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.

The Rockettes’ ‘Heart and Lights’ Postpones Its Run

Heart and Lights, the new Rockettes show that was slated to begin performances on March 27, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall, has cancelled its run less than week before its first scheduled show.  The producer, MSG Entertainment, part of the Madison Square Garden Company, cited narrative issues as the reason for postponement until 2015.

heart and lights

Though traditionally successful with their Rockettes Christmas extravaganza in the winter season, MSG Entertainment has often struggled in attracting tourists during the spring and early summer season. They were attempting to turn that trend around with Heart and Lights, a love affair to New York City in which two cousins explore the city of their grandmother’s youth.  With choreography by Rockettes artistic director Linda Haberman, Heart and Lights has a story written by Doug Wright, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of the 2004 Broadway play I Am My Own Wife.

While narrative problems were the officially stated reason for the delay, the musical must not have been doing stupendously in terms of advance ticket sales.  Though MSG Entertainment claimed 100,000 tickets were sold out of the 350,000 tickets available, the show did show up on discount sites such as Groupon a week ago.  In any case, because of back-to-back booking at Radio City Music Hall following the scheduled 5-week run, Heart and Lights has needed to delay until 2015.  This decision left the 40 Rockette performers, not to mention the entire crew, jobless at the last minute.  It was reported that several of the dancers broke out in tears in hearing the news.  Furthermore, the producers were estimated to have incurred a loss of at least $5 million from foregone ticket sales alone.

For the final dress rehearsal of Heart and Lights, MSG executive James Dolan invited film impresario Harvey Weinstein, as well as producers Jane Rosenthal and Daryl Roth, to pipe in.  Though these individuals’ opinions have not been stated publically, it is clear that their advice was one of the final straws in Dolan’s decision to cancel the show.  Doug Wright commented only that Linda Haberman is a pleasure to work with, and that the rest of the heartbreaking tale of the deferment would be saved for his memoirs.  While the story was not ready, the intensive special effects and expert Rockettes dancing were said to be in top shape.  Fortunately, the groundbreaking 3-D technology and innovative puppetry will only be put on hold, as audiences will be able to witness their delights when the book has been revamped.

The postponed performances dates have not yet been determined, but MSG will make an announcement when they have reached a decision.  All purchased tickets will be refunded at point of purchase, except Ticketmaster purchases which will be refunded automatically.

Ticketmaster Sets A New Broadway Surcharge Record With a $23 Per Ticket “Convenience Charge” For Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana Tickets

Ticketmaster has set a new Broadway record for their “Convenience Charge” surcharge for Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana tickets at the Radio City Music Hall. The surcharge fees jumped dramatically from last year’s $8 -$16 to this year’s $13-$23, setting a new Broadway record. The amount of the surcharge is no longer a flat fee and is now directly connected to the price of the ticket; this year the $158 prime orchestra tickets are attracting the $23 surcharge.

Cirque do Soleil's Zarkana at The Radio City Music Hall

Cirque do Soleil’s Zarkana at The Radio City Music Hall

The surcharges are only applied to patrons purchasing tickets online or over the telephone from Ticketmaster.  The  “in person” sales at the Radio City Music Hall Box Office, on the other hand, are not charged this additional fee. The prior two purchasing methods are often the only options for Broadway and other New York City theater patrons that cannot make it physically to the theater to purchase their Cirque du Soleil Zarkana tickets.

This means that a family of four would pay just under a hundred dollars in Ticketmaster fees, without including the price of the tickets.

Noting the unhappiness directed towards Ticketmaster over these inflated fees, they recently adopted a more transparent ticket sales model in the hopes of diffusing customer anger. Needless to say they didn’t accomplish this by actually lowering their fees, but they at least stopped hiding them. Now, when you select a Broadway ticket on Ticketmaster, you immediately see the total cost, so that the surcharge doesn’t come as such an unwelcome surprise just as you’re about to confirm your purchase. Despite the carping by ticket buyers at the time that Ticketmaster announced this ‘innovation’, it was actually a pretty wise move, since customers generally react better to knowing the total cost upfront–even if the surcharges are still outrageously high.

This price increase by Ticketmaster essentially penalizes out-of-towners, as local New Yorkers are wise to cutting out Ticketmaster and going directly to the box office to purchase tickets. It has been said that Ticketmaster was also trying to claw back some profit from ticket brokers, who resell their tickets at a profit. But with 5,931 seats and 3 shows a day, Zarkana at the Radio City Musical Hall doesn’t suffer the same abuse and manipulation from ticket brokers that a “one-off” concert or a hit Broadway show does.

Cirque du Soleil: Zarkana Review

Cirque du Soleils Zarkana

Zark from Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana ringleads an impressive troupe in this year’s show at the Radio City Music Hall

The golden glow of the walls and the oddly dressed performers walking the aisles set the stage for this year’s incarnation of Zarkana, the latest spectacular by Cirque du Soleil that runs through September 2, at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

The show tells the story of Zark, a magician who has lost his powers, on his quest to rescue his love who was kidnapped. The plot, although confusing, was secondary — after all who doesn’t love a good Cirque du Soleil show strung together on a flimsy premise?

As for action, Zarkana doesn’t disappoint. The opening act features an impressive juggler and although she didn’t miss a beat, the onslaught of performers around her, was quite a distraction from her art.  The Trapeze and Acrobatics were sensational, and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The Cyr Wheel and High Wire acts, although exciting, felt a little too circus-like. The Flag Throwers fell flat, hardly perilous enough to compete with the other death-defying feats followed by the Hand Balancing performer who will not only have you gasping, but will inspire you to run to a local yoga class.

The Sand Painting was by far, one of the highlights of the evening.  The magical ability to highlight every segment of the show using only hands and sand could easily leave you feeling mesmerized.  The Wheel of Death was the show stopper — with the huge cage-like cylinders rotating while two daring performers leapt inside and out, flipping and jumping — was nerve wracking. In an apparent misstep, when the performer’s leg became stuck in the jump rope as the wheel rotated at lightning fast speed, it appeared that near disaster was averted — or maybe it was part of the act.  Either way, it made for a nail biting experience.

As for the creepy factor, the six-armed floating fetus, the “Freddy Krueger meets Little Mermaid’s Ursula” Snake Lady, and eyeball projections will have you and that five-year old having nightmares for weeks.

The stage sets and elaborate costumes made you feel instantly transformed into an odd enchanted world. For a show that is supposedly a rock opera, the music is unimpressive, actually distracting to a point.   It was hard to make out what the singers were saying, even though it was in English versus Cirque’s typical Esperanto.

This is an entertaining show filled with phenomenal talent. Even with the many distractions, Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana, is a must see — but leave the timid toddlers at home.

If you can’t catch Zarkana‘s swan song in the New York show, don’t worry — beginning this fall, Zarkana will make its permanent home at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.