The Winners Are In For The 68th Annual Tony Awards!

Hugh Jackman Hosts, Many Tune In

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall.  As anticipated, they were a gigantic success, and Hugh Jackman received enormous praise for his hosting prowess.  Much discussion was had about Jackman’s very bouncy opening number, which was as aerobic as it was silly, but still it was a very fun way to start the show.  This is the fourth time that Jackman has hosted the event, while another frequent host Neil Patrick Harris took home the award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Though that category was pretty much considered to be a shoe-in, many other winners took the audience and theatre fans worldwide by surprise.  The ceremony was also full of spectacular performances by nominated shows.  7.02 million viewers tuned in to watch the live telecast on CBS, which was a dip from last year’s ratings of 7.24 million viewers.  Unlike other awards shows, there was no official online live stream of the event, but still many people have been watching online clips since the event’s original airing.

a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyTied for the Most Wins: A Gentleman’s Guide and Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As many predicted, the Tony Award for Best Musical went home with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a sleeper hit that beat strong odds to win this coveted award.  This show also earned the award for Best Direction of a Musical for Darko Tresnjak, the artistic director of Hartford Stage where the show first premiered.  He is the first Connecticut artistic director ever to win a Tony Award, and the first Broadway transfer for that theatre since 2003’s Enchanted AprilA Gentleman’s Guide also took home the awards for Best Book of a Mhedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titleusical (Robert L. Freedman) and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho), which tied it for the most wins: four.  The other show to win four awards was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which took home the award for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.  Furthermore, Hedwig earned the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Lena Hall, who played a female to male drag character Yitzhak, as well as Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams).

A Raisin in the Sun, Twelfth Night, Lady Day, All the Way, and all the rest

The most awards for a straight play went to A Raisin in the Sun, which earned three: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo), and Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon).  This is Leon’s first Tony win; he was also nominated for 2010’s Fences, which like Raisin starred Denzel Washington.  In his acceptance speech, Leon made it clear that he believes Washington was snubbed in not receiving a nomination for his role.  Another winning play was Twelfth Night, which took home two awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance as Olivia), and Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani).  This is Mark Rylance’s third Tony win, and the first time his acceptance speech did not consist of a poem by Louis Jenkins.  In addition, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill took home two awards: Best Performance by anTwelfth Night Shakespeare play poster Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy).  At the age of only 43, this is Audra McDonald’s record-setting sixth Tony win, and she is also now the only person to have earned a Tony Award in all four acting categories.  Finally, Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way took home the award for Best Play, and Bryan Cranston earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for portraying Lyndon B. Johnson in that play.

Beautiful Broadway ShowThe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical went to Jessie Mueller for portraying Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which also took home the award for Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan).  The Bridges of Madison County was the only nominated musical not to perform at the event, and yet it earned two awards for Jason Robert Brown: Best Original Score (he wrote the music and lyrics), and also Best Orchestrations.  Rocky won the award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca), and After Midnight won the award for Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle).  Act One took home the award for Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt), and Aladdin earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (James Monroe Iglehart).  The Glass Menagerie took home the award for Best Lighting Design of a Play (Natasha Katz), which is the first time this play has ever earned a Tony Award of the course of its seven productions across history.

The shows that were nominated but failed to win any awards were Bullets over Broadway, Cabaret, Casa Valentina, The Cripple of Inishmaan, If/Then, Les Misérables, Machinal, Mothers and Sons, A Night with Janis Joplin, Of Mice and Men, Outside Mullingar, Richard III, The Velocity of Autumn, and Violet.  Still, this was a year in which no show earned more than four awards, with the winners being fairly well dispersed.  In any case, the winners will surely see a box office boost from their Tony Awards, most notably A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which will most certainly attract many more theatregoers now that it has taken home the honor of Best Musical.

2014 Tony Award Winners:

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER - 4 Tony Awards
Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Freedman)
Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak)
Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho)

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH - 4 Tony Awards
Best Revival of a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams)

A RAISIN IN THE SUN - 3 Tony Awards
Best Revival of a Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo)
Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon)

ALL THE WAY - 2 Tony Awards
Best Play (Author: Robert Schenkkan)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Bryan Cranston)

BEAUTIFUL-THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL - 2 Tony Awards
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jessie Mueller)
Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan)

THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY - 2 Tony Awards
Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown)
Best Orchestrations (Jason Robert Brown)

LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL - 2 Tony Awards
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald)
Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy)

TWELFTH NIGHT – 2 Tony Awards
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani)

ACT ONE – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt)

AFTER MIDNIGHT – 1 Tony Award
Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle)

ALADDIN - 1 Tony Award
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (James Monroe Iglehart)

THE GLASS MENAGERIE - 1 Tony Award
Best Lighting of a Play (Natasha Katz)

ROCKY – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca)

The Tony Awards Ceremony Is This Sunday, June 8th

The Tony Awards Are In Two Days

On this upcoming Sunday, June 8, 2014, the 68th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Hugh 2014 tony awardsJackman.  The nominations, which were announced on April 29, 2014, promise an exciting race that may contain some surprises.  Oftentimes certain categories have obvious shoe-ins, but this year there are many awards for which the winners are presently unclear.  As the date is approaching, many theatre critics have published their predictions, and producers have spent money on advertising to broadcast the nominations of their shows.  However, these efforts are often more to sell tickets than to persuade the approximately 700 Tony voters, who will generally make their decisions based on their own judgments.

Best Play and Best Musical

In the race for Best New Musical, the most likely contender is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which stars Jefferson Mays a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyin a stupendous and versatile leading role.  The other contenders are Disney’s newest show Aladdin, the Harlem jazz revue After Midnight, and the jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  As many shows that were thought to be contenders were left off the nominations list, the most likely winner of these four does seem to be A Gentleman’s Guide, both due to its box office performance and general critical consensus.  As for Best Play, the five nominees are Lincoln Center’s Moss Hart bio-play Act One, Robert Schenkkan’s historical drama about Lyndon Johnson All the Way, Harvey Fierstein’s drag period piece Casa Valentina, the Manhattan Theater Club production of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, and Terrence McNally’s new play Mothers and Sons.  Of these, the most likely contender may very well be All the Way, which took home the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play.

Best Play and Musical Revivals

As for the revivals, in the play category the nominees are Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, John Tiffany’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, Kenny Leon’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, and the all-male Globe transfer of Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance.  That race will be tight, but it is most likely down to The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night.  The musical revival nominees are Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, Les Misérables, and the Roundabout Theater Company production of Violet.  This last category could be said to have a shoe-in prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lead Acting Categories

The nominees for Best Leading Actor in a Play are Samuel Barnett from Twelfth Night, Bryan Cranston from All the Way, Chris O’Dowd from Of Mice and Men, Mark Rylance from Richard III, and Tony Shalhoub from Act One.  The nominees for Best Actress in a Play are Tyne Daly from Mothers and Sons, LaTanya Richardson Jackson from A Raisin in the Sun, Cherry Jones from The Glass Menagerie, Audra McDonald from Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Estelle Parsons from The Velocity of Autumn.  Interestingly, neither of these categories has an obvious winner, and thus the race will be very exciting to watch this coming Sunday.  As for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, that award will most surely go to Neil Patrick Harris from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the award for Best Actress in a Musical is less sure, with the nominees being Sutton Foster from Violet, Idina Menzel from If/Then, Jessie Mueller from Beautiful, Kelli O’Hara from The Bridges of Madison County, and Mary Bridget Davies from A Night with Janis Joplin.tony awards statue

In any case, Sunday is sure to be a thrilling evening, with careers being boosted, the lives of shows being extended, and producers taking home their prize trophies.  Tune in at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

Broadway Fall 2014 Line-Up Falling into Place

This fall looks to be an exciting one on Broadway!  Let’s face it – every new season is pretty exciting.  But with the Tony Awards still a month away to commend the brilliant plays and musicals of the 2013-2014 season, announcements are already being made for shows to open next fall.

It was recently announced that Hugh Jackman will be returning to Broadway this fall in Jez Butterworth’s play The River.  Jez Butterworth’s work was last seen on Broadway with the 2011 production of Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, directed by Ian Rickson, and prohugh jackmanduced by London-based powerhouse theatre production company Sonia Friedman Productions.  Sonia Friedman will be shepherding a Butterworth play once again, after having watched over its production at the Royal Court Theatre, where Jerusalem also premiered.  The partnership between Ian Rickson and Jez Butterworth also holds strong, as Rickson is on board to direct this play.  The River is about a loner on a remote island and the two women in his life, who will be played by British actresses Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo.  The River will begin performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 31, 2014.  A favorite of the Great White Way, Hugh Jackman sold out his 2011 one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, and he will host the Tony Awards this year for the fourth time.

In addition to the proven partnership between director Ian Rickson and playwright Jez Butterworth, another fall show will see the recurrence of a proven Broadway partnership, this time between two beloved actors.  Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who famously co-starred in 2001’s The Producers, will join forces this fall for a Terrence McNally play called It’s Only a Play, directed by Jack O’Brien.  Like The Producers, It’s Only a Play is also a comedy based in the world of show biz.  Having premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1986, It’s Only a Play is the story of a nervous playwright (Broderick) at the opening night party for a play he has written, and his interactions with his backstabbing friend (Lane).  Produced by Tom Kirdahy, who is married to Terrence McNally, the play will begin performances in September at a theatre yet to be announced.

Producer Scott Rudin also has a starry play up his sleeve for this fall.  This Is Our Youth, written by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret, The Starry Messenger) first premiemichael cera kieran culkinred Off-Broadway in a production by The New Group in 1996.  The play centers on three aimless teenagers in New York City, and this Broadway production will star Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat), the show will have an out-of-town pre-Broadway run at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago over the summer, and it will then transfer to Broadway’s Cort Theatre with performances beginning August 18, 2014.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin also appeared in their same roles in an Australian production of this play in 2012, directed by Mark Brokaw.

Further fall productions that have been announced include Simon Stephens’ play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is a transfer from London’s National Theatre via the West End.  The play will occupy the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with previews beginning September 15, 2014.  In addition, The Country House by Donald Margulies will star Blythe Danner at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with previews beginning September 9, 2014 in a Manhattan Theatre Club production.  Finally, it has also been announced that a production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing will play at the American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, and Cynthia Nixon, and directed by Sam Gold.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as many more exciting shows are sure to be announced for the Broadway fall season in the coming months.

Hugh Jackman to Host the 2014 Tony Awards, Sunday June 8, 2014

Hugh Jackman at the Tony AwardsOn June 8, 2014, Hugh Jackman will host the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This is the fourth time the Tony Award winning actor will host the event, previously having emceed the Tony’s in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Jackman is a favorite among Broadway audiences, as proven by the stupendous box office success of his limited engagement one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway in 2011, as well as A Steady Rain in 2009 where he played opposite Daniel Craig.  He earned the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in The Boy from Oz, in which he performed for a year.  He was also recognized with a special Tony Award in 2012 for his work to raise money and awareness for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  He will appear on Broadway next season in Jez Butterworth’s play The River, with performances set to begin early 2015.

Jackman’s film credits include the role of Wolverine in the first installment of the X-Men Series, which he reprised in subsequent films X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.  In addition, he recently starred in Warner Bros’ 2013 film Prisoners, and he will also play Blackbeard in Warner Bros’ upcoming Pan.  In a more relevant role, he starred as Jean Valjean in the 2012 musical film adaptation of Les Misérables, for which he received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award.

2014 tony awardsIn 2005, Jackman received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for his role in hosting the 2004 Tony Awards, and he was nominated for the same honor in 2006 for his efforts in 2005.  In 2009, that specific Emmy Award was retired, and thus Jackman cannot expect to win it this year.  However, this past year, the 2012 Tony Awards broadcast did quite well, receiving five nominations at the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Program, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

Hugh Jackman at the Tonys in 2012.

In taking the mic for the fourth time, Jackman will be tied for having hosted the Tony Awards for the most number of times.  Neil Patrick Harris also hosted four times: in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This year, however, Harris is starring in the title role of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and will most likely join Jackman on stage as a nominee.

This is also the second year since the return of the Tony Awards to their long-time home at Radio City Music Hall.  For the two years prior, the Awards were relegated to the Beacon Theatre as Cirque du Soleil was occupying Radio City.  Award attendees were not pleased with the change in venue, as the Beacon was much smaller and required producers to limit their number of guests.  Thankfully, the event has now returned to its more spacious home, where it appears to stay.

The Tony Award nominations will be announced on April 29, 2014.  April 24, 2014 is the last day for Broadway shows to have their official opening and still be eligible for a nomination.  On June 8, 2014, the broadcast will air on CBS from 8:00 – 11:00 pm (live ET / delayed PT).

Hugh Jackman Cuts Ties With Broadway Bound Houdini

Hugh JackmanSome time ago it was announced that Hugh Jackman would be returning to Broadway in a new musical about legendary escape artist Harry Houdini, written specifically for Jackman. But following a protracted development process, Jackman has announced that he is dropping out of the project.

“I have greatly enjoyed the collaborative process on Houdini,” stated Hugh Jackman. “Ultimately, though, I wasn’t able to commit to the time this role will require. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the creative team and I wish everyone the best.”

Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) was originally attached to write Houdini‘s book, but he left the project last year and a new writer has not yet been named. Jack O’Brien is set to direct the production, which is currently expected to hit Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

Les Miserables Movie Receives 8 Oscar Nominations

Les MiserablesThe new film version of the stage phenomenon Les Miserables, which opened to excellent box office on Christmas Day, fared well today on the awards level when the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. Les Miserables nabbed a total of eight Oscar nominations, including the most coveted award, Best Picture.

The nominations that Les Miserables received were mostly as expected. The greatest amount of buzz has surrounded Hugh Jackman (as Jean Valjean) and Anne Hathaway (as Fantine), and they earned the movie musical’s only two acting nods, for Best Performance By a Leading Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

As a period piece, it’s not surprising that Les Miserables took nominations for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Given that it’s a musical, and one that notably used the unusual technique of live singing, it also is no surprise that it got a Best Sound Mixing nod.

Perhaps the biggest shoo-in for a nomination was composer/lyricist team Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer for Best Original Song. As has become tradition for film musicals, the team especially wrote a number, “Suddenly” (sung by Hugh Jackman), for the movie, in the hopes of getting the Oscar nomination for original song — and they did.

Les Miserables Movie Tops Christmas Box Office

Hugh Jackman Isabelle Les MiserablesBroadway musical theater fans can breathe a sigh of relief as the Hollywood box office grosses have revealed that the new Les Miserables movie had a very strong opening day. The 2nd highest ranking Christmas Day opening of all time, Les Miserables earned $18.1 million on its first day in movie theaters, drawing out holiday audiences eager to see Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe go head-to-head on the big screen. The film has also enjoyed a largely positive critical response, currently at 73% positive on RottenTomatoes.com.

While Broadway fans have flooded message boards with reviews of the movie adaptation of the beloved musical, the movie’s great box office performance can be counted as a plus for most Broadway fans whether they like Les Miz or not, because when a new Hollywood movie musical does well it bodes well for future film musicals. There is already buzz that Les Miz‘s success means there will soon be a screen adaptation of Miss Saigon, the other major musical success by Les Miz‘s songwriting team, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil.

Les Miserables Movie Opens Christmas Day

Hugh Jackman Les Miserables freedom is mineFans of the worldwide sensation Les Miserables don’t have to wait one day more to finally see the much-anticipated movie version of the musical. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and featuring an international all-star cast, Les Miserables opens nationwide in movie theaters today, and is likely to be a hit with the Christmas Day movie theater-going crowd who have gathered with their families for the holidays.

Based on the classic Victor Hugo novel that tells the stories of multiple characters during a period of revolution in 1800s France, Les Miserables was one of the great stage musical hits of the 1980s, becoming a huge success in London, on Broadway, and all across the globe. The long-awaited movie adaptation stars Hugh Jackman as convict-turned-philanthropist Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as his police inspector nemesis Javert. The film also stars Anne Hathaway (singing one of the musical’s signature numbers, “I Dreamed a Dream”), Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, and Broadway’s own Aaron Tveit (Next To Normal) in key roles.

As usual with movie musicals, which have been a Hollywood rarity for decades, the Broadway community will be eager to see how the Les Miserables film is received by the public at large because, if it does well, that will be considered a good omen for more Hollywood musicals.  Furthermore, many Broadway fans will be anxious to see whether or not the movie lives up to their expectations in its adaptation of the familiar and well-loved musical.

Once Takes Top Honors at the 2012 Tony Awards

Many Broadway shows were honored at the 2012 Tony Awards this past Sunday evening, but it was the musical Once, based on the Irish indie film of the same name, that received the most recognition, nabbing eight Tonys (including Best Musical and Best Leading Actor for Steve Kazee).

Little-show-that-could Peter and the Starcatcher won the second largest number of Tony Awards, taking a total of five Tonys, including Best Featured Actor in a Play for Christian Borle (now well-known to TV audiences for his role as a Broadway songwriter in the NBC series Smash).

Beloved Broadway actress Audra McDonald received her fifth Tony Award, this time for her acclaimed performance in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which took the Best Musical Revival award.

The Best Play award went to the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Clybourne Park, while the Best Revival of a Play award went to the sell-out production of Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman (co-starring Andrew Garfield, star of the new Spider-man movie).

Newsies, the Disney film flop that has now become a popular Broadway show, won Best Score (for lyricist Jack Feldman and composer Alan Menken), as well as Best Choreography for Christopher Gattelli’s energetic dance moves.

Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, this year’s Tony Awards ceremony not only featured the presentation of the awards to this season’s winners, but also several musical performances (including a special performance by the cruise ship cast of Hairspray on the high seas) and special awards like one given to Hugh Jackman in recognition of the money he raised for charity while performing his solo show.