An Opinion Piece: Tony Predictions 2016

As we say, it’s only one person’s opinion, and a few categories are going to take each other to task, but there are still some things that we can probably say for certain.

Hamilton broke records left and right this season, including the 16 nominations it got from the award committee. I think the show will definitely dominate the majority of categories, but I’m not sure if it will go for a clean sweep like I’ve seen a lot of people say.

As far as shows with multiple nominees in the same categories, I feel Hamilton may surprise us and see Leslie Odom Jr. go home with the Best Leading Actor award, and Best Featured Actor is a toss up.

Noises Off I think will see the Best Featured Actress award go home with Megan Hilty, as Andrea Martin is still a newcomer and Hilty has been a favorite in recent years.

A View From The Bridge might pull off all tech awards it was nominated for, and The Crucible may pull in an acting nod for Sophie Okonedo, but A View will win more out of the two of them.

I predict Eclipsed getting a lot of attention as well, for both technical and acting, although I’m unsure about whether or not Liesl Tommy will come home with the Best Direction award. Both A View From The Bridge and Long Day’s Journey Into Night have been reviewed really favorably in that direction.

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I get the feeling that the opening number is going to feature riffs on James Corden shows and will most definitely poke fun at the Into The Woods movie. Host Neil Patrick Harris hadn’t starred in Hedwig by the time that he hosted, and last year saw ribbing of Kristin Chenoweth’s time in Wicked, so I think his roles are also fair game. The ceremony did the same with the Les Miserables movie a few years ago, and as someone who didn’t care for the Into The Woods movie, I’m looking forward to some laughs.

With the American Theatre Wing’s push for the recognition of diversity this season, I think onversations on the red carpet and off are going to focus heavily on diversity across all spectrums, though some conversation about “Tony can you hear me” may come up as another year passes without the sound awards.

PLAY:

Best: Eclipsed
Best Revival: Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Best Actor Leading: Mark Strong (A View From The Bridge)
Best Actor Feature: Reed Birney (The Humans)
Best Actress Leading: Jessica Lange (Long Day’s Journey Into Night)
Best Actress Feature: Pascale Armand (Eclipsed)
Best Direction: Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed)
Best Scenic Design: Jan Versweyveld (A View From The Bridge)
Best Lighting Design: Jan Versweyveld (The Crucible)
Best Costume Design: Clint Ramos (Eclipsed)

 

MUSICAL:

Best: Hamilton
Best Revival: The Color Purple
Best Actor Leading: Leslie Odom Jr.
Best Actor Feature: Daveed Diggs (Hamilton)
Best Actress Leading: Jessie Meuller (Waitress)
Best Actress Feature: Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
Best Direction: Michael Arden (Spring Awakening)
Best Book: Shuffle Along (George C. Wolfe)
Best Original Score: Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Best Scenic Design: Es Devlin and Finn Ross (American Psycho)
Best Lighting Design: Howell Binkley (Hamilton)
Best Costume Design: Ann Roth (Shuffle Along)
Best Choreography: Savion Glover (Shuffle Along)
Best Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton)

“Based On”: Broadway’s Adaptation Addiction

Some years, as with the shift between revivals and new shows, adaptations swarm the eligibility lists. Depending on the source material, adaptations can either feel contrived or give the audience something completely new and profound. Personally, I lean on the side of original work as I feel it better expands the industry and keeps it fresh.

However, adaptations are never something that should be ruled out, because how else would we have ended up with the hits of Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera- both of which were novels before they came to the stage? These may be poor examples however, as these two stories have seen a multitude of adaptations over the years with all kinds of media. Perhaps here, it was the passage of time that led to these specific adaptations being well received. Les Miserables was published by Victor Hugo in 1862, and the musical first debuted on the West End in 1985. Gaston Leroux published The Phantom of the Opera in 1909, and it wasn’t until 1986 that Phantom came to the stage.

The current trend seems to be to snatch plots up as soon as they premiere elsewhere and work on transferring them to the stage. It’s not only Broadway that’s fallen prey to this- The Hunger Games from page to screen, and Star Wars from screen to graphic novel are some recent examples.

It feels like a different game when producers adapt things for the stage, especially if they become musicals for one simple reason: there was no music in Victor Hugo’s novel before Schonberg and Boublil put it there. So what about this season’s adaptations? Of the 5 eligible this year, all have been nominated for awards.

13693-3School of Rock: originally a 2003 film starring Jack Black, this production incorporates music from film and adds new songs as well. Changes to have been made to characters,  names, and plot points. Critics gave generally favorable reviews, but many have asked-what does adaptation add to the plot that the movie didn’t? Personally, I view this as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s scramble to make another hit after the Love Never Dies disaster. The show seems fun with great leads in Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess, but much like Rock of Ages before it, it doesn’t seen like anyone was clamoring for this story to be re-told, especially as the movie is still generally recent. Received 4 nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

14295-3Tuck Everlasting: originally a book published in 1975 and then adapted into the 2002 film, the source material obviously contains no music. The production clearly injects musical numbers and manages to weave plot lines unique to book and film. The show had some star power in the form of Terrance Mann and Andrew Keenan-Bolger, but it’s been largely ignored by the award committee. Reviews here were favorable, but the show closed just this past week. The score is whimsical, and the injection of music gives light to the story’s fairytale aesthetic, but I believe the production as a whole wasn’t hard-hitting enough in a season full of Eclipseds and Hamiltons. I think if this would have opened alongside Mary Poppins and Once in lighter seasons it would have fared better. Received a nomination for Best Costume Design.

ap_ogAmerican Psycho: originally a book published in 1991 and then 2000 film starring Christian Bale, this production also poses as a cross between horror and black comedy. It draws heavily on book material and the 1980’s setting to influence music choices. The show opened first on the West End in 2013 and has received favorable reviews for both productions. Here’s another show largely ignored by the nomination committee, but since 2013 has already become a “cult classic”. None of the violence is toned down, so a la Sweeney Todd, many don’t have the palette for it, which is why I think it’s been largely ignored. Music and lyrics are by Duncan Sheik, who’s Spring Awakening also received few nominations for it’s revival this season. Received two nominations for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design.

miseryMisery: originally a book published by Stephen King in 1987 and then 1990 film, this production is the only nominated or eligible staged adaptation that is a play, which is down from recent years. Though the film earned Kathy Bates an Academy Award, this show had mixed reviews. The star power of Bruce Willis couldn’t save this production, though perhaps some of this is due to the writing. The novel has already been adapted into two different plays, and to me, a third version feels like this was staged largely just to capitalize on the star power available. This show was also largely ignored by committee, with Laurie Metcalf garnering the only attention for her role as Annie Wilkes, same as Kathy Bates in 1990. Received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

14665-3Waitress: originally a 2007 film, the source material is a largely cult hit, and as most of the others, has no music. The production draws heavily from source material but manages to inject and original score by Sara Bareilles, who is a Grammy-winning artist. The film was critically acclaimed, and the show received mixed to positive reviews. Here’s another show that pulled in less nominations than everyone expected, including myself. Personally, I think the opening ran too close to the eligibility cutoff to have full stock taken, however it may be the same case as Tuck Everlasting. Though containing some gritty subject matter, the show is on the lighter side of the spectrum and maybe would have benefitted in the nominations corner had it opened a few years previous. However, no plans have been made to close the show while other eligible shows this season have already had their last run. Received four nominations for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Actor in a Featured Role.

At the end of the day, this year has seen new works dominate both the eligibility rankings and the nominations themselves, but that is not always the case. Some of the longest running shows currently on Broadway are adaptations: The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom, etc. These three shows garnered heavy attention from the nomination committee when they premiered, so perhaps the attention from the Tonys give shows the boost they need to last beyond premiere season.

However, I feel that writers can’t keep making it in the business if there’s nothing fresh to write. If every story goes through the adaptation saga disregarding parodies, what’s going to constitute a success in the industry? Theatre has historically been such an outlet for original work and creatives that didn’t fit into the entertainment mold, I would hate to see it become more commercialized than it already is. While I appreciate the attention that these large-scale adaptation successes have brought to the theatre community, I never want the industry to lose the original creative spark that drew so many of us to the theatre.

MITM Musing: Of your favorite shows, are any adaptations? If you could pick literally anything to see an adaptation of, what would it be? Any predictions as far as how these adaptations will fare at the Tonys?

#TonysSoDiverse

In the wake of the 2016 Academy Awards and the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, many are looking to the Tonys this season as a potential beacon of light in the way of diversity.

Now, this isn’t to say that this season is the be-all-end-all for diverse stage works, and I know, like most other theatre fans, that the Tonys have had the same discriminatory history as the Academy Awards and the Emmys. But, when all four major acting awards in the musical camp could be won by actors of color, some credit is still due.

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Shuffle Along

Out of all of the eligible plays and musicals this season, 9 out of 36 staged central plots involving characters of color as the protagonists, and another 6 featured actors of color in general major and supporting roles. Again, the majority of focus is still spent on white stories and actors, but when I think about what the eligibility list looked like even 10 years ago, this is a step in the right direction.

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The cast of Waitress: The Musical

Though many shows featuring diverse casts were eligible, there were some shocking nominations left by the wayside in favor of less diverse works.

Allegiance, which opened to great critical reviews and starring the likes of Lea Salonga and George Takei, received no nominations from the awards committee. Before the announcement ceremony, I was sure that the musical would at least earn some acting nominations, as well as perhaps a costume nod or best book nomination. What was nominated in it’s place was not just surprising to me, but to a lot of people.

Having listened to the soundtrack and knowing that the story was based on George Takei’s own experiences with the Japanese-American WWII internment camps, Allegiance was a story previously left untold in an industry (and country for that matter) that largely ignores the narratives of Asian-Americans. Besides Philippa Soo in Hamilton, no other Asian-American actor or creative received a nomination. I may risk repeating myself, but there is still clear work to be done when it comes to nominations as well as the stories created on Broadway.

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George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung in Allegiance

But, one thing I have noticed is the diversity in the creative fields, as well as diversity beyond race. This season saw women of color (Danai Gurira and Liesl Tommy) nominated for directing, and writing (Eclipsed). Clint Ramos’ nomination for costume design, Sergio Trujillo’s nod for choreography, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recognition for book and original score shone a well deserved light on the men of the Latino community.

Across the board, women of all races have been nominated in almost every creative category, from Sara Bareilles for original score, to Ann Roth in costume design, to Natasha Katz and Peggy Eisenhauer with their respective nods for lighting design. Michael Arden, a member of the LGBTQ community, garnered a best director nomination, and though his revival of Spring Awakening received no specific acting nods, it was still nominated for best revival. This means that for the first time, an actress in a wheelchair and an ensemble of deaf actors has been recognized by the awards committee.

It’s clear to see that the trend of recognizing and awarding diversity is on the upward climb and has been placed in the spotlight. Even with just the nominations, the course is set in the right direction, and I hope that the award ceremony itself continues on this path. Here’s to hoping that the next few seasons will offer even more.

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Jennifer Hudson and Cybthia Erivo in The Color Purple

The Crucible: Re-staging a classic for the 21st century

Arguably the most prolific of Arthur Miller’s works, The Crucible has become and English class staple. I’ve both read it and seen it performed, as has a large majority of high school students across the country.

This Tony season, The Crucible is one of two Arthur Miller works produced and nominated (A View From The Bridge is the other). Both are undertaken by director Ivo Van Hove, a first time Tony nominee. The trend this awards season has seen revivals earning significantly less nominations than the original productions, but The Crucible has proved an exception to this rule. The original production only garnered 2 nominations, but this production has received 4.

With such an iconic story, how did Van Hove bring The Crucible into the 21st century? The simple answer is by keying up the metaphors and scaling down the period accuracy.

As someone who is generally skeptical of “modernized” productions, this revival of The Crucible turned the notion of watered down and palatable modernization on its head. Anyone who is familiar with the recent cinematic release of The Witch knows that the horror isn’t in the thing that jumps out at you from the shadows, it’s the thing that you can’t see at all.

Even from looking at production photos, it’s clear that Van Hove took the historical accuracy of stage and costume design in the opposite direction. The cast is clad in monochrome clothing, suggesting something between a dystopian future and the modern era. The set is much the same, the only clear difference being the wall (and “chalkboard”) used for projections.

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What I believe Van Hove aims to do in stripping down the production is to draw attention to the central conflict rather than let the audience be lost in the setting of Salem. The Crucible was built as an allegory for the McCarthyism “red scare” trials, and this production reminds us of the habit of the human mind to mold it’s own with hunts.

By giving this simple lens, I received the message that this conflict could arise anywhere, and it has. From with trials, to the red scare, to the war on terror, a human’s greatest enemy is the unknown. The determination to make an enemy where there is not one is a horror story in itself, one that is reflected in the plight of Abigail Williams and the people of Salem.

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Saoirse Ronan makes her Broadway debut as Williams here, and Ben Wishaw stars as John Proctor, the protagonist. At first glance, the softness and gentle acting of Wishaw makes for a curious choice for the strong-willed farmer, but it proves to be a strong choice. Sophie Okenedo (nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Play) stars as Elizabeth Proctor, and the difference between Okenedo’s fierce Elizabeth and Wishaw’s John sheds new light on two characters turned archetypes.

John Proctor has long been played as the steadfast man, absolute in the face on conflict, his affair with Abigail Williams the one blight on his character. I appreciate Wishaw in this role for the simple fact that he plays Proctor as more complex than that. His resolution is quiet, and in this state, we’re able to see how his slip into temptation was possible. In contrast is Elizabeth, who Okenedo allows to be strong-willed without dipping into shrill stereotypes. I find myself understanding the divide between husband and wife with this characterization, and it makes their reconciliation deeper and more believable.

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I feel that what Van Hove has managed to do with The Crucible is to breathe life into an old classic, but without all of the tradition that may have weighed it down. Arthur Miller ensured his work would be timeless simply through the power of his writing, but this production of The Crucible has taken the plot out of time to remind the audience of the limits of human rationality and the honors of conviction.


 

The Crucible is also nominated for Best Lighting Design of a Play (Jan Versweyveld) and Best Featured Actor in a Play (Bill Camp).


 

MITM Musings: If you’re familiar with The Crucible, how would you take to a non-traditional production like this one? For better or worse, the modernization of works has become a massive trend in recent years- would you rather see more of this or just stick to the way the classics were produced?

Why Eclipsed is making Tony history and breaking glass ceilings

Nominated for 6 Tony Awards this season, Eclipsed truly is one of a kind. Penned by Danai Gurira of The Walking Dead fame and starring Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed offers something completely unique to both the Tonys and current stage politics: and all female cast and female lead creatives.

Last year the team behind Fun Home made history as the first female writing team to win for Best Original Score. That revelation took a lot of people off-guard, including myself. However, it came as no surprise to me that Eclipsed premiered at The Public Theater, where Fun Home and Hamilton also launched. The Public, along with a good portion of Off-Broadway theatres have become hubs for diverse stage work, and have slowly been pushing that trend towards larger Broadway stages.

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In recent years, the move and trend towards diversity in stage work  has been bumpy to say the least, but Eclipsed offers yet another milestone- not only are the cast all women, but they are all women of color. This extends to the creative team too, where all members are either a person of color or female, something almost completely unheard of on Broadway either historically or currently.

The show itself is based in Liberia during the country’s still ongoing civil war. Four of the women featured are all wives of a rebel general who’s lives are turned upside down when a new wife is brought to the compound.

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Rather than focus on the war at large, Gurira chose to focus on those it still affects most: the women captives, the wives of war, and female soldiers. I discovered that Gurira wrote the script after research and a trip to Liberia, where she interviewed women who would become the basis for her characters. These women have been captured by Liberian rebel forces and forced to become soldier wives to strengthen the rebel cause. Many are raped and assaulted, all are held hostage.

Read about Danai Gurira’s trip: here

This tie to reality allowed me to become completely engrossed in the script, as the women struggle to live, hope for peace, and find comfort in each other. Often times, scripts fall prey to the “strong woman” stereotype, but the way that Gurira writes these characters and Liesl Tommy directs them never feels contrived. The conflict that the protagonists face feels real because it is literally rooted in reality.

Many critics have pointed to Eclipsed as revolutionary because the voice it gives to the unheard, and I have to agree. All female casts are rare enough, but combined with this subject matter puts the play in another league. Both Gurira and Tommy are African born, and their passion for African women and their voices is clear. They say, and I agree, that shining a light on the Liberian struggle through performance allows audiences to access the hardships in a more meaningful way.

Having only read the script and not seen a full performance, I can only comment about the writing of Danai Gurira and direction of Liesl Tommy, but the acting nominations point to a strong cast as well.

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Lupita Nyong’o already has an Academy Award for her work in 12 Years A Slave, so her nomination for Leading Actress here seems to reflect her ability. Also nominated in the acting categories are Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh for Featured Actress. Clint Ramos is also nominated for Costume Design.

Out of all Tony eligible new plays, Eclipsed has the most nominations (tied with The Humans at 6 each). Movie, television, and theatre critics alike have historically pointed to the lack of female driven performances and reasoned that the gap exists because these pieces aren’t engaging or entertaining. Eclipsed has provided the next brick in the wall of female driven performances, and with 6 nominations and critical acclaim, it is a strong brick indeed.

Spring Awakening and the Evolution of the Language of Theatre

Originally staged in 2006, Spring Awakening is actually based on a 19th century play of the same name. From that base, Duncan Sheik created a rock opera about the struggles of 19th century German teens which rang true enough with modern audiences to garner 11 Tony nominations. This time around it’s only received 3. So what sparked this re-staging, and how does a critically acclaimed revival get so little attention from the Tony Awards?

Deaf West, the company who revived Spring Awakening, is housed in San Francisco, and their mission is directly attached to their name. Composed primarily of actors who are deaf or hearing impaired, Deaf West incorporates American Sign Language into their performances. Michael Arden (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Bare, Big River) felt that at it’s heart, Spring Awakening was about the dangers of miscommunication. Much of the conflict in the script is due to the divide between the struggling teens and the adults who refuse to listen.

Michael Arden and Deaf West felt that what better way to intensify that gap than to layer in a language divide between the characters?

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The revival of Spring Awakening features 8 deaf actors, 8 hearing actors, and 7 on-stage musicians. Every line of dialogue and lyrics are accompanied by American Sign Language. But how does this affect audience members who do not understand the language?

It’s a simple concept, and yet fits in another layer of metaphor: every deaf actor also has a “voice”, who is an on-stage musician. The hearing actor speaks and sings for the deaf actor while they sign.

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Wendla Bergman (Sandra Mae Frank) and her “voice” (Katie Boeck).

While this may sound somewhat chaotic, it intensifies the feelings of Moritz and Wendla, both played by deaf actors. They, most of all, feel lost, and though Wendla can sign to her mother and her mother can sign back, there is still a disconnect between parent and child. In the opening scene as Wendla’s mother struggles to explain to Wendla where babies truly come from, Wendla looks to her “voice” actor to help her make her mother understand her desire for knowledge and maturity. The audience grasps immediately this lack of communication will lead to conflict down the line.

The only actor of the company who does not use sign language in any fashion is the headmaster of the boys school. His lines of dialogue are projected onto the chalkboard instead. The reason for his lack of conformity becomes clear- he attempts to mold the boys into the school’s version of adept students and adults, with no room for deviation.

Watch a trailer for the revival opening: HERE

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This revival is the first to feature deaf actors on the Broadway stage, as well as a cast member who utilizes a wheelchair (not hearing impaired). Michael Arden has been nominated for Best Director, and the production itself has garnered a Best Revival of a Musical nomination. So why has it missed so many potential nominations?

Opinions are splintered, but the leading thought is that it’s due to the 2015-2016 season was absolutely flooded with new productions. And this is true- only 5 out of the potential 16 eligible musicals were revivals this season.

So many have asked, was Spring Awakening simply overpowered by the bombshells of Hamilton and Shuffle Along? Or did critics simply like the original staging more?

If the former is true, it once again raises the question of just how many of the award categories need to be separate? As it stands currently aside from the separations of play and musical, only Best Musical/Best Revival of a Musical are separate. The trend in recent years has seen the nominations swing in the direction of the majority, either revivals or originals. The work it takes to produce and original show vs. a revival contain far different components, so maybe it’s time for the administration committee to ask themselves why they largely compete for the same awards?

Finally, if the latter is true, then once again the opinion of the public and the critics are split. Audiences saw to it that this production of Spring Awakening was highly profitable, so much so that a National Tour has been announced for 2017. So it seems that the audience’s opinion is currently the one that matters.

MITM Musings: So which line of thought do you think is the most valid? And if you had the chance, would you like to see a Deaf West performance?

 

A Deeper Look At The Special Tony Awards

Every Award season, the Tony Awards voting committee gives four “Special” Tony Awards. Often, these are the first awards to be decided, and most are granted before the actual televised ceremony.

So what are these awards, and how can someone be qualified for them?


 

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre

The longest-running non-competitive Tony, this award was established in 1947 and has been awarded consistently into the present season.

This award is largely presented to individuals in recognition of their “body of lifetime work”, although some partners and groups have also won the award. Most recipients are still living upon receiving this award, but many are given posthumously, as was the case with Brock Pemberton in 1950 (as the co-founder of the American Theatre Wing).

2016 recipients:

Sheldon Harnick (Songwriter, librettist, composer)

Marshall W. Mason (Founding Artistic Director: Circle Repertory Company, director)

 

Past recipients:

1970: Barbara Streisand (Star Of The Decade)

1999: Arthur Miller (Lifetime Achievement)

2008: Stephen Sondheim (Lifetime Achievement in Theatre)

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Mandy Patankin accepting on behalf of Sondheim at the 62nd Tony Awards


 

Regional Theatre Tony Award

Initially given in 1948, this Tony became an established award in 1976 and is given to regional theatres that display “outstanding productions and promotion of theatrical arts.” This award is the only to include a monetary prize, which amounts to a $25,000 grant.

The established goal of this award is to promote the creation of new theatre, and no theatre has ever won the award twice. The most common theatre types to win the award are repertory theatres and Shakespeare companies.

2016 Recipient:

Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey)

 

Past recipients:

1997: Berkeley Repertory Theatre

2008: Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Winner at the 62nd Tony Awards


 

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

This award is named for the late president of the American Theatre Wing, Isabelle Stevenson, and is the youngest of the Special Tonys, first being awarded in 2009.

The Isabelle Stevenson Tony is given to “an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre.”

2016 Recipient:

Brian Stokes Mitchell (for his work with The Actors Fund)

 

Past recipients:

2013: Larry Kramer for his work as one of the founders of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

2014: Rosie O’Donnell for her work and commitment to arts education in New York City Public Schools

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Rosie O’Donnell accepting her award at the 68th Tony Awards


 

Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre

Created in 1990, this award  was designed to recognize “institutions, individuals, or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre” but who are not eligible to compete in any of the current competitive Tony Award categories.

2016 Recipients:

Seth Gelblum (Theatre and Entertainment Lawyer)

Joan Lader (Vocal Coach)

Sally Ann Parsons (Costume Design/Tech)

 

Past recipients:

1993: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids

1995: National Endowment For The Arts

2013: Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro, the four actresses who share the lead in Matilda: the Musical (awarded jointly to all four girls)

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“The Four Matildas” after their Matilda: The Musical medley at the 67th Tony Awards

 

“But Where Is The Award For Best Sound Design?” And Other Award Vacancies

In recent years, the debate for against including sound in the Tony technical awards has looked like a tug of war.

Only created in 2008, sound design was the youngest Tony Award until 2014, when the organization decided to pull the plug- quite literally. Unless reinstated, sound design will remain the shortest lived award in Tony history. But many sound designers and members of the technical theatre community continue to put up a fight.

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Brian Ronan accepting the 2014 Best Sound Design of a Musical Award. Received for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”

Every other major award show includes a category for excellence in sound design (this includes the Oscars, Grammy, etc.) but the Tony Awards were last on this train. The reason given? The same as why the committee decided to retract the award: the voters and committee don’t understand the craft, and when the award was still included, most voting members chose to forgo voting in the sound design category anyway.

The Tony Administration Committee has since said that they feel sound design is more of a technical award than a theatrical award. To many, this appears more of a lack of understanding than a shift in definitions.

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Hashtag started by the technical theatre community in 2014 after the announcement the Sound Design awards would be discontinued.

It’s been suggested by current West End and Broadway sound designers that Tony Award voters be educated on what to listen and look for with sound design, the same as they would listen to the original music in a play, or score of a musical. The committee has stated their hope to create a Special Tony Award for sound designers- but this would make sound the only “technical” category not included in the main award set.

Read about the committee’s announcement: click here

This has raised the question about what other awards the theatre community feel the Tony Awards have overlooked, and once they’re put in to a list, it may come as a surprise that these categories have never been historically considered.

  • Best Ensemble
  • Best Makeup and Hair Design
  • Best Original Score (Play)

 

MITM Musings: Have you ever thought about any other “missing” awards that could be added to this list?
Do you agree with those who want to add back the award or those who want to create the Special Tony Award?

 

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Tony Nominations: Part 2

And now for the nominated musicals! Rather than wait until our final count, it deserves to be said now that we have a record-breaking season on our hands. Hamilton  has received 16 nominations in 13 categories, making it the first show since The Producers in 2001 and Billy Elliot the Musical in 2009 to earn more than 13 nominations.

The Producers still holds the record for most Tony wins, with 12, making it one of the very few musicals to win every category it was nominated in, and the only to sweep wins all available musical categories. Will Hamilton be on track to break this record as well?

Best Musical:

Bright Star                                                         Hamilton

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School of Rock-The Musical                           Shuffle Along

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Waitress

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Best Revival of a Musical:

The Color Purple                                            Fiddler On The Roof

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She Loves Me                                                  Spring Awakening

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Best Book of a Musical:

Bright Star-
Steve Martin

Hamilton-
Lin-Manuel Miranda

School of Rock-
Julians Fellows

Shuffle Along-
George C. Wolfe

 

Best Original Score:

Bright Star-
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

Hamilton-
Lin-Manuel Miranda

School of Rock-
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater

Waitress-
Sara Bareilles

 

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical:

School of Rock-
Alex Brightman

Fiddler on the Roof-
Danny Burstein

She Loves Me-
Zachary Levi

Hamilton-
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Hamilton-
Leslie Odom Jr.

 

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:

She Loves Me-
Laura Benanti

Bright Star-
Carmen Cusack

The Color Purple-
Cynthia Erivo

Waitress-
Jessie Mueller

Hamilton-
Phillipa Soo

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:

Hamilton-
Daveed Diggs

Hamilton-
Jonathan Groff

Hamilton-
Christopher Jackson

Shuffle Along-
Brandon Victor Dixon

Waitress-
Christopher Fitzgerald

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:

The Color Purple-
Danielle Brooks

Hamilton-
Renee Elise Goldsberry

She Loves Me-
Jane Krakowski

Disaster! The Musical-
Jennifer Simard

Shuffle Along-
Adrienne Warren

 

Best Scenic Design of a Musical:

American Psycho-
Es Devlin and Finn Ross

Hamilton-
David Korins

Shuffle Along-
Santo Loquasto

She Loves Me-
David Rockwell

 

Best Costume Design of a Musical:

Tuck Everlasting-
Gregg Barnes

She Loves Me-
Jeff Mahshie

Shuffle Along-
Ann Roth

Hamilton-
Paul Tazewell

 

Best Lighting Design of a Musical:

Hamilton-
Howell Binkley

Shuffle Along-
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhaur

Spring Awakening-
Ben Stanton

American Psycho-
Justin Townsend

 

Best Direction of a Musical:

Spring Awakening-
Michael Arden

The Color Purple-
John Doyle

She Loves Me-
Scott Ellis

Hamilton-
Thomas Kail

Shuffle Along-
George C. Wolfe

 

Best Choreography:

Hamilton-
Andy Blankenbuehler

Shuffle Along-
Savion Glover

Fiddler on the Roof-
Hofesh Shechter

Dames at Sea-
Randy Skinner

On Your Feet!-
Sergio Trujillo

 

Best Orchestrations:

Bright Star-
August Erikmoen

She Loves Me-
Larry Hochman

Hamilton-
Alex Lacamoire

Shuffle Along-
Daryl Waters

 


 

Final Count

Most nominations: 16- Hamilton (in 13 categories)

10- Shuffle Along

8- She Loves

5- Bright Star

Eligible Musicals with no nominations:

  • Allegiance
  • Amazing Grace

Eligible Musicals with only 1 nomination:

  • Disaster! The Musical
  • On Your Feet!
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Dames At Sea

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