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In June of each year, the Tony Awards honor the previous Broadway season’s productions. Here are the 2014 Tony Award nominations with my predicted winners. Even though I did not see every show nominated this year, I did see many of them. I thought it might be fun to make my own predictions and add some comments. I’m sure I’ll miss the boat on a number of them.
- Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
- Tim O’Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Mick Potter, Les Misérables
- Brian Ronan, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
This is pretty much a wild guess. Hedwig was the only nominee in this category that I actually saw. I’ll say this: It was loud. Unfortunately, from where I was seated the band overpowered the actors much of the time and that should never be the case. I’ve heard numerous people comment on the impressive sound design for Les Miserables, commenting on the fullness and clarity. How often do you hear people compliment the sound? Usually the average audience member won’t mention it unless they can’t hear the performers.
Best Sound Design (Play)
- Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
- Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
- Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
- Matt Tierney, Machinal
I saw both Cripple and Act One and didn’t notice anything unique or challenging here. “A play with music” is the way Lady Day is being billed. I’m still a little surprised this didn’t end up in the revival musical category. With the challenges of blending music with dialogue, not an issue in the other nominated shows, I expect Lady Day will take the prize.
- Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
- Howell Binkley, After Midnight
- Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County
I saw all but After Midnight in this category and feel better about my choice here. Hedwig is a lighting show. The lighting is an integral element of the show’s concept, not just an enhancement. In addition, it incorporates many effective projections and special effects that normally fall under lighting considerations.
Best Lighting Design (Play)
- Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
- Jane Cox, Machinal
- Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
- Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men
I saw both Cripple and Of Mice… and the lighting for both were fine. I didn’t see Menagerie but it’s a single interior set. I saw pictures from Machinal and the lighting looked spectacular, so that’s my choice.
- Christopher Barreca, Rocky
- Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
- Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Rocky, with it’s innovative design approach and high tech movement– stand above the rest. The fact that the boxing ring flies down from above the stage and then places the ring out in the audience (moving the front rows of patrons on to the stage as fight spectators) wins it the prize alone.
Best Scenic Design (Play)
- Beowulf Boritt, Act One
- Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
- Es Devlin, Machinal
- Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan
The revolving Cripple set was attractive and worked well, the images I saw from Machinal were outstanding; but I have to give this to Act One with its multi-tiered, intricate, revolving set.
Best Costume Design (Musical)
- Linda Cho, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
- William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
- Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Isabel Toledo, After Midnight
I was highly impressed with Cho’s very detail, brilliant designs for Gentleman’s Guide. I couldn’t get over how perfectly she married color, patterns and textures in her stunning costumes.
- Jane Greenwood, Act One
- Michael Krass, Machinal
- Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
- Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
For me, the only clear stand out is the well-executed, period costume design of Twelfth Night. The other nominees were well done but failed to have the impressive design-edge attained through an ornate, classical period design.
Best Book of a Musical
- Aladdin, Chad Beguelin
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Douglas McGrath
- Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical, Woody Allen
- A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Robert L. Freedman
I saw both Gentleman’s Guide and Bullets Over Broadway in this category. Only the book for Beautiful might be considered original, as it was written to showcase the music of Carole King and tells her life story. (Hence, a jukebox musical.) Both Aladdin and Bullets were adapted from films featuring music from those sources. Gentleman’s Guide was adapted from a 1907 novel, that was also the source for a film.
I chose Gentleman’s Guide because I thorough enjoyed it– great story, cleverly told and very well written. Though I’ve heard wonderful things about Beautiful, the book was written to move the songs along more than to tell a story. Bullets is the typical, old book style musical, formula plot and I just don’t feel it works effectively on stage. Most of the jokes fall flat. And Aladdin is, well, Aladdin. I’ve heard nothing to indicate that the book for this production contains anything unique or original beyond being a fairly direct adaptation of the cartoon.
I have to note that the only truly original book, If/Then was not even nominated. Egregiously overlooked, as was Bridges, though it is an adaptation. Poor judgement on the part of the nominating committee, in my opinion.
- Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. Aladdin
- Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
- Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
- Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, If/Then
I will be content with any of the shows winning the award for best score except Aladdin, which is not original. Violet and Hedwig were not eligible because they had previous Off-Broadway runs that did not lead them directly to Broadway this season, so they were not considered new. I feel the same about Aladdin even though its source was a film score.
As much as I truly love the score for If/Then, I have to give my vote to The Bridges of Madison County. The score is simply perfection.
- Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
- Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
- Steve Sidwell, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
- Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Again, If/Then was snubbed in this category. With no disrespect to the other nominees, there is no competition in this category. Jason Robert Brown’s orchestrations are so clearly, far and above the others, they should have just given him the award. Brilliant, lush, gorgeously written, Brown’s orchestrations are probably the best on Broadway in the past twenty years.
- Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
- Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
- Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
- Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
- Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
Birney’s performance is the only one I saw in this category. Dressed as Charlotte, I often found myself forgetting he was a man. A great performance in a difficult role.
I’m actually surprised there are no nominees from All the Way here. Three nominees from one show (Twelfth Night) will probably split the vote and Smith’s role of the Gentleman Caller is rather pedestrian (the role, not his performance), having limited stage time. So Birney is my pick.
Best Featured Actress (Play)
- Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
- Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
- Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
- Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
- Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina
Celia Keenan-Bolger could very well win this category for her performance as Laura in The Glass Menagerie and I wouldn’t be surprised– but my vote goes to one of the most under-valued actresses in stage and film, Mare Winningham. She gives a full, layered performance and obviously feels so at home on the stage. Her performance is so natural and real– and she immediate feels like a old friend you’ve always known.
- Danny Burstein, Cabaret
- Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
- Joshua Henry, Violet
- James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
- Jarrod Spector, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
I didn’t see Iglehart’s Genie but for God’s sake– it’s the Genie in Aladdin. I’ve heard good things about his performance as well. So he is my choice to win. Cordero definitely had the audience in the palm of his hand the night we saw Bullets. The always incredible, Joshua Henry, one of THE best voices on the stage, gives a touching, carefully thought out performance in Violet. I did not see Burstein or Spector’s performances in their respective shows.
Best Featured Actress (Musical)
- Linda Emond, Cabaret
- Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
- Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
- Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
I only saw two of these performances and my prediction is based more on buzz and hype than an actual opinion. In fact, I really don’t feel my prediction should win. Lena Hall is just fine in her performance in Hedwig. I just didn’t find it a memorable performance that will stick with me. She sings back up and is only featured vocally on a couple numbers . Lauren Worsham was excellent in Gentleman’s Guide, but so was counterpart, Lisa O’Hare, who was not nominated and should have been, equally.
Will someone please tell me why LaChanze was not nominated for If/Then?
Best Actor (Play)
- Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
- Bryan Cranston, All the Way
- Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
- Mark Rylance, Richard III
- Tony Shalhoub, Act One
Having seen three of these performances, I think it will be a tight race between Chris O’Dowd’s Lenny in Of Mice and Men and Bryan Cranston’s bravura performance as LBJ in All the Way. Though both performers are both deserving of the prize, I believe Cranston will and should reign victorious.
- Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
- LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
- Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
- Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
- Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn
Some extremely talented women in some powerful role in this category this year. Daly gives a powerful heartfelt performance in Mothers and Sons but I don’t see it as a Best role. Parsons has a disadvantage in that her show closed after an abbreviated run. My head tells me that Cherry Jones should win this but my heart says Audra McDonald, already a five-time Tony winner will edge ahead of the rest. A sixth win would give her the record.
Best Actor (Musical)
- Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
- Andy Karl, Rocky
- Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
- Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
The outcome of this race may upset me. Neil Patrick Harris is fine in Hedwig, just not a Best performance. He could easily win too, being a big supporter of the Broadway community and audience favorite. Jefferson Mays should win this, playing eight roles beautifully in Gentleman’s Guide. Bryce Pinkham gives an outstanding, memorable performance as well. I’m sure one of the reasons Andy Karl was nominated, was the size of the role. Again, he was fine but I didn’t find him memorable this time around. We would have liked to have seen Ramin Karimloo in the new revival staging of Les Miserables but just couldn’t fit it in our schedule.
Another embarrassing omission here– Steven Pasquale in his tour de force performance in The Bridges of Madison County. Had he been nominated, he’d have been my choice. The best live male vocal performance I’ve ever heard in any genre.
- Mary Bridget Davies, A Night With Janis Joplin
- Sutton Foster, Violet
- Idina Menzel, If/Then
- Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
- Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
With so many brilliant female performers in this category anyone of them would be deserving. I was lucky enough to see O’Hara, Foster and Menzel’s incredible performances. So to choose, I had to go with who went the step beyond. In my opinion, combining acting, singing and the challenges of the role put Kelli O’Hara above the rest.
- Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
- Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine, Rocky
- Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
- Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Seeing just two of the four but knowing the requirements of the shows, I chose the dance show, After Midnight. I don’t really remember choreography in Rocky and Stroman’s work in Bullets was not her usual impressive staging.
Best Direction (Play)
- Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
- Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
- Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
- John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie
Cripple was the only nominee I saw here. Going by the numerous acting nominations Twelfth Night received, I figured it was a safe bet to go with director Tim Carroll. I would also be quite happy if John Tiffany won for his direction of The Glass Menagerie. I really wish I could have seen it.
- Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
- Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Leigh Silverman, Violet
- Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
I saw three of the four nominees. The director guides the ship. Some shows require much more steering than others. So I enthusiastically go with Darko Tresnjak’s wild romp in Gentleman’s Guide.
Best Play Revival
- The Cripple of Inishmaan
- The Glass Menagerie
- A Raisin in the Sun
- Twelfth Night
The Glass Menagerie received mostly rave reviews. The fact that this, one of Tennessee Williams’ greatest works has never been nominated, tells me its time has come.
Best Musical Revival
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Les Misérables
It doesn’t matter how good the other nominees are– Hedwig is going to take the prize. Buzz, hype, long lines for tickets and a somewhat legendary history make this a shoo in.
- Act One
- All the Way
- Casa Valentina
- Mothers and Sons
- Outside Mullingar
I saw four of the five nominees and really liked three of them. The most polished and impressive, without a doubt, is All the Way.
- After Midnight
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
- A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
This may end up being a tight race between Gentleman’s Guide and Beautiful. If Beautiful wins, I think it will be considered by many as an upset. I found Gentleman’s Guide to be a perfectly packaged night at the theater and the most innovative of the choices here.
Why aren’t If/Then and The Bridges of Madison County in the running? It’s anyone’s guess. Apparently, an adaptation of a cartoon, a dance show (with existing music) and a jukebox musical are held in higher regard than a completely original new musical or an adaptation with the best score in recent history.
Many people have asked me what the best show was, of the seventeen productions I recently saw. I have yet to pick one. I either really liked the shows or I didn’t. It’s really hard to compare art. And there is really no need to. I feel really fortunate to have seen so many excellent, vastly different productions and performances this year. Even though some of my comments may come across a little negative or snarky; they are purely based on my personal impressions and preferences. I applaud all the nominees and those that were overlooked in what I feel is some of the best accumulative work in any recent Broadway season.
Watch the Tony Awards on CBS Sunday night, be entertained and see how close I am on my picks.
Monday we met with our friends Steve & Amy (from home) who happened to be in NYC this week as well. We had a great time socializing and made our first visit this trip to The High Line with them. The High Line, which runs above Gansevoort Street to 34th Street on Manhattan’s West Side, is a public park built on what was once a historic freight rail line. It was a beautiful sunny day and only took us about an hour to walk the whole park. We’ll be returning with other friends from home later this week and hopefully I’ll get some good pictures to share.
Short on time, the four of us headed back to Times Square and Havana Central (our second time this trip) for lunch before parting ways.
The Cradle Will Rock We actually had tickets for another show that we ended up giving to friends. When we found out that this special, one night only, benefit concert was happening, we couldn’t miss it.
I’m a huge fan of Patti LuPone. Given the opportunity, there was no way I was going to miss the chance to see her recreate her Oliver Award-winning performance in this historic, ground-breaking theatrical work.
The staging was a benefit for The Acting Company, which originally produced the show under the direction of John Houseman. This concert staging directed by Lonny Price, featured LuPone and a number of other original company members, as well as more recent alumni.
This is a work I hope to produce one day. Its political and social message are still relevant today and I have a specific vision for staging the piece.
Tuesday, Michael and I both did a lot of exploring on our own. I’m not sure how much ground Michael covered but I’d traveled over five miles (tracked on my Fitbit) before noon. We initial thought we’d find a new destination to visit and then decided to just explore instead. The great things about a big city is there’s always something new to see, it’s always evolving and there are always things you hadn’t noticed before.
Friends arrived in the afternoon and while I was off exploring 6th Avenue and Bryant Park, Michael accompanied them to the TKS booth to get their show tickets and then to stand in line for the lottery for Kinky Boots tickets (which they won). We had dinner at Yum Yum Bangkok before splitting up to go to our shows.
All The Way “All the way with LBJ!” Bryan Cranston IS LBJ. You won’t see any evidence of Walter White (Breaking Bad) on this stage. From his first breath in a solo spotlight, Cranston gives an incredibly layered performance as President Lyndon B. Johnson, proving his versatility and skill as as actor and showing that a true performer can successfully thrive on stage and screen equally.
Written by Robert Schenkkan and directed by Bill Rauch, All The Way follows LBJ’s journey from the Kennedy assassination through Johnson’s reelection as President. It carefully weaves the personal, public and political struggles LBJ had to juggle while blazing the trail in his fight for civil rights.
The story was skillfully told by an ensemble of veteran actors, supporting Cranston. Some of the other stand out performances were given by Brandon J. Dirden as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Betsy Aidem as Lady Bird Johnson/Katharine Graham/Katharine St. George; Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover/Robert Byrd; and Robert Petkoff as Hubert Humphrey.
All The Way is Tony-nominated for Best Play and Best Actor (Cranston), and has already won the Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics’ Circle and the Drama League awards for Best Play.
On the way back to our apartment, we stopped and picked up Concretes at the Shake Shack. (8th Ave. & 44th St.) With multiple locations, this is THE spot for ice cream treats in New York City. The lines are almost always out the door but they move fast and you always get great service.