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Stage Door: Ghost Musical, War Horse, Sandra Bernhard, Tony Predix

Future Live Blog Alert! The Tony Awards are this Sunday evening, June 12th on CBS with Neil Patrick Harris hosting. We'll do a live blog even though we haven't seen most of the productions. It's still the Tonys which means: song, dance, celebrity, weird gaffes that you'd think wouldn't be possible in a show celebrating LIVE performances... i.e. shouldn't they know how to handle live events?

So be here if you're so inclined. Now on to our four theater topics with film tendencies.

Since all hit films (from 1984 and onwards) are now required to become stage musicals at some point, this had to happen. Should we predict right now that whoever plays Oda Mae Brown wins the Tony when this hits Broadway? 

I was going to write up this "preview" embedded below but sometimes you gotta admit that there's no topping another write up. I challenge anyone to beat Movie|Line's headline... "YOU IN DANGER, LEGIT THEATER"

I've been a bad Oscar pundit and haven't yet picked up the novel on which this hit play and Steven Spielberg's upcoming movie are based. From what I've gleaned about the show and its competitors, I can see where Michael Muston at ArtsBeat is coming from when he says:

“War Horse” is a children’s story. It’s not a remarkable piece of dramaturgy. It’s all in the staging. People are going to conflate in their heads the play with the staging, and it’s going to win the Tony.

As for Steven Spielberg's film version... there hasn't been all that much news yet but when I saw this tweet from MTV's Josh Horowitz I initially interrupted it as "he's seen the movie!". Overexcitability much, Nathaniel?

One assumes, after smelling salts, that Josh meant the play and has already imagined its suitability for hankies, Oscars, and iconic bearded auteurs.

For my birthday celebration my friends took me to see Sandra Bernhard's new show "I Love Being Me, Don't You?" which was indecent with 'look how many famous friends I have!' shenanigans: Justin Bond, Rufus Wainwright and Liza Minnelli came out for duets and Chaddo Ralph Rucci designed her stunning wardrobe.

Though thrilling on paper, the guest appearances were too unrehearsed to be the highlight of the show. The best moments were 100% undiluted Sandy... (More Sandra --with video -- and the Tony Award Predictions) the diva riffing on absurdities from newspapers or ad campaigns (very funny bits about eating in Beirut, and vodka companies courting the gays), perfect sincere/ironic song choices ("Kiss Me Deadly!"), her always-enjoyable abrasiveness about other celebrities (Lady Gaga's "my gays" was skewered), and that strange only-Sandra-can-pull-this-off trapped in other times feeling. The show's absolute best moment was a 70s song-laced monologue about her teenage Cat Stevens obsession and a girlfriend who went missing in Arizona never to be found again. That number's crescendos and diversions were reminiscent of her definitive show "Without You I'm Nothing" without feeling like a retread. 

Here she is with Liza. It's always fun to see Liza sparkle though one must wonder if her entire closet is now filled with only black sequin pantsuits. That's seriously all she ever wears for years now!

Now if only someone would give Ms Bernhard a film role as great as King of Comedy (1983) again... sigh. 

"...unfortunately it was my first film. For me it's been downhill ever since"

LOL. So robbed of an Oscar nomination for that film, damn you AMPAS!

A friend and I tried the "Book of Mormon" matinee lottery in the hopes of seeing it before Tony night but we did not win. However, I was greatly amused/pleased to here a TFE reader's name shouted out as one of the winners  -- I knew the name from our comments and recognized him from twitter. Small world.

Moore & Barkin celebratin' somethingSpeaking of winners... Here's how I think it will go down
PLAY - War Horse | REVIVAL - The Normal Heart | DIRECTOR - The Normal Heart | ACTOR - Rylance (Jerusalem... though I worry this won't happen) | ACTRESS - Nina Arianda (Born Yesterday) | FEATURED ACTOR & ACTRESS -John Benjamin Hickey  & Ellen Barkin (The Normal Heart - reviewed).  I'm hoping Julianne Moore is there in support and we get a reaction shot when Barkin wins. Though the Drama Desk, a precursor prize, went to Edie Falco in The House of Blue Leaves so it might be a nail biter. (Either way, a famous middle-aged blonde New Yorker is winning)

MUSICAL -  The Book of Mormon | REVIVAL - Anything Goes | Director -The Book of Mormon | Score - The Book of Mormon | ACTRESS - Sutton Foster (Anything Goes) | ACTOR - Tony Sheldon (Priscilla... in the Terence Stamp "Bernadette" role. Though I'd love to see Norbert Leo Butz win for Catch Me If You Can) | FEATURED ACTOR John Laroquette (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) | FEATURED ACTRESS Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge... in the 

TECHNICALS -I'm betting that War Horse and Anything Goes split the other prizes except for costumes where I expect the Priscilla designers will repeat their Oscar win with Tonys - yes, it's the same team. But how will Lizzy top that gold credit car dress?

Here's a little visual preview of those three shows.


I predict that The Book of Mormon, despite the rabid enthusiasm, will not win all that many statues... just the tippity top ones.

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Reader Comments (17)

I love Nina Arianda, and I'm glad she's popping up more and more.

I'm really curious about Carey Mulligan in Through a Glass Darkly. Sounds amazing to me.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

I'm rooting for Patina Miller. :P

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

RJ, I've heard horrors about Mulligan and/in Through a Glass Darkly. Fortunately, it was just one friends' opinion, but I do trust him. Depressing, I know.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I'll say this about Ghost - the music sounds generically awful, but the stagecraft in that clip looks like it might be very impressive. I might be willing to give it the benefit of the doubt if the reviews aren't awful.

Seriously, if Mark Rylance doesn't win for Jerusalem, there is no God. That is a performance for the ages. Genius at work. The superlatives don't even do it justice. AND, he was also great in La Bete (yay, Joanna Lumley for getting a nomination for that play - so deserving!) in which he literally has a fifteen-minute monologue in the first five minutes of the show that was so hilarious I couldn't breathe the first time I saw it, I was laughing so hard. If any actor deserved that trophy, it's him. What I can't understand is why Brian Bedford got nommed for Leading Actor for Importance of Being Earnest - he's fabulous as Lady Bracknell, but he is only in two scenes of a three-act play. It is a SUPPORTING ROLE, goddammit! See, category fraud happens everywhere in awards land!

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Have to say, Carey Mulligan is amazing. Show is a mixed bag, feels like the talky parts of a screenplay with no theatricality added. But after slow start it builds nicely. And it is absolutely worthwhile to see Mulligan, a true natural, at work.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

I love Barkin and Moore as celeb biffles. What's even more amazing about their friendship is how much of a head start Barkin had on fame—she was an established movie star when Moore was just getting breaks in the business. If they were friends through that time, it would remind me a lot of Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts (if Nicole Kidman's career were to peter out and Watts were to become the greatest actress of her time *knocks swiftly on wood*) in some ways.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

So.........if Patina Miller wins a Tony this year, we could have a trifecta of Whoopi's three most famous roles as winning or potentially-winning stage roles. Very odd.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam C.

Also, I haven't seen Normal Heart, but whenever Joey Grey wins anything I scream a little in happiness. And he hasn't won anything in my lifetime, so here's hoping!

Personally, I'm predicting three Acting wins for Book of Mormon. I'm crazy, I know.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam C.

Seems Hickey is a lock so I'll be enormously happy next sunday.
I'll go with Frances. I love her.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

i'm predicting 8 wins for the book of mormon - musical, direction, book, featured actor, featured actress, scenic, lighting and sound design

anything goes - 3 - revival, actress, choreography

priscilla - 2 wins - actor, costumes

scottsboro boys - 2 - score, orchestrations

as for the plays -

war horse - 5 - play, direction, scenic, lighting and sound design

normal heart - 3 - revival, actor, featured actor

good people - 1 - actress

motherfucker - 1 - featured actress

la bete - 1 - costumes

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Rylance won two seasons ago. It's between the rest of the men, I think.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Sam, I don't think that's strange at all. They were winning or potentially-winning roles for Whoopi on the screen, so I think it makes sense.

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

I'm really, really hoping Tony Sheldon wins- thought he was absolutely amazing! Though I wont begrudge Norbert Leo Butz, cause I love him too and he is the best thing about "Catch Me If You Can". And I know there is really no chance of this actually happening, but I would love to see my favorite musical theater diva, Donna Murphy, pull out a win as well. She is exquisite in a so-so show.

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeehee

No Frances?!

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIan C.

par -- do they even show the Tonys in australia?

June 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

we get them live (10am monday) on pay tv. we're not short on show queens down here

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

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