Sunday, June 03, 2007

Give My Regards to Broadway

The Tonys are this Sunday. This is one awards show to which I’ve never paid much attention. After all, you have to be in New York to have actually seen the plays up for the coveted statuette.

Oh what a difference a new zip code makes.

We’ve lived in New York City for nine months, and in that time, we’ve seen nine Broadway shows. Nine outta nine ain’t bad.

The first show was one of best and most famous to ever grace Broadway. Les Miserables, which recently finished its national tour and celebrated its 21st anniversary (the longest-running West End musical in history) was brought back to New York for just a final few months. A story of crime, punishment and redemption set in 19th century Paris, I was balling like a baby by the end.

This past weekend we saw Jersey Boys, a documentary-style musical based on the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Mixing the concert with the jukebox, Jersey Boys was delightfully infectious fun and it’s not difficult to see why this play won four Tonys in 2006 including Best Musical and Best Leading Actor for John Lloyd Young (Frankie Valli) who just a year earlier was an usher in the very same theater in which he now nightly brings down the house.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was held in what may be the smallest, most intimate venue on Broadway. The hilarious musical comedy centers on a middle school spelling bee and incorporates actual audience members to compete alongside the performers. During our show, the audience member who held out the longest was given a ridiculously long and complex word which, unbelievably, he got right, to the shock of everyone, including the cast members who couldn’t help but break character in flabbergasted laughter.

If Spelling Bee was the smallest Broadway venue we’ve ever seen, Wicked was easily the largest. Wicked is the sort of gargantuan musical The Phantom of the Opera was in its heyday. A prelude The Wizard of Oz, Wicked reveals that the infamous antagonist known as the Wicked Witch of the West was actually a misunderstood, victimized schoolmate and friend of Glinda the Good Witch. There is always two sides to every story.

The Producers just closed its doors a month or so ago. We barely made it. Mel Brooks’ critically acclaimed musical concerns two theatrical producers who plan on getting rich by overselling interest in a Broadway flop. The only problem is, their flop turns out to be quite successful. Ridiculous accents, Nazis caricatures, and show business in-jokes are the name of this hilarious game.

The Apple Tree has been our least favorite of all the plays, though it did contain our favorite performer, the ever-incredible Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing). A series of three distinct musical playlets with a common through-line, the first act is based on Mark Twain’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” the second act is based on Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger?,” and the third act is based on Jules Feiffer’s “Passionella.”

If you think Broadway is a stuffy place, you haven’t seen Monty Python’s Spamalot, the comedic musical “lovingly ripped off” from the highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. All your favorite moments are here, and then some! It won three Tonys, including the Best Musical in 2005.

I’ve always thought the world of Liev Schreiber and I certainly haven’t changed my mind after seeing him roar through Eric Bogosian's powerful play, Talk Radio, about Barry Champlain, a radio shock jock on the eve of his radio show's national syndication. Schreider’s nominated for Best Actor this year and deserves every accolade.

Grey Gardens is one of the most critically lauded and heavily nominated films this year (10 Tony noms including Best Musical and the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical), about the lives of Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt and cousin who became famous recluses and embarrassments to the family. Stellar performances by all.

If anything, this year’s nominations prove just how many shows we yet need to see. Some of the most critically acclaimed plays have escaped us…for now. I for one hope to keep the average going!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liev Schriber = Me-ow

I wish I had gotten around to seeing this one.

I am ashamed that I have lived in NYC for three years and NEVER seen a Broadway show. Lots of local plays with my artsy friends in them but never Broadway. Soon oh so soon, I'll change that!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Student Rush tickets are a great way to do it, so long as you have a few hours to hang out in line the morning of. We have barely paid full price for any of these shows, taking advantage instead of New York Times 2 for 1 promotions, lotteries, student rush lines, etc. It’s a great way to see the great shows at “student lifestyle” prices!

11:54 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

And yes, I love Liev too. I was blown away by his portrayal of Orson Welles in “RKO-281” and have been following his career voraciously ever since. We met at the Telluride Film Festival when he was screening his directorial debut, “Everything is Illuminated.”

11:56 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

which wasn't half bad.

I like him too - have ever since he played 'Cotton' in Scream. Or was it Scream 2? Very watchable.

Re Broadway: overcome with jealousy.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fantastic you've gotten to see all these productions!! = ) Great way to make the most of where you are living, Mr. Fibbs!
Daria : )

12:48 AM  

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