Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018-19 Broadway/Off-Broadway Forecast

The Tony Awards have been handed out and the 2017-18 New York theater season has drawn to a close. The big winners were The Band's Visit and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Band swept the evening with a near-record ten wins including Best Musical (only two shows The Producers and Hamilton have won more). Harry Potter took six accolades including Best Play and most of the design categories. Because Band played Off-Broadway last season it was ineligible for all the other theater awards this season. The Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle went for SpongeBob SquarePants while the New York Drama Critics Circle opted to give no award for Best Musical. The NYDCC and Drama Desk skipped over Harry Potter to name Off-Broadway plays, Mary Jane and Admissions respectively, the best of the season.

Will the next Broadway season be similarly lean? We can expect another pseudo-jukebox/diva musical and some of the straight plays will be Off-Broadway transfers such as Choir Boy and Second Stage's Torch Song as well as hits from London (The Ferryman, The Nap). Cher (in the fall) and Michael Jackson (in 2020) will follow Donna Summer in the latest trend as subjects of bio-musicals.
Cher is the subject of an
upcoming B'way musical

There will be a few new American plays such as American Son with Kerry Washington and Steve Pasquale as an estranged interracial couple waiting in a police station for news of their missing son. The Lifespan of a Fact will star Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, and Bobby Cannavale. The play is based on the real-life controversy surrounding an essay about the suicide of a Las Vegas teen.

Comedy legend Elaine May will make her first official onstage Broadway appearance since her comedy act with Mike Nichols played the Golden Theater in 1960. May headlines a revival of Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery at the same theater in the role which won Eileen Heckart an Obie and a Drama Desk Award. Michael Cera and Lucas Hedges co-star. Sidenote: I said "official" because according to, May starred in a forgotten comedy called The Office, which only ran 10 preview performances and closed before opening in 1966. It sounds like a fascinating flop. The script was written by Maria Irene Fornes, the multiple Obie winning playwright (this is her only Broadway credit) and directed by Jerome Robbins. The supporting cast included Tony Lo Bianco, Doris Roberts and Jack Weston.
Elaine May

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

DeNiro, Trump and Tony Awards

Robert De Niro at the Tony Awards
It had been one of the better Tony Awards in recent memory. The hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were funny and charming, and not the disastrous Kevin Spacey of the year before or the over used Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. The pop duo even wrote their own original musical material. The numbers from the nominated musicals showcased their respective shows with wit and precision. Acceptance speeches were short and the orchestra cut-offs were ruthless at times--Harry Potter playwright Jack Thorne did not get to speak at all, but mostly winners appropriately thanked their colleagues. Any political messages were subtle and not obscene or blatant. In one stunningly moving sequence, drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who had suffered through a horrific school shooting sang "Seasons of Love" from Rent to honor their teacher for winning a special Tony Award. Nobody carried a Gun Control protest sign or pointed out that two years ago the Tonys were overshadowed by the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre. The kids singing got the message across.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Updated Tony Predix

Ethan Slater in SpongeBob SquarePants
Credit: Joan Marcus
Last minute Tony predictions/updates for tonight at 8PM on CBS:

I am leaving all the major categories as they were in my last post EXCEPT I am changing Best Actor in a Musical from Tony Shalhoub in The Band's Visit to Ethan Slater in Spongebob. Slater won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards and I hear Shalhoub has missed some performances to film The Amazing Ms. Maisel for Amazon. This is the closest race of the evening. I voted for Joshua Henry from Carousel for Tony, DD and Outer Critics and i hope he wins, but I have a feeling the Tony voters will reward Slater's eccentric, athletic performance.

Other categories:
Orchestrations: Carousel
Scenic Design (Musical): My Fair Lday
Scenic Design (Play): Harry Potter
Costume Design (Musical): My Fair Lady
Costume Design (Play): Harry Potter
Lighting Design (Musical): The Band's Visit
Lighting Design (Play): Harry Potter
Sound Design (Musical): The Band's Visit
Sound Design (Play): Harry Potter.