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Tony Award Winners: War Horse, Book of Mormon sweep Tony Awards; Mark Rylance named Best Actor

June 13, 2011 

At a star-studded ceremony last night, Sunday 12 June 2011, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, the American Theatre Wing’s 65th annual Tony Awards were announced. British play War Horse triumphed at the awards winning 5 gongs, including Best Play. British actor Mark Rylance won a Best Actor awards for his performance in the Royal Court’s Jerusalem.

Mark Rylance wins a Best Actor Tony for Jerusalem. Photo: CBS

Mark Rylance wins a Best Actor Tony for Jerusalem. Photo: CBS

The Book of Mormon, which has proved an unlikely smash-hit on Broadway, swept the awards with 9 wins out of its 14 nominations, including Best New Musical, and Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score for its authors Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez.

Neil Patrick Harris hosted a fun and unusually irreverent night, which opened with a tongue-in-cheek “did they really say that?” song-and-dance number, arguing that the range of Broadway shows on offer meant that the Great White Way was no longer “just for gays”.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse, which is currently running at the New London Theatre in London and also at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, won 5 awards including Best Play for author Nick Stafford, Best Direction of a Play for Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, Best Scenic Design of a Play for Rae Smith, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Paule Constable and Best Sound Design of a Play for Christopher Shutt. A special Tony Award was also given to the Handspring Puppet Company, who have produced the life-size horse puppets for the show.

Neil Patrick Harris presented this year's awards

Neil Patrick Harris presented this year's awards

Other big winners last night included two revivals, Anything Goes, which won 3 awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Larry Kramer’s 1985 hit The Normal Heart, which also won 3 awards including Best Revival of a Play.

Big name stars who brought home awards included our very own Mark Rylance, who beat Al Pacino for the Best Actor in a Play award for his bravado performance in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, his second Tony awards following his 2008 win for Boeing-Boeing, Ellen Barkin in The Normal Heart, and Frances McDormand winning Best Actress in a Play for Good People.

The most impassioned acceptance speech of the night came from AIDS activist Larry Kramer, whose play The Normal Heart scooped 3 awards and who said: “I could not have written it had not so many of us so needlessly died.. Learn from it, and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people. And that our day will come.”

Brits who were nominated but missed out on awards this year included Jerusalem author Jez Butterworth, Joanna Lumley and costume designer Mark Thompson for La Bete, Kneehigh’s production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter and its leading lady Hannah Yelland, Vanessa Redgrave for Driving Miss Daisy, Adam Godley for Anything Goes, Brian Bedford for The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia.

The awards were broadcast live by CBS in the States.

See the full list of 2011 Tony Award winners here.

LINKS

Tony Award winners 2011
Tony Award nominations 2011
Book tickets to Broadway shows

Tony Award Nominations Announced: War Horse and Jerusalem compete for Best Play

May 3, 2011 

The American Theatre Wing’s 2011 Tony Award nominations were announced today, Tuesday 3 May 2011. The nominations were presented by Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center in New York.

Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose present the Tony nominations

Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose present the Tony nominations

A number of high-profile UK shows or London transfers did well in the nominations with the National Theatre’s War Horse and the Royal Court’s Jerusalem both running for Best Play.

Jerusalem was also nominated for six other awards including Mark Rylance for leading actor in a play, Mackenzie Crook for featured actor in a play, lighting design, scenic design and sound design.

Author of the play, Jez Butterworth, said: “I’m so thrilled that it’s working so well in the States. The Music Box Theatre is the most beautiful space I’ve been in. Being on Broadway is totally new experience for me, and I love that the atmosphere is so intimate.”

War Horse also received nominations for direction, scenic design, lighting design and sound design, and the creators of the puppets for the show, Handspring Puppet Company, will also receive a Special Tony Award.

Other London transfers nominated for awards include La Bete, which picked up nominations for Joanna Lumley and costume designer Mark Thompson, Kneehigh’s production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, with two nominations including best performance by an actress in a leading role for Hannah Yelland, and Sister Act the Musical, which had its world premiere in London, and received five nominations including best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical for Patina Miller.

Other Brits up for awards include Vanessa Redgrave for her performance in Driving Miss Daisy, Adam Godley for Anything Goes, Brian Bedford for The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia is competing in the best revival of a play category. He told BroadwayWorld that, “I feel pretty remarkable… The nomination for Best Revival is a deserved compliment to David Leveaux who directed Arcadia and to an exceptional company of actors.”

Daniel Radcliffe failed to secure a nomination for his starring role in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, although the revival did get eight nods including best revival of a musical, best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical for John Larroquette and actress for Tammy Blanchard, plus best direction and choreography nods for Rob Ashford, who is currently busy directing the London production of Shrek The Musical.

Big winners in the nominations were new musical The Book of Mormon by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which received 14 nominations, the most of any show, The Scottsboro Boys with 12 nods and Anything Goes with nine nominations.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert received two nominations including Sydney and London star of the show Tony Sheldon for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical. He said: “It’s extraordinary and so nice. I’ve been from the show since the first workshop, building the character. I’ve had so much input onto the show and my character and I feel so emotionally invested in the production”.

The awards will be presented on Sunday 12 June in a three hour live ceremony broadcast by CBS in the States.

LINKS

Tony Award nominations 2011
New York Times Tony nominations analysis
Book tickets to Broadway shows

Tony Awards Nominations Announced Today

May 3, 2011 

Don’t forget that the 2011 Tony Awards nominations are announced today, Tuesday 3 May 2011.

Tony Awards 2011The nominations will be presented live on the TonyAwards.com website by Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose, from 1.30 pm London time (8.30 am New York time) today.

The nominations announcement will take place at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center.

All 26 competitive categories will be revealed. To be eligible productions had to open during the 2010-2011 Broadway season, which ended on 28 April 2011.

Performers tipped to receive nominations include Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Canavale, Edie Falco, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Al Pacino, Mark Rylance and John Laroquette amongst others. Shows predicted to do well in the nominations include a number of shows that have transferred from London including Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sister Act, War Horse, La Bete and Jerusalem.

Following the nominations announcement, a “Meet the Nominees” press reception will be held on 4 May and a Tony Nominees’ Luncheon on 31 May. All this leads up to the 65th Annual Tony Awards ceremony itself, which takes place on 12 June 2011 at the Beacon Theatre in New York.

LINKS

Tony Awards 2011 – nominations

Tony Awards website

Awards section: See all past Tony Awards winners

Book Broadway Tickets

London shows hit Broadway

March 9, 2011 

From London to New York: Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse and Jerusalem to open on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Four big West End shows are opening on Broadway in the coming weeks. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway (and the Palace Theatre, London!), starring Will Swenson as Tick. Swenson appeared in the recent Broadway and London productions of Hair, and is joined in Priscilla by Tony Sheldon, who revisits the role of Bernadette after wowing audiences in Australia and London, and Nick Adams (La Cage Aux Folles) as Adam.

Over at the Broadway Theatre previews start on 24 March for Sister Act, which wings its way to America following a decent run at the London Palladium. The star of the London show, Patina Miller, will reprise her role as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, joined by Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) as Mother Superior.

Also transferring to Broadway, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse will start previews at the Lincoln Center in New York from 15 March, and the Royal Court’s smash-hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will play the Music Box theatre from 2 April. The play will feature its Olivier Award-winning London star Mark Rylance, who is sure become a major Tony Awards contender for his tour de force performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

Book tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre, New York

Book tickets to Sister Act at the Broadway Theatre, New York

Book tickets to War Horse at the Lincoln Center in New York

Book tickets to Jerusalem at the Music Box theatre, New York

 

Broadway Theatre Spring Round-up

March 8, 2011 

Our USA round-up of what’s hot on Broadway and beyond, including Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed…, transfers of Priscilla and Sister Act, Elaine Paige in Follies and much more.

Catch Me If You Can

Aaron Tveit, star of Catch Me If You Can

Aaron Tveit, star of Catch Me If You Can

Previews begin this week for major new Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can at the Neil Simon Theatre (opens 10 April), based on the Stephen Spielberg movie and the true story that inspired it. The show is led by rising new Broadway star Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Wicked) as con-man Frank Abagnale, and also stars Kerry Butler and Norbert Leo Butz. Aaron is featured in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair and there is a real buzz about him. The musical comes from the Hairspray and Love Never Dies creative team of Jack O’Brien (director) and Jerry Mitchell (Choreography), with a book by Terence McNally (The Full Monty), and score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Spider-Man: Julie out?

The New York Times is reporting that Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director Julie ‘The Lion King’ Taymor may have to fall on her sword and depart the production if she doesn’t seek help. Apparently the producers of the troubled, multi-million dollar show would like her to work with an expanded creative team to try and bring work on the production to a close – or she may have to leave the show. Other current decisions being made on the show include to what extent the script and music should be overhauled. The five-times rearranged opening night of 15 March now seems almost certain to be… rearranged!

London to Broadway: Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse, Jerusalem

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Four big West End shows are opening on Broadway in the coming weeks. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway (and the Palace Theatre, London!), starring Will Swenson as Tick. Swenson appeared in the recent Broadway and London productions of Hair, and is joined in Priscilla by Tony Sheldon, who revisits the role of Bernadette after wowing audiences in Australia and London, and Nick Adams (La Cage Aux Folles) as Adam.
Over at the Broadway Theatre previews start on 24 March for Sister Act, which wings its way to America following a decent run at the London Palladium. The star of the London show, Patina Miller, will reprise her role as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, joined by Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) as Mother Superior.
Also transferring to Broadway, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse will start previews at the Lincoln Center in New York from 15 March, and the Royal Court’s smash-hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will play the Music Box theatre from 2 April. The play will feature its Olivier Award-winning London star Mark Rylance, who is sure become a major Tony Awards contender for his tour de force performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business…

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed...

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed...

Life after Harry Potter is going to be particularly glamorous for Daniel Radcliffe as he is currently starring in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (now in previews, opens 27 March). The show has hit the press recently over rumours that Warner Bros. are furious with the show’s producers for not letting Radcliffe out of performances to promote the final Harry Potter film later in the year.

Elaine Paige in Follies

Not long to go until the Eric Schaeffer revival of Sondheim’s Follies at the Kennedy Center in Washington (7 May – 19 June) starring Bernadette Peters as Sally, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis, Danny Burstein as Buddy, Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone – and our very own Elaine Paige as Carlotta. The casting of Paige caught many off guard (she’s TOO YOUNG you cry!) and it will be interesting to see if Paige turns up in Trevor Nunn’s mooted revival of the show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket later this year.

Hot tip: Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound

Michael Cunio and Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound. Photo: Marcus Stern.

Michael Cunio and Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound. Photo: Marcus Stern.

Whilst Hair alumni Will Swenson is camping it up in Priscilla, fellow co-worker Gavin Creel, who also starred with Swenson in the London transfer of Hair, is currently wowing audiences in Prometheus Bound at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. Rumour mills are buzzing over whether the show might transfer to Broadway. Written by Tony and Grammy Award-winning playwright and lyricist Steven Sater, who scored a huge hit with Spring Awakening on Broadway and less so in London, and with music composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian, the show is inspired by Aeschylus’s Ancient Greek tragedy.

Stars on Broadway

There’s no shortage of stars turning up on Broadway over the next few weeks, with Frances McDormand having just opened in Good People at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Brian Cox, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland starring in That Championship Season at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre, Billy Crudup in Arcadia at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (opens 17 March), Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger In The Baghdad Zoo at the Richard Rodgers Theatre from 11 March, Chris Rock in Motherf**Ker With The Hat at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre from 15 March, Kathleen Turner in High at the Booth Theatre from 25 March, Edie Falco, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The House of Blue Leaves at the Walter Kerr Theatre from 25 April, and Tyne Daly and Sierra Boggess in Master Class at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre from 24 May. Phew!

LINKS

Book Broadway tickets

Broadway news and gossip

Shows closing in September

August 17, 2010 

It’s all change in the West End next month as September sees a number of shows bid farewell.

La Bete

La Bete

September marks a busy time for Theatreland as a slate of new shows open in town, which means a number of summer hits are closing to make way.

This month, Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project shows at the Old Vic, As You Like It and The Tempest, starring Stephen Dillane and Juliet Rylance, closes on 21 August. They are swiftly followed by La Bete at the Comedy Theatre, which closes on 28 August before heading off to Broadway. The Matthew Warchus-helmed show features a starry cast including David Hyde Pearce, Mark Rylance and Joanna Lumley.

In September, things start to get really shaken up and we lose some of the big summer shows. In a reversal of La Bete, HAIR made its debut on Broadway and then came to London – and you only have until 4 September to see what all the fuss was about and catch the New York cast, including Gavin Creel, before they head home.

Burn The Floor

Burn The Floor

Also on the 4th we lose David Essex penned musical All The Fun of the Fair, and dance spectacular Burn The Floor , which is clearing its tango shoes and sequins out of the Shaftesbury Theatre to make room for another big dance show, Flashdance The Musical. This will star Matt Willis and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and is choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

And it’s never just one big dance show that goes: butch and blue-collar Tap Dogs starring Adam Garcia is also leaving the West End the day after Burn The Floor, on 5 September.

The short run of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, riding high after the BBC’s Sherlock series, will end on 11 September at the Duchess Theatre to make way for Michael Gambon in Krapp’s Last Tape.

And we wave goodbye to Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl on 25 September as Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue leaves the Vaudeville Theatre.

BOOKING AND OFFERS

Save £19 on tickets to see HAIR at the Gielgud Theatre

Save £30 on tickets to see All The Fun of the Fair at the Garrick Theatre

Save £21 on tickets to see Burn The Floor at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Save £11 on tickets to see Tap Dogs at the Novello Theatre

Half Price tickets to see The Secret of Sherlock Holmes at the Duchess Theatre

Save £14 on tickets to see The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre

La Bete – Save £13

July 30, 2010 

La Bete at the Comedy Theatre – Save 13 on tickets

Balcony tickets reduced from £25 to £12

La Bete at the Comedy TheatreEnjoy a special offer on tickets to La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London. The show, which opened recently to rave reviews, features an all-star cast including US theatre and TV star David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), recent Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance (Jerusalem), and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous).

The play is directed by acclaimed, Tony award winning director Matthew Warchus and is running at the Comedy Theatre for a short season until 28 August before moving straight to Broadway.

American playwright David Hirson’s rollicking 1991 play, is a comic tour de force about Elomire (David Hyde Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theatre, and Valere (Mark Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Joanna Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages.

Other cast include Stephen Ouimette, Lisa Joyce, Greta Lee, Robert Lonsdale, Michael Milligan, Liza Sadovy and Sally Wingert.

Book tickets to La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London

Balcony tickets reduced from £25 to £12

La Bete

July 29, 2010 

Hilarious comedy directed by Matthew Warchus (Boeing, Boeing) and starring David Hyde Pierce, Joanna Lumley and Mark Rylance.

La Bete – Reviews Round-up

July 16, 2010 

Reviews have been largely positive but tinged with disappointment for Matthew Warchus’s new production of David Hirson’s 1991 play La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London.

The much anticipated revival features an all-star cast including US theatre and TV star David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), and national treasure Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous). However, it was recent Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance (Jerusalem) who stole the show for the critics with his energetic and hilarious performance.

The play is directed by acclaimed, Tony award winning director Matthew Warchus and will run at the Comedy Theatre for a short season until 28 August before moving straight to Broadway.

Book tickets to La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London

La Bete – Review

July 15, 2010 

The protean Mark Rylance, surely Britain’s most versatile actor, sinks his comically protuberant prosthetic teeth into David Hirson’s muddle-headed Moliere pastiche La Bete. He plays a loquacious buffoon called Valere (the beast of the title) and single-handedly provides artificial respiration – and a great deal of mirth – to a play which, bereft of his extraordinary presence, wouldn’t stand a chance.

Mark Rylance in La Bete

Mark Rylance in La Bete

First seen at the Lyric, Hammersmith eleven years ago with the less talented Alan Cumming as Valere, and here tweaked in preparation for its forthcoming Broadway run, the play, written in rhyming couplets, performed without an intermission, and slickly directed by Matthew Warchus, is an elaborate comic dissertation on pure art versus vulgar commercialism and the value of cultural sponsorship – topics as relevant in the mid 17th century as they are today.

A princess (Joanna Lumley) is throwing a lavish banquet at her Langedoc estate, her purpose being to persuade a distinguished actor-playwright called Elomire (an anagram of Moliere) to invite the egregious Valere to join his acting troupe.

The evening starts promisingly with Rylance delivering a 40-minute monologue in praise of his own brilliance, but in which he also condemns himself as a brainless idiot with every syllable he utters.

To call Rylance’s delivery a tour de force would be to understate the case, as it would be to say he all but chews up and spits out Mark Thompson’s impressive floor-to-ceiling book encrusted set. Whether stumbling over Latin quotations or making a quick excursion to an on-stage lavatory and doing his business, Rylance pummels Hirson’s witty rhyming couplets for every laugh he can possibly squeeze from them. It’s a joyous star turn and an impossibly hard act to follow.

And that, alas, is the problem. Valere’s solo histrionics are soon followed by an impromptu performance of one of his own plays about two brothers from Cadiz, and all the exhilaration felt in the first half drains alarmingly away. It’s replaced by boredom as the play-within-the-play grinds drearily on as Hirson attempts to underline his fuzzy premise about art and artifice.

Another problem is that none of the other characters in the play make any impact whatsoever. If the portrait of Valere is painted in a spectrum of colourful oils, the rest are little more than pencil sketches.

The most surprising casualty is David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane in the sitcom Frasier), who, as the intellectual, almost smug Elomire, is required to react more than act. He has a couple of good moments hurling invective at Valere, and it is he who closes the play. But for the most part he is left playing the foil to Rylance’s fool.

In a gender-switch from the earlier production, Joanna Lumley doesn’t fare much better as The Princess simply because the part doesn’t allow her to.

Still, Rylance’s star turn is quite extraordinary and collectors of bravura performances will derfinitely want to add this one to their list.

Comedy Theatre

CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.

Book tickets to La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London

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