30 April 2013

Popping My Broadway Cherry

It is said that you always remember your first time. Going into it, nerves and excitement fill your mind with doubts and concerns like “are they the right one?” or “what if I don’t like it?” There’s no turning back now, though – the initial apprehension slowly fades and is replaced by the exhilarating thrill of the entire experience. You can't look away. Captivated, with your mouth open in amazement, you begin to feel your heart strings being pulled and you're somewhere between tears and an ecstatic smile. You've opened yourself up and are now completely vulnerable to whatever is thrown at you. You're loving every second of it and want more, and more, and more... and then it's over. Was it good for you? I surely hope so because I had the time of my life!

I am SO excited to be here!

Many people are surprised to hear that, in my twenty-one odd years of living on this planet with three of said years being in New York City, I had never seen a Broadway production. It's certainly not for a lack of interest, I have several friends who have and continue perform on the big stage, but I was always busy with my own show, rehearsals, or was out of town on tour. Still, it wasn't until last Tuesday that I had the honor to see my friends perform in Matilda the Musical.

My best friend, Jason, had been trying to take me to see my first Broadway show since Christmas but, with our schedules being a little hectic, continued pushing it back until it was announced that our friend would be playing a leading role in Matilda the Musical. "Screw Wicked," he said, "I'm taking you to see Matilda!" Upon entering the Sam S. Shubert Theatre, we made a beeline for the bar and ordered a double vodka soda and double gin and tonic to keep us occupied through the first act. I nearly spit out my drink when we found our seats front row center on the mezzanine, with a view of the most gorgeous set I've laid my eyes on. I didn't know it yet but I was only going to be even more impressed with the stage design as the show progressed.

My collection of Broadway playbills begins!

The first song, "Miracle," began and my eyes immediately lit up and a wide, toothy grin formed across my face. I remained in this state of utter bliss, laughing out loud and clapping at every exciting moment and hilarious joke. I enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (played by Gabe Ebert and Lesli Margherita) the same way a child loves their friend's parents because they don't have to deal with them on a daily basis, and then developed a crush on Mr. Wormwood when I saw what he looked like without the mustache and green hair.

Drinks refreshed for the second act, I was ready for Matilda's powers to be revealed very soon. Who didn't love the scene in the hit 90s movie when she started coming into her telekinetic abilities and had a music montage set to "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris? Instead I was overwhelmed into hushed gasps and tears streaming down my face when the school children were joined by their older peers in "When I Grow Up." I wiped my face dry after the song ended and was brought back to laughing, only to be thrown back into emotional distress with the succeeding musical number.

There was no one factor to which I can attribute my transformation into a ball of emotions, and the booze in my system certainly didn't help. Every aspect of the show came together to produce a very well-executed performance. There aren't enough praises I can give to the talented young actress who played Matilda on the night we saw the show. Oona Laurence constantly delivered each line and song with such pure energy and a spark that commanded the audience to shut up and listen.

She forced the audience into silence in "Quiet," taking our breath away and running off with our hearts. Among the extremely talented cast of child actors was Ted Wilson who played Eric and Jack Broderick who played Bruce. Jason noted that Ted looked like the little baby version of me, if I had been thrown into the musical theater world instead of the ballet studio as a child. Both these boys were absolutely fantastic in the show, but what I was most surprised by was Ted's singing voice which you would expect to be a but a squeak with his tiny frame. He really is a perfect example of big things coming in small packages, delightfully surprising us all with a full, gorgeous voice.

Speaking of big things, Bertie Carvel's Miss Trunchbull was flawless. He brought the book and movie character to life in this musical by making us laugh with, instead of at, the villainous character. Never breaking character, even after the curtain call, his improvisation during the chalkboard scene was perfect. It seemed a little awkward when the video footage of the chalk had stopped moving, but he carried the scene forward gracefully and made us believe it - I didn't really even notice until confirming after the show. The one thing friends and I have agreed on wanting to see more of, or potentially earlier in the performance, is why Matilda is so special. We only got a few short scenes highlighting it and, when you read the book or see the movie, it's far more accented.

Regardless this was truly an amazing way to pop my Broadway cherry and I highly recommend seeing the show, not only because I'm biased and have amazing friends in it, but also because it is something you surely won't want to miss. Announced earlier today to be nominated for twelve Tony Awards, this is a show that you need to add to your calendar and experience for yourself.

2013 Tony Awards Nominees Announced

Matilda the Musical

Nominees for the 2013 Tony Awards were announced earlier this morning with some of my favorite people and shows up for honors. The awards show will be broadcast live on CBS on Saturday, the 9th of June. Listed below are the nominees in each category and highlighted are my picks for the award. I am by no means a Broadway authority, nor am I even really a theatre critic, so my favorites to win are simply based on the reviews I've read and personal testimonials I've heard from friends and acquaintances who have seen the performances. Still I wish certain people weren't on this list to make room for those whom I wish could and deserve to be on it. I'm biased, deal with it.

Best Play
"The Assembled Parties"
"Lucky Guy"
"The Testament of Mary"
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Best Musical
"Bring it On: The Musical"
"A Christmas Story, The Musical"
"Kinky Boots"
"Matilda The Musical"

Best Revival of a Play
"Golden Boy"
"The Trip to Bountiful"
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Best Revival of a Musical
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
"Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, "Lucky Guy"
Nathan Lane, "The Nance"
Tracy Letts, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
David Hyde Pierce, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Tom Sturridge, "Orphans"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, "The Other Place"
Amy Morton, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Kristine Nielson, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Holland Taylor, "Ann"
Cicely Tyson, "The Trip to Bountiful"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, "Matilda The Musical"
Santino Fontana, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Rob McClure, "Chaplin"
Billy Porter, "Kinky Boots"
Stark Sands, "Kinky Boots"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Carolee Carmello, "Scandalous"
Valisia LeKae, "Motown the Musical"
Patina Miller, "Pippin"
Laura Osnes, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, "Golden Boy"
Richard Kind, "The Big Knife"
Billy Magnussen, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Tony Shalhoub, "Golden Boy"
Courtney B. Vance, "Lucky Guy"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Shalita Grant, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Judith Ivey, "The Heiress,"
Judith Light, "The Assembled Parties"
Condola Rashad, "The Trip to Bountiful"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, "Motown the Musical"
Keith Carradine, "Hands on a Hardbody"
Will Chase, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Gabriel Ebert, "Matilda The Musical"
Terrence Mann, "Pippin"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, "Kinky Boots"
Victoria Clark, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Andrea Martin, "Pippin"
Keala Settle, "Hands on a Hardbody"
Lauren Ward, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Book of a Musical
Joseph Robinette, "A Christmas Story, The Musical"
Harvey Fierstein, "Kinky Boots"
Dennis Kelly, "Matilda The Musical"
Douglas Carter Beane, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater
"A Christmas Story, The Musical" (Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
"Hands on a Hardbody" (Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green; Lyrics: Amanda Green)
"Kinky Boots" (Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper)
"Matilda The Musical" (Music and LyricsL Tim Minchin)

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Nicolas Martin, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Bartett Sher, "Golden Boy"
George C. Wolfe, "Lucky Guy"

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots"
Diane Paulus, "Pippin"
Matthew Warchus, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Choreography*
Andy Blankenbuehler, "Bring It On: The Musical"
Peter Darling, "Matilda the Musical"
Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots"
Chet Walker, "Pippin"

* Alright, I'll have to see each one before I can really make a choice because my two obvious choices are Kinky Boots and Matilda the Musical, but I heard Bring It On: The Musical was absolutely fantastic - though right now I'm still cheering for Matilda the Musical (surprise!).

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, "Matilda the Musical"
Stephen Oremus, "Kinky Boots"
Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, "Motown the Musical"
Danny Troob, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Bailey, "The Nance"
Santo Loquasto, "The Assembled Parties"
David Rockwell, "Lucky Guy"
Michael Yeargan, "Golden Boy"

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, "Matilda The Musical"
Anna Louizos, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Scott Pask, "Pippin"
David Rockwell, "Kinky Boots"

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, "Cyrano de Bergerac"
Ann Roth, "The Nance"
Albert Wolsky, "The Heiress"
Catherine Zuber, "Golden Boy"

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, "Kinky Boots"
Rob Howell, "Matilda The Musical"
Dominique Lemieux, "Pippin"
William Ivey Long, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, "Lucky Guy"
Donald Holder, "Golden Boy"
Jennifer Tipton, "The Testament of Mary"
Japhy Weideman, "The Nance"

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, "Kinky Boots"
Kenneth Posner, "Pippin"
Kenneth Posner, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Hugh Vanstone, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, "The Trip to Bountiful"
Mel Mercier, "The Testament of Mary"
Leon Rothenberg, "The Nance"
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, "Golden Boy"

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm, "Pippin"
Peter Hylenski, "Motown The Musical"
John Shivers, "Kinky Boots"
Nevin Steinberg, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Bernard Gersten
Paul Libin
Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award
Huntington Theatre Company

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Larry Kramer

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Career Transition For Dancers
William Craver
Peter Lawrence
"The Lost Colony"
The four actresses who created the title role of "Matilda The Musical" on Broadway -- Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro