I Hope I Get It: 2016 Tony Predictions

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Alex Lacamoire, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the cast of Hamilton accepts their Grammy award for the cast album. 

There are only three Sundays left until the biggest Sunday of the year! That’s right, Tony Award season is upon us and in only a few short days, Broadway Christmas will be here and the Year of Hamilton will finally end (or at least, it will no longer be eligible for theatre awards).

In 2001, The Producers won 12 Tonys, the most any show has ever won to this day. Although Hamilton has 16 nominations, five of those are divided within two categories. If it wins one award in every category it’s nominated in (which is every single musical category except for Best Revival), it’ll win 13 and be the new record holder. But will it happen? Will Hamilton ride the hype train all the way to Tony history?

Having seen none of these shows myself, but listening to many a cast recording and following theatre news outlets (and watching Show-Score‘s Facebook livestream today with Tony winners Cady Huffman and Daisy Eagan and Theater People podcast host Patrick Hinds), here are my predictions for who will be partying the hardest at the Tony afterparty.

Best Musical
Will Win: Hamilton
Upset: If anything but Hamilton wins, it will be the greatest upset of all time.

Best Revival of a Musical
Will Win: 
The Color Purple, based on the number of nominations it received compared to the original production
Upset: She Loves Me, although Deaf West’s closed ASL production of Spring Awakening has a cult following

Best Book of a Musical
Will Win: Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
Upset: Steve Martin for Bright Star. Props to Julian Fellowes, writer for Downton Abbey, for the book of the opposite, School of Rock

Best Original Score
Will Win: Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
Upset: Sara Bareilles for Waitress, although IMO, every song sounds like a Sara Bareilles single

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Musical
Will Win: Leslie Odom Jr. for Hamilton
Wait, what? I’m not picking Lin? Nope, I’m not. He’s a writer and composer, and he will win the writing awards, but he only played Hamilton because it was easier than teaching someone else the part and because it was his baby, not because he was the best person for the job.
Upset: Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton, Alex Brightman for School of Rock

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Will Win: Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple (have you SEEN this video of her on Colbert?)
Upset: Laura Benanti for She Loves Me (because how does she only have ONE Tony?)
As much as I adore Phillipa Soo in Hamilton, I don’t think she’ll take this category, which will leave the show with only 12 lowly awards.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Will Win: Daveed Diggs for Hamilton (because he spits the fastest bars on Broadway)
Upset: Christopher Jackson for Hamilton (“One Last Time” gets me every time and I sincerely hope that he takes it home for his George Washington)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Will Win: Renée Elise Goldsberry for Hamilton (same reason as above, plus she’s paid her dues on Broadway and it’s her time)
Upset: Jennifer Simard for Disaster! A Musical (thanks to the #PutSimardOn movement), or Danielle Brooks for The Color Purple (OITNB hype train)

Every Creative Arts Tony
Will Win: Hamilton
Upset: Anything but Hamilton

So basically, vote Hamilton in your pools and you should be fine. If you head to Show Score, you can officially select your picks in every category! June 12 can’t get here fast enough!

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A Review of Reviews

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Everything I need to know I learned from Patti. Image via Last.fm.

This post was originally going to be my review of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of The King and I (which was phenomenal, FYI). But as I mulled it over and thought about the show, I started thinking: what could I possibly add to this conversation?

The King and I was first performed on Broadway in 1951. Clearly, over the last 65 years, if there were any imperfections in the show, they’ve been smoothed out. The Rodgers & Hammerstein score is still brilliant and has stood the test of time, and Anna Leonowens is still one of the strongest female characters in theatre. (Side note: this show passes the Bechdel test, why can’t shows being written now pass it too?)

So what’s left to say? The cast (led by Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban, no relation to Ricardo) was incredible, the Civic Opera House is gorgeous (see my Insta), and the show was a wonderful time. But I can’t add more to this conversation. The King and I is an amazing show.

I’d like to think that when I provide a review, I help someone who reads it attend or, at the very least, learn about a show they wouldn’t otherwise attend. Or maybe I’m spreading the word about a new, local show. But with this tried-and-true classic, I don’t think I can add anything.

I’ve been reading up on theatre greats, including Patti LuPone’s memoir (Patti LuPone: A Memoir) and an essay by Sondheim in his second collection of lyrics, Look, I Made a Hat. Both of them talk a lot about reviewers and critics, and it’s important to me that I’m very conscious about what I say. As I learned in Patti’s memoir, a bad review can break your performance (or your contract, in the case of Sunset Boulevard.) And if Patti had listened to critics, she probably would have broken down and never would have gotten to play some of her best roles yet – like Mama Rose in Gypsy, for which she earned her second Tony.

I read today that Sheridan Smith – currently starring in Funny Girl in London – is missing shows because she didn’t win a BAFTA and people on Twitter are burning her for it. It’s awful she feels this way, but at the same time, the show must go on. What would Patti do?

If I criticize a show, I’m going to first ask myself: Is this necessary to say? Was it actually distracting from the show? Or am I being unreasonably cruel?

So get ready for lots of reviews this summer from amazing local production houses and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. I’m definitely not going to stop reviewing, but I certainly can’t review everything. After all, what’s the point in going to theatre if I can’t have some fun?

Review: The Q Brothers’ Othello: The Remix

My ticket for Othello: The Remix at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

I knew I was in for a different experience when I walked into the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and I heard Nicki Minaj’s booming voice: “I’m a motherfucking monster” was pounding through the speakers.
And it turned out to be the most fun experience I’ve had in a long time.

My friend and I sat beside the stage, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else: right in the action. We sat there bobbing our heads to Outkast and Biggie tunes before the DJ (this show has its own DJ? You bet) climbed the ladder to his nest and took his seat. Then the four main players — GQ, JQ (the Q Brothers), Postell Pringle and Jackson Doran would play every part —  took the stage.

I was afraid I would be lost: I’ve never read or seen any adaptation of Othello before. To be honest, I Sparknotes’ed the plot summary but it was too long and I decided to wing it. I wasn’t lost at all.

Maybe it’s the months of listening to Hamilton that got me prepared for being able to follow the fast raps, but I think that’s only part of it. Mostly, I could follow it because it was so smartly written with knowledge and experience since the Q Brothers do this all the time. Othello is only one of many “ad-RAP-tations” they’ve created.

The troupe has been performing Othello for four years, so they have it down to a science. Their rhymes are slick and fast, but still well-paced that the audience could follow along easily. None of the rhymes were forced, even when rap star Othello is talking to his label CEO, who is obsessed with tennis and doesn’t stop talking about Agassi. There are some smart pop culture references: “a few good men who could handle the truth,” Iago and Amelia: “You witch! / I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!”

The simple utilitarian costumes made for quick changes onstage. When GQ played Iago, he donned a green hat and shirt along with his green shoelaces to show he was green with envy.

I think Willy Shakes would be stoked to know that 400 years after his death, people are turning his work into raps: keeping the message, changing the medium, but keeping that same beautiful rhyming flow.

My only complaint is that Cassio never played a Casio. But he does have some sweet dance moves.

Othello: The Remix runs until May 8 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Get your tickets at ChicagoShakes.com.