Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sweet and Sour

Saturday was a day full of theater in New York City.

The gals and I went to the matinee of the beautiful revival of the 1929 play "Journey's End" about World War I. Written just ten years after the end of the First World War, this play examines the humanity of soldiers and the inhumanity of war. With searing performances all around, this show leaves its audience emotionally devastated.

When reading the credits during intermission I was delighted to learn that Tony nominee Stark Sands, who has a major role as fresh-to-the-army Second Lieutenant Raleigh, has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California.

This is not a "happy" show but one I'm so glad to have seen. Sadly it didn't catch on at the box office and will be closing tomorrow. Straight plays continue to struggle on Broadway.

Switching to this evening's performance, I'm head over heels about "Xanadu." I haven't had this much fun in a theater since I saw "Hairspray" in its out-of-town tryout in Seattle in 2002.

You may remember the 1980 movie starring Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly. ONJ played a Greek mythological Muse who decides to help a struggling sidewalk chalk artist open a roller disco. It's considered by many to be one of the worst films ever made. Some say it single-handily killed the movie-musical genre for 20 years. The Golden Raspberry Award, which goes to the worst movie of the year, was created in reaction to "Xanadu."

And it's this history, along with nostalgia for the 80s, that makes it one of the funnest stage musicals I've ever seen. The winks and the nods to the audience begin from the get-go and it's like you're part of one big inside joke -- what a hoot!

I salute Douglas Carter Beane -- whose script for "The Little Dog Laughed" I found offensive -- for writing a very witty, laugh-out-loud book for this musical. (It was also fun seeing him in the back of the audience watching the show and taking notes.)

Still in previews, I hear Olivia Newton John is planning on attending Opening Night June 26th.

Now it's time for my annual Tony predictions. Follow along Sunday night and see how I do. (Please tell me you weren't planning on watching the "Sopranos" finale instead of the Tonys. Priorities, people, priorities.)

Best Play -- The Coast of Utopia

Best Musical -- Spring Awakening (a last minute switch by me from "Grey Gardens")

Best Book of a Musical -- Grey Gardens/Doug Wright

Best Original Score -- Spring Awakening/Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater

Best Revival of a Play -- Journey's End

Best Revival of a Musical -- Company

Best Special Theatrical Event -- Kiki & Herb Alive on Broadway

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play -- Frank Langella/Frost/Nixon

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play -- Julie White/The Little Dog Laughed

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical -- David Hyde Pierce/Curtains

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical -- Christine Ebersole/Grey Gardens

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play -- Ethan Hawke/The Coast of Utopia

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play -- Dana Ivey/Butley

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical -- John Gallagher, Jr./Spring Awakening

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical -- Mary Louise Wilson/Grey Gardens

Best Direction of a Play -- Jack O'Brien/The Coast of Utopia

Best Direction of a Musical -- Michael Mayer/Spring Awakening

Best Choreography -- Bill T. Jones/Spring Awakening

Best Orchestrations -- Bruce Coughlin/Grey Gardens

Best Scenic Design of a Play -- Bob Crowley & Scott Pask/The Coast of Utopia

Best Scenic Design of a Musical -- Allen Moyer/Grey Gardens

Best Costume Design of a Play -- Catherine Zuber/The Coast of Utopia

Best Costume Design of a Musical -- William Ivey Long/Grey Gardens

Best Lighting Design of a Play -- Jason Taylor/Journey's End

Best Lighting Design of a Musical -- Kevin Adams/Spring Awakening
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