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.

danai-gurira-lupita-nyongo-eclipsed

 

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)

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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.

ascenefromthecrucible_photo_janversweyveld

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.

sophie-okonedo-and-ben-whishaw-in-the-crucible-directed-by-ivo-van-hove-photo-by-jan-versweyveld1-630x420

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?

Tony Nominations: Part 1

The day is finally here: Tony Noms day. For Broadway it’s almost like Christmas in…May? Because the nominations list is long, we’re going to split up our nomination posts- one for the nominated plays and one for the nominated musicals. Up first: the nominated plays!

Best Play:

Eclipsed                                        King Charles III            

eclipsed-102015                                13715-3

 

The Father                                    The Humans 

80651-3                                  the-humans-poster

 

 

Best Revival of a Play:

Blackbird                                                                         The Crucible

blackbird-broadway-logo-e1456797702195                                  14095-3

 

Long Day’s Journey Into Night                                 Noises Off

caoneeswyaavx3e                                      noisesoff

 

A View From The Bridge

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Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Gabriel Bryne

Blackbird-
Jeff Daniels

The Father-
Frank Langella

King Charles III-
Tim Pigott-Smith

A View From The Bridge-
Mark Strong

 

Best Performance of a Leading Actress in a Play:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Jessica Lange

Misery-
Laurie Metcalf

Eclipsed-
Lupita Nyong’o

The Crucible-
Sophie Okonedo

Blackbird-
Michelle Williams

 

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

The Humans-
Reed Birney

The Crucible-
Bill Camp

Noises Off-
David Furr

King Charles III-
Richard Goulding

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Michael Shannon

 

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

Eclipsed-
Pascale Armand

Eclipsed-
Saycon Sengbloh

Noises Off-
Megan Hilty

Noises Off-
Andrea Martin

The Humans-
Jayne Houdyshell

 

Best Scenic Design of a Play:

Thérèse Raquin-
Beowulf Borritt

Hughie-
Christopher Oram

The Humans-
David Zinn

A View From The Bridge-
Jan Versweyveld

 

Best Costume Design of a Play:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Jane Greenwood

Noises Off-
Michael Krass

Eclipsed-
Clint Ramos

King Charles III-
Tom Scutt

 

Best Lighting Design of a Play:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Natasha Katz

The Humans-
Justin Townsend

The Crucible-
Jan Versweyveld

A View From The Bridge-
Jan Versweyveld

 

Best Direction of a Play:

King Charles III-
Rupert Goold

Long Day’s Journey Into Night-
Jonathan Kent

The Humans-
Joe Mantello

Eclipsed-
Liesl Tommy

A View From The Bridge-
Ivo Van Hove

 


 

Final Count

Most nominations:  7 nominations- Long Day’s Journey Into Night

6 nominations- Eclipsed (in 5 categories)

The Humans

5 nominations- King Charles III

A View From The Bridge

Noises Off (in 4 categories)

 

Eligible Plays with no nominations:

  • An Act of God (new)
  • China Doll (new)
  • Our Mother’s Brief Affair (new)
  • Fool For Love (revival)
  • Fully Committed (revival)
  • The Gin Game (revival)
  • Old Times (revival)
  • Sylvia (revival

 

Meet the Eligible Shows (Part 2)

While new material keeps the Broadway season fresh, revivals that breathe new life into classics earn their own award category. Here are the eligible shows that made their return to Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

Able to be entered for Best Revival of a Play:

Blackbird blackbird-broadway-logo-e1456797702195

Written by David Harrower and originally produced in Edinburgh in 2005. Blackbird depicts a “harrowing” look at the relationship of Una and Ray, who meet again 15 years after their illegal relationship when the former was just 12 years old.

Where: Belasco Theatre
Run: March 10 2016-

 

The Crucible 14095-3

Now considered a staple of American theatre, this incarnation of Arthur Miller’s play star Saoirse Ronan and Ben Wishaw. The Crucible centers on the Salem Witch trials and the implications of lost trust, superstition, and the need to humanize evil.

Where: Walter Kerr Theatre
Run: March 31 2016-

 

 

Fool for Love foolforlove

Sam Shepard’s “landmark myth of the new Wild West”, Fool for Love follows two former lovers  stuck in a motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert. They unpack their deepest secrets and struggle with the question of whether they can survive without each other.

Where: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Run: October 8 2015- December 13 2015

 

 

The Gin Game 13941-3

Written by D.L Coburn, this production of The Gin Game is the first to come back to a Broadway stage in almost 50 years. Starring James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson as two retirement home residents, the show stages a battle of wits and passions for both characters, but only one can win the titular game.

Where: John Golden Theatre
Run: October 14 2015- January 10 2016

 

 

 

Hughie thrtrhr

Eugene O’Neill’s classic set on the Great White Way, this production of Hughie stars Forrest Whitaker in the title role. As a “small-time gambler and big-time drinker”, Hughie aspires to hid own American Dream in 1928 New York City.

Where: Booth Theatre
Run: February 25 2016- March 27 2016

 

 

 

Long Day’s Journey Into Night caoneeswyaavx3e

The second Eugene O’Neill play revived this season, Long Day’s Journey Into Night chronicles one family’s escapades over the course of a seemingly ordinary summer day. The production stars Jessica Lange and John Gallagher Jr. as members of the Tyrone family who battle to unearth a lifetime of secrets.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: April 27 2016-

 

Noises Off noisesoff

Originally produced in 1982, this Michael Frayn comedy is a play-within-a-play. The show follows the dress rehearsal and performance of the fictional Nothing On, of which the real audience only gets to view the disastrous Act One as things both on and off stage continue to unravel.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: January 14 2016- March 13 2016

 

 

Old Times oldtimes

Written by Harold Pinter and starring Clive Owen, Old Times tells the tale of the consequences of nostalgia. When an old friend visits couple Deeley and Kate, what “begins as a trip down memory lane” turns into a tension-filled battle for passion and power.

Where: American Airlines Theatre
Run: October 6 2015- November 29 2015

 

Sylvia sylvia

Matthew Broderick stars in this production of A.R. Gurney’s 1995 dramedy. Though played by a human actress, Sylvia is a dog who is adopted by couple Greg and Kate. The show depicts what happens when humans give in to the habit of projecting human motives and characteristics onto our non-human companions.

Where: Cort Theatre
Run: October 27 2015- January 3 2016

 

A View From The Bridge 13824-3

The second Arthur Miller work to spark a revival this season, A View From The Bridge follows Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn laborer, played in this production by Mark Strong. Though he holds family and honor above all else, his possessive love of a niece he and his wife have raised as their own, drives him to actions that betray his family and his ideals.

Where: Lyceum Theatre
Run: November 12 2015- February 21 2016

 

All images and quotes courtesy of: http://www.tonyawards.com

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