Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 Tony Nominations! 3 Surprises I Love!

(We got your nominees right here!!)

The Tony Nominations came out on Tuesday and overall I was very excited by the nominees. There are some really phenomenal performances and first-time nominees that deserve recognition. Now, not everyone I know has been super-thrilled with this Broadway season's offerings. I can kinda understand - there have been a few disappointments. While there were some very strong new musicals and musical revivals, we were missing a lot of break out straight plays. That's not to say there wasn't a lot of strong work being done, but last year we had "Clybourne Park" and "Other Desert Cities and "Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Venus In Fur" all of which were very buzz-worthy shows in their own right. There's nothing wrong with this year's crop, but despite some mild controversy over "Testament of Mary" and super-popularity of Tom Hanks in "Lucky Guy," the new productions of plays don't really force you to take notice that they're there. Similarly, there were some real head scratching misfires in the play revival category with "Glengarry, Glen Ross" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," both of which had high-wattage stars that just fell very flat. So it's been an uneven season overall. But we're not here to focus on that. It's the TONYS! And there's a lot to celebrate! There were some fun unexpected nominees as well! Here are my 3 favorite surprises of this year's Tony nominations:

(Stealing that extra bow!)

1) Bring It On and Christmas Story Get Best Musical Nods! Okay, so the race between who is actually going to win Best Musical is really going to be between "Matilda" and "Kinky Boots" - as it was long destined to be. It was up in the air, however, as to who the other nominees would be. It could've been super-popular "Motown" or the more recent and well-reviewed "Hands On A Hardbody," but instead Tony voters looked back a littler earlier in the season and chose to recognize "Bring It On" and "A Christmas Story." Obviously, I'm partial to Bring It On due to my friendship with LMM, so I'm thrilled to see his work recognized, but I actually think BIO is a really fun and exciting show with a strong score and featured a terrific ensemble. It's great that the production as a whole is recognized here, as well as Andy's extraordinary choreography in that category. And while I didn't get to see Christmas Story in its limited holiday run, everyone I know who saw it thought it was really great, and I'm happy for the writing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose score from "Dogfight" I also really enjoyed this past year. Speaking of which, that leads me to....

(The lady in the middle is a first time nominee!)

2) All first-time nominees in the Original Score category! It's always fun to see fresh voices get recognized at the Tonys and this year everyone's here for the first time! Not only that, but 3 of the 4 are making their Broadway debut! Amanda Green, who worked with Trey Anastasio on Hands on a Hardbody, has other Broadway credits, but this is her first nomination. I got into a conversation with a friend over Facebook about whether or not it bothered people that all the original musical nominees this season are adapted from pre-existing material. It doesn't bother me this year, because all the musicals are good. And some of the people adapting this material into original musicals have won Tonys and Pulitzers in the past for completely original musicals. So it's not like it doesn't happen. But it's hard. Certainly, I lament the practice of trying to turn any and every non-musical movie into a musical stage show just to capitalize on it being a property already familiar to audiences. I wish people with money would instead invest in the musical theater writers who are trying to create something fresh and new instead of, you know, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days: The Musical! But I don't have a problem with adapting a story that's been told in one medium and translating it to another. There are a lot of movie-to-musical clunkers out there, but when it's done right, they should be celebrated! ENJOY GOOD THEATER, and don't worry if it's adapted from a book or a movie, I say! Artists should create what they are inspired to create, whether it's an original idea or a new spin on an old tale. I'm really excited for all these first time nominees and can't wait to see which one of them adds Tony Winner to their resume!

(Patina finds her light thanks to K.Pos)

3) Kenneth Posner vs. Kenneth Posner vs Kenneth Posner vs.... Hugh Vanstone. Kenneth Posner sure gets around town. He received THREE nominations for lighting design on three different musicals - Pippin, Cinderella and Kinky Boots. His work is stunning so there's no mistaking why he's in such high demand. But can he WIN? The only competition standing in his way is Hugh Vanstone, nominated for Matilda. Will Posner split his vote three ways, allowing Hugh to sneak in and take home the trophy?? How weird must it be to have 75% of the nominations locked up in your name and still maybe miss out? Obviously, Posner's not gonna be short on work regardless. Still I'll be very amused how this category plays out. As Jesse Tyler Ferguson deadpanned when he read out the nominations, "Good luck, Hugh..."

Congrats to all the nominees! And to all the cast members giving it their all on stage 8 times a week, even if they didn't get a nomination. Tony Season is an exciting time of year here in New York. If you're living here or just visiting NYC, go catch a new Broadway show before the Tonys! Then watch what happens at the ceremony on CBS Sunday June 9th!

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