By: John Mainieri
So, am I to respond to the ton of emails I’ve received about my wrong choices for the winners of the Tony awards? Alright, I have to confess, it’s not a ton. In fact, it’s not a lot. Ok, nobody wrote me, are you happy?
BUT-I got a lot of these suckers right.
Did I predict David Hyde Pierce would win Best Actor in a Musical? I did. But even David was surprised! Everyone thought Raul Esparza would take it, but guess what? as good as Raul was in “Company”, David was better in “Curtains”. But here’s the difference. “Curtains” won nothing else, so David’s Tony award keeps it open for another 8 months. “Company” was doing no business, and Raul’s press agent was working overtime to make the guy seem like a saint, when, in fact, he’s ticked off a lot of folks recently, so I think his Tony snub was a result of his thinking he was a shoe-in, when in point of fact, he wasn’t.
Here’s a prediction-Oskar Eustis, the new Artistic Director of the Public Theater, is planning to re-mount the Stephen Sondheim musical “Bounce” on Lafayette Street next season. “Bounce” has been, excuse the expression, bounced around for several years, looking for the right director to shape the material. Sam Mendes couldn’t do it 10 years ago, despite a cast that included Victor Garber and Nathan Lane; Hal Prince couldn’t do it with a cast that included Richard Kind and Howard McGillan…but will the third time around prove the charm? John Doyle is going to direct, and here’s my guess-he’ll cast Michael Cerveris and Raul Esparza as the Mizner brothers, and somehow convince Elaine Stritch to play their mother…it’s a troublesome project, but with Eustis at the helm, I believe “Bounce” will be Mr. Sondheim’s next big hit. At the age of 77, he should be pleased. Mr. Sondheim, not Mr. Eustis.
Meanwhile, Christine Ebersole’s Tony win keeps ” Grey Gardens” open until at least September, but the sad news is the fact that Tony winner Mary Louise Wilson is tired, and will be leaving the show at the end of July. We love Ms. Wilson-thinking of ” Grey Gardens” without Big Edie is like imagining “Mame” without Angela Lansbury. Mary Louise is claiming exhaustion…I’m hoping all is well…she is the perfect match for Ms. Ebersole, but here’s a thought for her replacement…Wouldn’t Doris Roberts be terrific in the role? Yes she would.
So the big Tony winner was “Spring Awakening”….8..or 9..Tony Awards? It is a wondrous piece of work..The Atlantic Theater Company is to be congratulated for it’s vision…It was, most assuredly, the favorite piece this season, but I gotta say, when I saw it off-Broadway last Spring, I never thought it would successfully transfer to Broadway… Yes, I was wrong, and happily so. May “Spring Awakening” live long and prosper…but I’m still convinced that “LOveMusik” was this year’s Best Musical, followed closely by “Passing Strange”….if all this seems alien to you,see last month’s article.
I finally got to see Vanessa Redgrave in Joan Didion’s “The Year Of Magical Thinking” the other night. I’ve seen Ms. Redgrave play Prospero in “The Tempest” at London’s Globe, seen her Mary Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey”, seen her at The National in London with my personal hero, Paul Scofield, in his last stage appearance in “John Gabriel Borkman” several(ok, 10) years ago, and watched in fascination as she sang an impromptu euology to Fred Zinneman during a curtain call after a performance of “Antony and Cleopatra” at The Public some years ago. I would watch and listen if she chose to read the Yellow Pages. And that’s what “Year Of Magical Thinking” amounts to. It’s a reading that goes on for 90 minutes. It’s Joan Didion’s words, all about her sense of loss following the death of her husband…but, it’s so cold, so abbreviated, that I felt left out. What is the point to this evening? I can’t tell you. I wanted to feel bad, I really wanted to empathize with Ms. Didion’s losses, but David Hare is not the director for this sort of thing. This is a piece that cried out for Mike Nichols. Whether Mr. Nichols was even considered, I’ve no idea, but he certainly could have shaped the material and made it work. As it stands, it doesn’t work, but I’m happy HBO is filming it, because I believe it will work much better on the small screen.
As for my other Tony picks…well….”Radio Golf” will be gone by the time you read this…too bad….The Best Actress winner Julie White(oh, how she deserved it) will next be seen in the ABC sitcom, “Caveman”, based on the Geico commercials…you think I’m making this up, but I’m not, I swear….She’ll be the one NOT wearing the stupid hairy stuff….As for “The Coast of Utopia”, I can’t see it being done anytime soon at your local rep company…but hey, what do I know…there’s a great little theater company in Nutley, NJ that takes huge risks…maybe they’re ready for 9 hours of Russian intellectuals….All hail the great Frank Langella- his win for Best Actor in a play for “Frost/Nixon” may prove mightily helpful when he plays Richard Nixon in Ron Howard’s film adaptation of the play…how many actors have actually won Oscars for roles they originally won Tonys for? well, Yul Brynner is one, Joel Grey is another…..any others you can think of? Let me know…
In the meantime, a most happy July….Have a great month…