Posted in theater

Who will win at the 2016 Tonys?

NoLateSeating

My TONY predictions are up for debate and parley: what do you think?
http://www.vevlynspen.com/2016/06/on-tonys-night-gonna-be-fight-with.html
Almost as soon as I make a guess as to which will win what, I want to hedge my bet. For instance, although I suggested that Savion Glover’s choreography for Shuffle Along, or… would win this year’s award, I am now leaning towards Sergio Trujillo’s congas in On Your Feet as prize winning for choreography.

In the musical categories, there is one big show to beat, but it is not the only contender. Without a doubt, however, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliantly original Hamilton will be TONY’s BEST MUSICAL of 2016.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company of Hamilton. Photo © Joan Marcus
Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company of Hamilton. Photo © Joan Marcus

In other TONY expectations: look for Frank Langella to go home with a statuette for his performance in The Father. Likewise, The Humans looks good for Best Play, especially after its clinch at the Drama Desk Awards, although Danai Gurira’s timely and moving Eclipsed is also a nominee still in the running.

It is ever so tempting to blame the TONYs for early closings, but, honestly, American Psycho was steeped in red ink way before the nominations failed to acknowledge the hard work of its star, Benjamin Walker, or to credit the ingenuity of its creative team, particularly composer/lyricist, Duncan Sheik. TONY nomonations–or lack thereof– are not always the only problem productions face. Plays, especially “difficult” ones like Gurira’s, are often under-appreciated by theater-goers. (AP closed last week, and Eclipsed is scheduled to on June 19th. On Your Feet can carry on without substantial nominations and just its fan based audiences.)

My track record in guessing TONY finalists is not very good. So, let’s just hope for a lovely day and may the best play and players win!

 

 

Posted in musical theater

The Demon Banker of Wall Street

Did it ever occur to you that murder and its kin, murderous thoughts, could be funny?

Drew Moerlein as Bateman’s nemesis, Paul Owen Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Drew Moerlein as Bateman’s nemesis, Paul Owen Photo: Jeremy Daniel

If not, watching American Psycho-The Musical, at the Schoenfeld in an open run,  now closing June 5th,** will likely give you a case of the giggles. This is the intended effect of the musical based on Bret Easton Ellis’s bestseller, published in 1991. The show, like the novel, is a satirical look at ’80s excesses, at least among the privileged class of New York Masters-of-the-Universers. Those excesses include killing off those who dis you, or whom you deslike.

Patrick Bateman (Benjamin Walker) in all his glory and fancy suits is still insecure enough to have to list his possessions by their labels. Brandishing name brands is a constant in American Psycho‘s send-up of consumerism. The song, “You are what you wear,” performed by most of the ladies of the cast, is one excellently placed example. Duncan Sheik’s music and lyrics are catchy and clever. The book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is breezy and well-wrought.

Benjamin Walker and cast. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Benjamin Walker and cast. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Bateman associates with members of his own preppy-yuppie group, although he feels his exceptionalism. He may think outside their box, but he is not immune to the narrow yet competitive group think. Bateman’s signature song, “Not a common man,”is not presented without irony. His secretary, Jean (Jennifer Damiano), believes she knows and understands him, perhaps because she is in love with him.

Helene Yorke and Morgan Weed. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Helene Yorke and Morgan Weed. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Bateman’s girlfriend, Evelyn Williams (Helene Yorke) and her  best friend, Courtney Lawrence (Morgan Weed), like most of Bateman’s circle, stay in the shallow-end.  Their thoughts are aptly expressed in musical numbers like “At the end of an Island” or, for the boys in the crew, “Hardbody.”

Benjamin Walker and the men of American Psycho. Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Benjamin Walker and the men of American Psycho. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

 

 

Walker carries the show, narrating, singing and dancing, with gusto and revealing inner turmoil even in his physicality. His crazy has many layers and a great deal of subtlety. Lynne Page’s choreography gives this character’s meltdown a palpable reality.

A standout in the large cast, which includes Alice Ripley in a few smallish roles, is Drew Moerlein as Bateman’s nemesis, Paul Owen. Moerlein’s superb dance moves and aggressiveness inspire and challenge Bateman to ever greater combativeness. Rupert Goold directs the ensemble through the darkness in American Psycho with a light touch.

Is it ironic that the minimalist-in-the-extreme sets, by Es Devlin, were one of the two TONY nominations that American Psycho garnered? The other nomination was for Justin Townsend’s dynamic lighting. The hardrocking star, who really should have gotten a nod, got no recognition.

On the face of it, a musicalization of American Psycho begs a “what were they thinking?” On the stage, that question is answered by an uncompromisingly entertaining production.

For more informaton, and tickets, visit the AP-The Musical website.

**The first to fall to underwhelming TONY nominations, AP The Musical experienced losses of over 8million dollars for its backers. RIP, Patrick etal.