Posted in theater

Who will win at the 2016 Tonys?


My TONY predictions are up for debate and parley: what do you think?
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 2-hander, comedy, drama, musical theater, theater

Can’t stop making lists

Once you start making lists, it becomes a habit, an obsession, perhaps, and so you continue listing what’s good. Unlike the other lists we posted recently, this one is in anticipation. 2016 is upon us, and there will be so much more theater in the new year.

  1. Forest Whittaker is coming to the Booth Theatre as Hughie, with previews beginning on February 8th. Whitaker will star alongside Frank Wood, under Michael Grandage’s direction, in Eugene O’Neill’s two-hander.
  2. The Color Purple, starring  Jennifer Hudson–in her Broadway debut– is directed by John Doyle. This revival of the musical is coming to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, and is bringing both Danielle Brooks, and Cynthia Erivo from the British cast.
  3. This spring there’s more O’Neill is headed our way, when the Roundabout presents Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Jessica Lange, Michael Shannon, John Gallagher Jr. and Gabriel Byrne under Jonathan Kent’s direction.
  4. The Public will have a Broadway transfer of last fall’s hit  Eclipsed by Danai Gurira, and starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. Liesl Tommy directs at the Golden, with previews scheduled from February 23rd.
  5. The Roundabout has a Broadway transfer of its own with The Humans moving from the Laura Pels this past season to the Helen Hayes Theatre on January 23rd. Wide critical acclaim (including ours) and an unstoppable creative team and cast helped in the move.
  6. Fiddler on the Roof has begun its previews at the Broadway Theatre. Directed by Bartlett Sher and starring Danny Burstein as Tevye, and Jessica Hecht as his wife Golde, this revival is set to make a new “Tradition.”
  7. Any chance to see Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald together again is one we will grab. Shuffle Along, a musical that revolutionized Broadway back in the ’20’s, is being revamped and redone by George C. Wolfe, with choreography by Savion Glover. The new old musical hits the Music Box Theatre in March.
  8. Rebecca Taichman directs another play by Danai Gurira at Playwrights Horizons, Familiar in February.
  9. Two reasons to love Waitress, the musical version of the movie we saw recently, are the lovely off-beat script and Jessie Mueller who has been brilliant in everything from On A Clear Day… onward to Beautiful for which she won that Tony.
  10. Hanging in from the 2015 lists: On Your Feet! and School of Rock, along with Hamilton, because no list of New York theater is complete without this masterpiece for which we have posted multiple raves also at this site (see here.)
Posted in theater, year end bests

Making the lists

The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.
The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.

Looking back on the year about to pass is a time-honored activity. Critics make lists of the past year’s favorites and share them. Seems like a good time for us to do that, too.

We posted a couple of year end reviews and then realized that neither one was a LIST of our faves for 2015.

So, back to the drawing board for T and B On the Aisle it is:

10! is our number one pick- Hamilton 

9. Something Rotten! 

8. School of Rock- The Musical

7. Hir

6. The Humans

5. Clever Little Lies 

4. On Your Feet! 

3. Fool for Love

2. Dada Woof Papa Hot

and last but not least, Marjorie Prime




Posted in comedy, drama, musical theater, theater

More Year end review: ‘Tis the season…For lists,

Looking back on the year about to pass is a time-honored activity. Critics make lists of the past year’s favorites and share them. Seems like a good time for T and B On the Aisle to do that, too. Part 2:

Fool for Love at MTC kept our attention, especially with Arianda and Rockwell in the lead. Props, also, to their co-stars, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Tom Pelphrey for their support in this Sam Shepard enterprise!  Was I alone in feelng giddy from all the subtle flirtation in Old Times?

Roundabout’s Thérèse Raquin, playing at Studio 54 through January 3rd, while not destined for greatness, is a solid and haunting production.

Clever Little Lies  at the Westside Theatre through January 3rd, is a very dark comedy, with some of the finest performances in town. Greg Mullavey is simply fantastic. Marlo Thomas has impeccable timing.

To complete the list of musicals we started in the Year end review:

The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Dames at Sea, constructed to make us feel like we were at one of those “let’s put on a show” films, succeeds at this conceit. This bit of fluff is definitely cute and the tap dancing is invigorating. Dames at Sea is at the Helen Hayes Theatre through January 3rd.

On Your Feet! will have you standing to dance along to Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s inspiring story.

Posted in based on a true story or event, bio-musical, jukebox musical, musical theater

Get with the conga beat, now

A friend recently said, “Everyone has tragedy in their lives.” He was referring to the Gloria and Emilio Estefan backstory to On Your Feet! in this conversation, which should not be too much of a spoiler for their fans;  there was the terrifying bus accident in 1990, and some other sadness as well in their lives.But Gloria and Emilio’s story is not defined by tragedy.

Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Like their life, and music, On Your Feet!, at the Marquis Theatre through April 3rd,  is about uplift.

On Your Feet! opens with a scene from a concert tour and then flashes back.

With a book by playwright Alexander Dinelaris, On Your Feet! features the music and lyrics of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and music recorded by Miami Sound Machine, 5 of whose members are in the band.

Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe (center) and the cast ofOn Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe (center) and the cast ofOn Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

As On Your Feet!   goes back to tell the tale of Gloria’s beginnings, little Gloria (Alexandria Suarez) sends tapes of songs to cheer her father (Eliseo Roman), who is stationed in Vietnam. As she grows up, Gloria (Ana Villafañe) is still singing, and taking care of the household while her mother, Gloria Fajardo (the always excellent Andréa Burns), goes off to school. Gloria’s grandmother, Consuelo (Alma Cuervo) was her biggest booster, urging her to practice her guitar.

he Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
he Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Keeping the beat in upbeat, it’s the songs and the dancing, with a strong script, that are the big draw here. On Your Feet! features many fabulous dance numbers, performed by the energetic and nimble corps, but none is more impressive than one danced in wooden sandals.

Choreographer Sergio Trujillo gives the ensemble, headed by dance captains Natalie Caruncho and Hector Maisonet, plenty to show off. Also impressive is the young Eduardo Hernandez (in all the young boy roles) who gets to show off his “America’s Got Talent” talents and demonstrate why he won the 2014 Latin Dance Cup. The actors, led by the lovely and ebullient Ana Villafañe as Gloria, are all transcendent.

On Your Feet! benefits from the imaginative sets of David Rockwell, who uses scrims, and moving screens, as part, but not all, of the stylish scene-making. ESosa’s costumes are lush, colorful and varied, helping to create the timeline of the Estefans’ narrative. Director Jerry Mitchell seamlessly brings together all the elements that make On Your Feet! such a crowd-winning pleasure.

Linedy Genao, Ana Villafane & Jennifer Sanchez in !On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Linedy Genao, Ana Villafane & Jennifer Sanchez in On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

The Estefans, Emilio (Josh Segarra) and Gloria,   Cuban immigrants who met in Miami, made disco their own from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Performing originally as the Miami Sound Machine and then as Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, the group disbanded except for a brief reunion in 2002. Gloria went on as a solo artist, with Emilio as her producer; over the years they have together won 26 GRAMMY Awards®.

On Your Feet! is a grand time, and not just for fans of disco and MSM but for anyone who likes a good musical. On Your Feet! is fortunate in having an intrinsically moving story for its wonderful cast to tell through its well-honed plot and exuberant music/dance.

For more information and tickets, please visit