Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Tony Awards....Awards

It's the night after the 2015 Tony Awards. I've had just over 24 hours to soak in the night and discuss the show with all my theatre loving friends. And I had an idea. I want to give out my own set of awards for the Tonys. My Tony Awards Awards.
So, onward we go......

Best Dressed Tony Winner

In my opinion, the best dressed Tony winner of the night was Annaleigh Ashford. I adored the green dress she was wearing. And her acceptance speech was amazing as well. 

Most Overdue Tony Win

Kelli O'Hara. How has this spectacular creature gone without a Tony win for so long? She had six, yes SIX Tony Nominations. And until last night was winless. Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific, A Light in the Piazza. Really....how is it possible? Oh, yeah...and nothing beats Kelli O'Hara doing the Worm. 

Best Tony Award Acceptance Speech

I adore Ruthie Ann Miles. ADORE. She was spectacular in Here Lies Love and I have no doubts she was totally deserving of the Tony for The King and I. I know there were some stellar Tony speeches last night, but Ruthie Ann Miles' speech won by a long shot in my world. 


Best Tony Musical Performance

It would be easy to give this one out to the spectacular performance from Fun Home. The piece was amazing and Sydney Lucas is a talent that is beyond compare. 


But I'm going to give it a tie with a non-Tony nominated It Should Have Been You, and Jenny
Steinberg's show-stopping performance.

Most Robbed Tony Award

It is hard for me to judge, since I only saw one Tony nominated show this year. However, I can be biased because this is my blog. HOW THE HECK DID STEVEN BOYER NOT WIN?!?!?! Really, I'm sure that other guy was amazing and I heard wonderful things about Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. But Hand to God was possibly the most amazing play I've seen in a few years. And Steven Boyer's performance was amazing. If for no other reason than he played TWO roles to PERFECTION at the SAME TIME. 

Most Awkward Moment

This year's Tony Awards were full of awkward moments. More than usual, methinks. However, there were two that stood out to me. First: Kristin Chenoweth as E.T.
Weird. Just WEIRD. 

Second: The playing off of the Fun Home acceptance speeches for Best Musical in order to.... PLAY A JERSEY BOYS song?!?!? Let me hear the Tony speech please. Best Musical acceptance speech beats an awkward song at the end of the show. Really. 

So, what were you're Tony Awards Awards? Did you have anything that stood out in particular to you? Disagree with a choice I made? What would yours have been? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Street Theatre Company's "Dogfight" Shares the Best and Worst of Humanity

When I first discovered Pasek & Paul’s Dogfight it was during the beginnings of the off-Broadway production. I was caught by the cast (I was a fan of Lindsay Mendez), and then, later, by the amazing music that was leaked onto the internet. When the cast recording of the off-Broadway production was released, I bought it immediately and it has been a staple in my rotation of cast recordings ever since.

Many times I wished a regional theatre or community theatre would take on the story of Eddie and Rose, but it’s a risk, and I knew it. Luckily, Street Theatre Company has never been a theatre to shy away from a challenge or an edgy piece of theatre.

Friday night, STC opened the Nashville premier of Dogfight. Set in 1963, a group of Marines has one final night before being sent to Vietnam. The three bees, also known as Boland, Bernstein, and Birdlace, participate in a cruel game called the dogfight. All the Marines put into a pot and the Marine who brings the ugliest girl to the party… wins.

Eddie Birdlace meets Rose at a diner where
she works with her mother. Awkward and far from your “traditional” beauty, Rose hesitates to go to a party this handsome young Marine has invited her to attend. She relents and heads out on her first date ever. While the first part of the night goes very much the way the audience could have expected; Rose turns Eddie Birdlace’s world upside down.

Audrey Johnson plays Rose. Johnson takes the awkwardness and innocence of Rose and brings the audience into her world. You laugh with her, get excited with her, get angry with her and get sad with her. An outstanding performance and a uniquely beautiful voice, Johnson was a perfect cast for the role of Rose. Johnson was the glue that kept the audience engaged, when they could have checked out because of the cruel things happening in the show.

Jens Jacobson plays Eddie Birdlace. The interesting thing about the role of Eddie is that you aren’t sure if you like him or you think he’s a terrible person. This happens throughout pretty much the entire show. While the character is ultimately redeemable, I can see how it could be a tough role to play. Jacobson does a wonderful job in making Eddie relatable, in spite of all the character shortcomings. Even though you want to smack him for some of the things he does, you also want to hug him for some of the things he does. That, my dear readers, takes talent.  

Boland, played by Taylor Kelly, hires a woman to help him win the contest, even though this breaks the crude rules of the game. Margaret French plays Marcy, the loud and rude woman for hire. Both Kelly and French embodied their roles, essentially becoming the representation of the worst parts of humanity. Boland has no remorse for his actions throughout the show. Marcy is so jaded from her life that she has no room for kindness or pity for anyone; looking out for only herself.

Rose becomes the representation of the best parts of humanity, with her genuine kindness, her hopeful outlook on life, and her ability to give second chances to those who appear to be undeserving of such.  Eddie Birdlace becomes that grey area. The place where the unredeemable becomes redeemed, the point where you see light in the darkness of one’s soul.

When you add in the history of the time period, and the eventual outcome of the Vietnam War, along with the reprehensible way that the returning Vietnam veterans were treated, it allows for the slight redemption of even those darkest characters on stage. A child of a Vietnam vet myself, I couldn’t help my heartbreak for each and every character on that stage, but especially those in the military.

The book and music by Pasek and Paul have so many touching moments and some truly elegant lyrics and harmonies. “Pretty Funny” is perhaps my favorite song in the show and Audrey Johnson brought tears to my eyes with her performance during this scene. “Some Kinda Time” showcases some amazing harmonies by the entire cast of the show and really pulls the audience in from the beginning of the show. I loved the Marcy/Rose duet, “Dogfight.” Margaret French and Audrey Johnson play perfectly off each other in this scene and their voices blend beautifully.

This show is certainly the kind of show that can touch anyone, of any age. It’s a lesson in life, what “pretty” really is, and how much a single night can change a person. When I added in my personal connection because of the Vietnam era, I feel like it was near perfection for me. Direction by Cathy Street was wonderful and the set (designed by Randall Pike) was remarkable, considering the size of the stage and the number of different locations in which the show takes place.

Honestly, I have been trying to find someone to go back and see the show with me since I saw it on opening night. With Street Theatre Company celebrating their 10th season by offering pay-what-you-can tickets, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go see this show. You can purchase tickets on their website and the show runs through June 21st at Bailey Middle School in East Nashville.    

My ticket to see Dogfight was a comp ticket because I wrote a preview piece about the show for BroadwayWorld.com. My opinions are my own and in no way are affected by the status of my ticket.