OnStage

Tonys: What was that?

Sunday, 10 June 2012 09:41 PM Written by

I was trying to blog (and the machinery is in the next room, and it was winning), so I missed the opening to the annual League spot with Angela Lansbury and Ted Chapin -- and someone upside down. Huh? Self-deprecatrion, I suppose. . . . Judy Kaye's win in "Nice Work" That gives Kathleen Marshall's show the pair of featured actor awards. . . . I think my score is now 6 out of 9. I better go look up the design awards (previously announced) and hope for the best. -- Chris Rawson

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Tonys: Christian Borle . . . Yay!

Sunday, 10 June 2012 09:07 PM Written by
Thanks to "my incredible teachers in Pittsburgh," Christian said -- deftly combining Fox Chapel High School, Carnegie Mellon and who know what/who else. Very classy! . . . In winning the second featured actor award for "Nice Work," Judy Kaye thanked "the best damn band on Broadway" -- very classy. . . . My score is now just 5 out of 8, but who cares, since we have a good, solid Pittsburgh win? -- Chris Rawson

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Tonys: Mike Nichols and John Tiffany

Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:54 PM Written by
Now running only 3 for 5, having also missed direction/play -- I went for Roger Rees and Alex Timbers for their very imaginative work on "Peter and the Starcatcher," but how can you go against Mike Nichols -- theater royalty! . . . Loved his remark, "theater is all about salesmen." And life, too, you might say. -- Chris Rawson

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Tonys: Having fun, now two out of three

Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:34 PM Written by
Really liked that Neil Patrick Harris' opening, "What If Like Were Like the Theater," a question I've often asked myself. Especially love the audience shots, trying to name everyone I see. . . . The "Newsies" number is the best one in that show. . . . And Bernadette Peters is still the cutest mermaid on Broadway, even reading the teleprompter deadpan. . . . I got featured actress/play and choreography (that's one for Jeff Calhoun's show), missed featured actor/musical (though as I said, I was rooting for Michael McGrath -- chalk up one for Kathleen Marshall's show). -- Chris Rawson

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Tonys coming

Sunday, 10 June 2012 07:55 PM Written by
7:55 pm -- Getting ready to Tony-gorge. Dcided not to watch the pre-show, red carpet stuff -- I'm supposedly semi-retired, after all. Many's the year I've watched the Tonys from the press room at Rockefeller Center (and sometimes venues far, far worse than that elegant spot, where we had to wear tuxes just to get in), but this year it's in the comfort of my home, happily willing to take note of how bad I do in the predictions department. And although you're supposed not to root in the press box, at home I can root especially hard for our Pittsburgh nominees. -- Chris Rawson

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There were many winners at the Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards for High School Musical Excellence tonight, among them, the audience that was witness to a night of amazing talent on the Benedum Center stage. Besides sending Avonworth's Nathan Pool and Brooke Tate to the national competition in New York City,  a bunch of seniors who work onstage and behind the scenes were rewarded with $87,000 in scholarships.

Joe McGoldrick, representing Point Park University’s Musical Theater Department, presented Adrianne Knapp of Our Lady of Sacred Heart and Brandon Martin of North Hills with a $5,000 per year, four-year scholarship to attend Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts for musical theater.

Pittsburgh CLO awarded Gene Kelly Cash Scholarships totaling $10,000 were presented to two high school seniors who have applied and been accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts. This year’s recipients are Elizabeth Faux and Zander Lyons. These merit-based scholarships are made possible through donations from Paul Block, Virginia Nicklas, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Leslie Kerr and Drew Birns Creative Arts Scholarship.

The Pittsburgh CLO Ambassadors awarded $5,000 in scholarships to two college-bound students who will be pursuing a major outside of the arts. The 2012 Ambassadors’ Scholarship winners were Hannah Devlin and David Kline.

The Pittsburgh CLO Guild awarded $4,000 scholarships to eight students who are pursuing a college education in the theater arts. The Guild presented scholarships in the name of Constance T. Rockwell and the Charity Randall Foundation to Tyler Harper, Alyssa Abraham, Gabrielle Bricker, Zander Lyons, Olivia Meyer, Savannah Spratt, Alexa Anderson and Rebecca Love.

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Saturday, May 5, PG Broadway ShowPlane, Day 4 (the last)

Four days seems like plenty in prospect, but just a scrap in retrospect, as departure beckons. Still, today I had two shows to enjoy, plus a farewell dinner and drinks with friends to stretch a long day into early morning.

At night, the ShowPlane group saw a new musical, “Leap of Faith,” based on the 1992 movie that starred Steve Martin, Deborah Winger, Liam Neeson and a strong supporting cast. Two local connections: Martin joined the movie when Michael Keaton dropped out; and Rob Ashford was the director-choreographer for the 2010 premiere of the new musical in L.A.

But whatever the origins, they certainly go back to “The Rainmaker” (1954 on Broadway; 1956 movie), which became an earlier musical, “110 in the Shade” (1963, revived 2007). Or maybe it's more complicated than that, like the tangled web of textual variations in a Shakespeare play.

More to the point, we had a good time at "Leap of Faith," although star Raul Esparza is very cool for a charismatic faith healer, conman or not. Still, I'd guess this is at least a contender for a future life on tour..

Earlier, for my matinee, I saw Bruce Norris’ very engrossing (and funny, but serious, too) “Clybourne Park,” which starts out as the flip side of “A Raisin in the Sun.” If you recall that classic 1959 play, the black Younger family is deciding whether to move out to a white suburb. Here, we see the upset that causes in the suburb. Act 2 is 50 years later, in the same house, as a white couple is about to move in, part of a wave of gentrification of what had long ago become a black neighborhood.

It’s very clever, but not just clever, but thoughtful. Along with “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” it was my favorite for the week. (Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, sitting just in front of me, seemed to have a good time, but how can you really tell?)

In between matinee and evening, many in the group shared a farewell dinner at Bond 45, ever sadly memorable to me as the site of the opening night party after the 2007 premiere of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” – the only premiere he couldn’t attend.

Later that evening, again in the August Wilson vein, I had drinks at Sardi’s with Todd Kreidler (August’s long-time colleague) and wife Erin, charmingly pregnant, and we were joined by August’s last Broadway director, Kenny Leon, and his new wife, Jennifer Gordon Thompson. Kenny happens to have directed the 2004 Broadway revival of “Raisin in the Sun,” plus the 2008 TV version, but I didn't get his opinion of "Clybourne." He and Todd have a fistful of projects in the works . . . .

It’s hard to keep up with it all.

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Friday, May 4, PG Broadway ShowPlane (No. 95!), Day 3

Why don’t the Broadway theaters have varied matinee days, the way they do in London’s West End? Over there, shows split between Wednesday and Thursday matinees, and there are a couple on Tuesdays and even Fridays (everyone has a matinee on Saturday). Very few have matinees on Sunday, but even so, you can easily see 10 West End shows in the same week where you can see only 8 on Broadway.

OK, that’s the annual complaint, now out of my system.

So for the PG ShowPlane on Friday, Our Fathers Who Art Gullivers Travels always plan an optional morning tour, generally using Joyce Gold, a one-woman encyclopedia of things Manhattan (and probably the other four boroughs, as well). We bused up nearly to the top of Manhattan to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, billed as the oldest surviving house in NYC, built in 1765 as a country estate, 10 miles north of what was then the city.

Along the way, Joyce made the miles speed by with a continuous commentary on the sights (and sites) we passed, filling this occasional-guide with awe. Then at Morris-Jumel we had an indefatigable guide in Margaret Oppenheimer (whether of the Funds or not, I do not know) – an art history Ph.D. and volunteer docent, as perky as she is knowledgeable. Personally, I took special pride in that the lady of the house in its early years was born in Providence, R.I. (my home town), albeit in circumstances that forced her into something like prostitution before she assiduously climbed the social/financial ladder, even spending a brief time as the wife of Aaron Burr.

Then off to a very good group lunch at Marseilles, back in mid-town, and then (for me) a chance to pick up my granddaughter Ella at school and visit the family before heading back to midtown for theater.

Tonight’s play was a new musical, “Ghost,” based on the movie of 20 years back. It had one of those really juicy, memorably negative reviews from the N.Y. Times, but it’s fared better with other critics, it’s running well in London and the PG group (me, too) generally had a good time. The great attraction is some innovative projection techniques that swirl you through the canyons of NYC and also allow figures to de-materialize as required – that, plus a Tony-worthy performance by Da’Vine Joy Randolph as the psychic medium (played in the movie by Whoopi Goldberg).

Ensemble member (and swing) Mike Cannon, a North Hills native and Point Park graduate, was on stage that night, and afterward, he and p.r. whiz Emily McGill of the Pittsburgh McGill theater family spoke to our group over drinks at Sardi’s.

More about all this later!

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