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Friday, April 30, 2010

The 2010 Tony Noms Predix/Actual Noms

Okay, since everyone from the "Experts" to the "Bloggers" to ModFab (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4) are having their guesses, I figure I'll have some fun and do my completely uninformed predictions for next Tuesdays Tony Awards nominations. And of course, I'll also thrown in who I HOPE will be nominated (not necessarily based on what I've seen (which are marked with a *)).

UPDATE Tues. May 4th: So how did I do? Not bad, either in my guesses or my wishes. Actual nominations highlighted in Red (much like the nominated play) plus commentary. (Oh, and I was 76% correct in my predictions).

(Though not all categories have been completely sorted out yet so I'm just doing them based on my best guess)

BEST NEW MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
American Idiot *
Fela! *
Memphis *
Million Dollar Quartet *

Was I not right about MDQ?! I knew they were gonna snub The Addams Family but I had a feeling the love for Sondheim did not extend to his latest revue which feels more like a history lesson than a show. Not that MDQ is anything to rave about though.















Dark Horse (in place of Million Dollar Quartet):
Sondheim on Sondheim *
Come Fly Away

The Other Eligible Shows:
Everyday Rapture
The Addams Family

No Chance In Hell:
All About Me
Burn the Floor *


Should Get Nominated:
American Idiot *
Fela! *
Memphis *
Everyday Rapture

Well, 3 out 4 ain't bad. I haven't even seen Everyday Rapture yet but MDQ had great performances in a dud of a show, so I'm not a fan.

















BEST NEW PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Enron
Next Fall *
Red
Time Stands Still *










Wow, the Americans really don't want to be told they're greedy.










Dark Horse (in place of Enron):
In The Next Room (or the vibrator play)

The Other Eligible Shows:
A Behanding In Spokane
Superior Donuts *
Race
Wishful Drinking





Should Get Nominated:
In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Next Fall *
Red
Time Stands Still *






















BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
A Little Night Music *
Finian's Rainbow *
La Cage Aux Folles (* Seen West End production)
Promises, Promises *

How could I have doubted Ragtime? My favorite show of last year?

















Dark Horse (in place of Promises, Promises):
Ragtime *

The Other Eligible Show/ No Chance In Hell:
Bye Bye Birdie *
Irving Berlin's White Christmas *







Should Get Nominated:
A Little Night Music *
Finian's Rainbow *
La Cage Aux Folles (* Seen West End production)
Ragtime *




















BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
A View From the Bridge *
Fences
Lend Me A Tenor
The Royal Family *

I got it right! Okay, with 5 choices, it's not that hard (and yet, I got it wrong with musical revivals)



















Dark Horse (in place of The Royal Family):
Hamlet *

The Other Eligible Show:
The Miracle Worker








Should Get Nominated:
A View From the Bridge *
Fences
Lend Me A Tenor
The Royal Family *






















BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Kelsey Grammar in La Cage Aux Folles
Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises *
Douglas Hodge in La Cage Aux Folles
Chad Kimball in Memphis *
Sahr Ngujah in Fela! (I saw Kevin Mambo in the role)

5/5!

Dark Horse (in place of Grammar or Kimball):
John Gallagher, Jr. in American Idiot *
Nathan Lane in The Addams Family
The Other Eligible Actors:
James Clow in Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Alexander Hanson in A Little Night Music *
Quentin Earl Darrington in Ragtime *
Cheyenne Jackson in Finian's Rainbow *
Jim Norton in Finian's Rainbow *
Robert Petkoff in Ragtime *
John Stamos in Bye Bye Birdie *
Tom Wopat in Sondheim on Sondheim

Should Get Nominated:
John Gallagher, Jr. in American Idiot *
Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises *
Douglas Hodge in La Cage Aux Folles
Chad Kimball in Memphis *
Sahr Ngujah/Kevin Mambo in Fela! *


BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Kate Baldwin in Finian's Rainbow *
Barbara Cook in Sondheim on Sondheim * Now Considered Featured Actress Category
Montego Glover in Memphis *
Sherie Rene Scott in Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones in A Little Night Music *
Kristin Chenoweth in Promises, Promises
* in place of Barbara Cook.

4/5 but that's cause Noll actually got the 5th spot. Hurrah! And Kate Baldwin? Glorious! And even Montego Glover! The no-names get recognized! Hurrah! And for the STAR, I actually thought CZJ deserves it!

Dark Horse (in place of Baldwin or Glover):
Christiane Noll in Ragtime *
The Other Eligible Actresses:
Melissa Errico in Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Gina Gershon in Bye Bye Birdie *
Bebe Neuwirth in The Addams Family

Should Get Nominated:
Kate Baldwin in Finian's Rainbow *
Montego Glover in Memphis *
Christiane Noll in Ragtime *
Sherie Rene Scott in Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones in A Little Night Music *


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Robin de Jesus in La Cage Aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald in Finian's Rainbow *
Levi Kreis in Million Dollar Quartet *
Bobby Steggert in Ragtime *
Tony Vincent in American Idiot *

I wish Vincent or Stark Sands got some recognition, especially Sands for putting tons of humanity into the show, but love that Fitzgerald, Steggert and Kreis are getting regonized for amazing performances.

Dark Horse (in place of Fitzgerald):
Stark Sands in American Idiot *
Kevin Chamberland in The Addams Family
Charlie Neshyba-Hughest in Come Fly Away
Some Other Eligible Actors:
Eddie Cledening in Million Dollar Quartet *
Lance Guest in Million Dollar Quartet *
Hunter Foster in Million Dollar Quartet *
Bill Irwin in Bye Bye Birdie *
Aaron Lazar in A Little Night Music *
Dick Latessa in Promises, Promises *
Norm Lewis in Sondheim on Sondheim *
Euan Morton in Sondheim on Sondheim *
John Selya in Come Fly Away

Should Get Nominated:
Christopher Fitzgerald in Finian's Rainbow *
Levi Kreis in Million Dollar Quartet *
Stark Sands in American Idiot *
Bobby Steggert in Ragtime *
Tony Vincent in American Idiot *


BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Carolee Carmello in The Addams Family
Katie Finneran in Promises, Promises *
Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music *
Lillias White in Fela! (she was off the night I saw the show)
Terri White in Finian's Rainbow * Barbara Cook in Sondheim on Sondheim * (Now that Cook is considered in this category)

Lansbury vs. Cook. I bow to the legends but Finneran FTW!

Dark Horse (in place of Carmello or either White's):
Cass Morgan in Memphis *
Rebecca Naomi Jones in American Idiot *
Karine Plantadit in Come Fly Away
Terri White in Finian's Rainbow *
Vanessa Williams in Sondheim on Sondheim *
Some Other Eligible Actresses:
Erin Davie in A Little Night Music *
Jackie Hoffman in The Addams Family
Dee Hoty in Bye Bye Birdie *
Leslie Kritzer in Sondheim on Sondheim *
Leigh Ann Larkin in A Little Night Music *
Elizabeth Stanley in Million Dollar Quartet *

Should Get Nominated:
Katie Finneran in Promises, Promises *
Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music *
Leigh Ann Larkin in A Little Night Music *
Lillias White in Fela! (she was off the night I saw the show)
Terri White in Finian's Rainbow *


BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Norbert Leo Butz in Enron
Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain *
Alfred Molina in Red
Liev Schreiber in A View From the Bridge *
Denzel Washington in Fences

Five big movie star names. And none of them were Hugh Jackman. Or Daniel Craig. Nice to see the Tony's not being blinded by A Steady Rain's huge charity pull, especially since the play itself is a bit of a stinker. Still, their performances themselves were pretty good, but since they weren't the only Hollywood stars on stage this year, they got pushed out. Too bad for Breen or Butz, they had no chance didn't they?

Dark Horse (in place of Butz, Molina or Shalhoub):
Patrick Breen in Next Fall *
Tony Shalhoub in Lend Me a Tenor
Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain *
Jude Law in Hamlet *
Christopher Walken in A Behanding in Spokane
The Other Eligible Actors:
Michael Cerveris in In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Victor Garber in Present Laughter
Gregory Itzin in Enron
Michael McKean in Superior Donuts *
Jonny Lee Miller in After Miss Julie
Bill Pullman in Oleanna
James Spader in Race

Should Get Nominated:
Patrick Breen in Next Fall *
Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain *
Norbert Leo Butz in Enron
Jude Law in Hamlet *
Alfred Molina in Red
Liev Schreiber in A View From the Bridge *
Denzel Washington in Fences

I didn't know who to cut since the ones I would have cut are the performances I haven't seen, but yet have had huge critical acclaim.


BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Viola Davis in Fences
Valerie Harper in Looped
Linda Lavin in Collected Stories
Laura Linney in Time Stands Still *
Jan Maxwell in The Royal Family *

5/5! Though not exactly a difficult one to guess.

Dark Horse (in place of Harper):
Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking
The Other Eligible Actresses:
Laura Benanti in In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Sienna Miller in After Miss Julie
Allison Pill in The Miracle Worker
Julia Stiles in Oleanna

Should Get Nominated:
Viola Davis in Fences
Valerie Harper in Looped
Linda Lavin in Collected Stories
Laura Linney in Time Stands Still *
Jan Maxwell in The Royal Family *


BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Justin Bartha in Lend Me A Tenor
Brian d'Arcy James in Time Stands Still *
Stephen Kunken in Enron
Eddie Redmayne in Red
Reg Rogers in The Royal Family *

Wow, I was totally wrong on this one. Happy for Jon Michael Hill, a bright spot in a cliched sitcomy play, but I'm sad to see Reg Rogers get knocked out of the running since he stole the show from a terrific huge ensemble.

Dark Horse (in place of Bartha, James or Rogers):
Eric Begosian in Time Stands Still
Michael Cristofer in A View From the Bridge *
Anthony LaPaglia in Lend Me A Tenor
Sam Rockwell in A Behanding in Spokane
Some Other Eligible Actors:
Chris Chalk in Fences
Sean Dugan in Next Fall *
David Alan Grier in Race
Patrick Heusinger in Next Fall *
Jon Michael Hill in Superior Donuts *
Russell Hornsby in Fences
Anthony Mackie in A Behanding in Spokane
Tony Robbins in The Royal Family *
Cotter Smith in Next Fall *
Mykelti Williamson in Fences
Stephen McKinley Henderson in Fences

Should Get Nominated:
Patrick Heusinger in Next Fall *
Brian d'Arcy James in Time Stands Still *
Stephen Kunken in Enron
Eddie Redmayne in Red
Reg Rogers in The Royal Family *


BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Rosemary Harris in The Royal Family *
Jessica Hecht in A View From the Bridge *
Scarlett Johansson in A View From the Bridge *
Jan Maxwell in Lend Me A Tenor
Marrin Mazzie in Enron

Did I not call the Hecht/Johansson noms back in January? Meanwhile, I didn't even write Dizzia's name down originally on the list below. Oops.

Dark Horse (in place of Harris or Hecht):
Connie Ray in Next Fall *
Alicia Silverstone in Time Stands Still *
Some Other Eligible Actresses:
Abigail Breslin in The Miracle Worker
Maddie Corman in Next Fall *
Marin Ireland in After Miss Julie
Zoe Kazan in A Behanding in Spokane
Sarah Paulsen in Collected Stories
Kerry Washington in Race

Should Get Nominated:
Maddie Corman in Next Fall *
Jessica Hecht in A View From the Bridge *
Scarlett Johansson in A View From the Bridge *
Jan Maxwell in Lend Me A Tenor
Marrin Mazzie in Enron
Maria Dizzia in In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)


BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Terry Johnson, La Cage Aux Folles *
Bill T. Jones, Fela *
Michael Mayer, American Idiot *
Trevor Nunn, A Little Night Music *

Did Mayer knock himself out with the showy Idiot and the quieter but acclaimed Everyday Rapture? I'm pleased to bits that Dodge got a deserved nomination which I never thought was going to happen.

Dark Horse:
Christopher Ashley, Memphis *
Some Other Eligible Directors:
Rob Ashford Promises, Promises *
Walter Bobbie, Irving Berlin's White Christmas *
Marica Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime *
James Lapine, Sondheim on Sondheim *
Michael Mayer, Everyday Rapture
Jason Gilkison, Burn the Floor *
Richard Longbottom, Bye Bye Birdie *
Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, The Addams Family
Casey Nicholaw, All About Me
Eric Schaeffer, Million Dollar Quartet *
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

Should Get Nominated:
Marica Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime *
Terry Johnson, La Cage Aux Folles *
Bill T. Jones, Fela *
Michael Mayer, American Idiot *


BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Rupert Goold, Enron
Michael Grandage, Red
Gregory Mosher, A View From the Bridge *
Kenny Leon, Fences

Yay to Kaler! Never thought she'd break through with the boys club!

Dark Horse (in place of Mosher):
Daniel Sullivan, Time Stands Still *
Some Other Eligible Directors:
Mark Brokaw, Present Laughter
John Crowley, A Steady Rain *
John Crowley, A Behanding in Spokane
Michael Grandage, Hamlet *
Doug Hughes, Oleanna
Doug Hughes, The Royal Family *
Sherry Kaler, Next Fall *
Tina Landau, Superior Donuts *
David Mamet, Race
Nicholas Martin, Present Laughter
Lynn Meadow, Collected Stories
Rob Ruggiero, Looped
Tony Taccone, Wishful Drinking
Stanley Tucci, Lend Me A Tenor
Leslie Waters, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Kate Whoriskey, The Miracle Worker

Should Get Nominated:
Rupert Goold, Enron
Michael Grandage, Red
Gregory Mosher, A View From the Bridge *
Kenny Leon, Fences


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Will Be Nominated/ Is Nominated:
Bill T. Jones, Fela *
Lynne Page, La Cage Aux Folles *
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis *

I was REALLY hoping Hoggett would get it for his pulsating chore.

Dark Horse:
Steven Hoggett, American Idiot *
Rob Ashford Promises, Promises *
Some Other Eligible Directors:
Scott Ambler, Enron
Marica Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime *
Jason Gilkison, Burn the Floor *
Richard Longbottom, Bye Bye Birdie *
Michele Lynch, Everyday Rapture
Lynne Page, A Little Night Music *
Randy Skinner, Irving Berlin's White Christmas *
Sergio Trujillo, The Addams Family

Should Get Nominated:
Steven Hoggett, American Idiot *
Bill T. Jones, Fela *
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis *

The Other Nominations:

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Everyday Rapture - Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott
Fela! - Jim Lewis & Bill T. Jones *
Memphis -Joe DiPietro *
Million Dollar Quartet - Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux *


Ouch, they really hated American Idiot didn't they?


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Addams Family - Music & Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Enron - Music: Adam Cork, Lyrics: Lucy Prebble
Fences - Music: Branford Marsalis
Memphis - Music: David Bryan, Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan *


I still say that if The Who's Tommy can claim that their concept album was originally written for the theatre, than so can Green Day's American Idiot and to a degree, even Fela!. I also love that I've only seen 1 Best Original Score despite seeing most of the new shows.


BEST ORCHESTRATIONS
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis


Tom Kitt deserved a nod for American Idiot's luscious sounds.


BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
Christopher Oram, Red



BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles


I approve!


BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family



BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles



BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences



BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!



BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY
Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge



BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim



Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SYTYCD All Star Pasha!

Pasha Kovalev! Peace out!

Currently on tour with Burn the Floor and So You Think You Can Dance Season 7 All Star! New Season starts May 27th where I'll definitely be back with my SYTYCD posts! Get ready!

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Musical of Musicals - Sondheim on Sondheim - Musical Review Review

Sondheim on Sondheim - Studio 54 - Broadway, New York, NY - *** (out of 5 stars)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Conceived and Directed by James Lapine, Musical Staging by Dan Knechtges
Opens Apr. 22nd 2010, Closes Jun. 13th 2010. Note: Review based on preview performance.


To musical theatre fans, Stephen Sondheim is probably already a god for writing the "intelligent" musicals. To everyone else, Stephen Sondheim who? Oh, the guy that co-wrote West Side Story? (Actually, just the lyrics, but will non-musical fans know that? Or care?)

The Roundabout Theater Company now presents a new musical review celebrating the songs by Stephen Sondheim. It intermixes old and new interview clips with Stephen Sondheim himself, talking about his life, explaining the choices he made as he wrote some of his most famous songs, while a wonderful cast performs those songs live. A few songs that were cut from shows are explained and performed for our listening pleasure, and the interviews give us a peak into Sondheim's creative process, while we simultaneously get to enjoy his creative results. It's basically like a DVD extra come to life on stage.

Except, as much as I enjoyed the results of the night, particularly the top notch cast they've assembled (that includes Barbara Cook in her first Broadway musical appearance in 40 years, Vanessa Williams coming off the high of a terrific series finale for Ugly Betty, Norm Lewis (The Little Mermaid), Tom Wopat (A Catered Affair), and up and comers Euan Morton, Leslie Kritzer (On the Town, A Catered Affair), Matthew Scott (Ace) and Erin Mackey (Wicked)), I couldn't help but wonder if anybody but theatre geeks would enjoy this. (I brought my friend who enjoys musicals but is no expert and she seemed to politely appreciate the show while hiding her boredom).

To be honest, while I thought the interviews were fascinating, I thought they would go even further in depth into Sondheim's creative process, and only felt like he skimmed the surface of what how he truly works and thinks. There's some interesting tidbits about his personal life, but again, felt like it just hinted at something deeper that may or may not have affected his writing (though he claims most of the songs he writes are not at all autobiographical in any way with the exception of Merrily We Roll Along).

The staging and turntable set for the show helps move the show along with some clever usages of screens. And the cast is absolutely wonderful and the musical interludes are staged with enough theatricality to give the song a framework to understanding it.

There's a playful sense of humour amongst the cast, wonderfully mined by Broadway legend Barbara Cook who seems to lap up being the grand dame to her younger co-stars.

Vanessa Williams exudes sultry sophistication singing Sondheim's songs (sorry, I just had to!).

Matthew Scott is surprisingly wonderful (whom I missed as the lead in Ace the day I saw it) while Erin Mackey (probably the actor with the smallest show list in her bio) nicely fits in with her more seasoned castmates. A fave of mine, Leslie Kritzer shows again why she's moving up in the musical theatre world, while Euan Morton is so charming that I wish I had gone to see Taboo.

But overall, the excellent cast, singing some of Sondheim's incredible music, only made me want to see the original musicals even more (seriously, I know Company just had an excellent Broadway revival but can we have it back? Ditto with Sunday in the Park with George). Sondheim on Sondheim is well done, but in the end, still seems like an elaborate musical theatre history lesson you would take in university, except with an all-star cast presenting it.

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Gleeful Support

So we love Jonathan Groff on Glee don't we? Yah, who wouldn't.

Now get his cousin James Wolpert on the show! Vote for him here.

Here's his audition video singing "Rehab".



Here's some of his other vids he's made for youtube. Adorable and listen to that VOICE. (Apparently it runs in the family):

"Mississippi" - (Original Song by James Wolpert)


"Breakeven" (by The Scripts):


"I Don't Need No Doctor" (John Mayer and Ray Charles):


"Lucky" (by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat) with sister Rachel (seriously, apparently it's in the genes)


"June" - Original Song by James Wolpert


And yes, he was on ABC's reality show (to win the closing credits in HSM3) High School Musical: Get in the Picture. He lost. What a sham.
With Bailey Purvis singing "Bleeding Love"


Stan Carrizosa, Tierney Chamberlain, Christina Brown, Isaiah Smith, TJ Wilkins, and James Wolpert performing popular TV Themes: One Day At A Time, Mary Tyler Moore, Greatest American Hero and Cheers:


Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Grow The Lies and Attacks - American Idiot - Musical Review

American Idiot - St. James Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Music by Green Day, Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, Directed by Michael Mayer, Choreographed by Steven Hoggett
Opens Apr. 20th 2010. Note: Review based on an early preview.


Yes it is! Green Day has made it to Broadway! Well, the band isn't on Broadway themselves, but their new musical, based on their concept album American Idiot (originally thought of as a base for a musical movie) has made it to the Great White Way and they're painting it Green!

Now thanks to Michael Mayer and most of his team from Spring Awakening, including Christine Jones and Kevin Adams designing a simple and bold look with their sets and lighting, layered with Darrel Maloney's Video and Projection Designs, have turned one of my favorite albums into an exhilarating and visceral theatrical experience. Hearing Green Day songs sung in a chorus is simply wonderous and chilling.

Green Day's album American Idiot always felt like it had a story in it, and was built as a thread for something operatic (and their music video for "Wake Me Up When September Ends" hinted at it) so Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer have pieced the album and some new songs off Green Day's latest album (including the song "21 Guns" into a big Broadway musical. While the story is threadbare and almost non-existent, the musical is shaped more as vignettes (much like Spring Awakening or Company) to tell a more generalized story of three bored, angry and ambivalent youths which becomes less about a particular character or their story and more symbolic representatives of an apathetic and angry generation.

The "story" follows Johnny (John Galagher Jr., above right, Tony winner for Spring Awakening) and his friends Will (Michael Esper, above left, A Man For All Seasons) and Tunny (Stark Sands, above centre Twelfth Night) as they rage from bored teenagers in suburbia before the real world forces them out of their cushy anger. They're young people who are angry at the lies they've been fed and they're ready to attack at... well... something... maybe... everything... maybe... well, nothing really. Welcome to the new generation. "Welcome to a new kind of tension. All across the alien nation."

Will finds himself stuck when his girlfriend Heather (Mary Faber, above with Esper, Saved) becomes pregnant, Johnny meets Whatsername (Rebecca Naomi Jones, Passing Strange) but still falls into the traps of drugs via St. Jimmy (Tony Vincent), while Tunny tries to find himself and his purpose by enlisting in the army.

It's a simplistic tale, told in an intermissionless 90 minutes, but Green Day's songs, Michael Mayer's direction and Steven Hoggett's pulsating choreography holds it mostly together, with only a few moments that slow to a dragging pace from an oversimplified story. It's an interesting development in musical theatre that continues to shift the Broadway musical into a more artistic ethereal artform. Long are the days when Oklahoma (which improved upon the play Green Grow The Lilacs it's based on) was one of the first musicals that used the songs to advance the story. Now the songs ARE the story.

With the thin (but sometimes surprisingly humourous) book, the show relies on the staging to define the songs. The unexpected choreography by Steven Hoggett (who also did the brilliant Black Watch) injects some real emotions into the characters (and the ensemble) and makes the movements into theatrical brilliance. Hoggett's movements give the story a depth it may lack with the spoken words, and the ensemble is spectacularly game in the physicality of it all.

John Galagher Jr. leads the show as the most central character Johnny and gives an honest stripped down performance in a highly stylized show.

Tony Vincent wails out Green Day's songs as the impish evil St. Jimmy, the enticer to all of Johnny's weaknesses and ultimately his demise. With his punk rock look, Vincent's gives a wicked and terrifically piercing performance.

Stark Sands, almost unrecognizable from his good-boyishly good looks, gives a beautifully heartfelt performance as Tunny, the man who gets easily seduced by the army (Joshua Henry (The Wiz) singing "Favorite Son") and then loses a limb in the casualty of war, while winning the love of The Extraordinary Girl (Christina Sajous, above with Sands). Sands (who was previously nominated for a Tony in the revival of the play Journey's End) has such a stunning voice that works beautifully with Green Day songs that it's a wonder he hasn't been in a Broadway musical before (though he did do the recent Bonnie & Clyde musical at La Jolla).

Rebecca Naomi Jones plays more of an idea of a girl than an actual one (she doesn't even have a name, and is referred to as Whatsername), but Jones' gusto (so fabulous in Passing Strange and Wig Out) gives the outline of a woman the depth to counter John Galagher Jr.'s Johnny.

Mary Faber and Michael Esper do what they can but probably have the least amount and least interesting story to work with, though at least Faber gets to belt out her fabulous voice. Esper's voice is shaky at times but gives an endearing performance, especially considering the minimal information we have about Will.

The rest of the ensemble includes some personal favorites including Andrew Call (a standout in both Les Miserables and Glory Days), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening), Brian Charles Johnson (Spring Awakening) and Theo Stockman (Hair).

While the overall show didn't grip me as emotionally as other rock musicals (Rent, Hair, Spring Awakening, Tommy), there's something incredibly exciting about the theatrical nature of American Idiot. With a backdrop of screens scattered on a wall with huge projections overlaying it all, the youthful anger at the American middle class bourgeois lifestyle is wonderfully translated into an artistic emotionally angsty purge. The imperfect stage show still has more energy, soul and spirit in its 90 minutes than half of Broadway put together. While the show is "calling out to idiot America" (and would have been a good lesson to them), it will probably be most appreciated by those who "don't want to be an American Idiot".

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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