A Look at the 2017 Tony Awards

On June 11th, the best and the brightest on Broadway got together to celebrate the best of the 2016-2017 season. What is often considered a theatre kid’s Christmas was a beautiful show filled with beautiful performances, beautiful presentations, and beautiful people. Here’s a closer look on this years musical winners:

Best Musical- Dear Evan Hansen. Yes!! This show has been from Washington, to Second City, to finally Broadway! The musical takes place in a suburb and focuses on what happens when anxious teenager Evan Hansen gets wrapped up in a lie about his forged friendship with Connor Murphy, a teen who has recently committed suicide. With a book, score, and cast to die for, there was not a dry eye in the room (or at least my tony viewing room).

Best Revival of a Musical- Hello, Dolly! Starring diva Bette Midler, many had predicted that the revival would take home the award. While the two other nominated revivals, Miss Saigon and Falsettos, were absolutely magnificent, this show with a stellar cast won the award.

Best Actor in a Musical- Ben Platt. Was there any doubt that the Dear Evan Hansen star wouldn’t win best actor? Ben has been with the show since the beginning, and has worked so hard at this role to the point where he has had to get a physical therapist because he has started to truly become Evan Hansen, adopting his stutter and hunch. His voice is absolutely stellar and brought many people to tears during his performance of Waving Through a Window earlier that night.

Best Actress in a Musical- Bette Midler. Like many thought would happen, legend Bette Midler took home the award. Probably the most memorable part of her win, she refused to stop her speech and went on for five minutes in her speech.

Best Featured Actor in a Musical- Gavin Creel. Gavin Creel, who was recently seen in She Loves Me last season, was honored for his performance in Hello, Dolly! for playing the iconic Cornelius Hackl. A surprise win was his first Tony win after 2 previous nominations.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical- Rachel Bay Jones. RBJ, your mom, my mom, Evan Hansen’s mom, her own child’s mom, and now a Tony winner. If you’ve heard her ballad So Big/So Small from act 2 of Dear Evan Hansen, you know that she is an absolute heart breaker in the show. Looking absolutely stunning last night, she finally took home a well deserved Tony.

Best Choreography- Andy Blankenbuehler- Who can resist some Blankenbuehler choreography?!?! In the fun, new show Bandstand, he has created beautiful choreo full of something that’s my persona; favorite, LIFTS! This is his 3rd Tony Award, and 2nd one in a row.

Best Score- Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. Featuring the iconic Waving Through a Window and the heartbreaking Words Fail, this win was more than deserved for the Dear Evan Hansen duo. And fun fact, because of their Tony for this show and their Oscar for La La Land, all they need is a Grammy (which is in their grasp for best musical theatre cast album) and an Emmy and they’ll be the youngest people to EGOT!

Best Book- Steven Levenson. This famous playwright won his first Tony for Dear Evan Hansen! This book is so beautiful, it’s almost expected that Steven would come home with the award.

Best Direction- Christopher Ashley. I guess you could say Come From Away CAME AWAY with a Tony! The tuner inspired by the events in Gander after tragedy struck on 9/11. This show is so moving and I couldn’t be more happy for Christopher’s win last night.

Best Costume- Santo Laquasto. Hello, Dolly! Hello, Tony! The exquisite and fabulous costumes from the revival garnered Mr. Laquasto a Tony.

Best Orchestrations- Alex Lacamoire. Dear Evan Hansen is full of beautiful music, and no one can disagree that Alex Lacamoire is a fan favorite. This is his 3rd Tony, all for Best Orchestrations.

Best Scenic Design- Mimi Lien. Was there anyway this visual masterpiece would lose best scenic design? This set is innovative, new, and absolutely gorgeous.

Best Lighting Design- Bradley King. Well lit, and well won. With 1,950 lightning cues, 37 chandeliers, and more this show has a beautiful lighting design, and a well deserved tony to show it off.

So that’s it! This year was so highly competitive, it’s a miracle we made it out alive.

 

Falsettos: The Show That Told a Million Stories

What would I do if I hadn’t loved Falsettos? From screaming every time they announced more casting, to staying up late and crying watching the live stream of the cast hearing the cast album for the first time ever, to the bitter-sweet feeling I have right now, this beautiful show has completed its limited engagement at the Walter Kerr theatre. The show, about a struggling tight-knit family and the challenges in love, opened on October 27th to excellent reviews and closed with a place in every theatre geeks heart.

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I was immediately attracted to the show by its cast. There’s not a single cast member who I wasn’t already obsessed with. It’s so rare to have a cast completely full of legends, but they managed to do it. Christian Borle, who I saw in 2015 as Shakespeare in Something Rotten, played a stellar Marvin that will not be forgotten when it comes to Tony voting time. Andrew Rannells plays Whizzer, Marvin’s lover who suffers from an un-diagnosed case of AIDS, or as it was often called then “the gay man disease” later in the show. While many had their doubts about Rannells in a serious role, he clearly proved them wrong in his gut wrenching performance. The force that is Stephanie J. Block plays Trina, Marvin’s ex-wife, and let me just say, she could screlt in my ear and I wouldn’t mind. Brandon Uranowitz plays Mendel, Trina’s lover and Marvin’s psychiatrist, and could possibly earn himself a second Tony nomination for his performance. And who could forget the adorable Anthony Rosenthal, who was the first Les I saw in Newsies, making his Broadway debut as Jason. As the entire Broadway community fell in love with him, he proved himself a star, giving a killer performance and only managing to call out of one show. Rounding out the cast is Tracie Thoms and Betsy Wolfe, who play Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia, respectively, playing the lovable lesbians from next door. falsettos-3

While there are some revivals that seem completely pointless, this revival seems completely new. And not just because this is the first time March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland be together as one show. The representation of gay men and women, even though it’s set in the late 80’s and early 90’s, in a time like this was incredibly poignant. After the sad election of the homophobic and all around horrible Trump, some things became incredibly and almost painfully real. Many of Trina’s lines like “I’m tired of all the happy men who rule the world” and “I’m trying to keep sane as the rules keep changing”started to have a different meaning in a modern light. While I am not the first to write about this at all (cc: Louis Peitzman’s article over the subject), for everyones personal struggles, there’s a different character trait that they can relate to. After my insecurities about my sexual orientation and other beliefs sky rocketed as a result of the election, parts of Trina’s song “I’m Breaking Down” and the classic “Everyone Tells Jason to See a Psychiatrist” started to become relatable, and the brilliant new cast album for the revival became almost like a safe haven.

After listening to the recording 24/7, I started finding even more parallels between myself and the characters, unrelated to current politics. When my dad had to go to Houston for a week for surgery, while not as extreme as Whizzer’s sickness, many songs from act 2 comforted me and reminded me that his surgery will not be the end of anything and to keep my family close. One of my favorite things in a show is when, no matter what the character is, you can relate to them in some way. While others seem like an exact replica of me (Cordelia; I’m definitely a lesbian from next door who loves to cook, and I would love to wear a Hawaii crop top), while other have certain traits that ring true to me (Mendel being a nervous wreck, Trina breaking down, Marvin’s frustrations, etc.). falsettos-4

While the initial planning for this revival may not have been planned to have a such an insanely stellar cast and have as many current day parallels, that was definitely what it came to be, under the wonderful direction by James Lapine. And, to say the least, the whole theatre community was definitely pleased with the result.

My top 5 most anticipated 2017 musicals

This year we’re going to see some amazing musicals! Here’s my top 5 picks for the rest of the 16-17 season

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A scene from “Sunday in the Park with George” Credit: Stephanie Berger

5. Sunday in the Park With George- As the only revival on this list, I have to say that I’m extremely excited for this certain revival mostly because of the cast. As a huge Bernadette Peters fan, it’s hard seeing anyone besides her playing Dot, but I think it’s safe to say the role is in good hands with Annaleigh Ashford. The revival also stars Jake Gyllenhaal. The show opens on February 23rd.

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4. Anastasia- This was one of my favorites when I was younger and now I’m so excited to see it on one of my favorite places! And, I’m a SUCKER for anything with Derek Klena. Also, this show has gotten great reviews from its out of town run, and I cant wait to see how it does in the great white way. The new musical begins on April 24th.

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3. Amelie- Starring two of my favorite stars, Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat, this musical already has buzz about it. Even though it just began its out of town run, this new musical keeps looking sweeter and sweeter. Amelie opens on April 3rd.

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2. Bandstand- Much like Amelie, I am absolutely obsessed with the cast of this show. Starring Laura Osnes the Broadway princess, soon to be father Corey Cott, and legend Beth Leavel, this show with some 50’s swing is definitely one of my top picks. The show is set to open on April 26th.

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1.  War Paint- I was lucky enough to see the fantastic musical in Chicago and walked away astounded. The set, the choreography, the music, the cast, everything is marvelous. While I do believe Dear Evan Hansen is going to sweep this year at the Tonys, War Paint could definitely snatch a few. The show, starring Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole, opens on April 6th