Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed on Broadway

Eclipsed

Eclipsed, Danai Gurira’s seering play about 4 women living in captivity during Liberia’s second civil war, is ultimately about power: those who have it, those who don’t, and those who will do anything to get it. It’s a brilliantly written and acted ensemble production that shines a light on important international human rights issues—well worth checking out before it ends its Broadway run on June 19 at the Golden Theatre on 45th Street. The 5-woman cast, performing together in productions both Off-and on Broadway, are a seamless unit of talent, power, and grace.

When the play begins we find 2 women living in squalor in a barely furnished, bullet-riddled hut. We learn they have been kept in captivity, as sexual and domestic slaves, for so long that the maternal older woman known simply as “Wife #1” (Saycon Sengbloh), has no idea how long she’s been there or exactly how old she is. Wife #3 (Pascale Armand), heavily pregnant, is clearly the second banana in this circumscribed world—the less powerful among the powerless. Then, a surprise: a third woman (understudy Ayesha Jordan, at the performance I saw, in for the Tony-nominated, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o) appears from under a large wash tub. She is a gangly 15-year-old girl, kept hidden by the other women to prevent her from falling victim to their fate of sexual servitude to the (offstage) man they refer to as the “C.O.” However, their efforts prove futile: once the girl steps outside the safety of the hut to urinate, she is immediately grabbed and raped by the C.O., becoming Wife #4. The Girl, who grew up in the city, is different from the other women. She has had the benefit of an education and knows how to read and write. Having been forced from her home only recently, she is still able to dream of a life as a constitutional lawyer.

Anyone paying attention will wonder what became of Wife #2. Where is she? Wife #1 speaks of her scornfully. Wife #3 defends her as much as she dares. Our questions are answered when Wife #2 (Zainab Jah) shows up at the hut with an offering: a huge bag of rice for the women. Despite Wife #3’s entreaties, Wife #1 wants no part of either Wife #2 or the rice. We learn that Wife #2 has chosen the only available route out of her sexual enslavement: she has become a fighter in the rebel army. Taut, jittery, and wiry, dressed in fashionable jeans, a machine gun slung across her body, she is all swagger and tough-girl posturing.

As the action unfolds, we see that each character has her own definition of power. For Wife #1, power means being top dog in the small compound, where she rules the roost (or at least Wife #3). Wife #3 gains power by being the C.O.’s favorite sexual plaything and by carrying his unborn child. Wife #2, who now uses the fighter name “Disgruntled,” finds her power by acting like the brutal men who captured and abused her. She convinces The Girl to reclaim her own power by joining her in battle. The Girl realizes too late that to avoid being a victim, she must now become the victimizer, capturing other young girls for the rebel men to use and abuse. Wife #2 rationalizes the brutality, telling her: “The men are beasts and beasts demand to be fed. It’s either you or them.” At the play’s end, The Girl stands frozen, bearing two radically different symbols of power: a gun in one hand, a book in the other. Which will she choose?

A fifth woman, Rita (Akosua Busia), makes occasional visits to the rebel compound. She is a cultured, educated women dressed all in white who is part of a group of women peace activists dedicated to ending the violence. In one of the play’s most heartbreaking scenes, Rita tries to convince Wife #1 that a better life awaits her. She asks Wife #1 about her past, but the memories of her previous life are too painful for Wife #1 to contemplate; she cannot bear even to speak her real name aloud. After much prodding, she finally whispers it to Rita, who shows the illiterate Wife #1 how to spell it out using a stick in the dirt. “Think about what you can be,” she urges. Wife #1 responds despairingly: “I don’t know who I am.” The contrast between the 2 women is striking: Rita’s power lies in her ability to envision a better future through her peacekeeping work, while Wife #1 believes her only power lies in her place within the compound hierarchy.

During her time as a soldier, The Girl takes the name “Mother’s Blessing,” in memory of her own mother—ironic since she is now responsible for wrenching daughters away from their mothers, condemning them to live under unspeakable tyranny. The significance and importance of one’s name is a recurring theme in Eclipsed. As Rita tells Wife #1: “You must never lose your name.” To illustrate the power of names, the cast dedicates each performance to the abducted schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria and to all abducted girls around the world (#knowhername). At the end of the show cast members (and sometimes guests, who have included Nancy Pelosi and Gloria Steinem) announce the names of 2 missing girls and ask the audience to repeat the names out loud. It is a powerful and chilling moment that brings home the reality that the events depicted in Eclipsed continue today, even as the audience sits comfortably in their seats at the Golden Theatre. It is a prime example of how theatre can not only entertain, but be a call to action.

Zimbabwean playwright (Familiar, In the Continuum) and actress (known for her role on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) Gurira developed Eclipsed at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC. The play was later staged at New York’s Public Theater in 2015 before moving to Broadway. The production will move to the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, California for a limited engagement in Spring 2017. With powerful direction by award-winning South African Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed is the first Broadway production with an all-female cast, director, writer, and production team (except for set & costume designer Clint Ramos).

Eclipsed was nominated for 6 Tony Awards, including Best Play. On June 12, 2016, Clint Ramos won the Tony for Best Costume Design for his work on the play.

Eclipsed continues at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St. through June 19.
Opening night: March 6, 2016; first preview: February 23, 2016.

For more information: http://www.eclipsedbroadway.com/

Backstage after the show!

Eclipsed & Shari

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A Raisin in the Sun

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Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th St.

In a Nutshell: If you grew up in the United States, chances are you read this play in school. The current Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s much-reprised and greatly admired play is as fine a staging as you’re going to see. So don’t delay: the show closes on June 15.

5 Tony Nominations: Best Play Revival, Best Actress in a Play (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Sophie Okonedo, Anika Noni Rose), Best Director (Kenny Leon)

Lead Cast: Denzel Washington (Walter Lee Younger), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Lena Younger), Sophie Okonedo (Ruth Younger), Anika Noni Rose (Beneatha Younger).

Background: A Raisin in the Sun is an “important” American play. It was the first play by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway. At 29, Hansberry was also the youngest American playwright, the first black playwright, and only the fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

The Production: Before the curtain goes up, we see the following text projected on a scrim:

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Those lines, from the poem Harlem (Dream Deferred) by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, serve as a wonderful introduction to the play. They give us a framework in which to place the action that will unfold over the next 2 and 3/4 hours. Hughes wrote the poem in 1951, 8 years before A Raisin in the Sun first opened on Broadway. Reading the poem before the actors take the stage helps us understand why Hansberry used one of its lines as the title of her play, because A Raisin in the Sun is all about dreams (mostly unfilled)—along with family ties and the enduring, redemptive power of love.

The Plot: Three generations of the Younger family live in cramped conditions in a South Chicago apartment, “sometime between World War II and 1960.” The youngest member of the family, Travis, sleeps on a pullout couch in the living room. The action revolves around the imminent arrival of a large insurance check payable to the family matriarch, Lena Younger. Her son Walter Lee has big plans for the money. Tired of working as a chauffeur for a rich white man, he dreams of investing the money in a liquor store and becoming rich. His younger sister Beneatha dreams of attending medical school. His wife Ruth, who discovers she is pregnant with their second child, just wants Walter to drink less and become a better husband and father. It’s up to Mama Lena to decide how to use the money in a way that will best serve her family. At the end of the play, Walter, whom Lena has entrusted with most of the money, loses it to a swindler. Mama takes what’s left and buys a home for the family in a white neighborhood. So some dreams are fulfilled, others are not.

The Performances: In addition to its grand pedigree, Raisin is a very fine and enjoyable theatrical experience. (These two characteristics don’t always come together in a single work).

Each member of the cast turns in a fine performance. Although Denzel Washington comes to the play with the most star power, it’s the women who shine the brightest. All three of the female leads are nominated for Tonys, while Mr. Washington, who gives a good ensemble performance devoid of “star” showboating, was overlooked.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson does an especially terrific job. When I saw the production my feeling was, “Give LaTanya the Tony right now!” (We’ll find out if the Tony voters agree on June 8). She commanded the stage and touched my heart with her moving portrayal of a strong woman who has survived injustice and the death of her husband and who is determined to give the next generations a shot at a better life. British actress Sophie Okonedo and Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change) also give affecting performances as Ruth and Beneatha Younger, respectively. You can feel the weariness in Okonedo’s movements, as she tends to housekeeping chores and tries to just get through another hard day. And Rose brings Beneatha’s youthful exuberance, ambition, and self-centeredness to life.

However, Mr. Washington, 59 years old, is a bit long in the tooth to play Walter (who is supposed to be in his mid-30’s). And at 41, Anika Noni Rose (18 years younger than Washington) is also a bit old for her role of a young student, although she pulls it off pretty credibly. I sometimes found myself thinking that she was Walter’s daughter instead of his younger sister. But theatre is above all, a suspension of disbelief: Keep in mind that Ms. Richardson Jackson (aged 64) is in real life only 5 years older than her theatrical “son!”

Trivia:

  • The original production of A Raisin in the Sun opened 55 years ago at the Barrymore, the same theatre as the current production.
  • Although Lorraine Hansberry did not win a Pulitzer Prize for her groundbreaking play, a 2010 play by Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park, did. That play imagines events before and 50 years after the Younger family’s move to the predominately white neighborhood of Clybourne Park.
  • A musical version of the play, Raisin, premiered on Broadway in 1973. The production won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Virginia Capers).
  • LaTanya Richardson Jackson is married to actor Samuel L. Jackson. She stepped into the role of Lena Younger when Tony Award-winning actress Diahann Carroll withdrew from the production.

Ticket Info: You probably won’t find discount tickets for this show. According to the TKTS website, the show “never” appears at its discount ticket booth. There is no current offer listed at Playbill.com and there is no rush policy for this show. I would suggest going to the Barrymore box office and seeing what’s available.  A Raisin in the Sun

 

 

A Couple of Random Thoughts About the Tony Noms

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What I’m Happy About: 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch. No reason to be angry here! Both Neil Patrick Harris (Best Actor in a Musical) and Lena Hall (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) scored well-deserved nominations.  And although Hedwig is not technically a revival (because it has only been produced off-Broadway, not on), the Tony committee decided to nominate the show in the Best Revival of a Musical category. As for the two other shows nominated in the category, I saw Violet, which was off beat and pretty wonderful, but I haven’t seen Les Miz (because, really, how many times can you see it)? I’m betting on Hedwig, and hopefully, NPH to win. The show, and his performance in particular, is just over the top amazing―an unforgettable night at the theatre. Lena Hall is up against some very tough competition in her category (Linda Emond (Cabaret), Anika Larsen (Beautiful), Adriane Lenox (After Midnight), and Lauren Worsham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder), and I’m betting the Tony folks probably won’t want to give everything to Hedwig. But I am so happy that the committee recognized the lovely and talented Ms. Hall.

What I’m Not Happy About:

They dissed Zachary Quinto! The Glass Menagerie is a play with just 4 characters: The Wingfields―Amanda (Cherry Jones), Tom (Zachary Quinto), Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger)―and Jim, the Gentleman Caller (Brian J. Smith). The recent revival was absolutely wonderful in every way (except for the bit where Laura entered and exited via the sofa, but I won’t go into that here). The cast was stellar, but I was especially touched by Zachary Quinto’s performance. I can still see him, standing downstage left, starkly lit, reciting the play’s opening monologue: “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” He was mesmerizing. So tell me why, Tony people, why did you nominate everyone in the cast except Mr. Quinto? I truly believe that Cherry Jones is our best living stage actress, but I’m too upset about the dissing of Zachary Quinto to get excited about Menagerie’s other nominations. Interestingly, this is the first time Menagerie, one of the great American plays, has been nominated (Best Play Revival).

More to come…

Best Broadway Plays 2013

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It was a very good year for Broadway theatre lovers. Here are my picks, not really in any order, although I don’t think anyone would argue too strongly about The Glass Menagerie headlining the group. (I apologize for the very long post).

The Glass Menagerie: Double punch: Tennessee Williams, one of our greatest American playwrights, and Cherry Jones, one of the most talented actresses of her generation. It is always a privilege to see Ms. Jones on stage. She shines, as expected, as the overbearing matriarch Amanda. But it is Zachary Quinto, (an experienced stage actor who is better known to filmgoers as the new Spock) as Williams’ stand-in Tom, who leads the production into the sublime. His performance of Tom’s opening soliloquy, spoken in darkness at the edge of the stage, weaves a spell that lasts through the final curtain. Celia Keenan-Bolger (Laura) and Brian J. Smith (The Gentleman Caller) are also fine. I didn’t love some of the director’s staging decisions, specifically, Laura’s appearance and exit from inside the sofa (really) which distracted and detracted from the play’s magic, and the use of pantomime for some stage business. But given the beauty of the overall production, let’s not dwell on it. This is probably the best Glass Menagerie we’re going to see for a long time.

Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike: Christopher Durang’s multi-award winning play provides all of the drama and angst of Chekov, but with way more laughs. It’s intelligent fun. The main characters are all named after Chekov characters (except for Spike) and the action takes place in a Bucks County farmhouse, an updated version of a typical Chekovian setting. The plot involves sibling resentments, unfulfilled dreams, Voodoo, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Each member of the 6-person ensemble gives a perfect performance: David Hyde Pierce (who wows in a Luddite rant), Sigourney Weaver, Kristine Nielsen, Shalita Grant, Billy Magnussen, and Genevieve Angelson. Kristine Nielsen is especially fine as Vanya and Masha’s lonely sister Sonia. Her shining moment occurs during a telephone conversation with her own “gentleman caller” that involves a hysterical imitation of Maggie Smith and her character’s slow, amazed realization that the man on the phone is actually interested in her. (She was nominated for a Tony but lost out to Ms. Tyson. Hyde Pierce was also nominated, losing to Tracy Letts). It’s a truly unique evening at the theatre and possibly Durang’s best work. He took home aTony for Best Play.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: As with The Glass Menagerie, this is one of our most celebrated American plays, in a 50th anniversary production that is likely the best we’re going to see in a long time. Also, like Menagerie, it’s a four-character intimate piece where every cast member turns in a perfect, vital performance. The 2013 version of Edward Albee’s masterpiece featured the original Steppenwolf cast, led by Tracy Letts and Amy Morton (the playwright and star of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play August: Osage County) as George and Martha. Carrie Coon and Madison Dirks play Honey and Nick, a young couple who find themselves in way over their heads as they are drawn into George and Martha’s boozy, dysfunctional household. The play is as funny as it is sad, as intriguing as it is deeply unsettling. Honey and Nick are really stand-ins for us, the audience, who like unwitting spectators at a horrible traffic accident, can’t turn away, can’t help being fascinated by George and Martha’s every move. It’s ultimately thrilling and exhausting. Tonys won: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play (Letts), Best Direction of a Play (Pam MacKinnon).

The Winslow Boy: This excellent Old Vic/Roundabout production is a revival of a Terence Rattigan play that originally premiered on Broadway in 1947. It is based on a true story about a young boy who is expelled from his British military school for allegedly stealing a small sum of money from a classmate. He swears his innocence—and his father risks both his health and his family’s future to pursue a court case in his son’s defense. Is the father foolishly obsessed with a futile battle? Is the boy innocent or guilty? How far should one go in pursuit of justice? The play doesn’t necessarily answer these questions, but it is never less than riveting throughout its 2 hour and 40 minute run time.

In less capable hands, the play could easily become trivial or tiresome, but this cast, especially Michael Cumpsty (Desmond Curry), Roger Rees (Arthur Winslow), and Alessandro Nivola (Sir Robert Morton) convey every nuance of the text through subtle facial expressions and vocal expertise.

The Trip to Bountiful: Horton Foote’s beautiful, touching play, in a near-perfect production led by the amazing Miss Cicely Tyson in a performance that I will always remember. In a previous post, I wrote about a special “theatrical moment” that occurs during the play: It happens in the second act. Cicely Tyson (as Carrie Watts) has momentarily escaped the suffocating disdain of her daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Vanessa Williams, gorgeous, but perhaps a bit older than the character). Late at night in a nearly deserted bus station, Carrie raises her arms and rapturously sings an old hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” Spontaneously, the many church ladies (black and white) in the audience began to sing along. The feeling shared by all of us with a character up on the stage was so true and so powerful. It was a moment.

Macbeth: Starring Alan Cumming as Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Malcolm, Macduff, etc. (You get the idea). Technically, this is not a one-man show, as the always excellent Mr. Cumming is joined by Jenny Sterlin and Brendan Titley as (well, what are they exactly?) medical attendants of some sort in what appears to be a high security facility for the insane). They come and go as Cumming performs Shakespeare’s play. My favorite scene was when, as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, he made love to himself—no easy feat. I thought it was a compelling, engaging evening of theatre. But if you haven’t read the Scottish play since junior high, you would be advised to dip into the Sparks notes to remind yourself of what’s what and who’s who. Because all of the characters look like Alan Cumming.

Special shout outs for stunning performances:

Fiona Shaw in The Testament of Mary. No surprise: Broadway audiences didn’t want to see a one-woman play about the Virgin Mary lamenting the death of her son. If this play had been produced by one of New York’s many excellent off-Broadway membership companies, I think it would have been better received and more successful. As for me, I was there opening night and I’m fortunate to have been able to see the estimable Ms. Shaw in a very moving performance.

Tom Sturridge in Orphans. As the feline, feral, and surprisingly intelligent Phillip living in dysfunctional squalor with his controlling brother Treat, Tom Sturridge leaps around the stage like a paranoid tomcat with ADD. The physicality of his performance is electrifying, as he jumps effortlessly from staircase to couch to table. I was gratified that he was nominated for a Tony (losing to Tracy Letts; no shame in that), but I felt that the production didn’t get the recognition it deserved.

Special Shari on the Aisle Stinko Award for Worst Play of the Year: The Anarchist. Although this show actually opened (and closed) in December, 2012, it was so dreadful and disappointing, especially given the talents involved (Patti LuPone, Debra Winger, and David Mamet), that attention must be paid.

Next Time: Off Broadway Favorites

The Best of 2013 (Part I)

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Do you agree with my picks? Disagree? Have your own favorites? Lemme know.

Best 2013 Broadway Musicals

Matilda the Musical: Thanks to Tim Minchin’s cheeky lyrics, Matthew Warchus’ energetic and innovative staging, and the revolting children singing, dancing, jumping, and tumbling their way across the stage, this show was the high point of 2013 New York City musical theatre. (It should have won the Tony for Best Musical). The cast was also swell—Bertie Carvel (Tony nom), Gabriel Ebert (Tony Award), Lauren Ward (Tony nom), and Lesli Margherita. I’m hoping to see this one again if I can swing it.

Pippin: Helmed by Diane Paulus, one of the most talented directors working on Broadway today, this revival of the 1972 hit show does what art is supposed to do: it reenvisions something and takes it to another level entirely. That’s certainly what Paulus does in the show’s stunning first act. The opening number, “Magic to Do,” is a mind blower. There is so much marvelous business going on all at once that one doesn’t know where to look. Patina Miller is a goddess and Andrea Martin stops the show with her “No Time at All” (performed on a trapeze). Act 2? Not so amazing, but that’s OK. The show, Martin, and Miller deserved their Tonys

Cinderella: Technically the title of this show is “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” I was reminded of the importance of those names above the title the moment the full orchestra started playing the overture. The music is so lush and gorgeous, and it’s of a quality and scope one doesn’t hear very often in today’s theatres. Here’s the other thing about this production: the stagecraft is absolultely magical. There are onstage costume changes where you literally cannot believe your eyes. And the original cast, Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana, Victoria Clark, and Harriet Harris—all Broadway pros—was pretty much perfect.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: An evening of nonstop delightful, manic musical mayhem, thanks in large measure to Jefferson Mays’s artful, indefatigable portrayal of 8 doomed members of the D’Ysquith family. Bryce Pinkham also shines as Monty, the lost D’Ysquith who sets out to eradicate the 8 family members standing between him and the throne of England. Can we love such a scoundrel who has “Poison in his Pocket?” Absolutely.

**Special Note** What’s that you say?  Did I accidentally leave Kinky Boots off the list? No accident, dear readers. Yes, the show had a couple of terrific numbers (Everybody Say Yeah and Raise You Up) but overall, the lyrics and music didn’t measure up, especially when compared with Tim Minchin’s really witty and terrific work in Matilda. And yes, Billy Porter did a fine job and the costumes were wonderful. But that’s about it. A disappointment. And it’s not on my list. But with all those Tonys, I’m sure it will survive.

2013 Tony Awards Quick Predictions

Pippin

Tomorrow night, June 9,  is the night when everyone in the theatre community holds their collective breath to see who will earn the word “win” in his or her next Playbill bio and who will have to be content with “nom.”

There’s not much time left before the big night, so I’ve got to get my Tony predictions in NOW. Because time is short, I’ll only cover the main categories. Maybe I’ll be right, maybe I’ll be wrong, but to quote Ann Richards in Holland Taylor’s snappy production of Ann: “You gotta go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is.”

Here goes:

Best Musical:  Kinky Boots
I haven’t yet written my Shari on the Aisle review of Kinky Boots, but let’s just say that in the 2013 battle of Matilda vs. Boots, I’m firmly in the Matilda camp. Too bad for me, because everybody else prefers Kinky Boots. (But I’d love to be surprised).

Best Revival of a Musical: Pippin
No contest, although I saw and enjoyed all of the nominated shows in this category. Annie is a delightful show and this is a great production; Drood is tons of fun, and Cinderella’s stagecraft is stunning. But Pippin is a shoo-in.

Best Play: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Christopher Durang has never won a Tony and this is his year. The Testament of Mary, a provocative play with an amazing performance by Fiona Shaw, has no chance. Even though the play won a nomination, when Tony voters skipped Shaw for a Best Actress nod, the play promptly posted a closing notice. The Assembled Parties and Lucky Guy garnered lots of praise, Parties for the actual play and Guy for Tom Hanks’ performance. But everyone loved Vanya etal., and it’s a pretty sure bet to win.

Best Revival of a Play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
This is probably the toughest category to call, the one where I’m really do have to go out on a limb. My first instinct is to predict Golden Boy, a really top rate production that everyone loved. But it’s no longer playing, which works against it. Of course Virginia Woolf has also closed, but it’s considered the best production of the play in a long time, possibly ever. The performances were just sizzling. Orphans, which I enjoyed (especially Tom Sturridge’s feral performance), has no shot. I also loved every minute of Trip to Bountiful, but Tony voters will most likely honor Cicely Tyson, but not the play, which is OK by me.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Tom Hanks
Everybody loves both him personally and his performance. And although the play is no masterpiece, Tom is raking in the bucks for the production. Give the man a Tony.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Cicely Tyson
Kristine Nielsen, a theatre veteran and Durang favorite, is positively delicious in Vanya, etal. The producers tried to nominate her for best actress in a featured role, but the Tony committee (rightly) refused. Laurie Metcalf’s performance in her angst-ridden role in The Other Place was excellent, Amy Morton was fierce in Virginia Woolf, and Holland Taylor nailed the sass and wit of Ann Richards. But I will never forget the scene where the ethereal Ms. Tyson stood up, raised her arms to the heavens, and sang the hymn “Blessed Assurance.” The audience spontaneously joined in. It was a moment, let me tell you. She deserves that Tony and I can’t wait to see her accept it.

Almost done. On to the Best Performances by an Actor and Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Billy Porter
The Battle of the Cross-dressers. This one truly causes me pain. Bertie Carvel won the Olivier Award for his Miss Trunchbull in the original West End production of Matilda. I thought he was a shoo-in for this award, but all the buzz is about Billy Porter. He’s brilliantly talented, but I just adore Bertie. Surprise me, Tony voters.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Patina Miller
I’m hearing rumors about Laura Osnes taking this one for her delightful turn in Cinderella. But seriously, Patina sings while on a trapeze. And her impeccable performance of the Fosse choreography in the Manson Trio number is just stellar. Plus, I’d give her an award for the buffest arms I’ve ever seen.

Before I sign off: While I’m writing about Pippin, I fully expect to see Andrea Martin accept her award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. I also predict she’ll bring down the house, as she does 8 times a week on stage at The Music Box. I’ve loved her since her days as Edith Prickly on SCTV. And she’s the hottest 67 year old anywhere.

I’ll be watching with Glenn, having a cocktail, eating leftovers, and keeping score tomorrow evening. Enjoy!