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 AIDS crisis, Bobby Steggert, Fredeick Weller, guppies, Terrence McNally, Tyne Daly

What does moving on look like?

Bobby Steggert, Frederick Weller, Grayson Taylor, and Tyne
Daly in a scene from Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and
Sons,”
at the Golden Theatre. Photo © Joan Marcus

Loss can be a paralyzing experience.

In Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,” at the Golden Theatre, it is particularly difficult and the way forward is a slog.

It is more so for Katharine Gerard (Tyne Daly), the titular mother in this play, for whom the death of her son nearly twenty years ago remains a fresh wound.  She shows up at Cal Porter’s (Frederick Weller) door unbidden because he is her one connection to Andre. For Katharine, who is recently widowed, Andre was the only beacon of love in a bitter life.

Cal has not forgotten Andre but he has allowed himself some happiness. His sunnier present is with Will Ogden (Bobby Steggert) whose youth and disposition help them to make a home for their son Bud (Grayson Taylor).  The Ogden-Porters are guppies, an affluent gay family, something that was not even thought of while Andre was alive.

Frederick Weller as Cal and Tyne Daly as Katharine in a
scene from “Mothers and Sons.” Photo © Joan Marcus

Katharine did not expect this. She is a ramrod of indignation anger and vengeance. Andre’s death was cataclysmic. There should be no moving on. Cal has picked up the pieces as Katharine could not.

As Katharine, Tyne Daly is at once brittle and ascerbic. Wheeler’s mild-mannered Cal is the perfect foil for the hateful Katharine, whose grief is a heaviness that is only lifted in her very sweet and natural interactions with Bud.

Don’t shy from “Mothers and Sons” because it is a genuinely sad and moving play.  There is plenty of humor and wit to ease us along. The drama is well played by all the four principals, and well paced under Sheryl Kaller’s able direction, and well worth your time.

To learn more about “Mothers and Sons,” please visit http://mothersandsonsbroadway.com/.