are still catching up with the 2013 Tony winners here at T and B On The Aisle. A case in point:  http://tbontheaisleatheaterdiary.blogspot.com/2014/04/matilda-is-just-right.html. Another is “Pippin,” winner as the best musical revival of 2013, along with Andrea Martin for a supporting role, and the extraordinary Patina Miller for “Best Actress in a Musical.” “Pippin” is still at the Music Box, but Patina Miller has moved on, replaced by Ciara Renee as the coyly named “Leading Player.” It’s likely that strongmen and circus acts were more revolutionary theatricalities in the 1972 original Broadway production in which Ben Vereern starred. Pippin, himself, is a silly twit overly impressed with his exceptionalism, and well-played by Kyle Dean Massey (in the current cast). He lacks the naive charm of, say, Candide, but Annie Potts is charming as his acrobatic grandmother.

Billy Porter, Daniel Stewart Sherman, and Marcus Neville (right) Photo (c) Matthew Murphy

On the other hand, “Kinky Boots” fulfills the razzmatazz its many Tony statuettes promised. Billy Porter, its rags to riches–or chorus to leading man at any rate, star is as fresh and peppy in his award winning role as Lola as if he hadn’t been doing this for over  year.  “Kinky Boots,” with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper 2013 Tony,) and a book by Harvey Fierstein at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, is a lively heart-warming joyful musical extravaganza.

Idina Menzel center with cast of “If/Then” from the creative team of Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Here we are in 2014, however so let’s put Idina Menzel at the top of the slate of Tony possibles in the bifurcated role of Liz/Beth, along with her quirky sometimes confusing show, “If/Then,” from the creative team of Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) and Tom Kitt (music.) (Note that Kitt and Yorkey and Menzel are nominees, but the show did not make the cut. That’s a shame.)

LaChanze and Anthony Rapp in a scene from “If/Then.”
Photo by Joan Marcus.

“If/Then,” at the Richard Rodgers Theatre,  is about choice, chance, fate, happenstance, and possibility. It’s also thought-provoking and dynamic. Anthony Rapp, as Lucas, Liz/Beth’s best friend and maybe lover, is charmingly annoying, but in a good way. LaChanze is perky and positive as the accepting and open Kate.

Tamika Lawrence, Jenn Colella, LaChanze and Idina Menzel.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

Idina Menzel is a fierce and resolute performer; certainty pours out with every line and each note. These qualities add to the interest of her role as the vacillating Liz/Beth– two women in one. In “If/Then,” each path she might take is fully played out. The choices are all laid out for her and us.

Jerry Dixon, Ann Sanders and Idina Menzel. Photo by Joan Marcus.

One of these paths has Liz marry the hunky and handsome Josh (James Snyder,) whom she meets by chance at a park and runs into on a subway. The other has Beth flirting with her boss, Steve (Jerry Dixon.)

It’s a nice touch that she is a city planner, designing the pathways for so many lives in the big city. “If/Then” is an unapologetically urban, New York City centric musical drama. It’s smart, well-paced, –under the very able direction of Michael Grief–, beautifully designed–with a truly novel and delightful set by Mark Wendland–, wonderfully acted by a large, tight ensemble. It is also unlike any other musical play.

If I hadn’t seen it, Then I would have missed an exciting theatrical experience. Michael Grief does everything he can to clarify the dichotomies of the script. Pay close attention, but don’t overthink it. Enjoy  “If/Then” for the wonderful ride it is.

For more information about “If/Then,” please visit http://www.ifthenthemusical.com/. Also see my Tony predictions at VP (now The Wright Wreport), and here at TandB.