Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The 2011 Tony Award Nominations

by Janet Lawler

Attention theater geeks and theater lovers! The nominations for the 2011 Tony Awards are out. I'm sure some of your favorite actors and actresses made the list -- Edie Falco, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Al Pacino, Vanessa Redgrave and more.

For some folks, the Tony Awards is the closest they'll come to seeing a Broadway show. Before I moved to New York, I would see maybe one or two shows a year (if I was lucky)-- it was always a special day coming into the city on a Wednesday for a matinee show.

I love seeing plays, but usually everyone else I know wants to see a musical. They say "It's Times Square... it's Broadway... we want singing, dancing, costumes and jazz-hands." Fine, I've seen plenty of big Broadway musicals, but I still like to sit in cramped theater and listen to a well-written, acted play with snappy dialogue... with riveting characters, few costumes, minimal sets... and, unless it's Cabaret or Chicago, please, no jazz hands.

In 1988, I remember convincing my mother to come with me to see Madonna on Broadway. It was Madonna's debut. Madge was starring in David Mamet's play "Speed the Plow". It was a big deal at the time. My mother didn't particularly care for Madonna (the whole Catholic thing) -- and she really didn't care for Mamet (the whole profanity thing on stage) -- but she sat through the play, for me.

However, the next time we came to Broadway we saw Miss Saigon. No more plays, she insisted. "They're long and boring." My mother loved BIG musicals (Tommy Tune and more). She felt she got her money's worth seeing a musical (who could argue -- they landed a helicopter on stage in Miss Saigon.)

Don't forget Mother's Day is this weekend (May 8th). Take your Mom to see a show -- but do yourself a favor and let her choose which one. I bet she picks a musical.

Now more about the Tonys, I'm particularly excited by the list for Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Play this year.

Ellen BarkinThe Normal Heart

Edie FalcoThe House of Blue Leaves

Judith LightLombardi

Joanna LumleyLa BĂȘte

Elizabeth RodriguezThe Motherf**ker with the Hat

The NY Times review of Ellen Barkin's performance in The Normal Heart said she makes a "slam-dunk Broadway debut".
Ellen Barkin has long been one of my faves. I loved her in the movie Sea of Love (1989) starring Al Pacino. Barkin stole scenes from Pacino in that cop thriller -- no easy task. She also starred in The Big Easy. Barkin is multi-talented, smart and a former Bronx girl. What's not to love?

Al Pacino
(a former Bronx boy) is also nominated for a Tony for the The Merchant of Venice.

I'm seeing The Normal Heart this weekend. It's a powerful play written by Larry Kramer, the AIDS activist and playwright. It tells the history of the AIDS pandemic and how it touched everyone's lives in the '80s from nurses to doctors to politicians to the gay community. AIDS is still claiming lives around the world. This play remains relevant.

The Normal Heart promises to be what theater, for me, is truly all about -- conflict, emotion, and the human spirit presented on stage. Here is the play's website

So come visit NYC -- see a musical or drama, or whatever theater your heart desires (Blue Man Group, anyone?). Or just watch The Tonys and sample a little of everything from Column A and Column B. Jazz hands and all.

The Tonys air on CBS, Sunday, June 12th. Here is the official link for the 2011 Tony Award Nominees

Happy Mother's Day.

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