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LGBTQ News Headlines of 2018

 

2018

 

January 17 - The limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace (produced by Ryan Murphy) premiered on FX.  It starred Edgar Ramirez as Versace; Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan; Ricky Martin as Versace's lover; and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.

 

Versace in pool

 

February 7 - Bermuda became the first country to repeal its law that legalized same-sex marriage.

February 7 - A revival of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003-2007), now simply called Queer Eye, premiered on Netflix.

March 4 - James Ivory won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name.

March 16 - The gay teen romance Love, Simon opened in theaters and became the eleventh highest grossing film with a gay theme or prominent gay character, taking in $41 million at the domestic box office.

 

Love  simon

 

March 25 - 25 years after its first Broadway run, a revival of Tony Kushner's AIDS drama Angels in America opens.

April 27 - A documentary about former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, The Gospel According to Andre opened in theaters.

May 21 - Although he didn't win a medal for the US in the Men's Singles Figure Skating competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon won Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.

 

Adam-rippon-jenna-johnson-dwts-5-21-2018-billboard-1548

 

May 31 - A revival of Boys in the Band opened on Broadway in the 50th anniversary year of the play's original Broadway debut.

June 4 - In a 7-2 vote, the US Supreme Court ruled that a baker in Lakewood, Colorado could refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

 

Gay wedding cake

 

July 9 - After a previous rainbow sculpture celebrating gay pride in Warsaw (the capital of Poland) was repeatedly vandalized, a new one was unveiled that is "unbreakable" - a hologram projected on a curtain of water, making it resistant to most forms of defacement.

 

Warsaw rainbow

July 20 - Eight years after his suicide, at the age of 40, a documentary about fashion designer Alexander McQueen opens in theaters.

July 25 - Cher is announced as one of this year's recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

July 30 - Land O'Lakes Inc. named Beth Ford as its CEO, making her the first openly gay woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

 

Land o lakes

September 18 - Sesame Workshop, the education organization behind the children’s program Sesame Street, issued a press release stating that the beloved characters Bert & Ernie “do not have a sexual orientation.”

November 6 - 43-year-old Jared Polis became the first openly gay person elected governor of a US state (Colorado).

November 22 - A same-sex kiss was aired on Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for the first time. The kiss was between two female characters during the conclusion of a number from the Broadway show Mean Girls.

 

Macys thanksgiving parade same-sex kiss


Documentary Explores High Hopes, Crushing Disappointment of Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along"

Merrily-playbill Best worst thing

 

In the spring of 1981 I read an article in TIME Magazine that enthusiastically reported on a collaboration between Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince for the show Merrily We Roll Along.  Since I was still gaining my bearings as a young, single, gay man in New York I lost track of the show's progress, but the positive tone of the article stayed with me.  Years later I discovered that it was a huge flop, closing after just sixteen performances.  The show's trajectory is the subject of the documentary The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, which I recently saw at the IFC in Greenwich Village (just one of three theaters nationwide where it played).  It was directed by one of the three actors with a lead role in the show.  It's a touching film, capturing the giddy excitement of the young cast (who were between the ages of 16 and 24), followed by their crushing disappointment

 

Merrily we roll along_hal prince stephen sondheim
When "Merrily We Roll Along" was in development, Hal Prince was 52 and Stephen Sondheim was 50.

 

I was surprised to learn that Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame was in the show's original cast (and he'd win a Tony Award in 1990 for Jerome Robbins' Broadway, just as his TV fame was beginning).  The show was also where singer/cabaret icon Liz Callaway made her debut (at the age of 20).  And perhaps most interestingly, the documentary included interviews with the original lead, who was replaced during previews.  He was very gracious and now owns a talent agency.  (And according to the IMDB database he's had no other acting credits since, except for the 1981 movie Senior Trip.)

 

Original cast of merrily we roll along
The original three leads (from left): James Weissenbach, Ann Morrison and Lonny Price (who directed the documentary).

 

Cast change merrily we roll along
And with Weissenbach's replacement, Jim Walton

 

In 2000 I finally got around to buying the cast CD (which was recorded the day after the show's closing).  I was surprised to discover three songs I was already familiar with: Good Thing Going; Not a Day Goes By (first heard on Carly Simon's album, Torch); and Our Time (which I heard sung by the NYC Gay Men's Chorus).  Then in the winter of 2012 I saw a City Center Encores! production of the musical, and although I struggled during the first half hour or so, I became more engaged as the show went on.  (One of the main characters was played by Lin-Manuel Miranda.)  After seeing it I could understand why the show might have been off-putting to audiences as its themes of youthful ambition thwarted, lofty ideals compromised and friendships ended may have hit too close to home for many.  However, since its initial rejection by audiences, the show has been embraced by a an ever expanding group of appreciative theatergoers.

 

Lin manuel miranda in merrily we roll along
2012 City Center Encores cast, with Lin-Manuel Miranda (second from right).

    

Watching the documentary I thought back to my life in 1981, when I was the same age as some of the older cast members.  1981 was my third year working in New York, and the year I moved into Manhattan - first into a loft in TriBeCa (which was yet to be a chic neighborhood), and three months later to the West Village.  During Memorial Day weekend I visited Fire Island for the first time; another first came a few weeks later when I went to the hot new dance club, the Saint.  Later that summer I left my first job and went to work at the powerhouse ad agency, Young & Rubicam.  (At the time I didn't know that a few of the men I worked with were gay).  Then in November, a few weeks before Merrily had its opening, I met (at Uncle Charlie's bar in Greenwich Village) the man who I would have my the deepest relationship with. Finally, 1981 was also the year that the scourge that would become known as AIDS began to get news coverage. 

 

Double click here for a nice write up about the show's heritage.

 

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Gay Playwrights Honored With Sidewalk Stars in Front of Lucille Lortel Theater

 

Lucille lortel theater

 

It may not rank up there with the glittering Walk of Stars in Hollywood, but the sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village pays tribute to about 50 esteemed playwrights - at least a dozen of whom are gay.  On a recent Sunday afternoon, rather than mindlessly walk over them as I trekked out to the Christopher St. pier, I took a moment to look upon this list of accomplished (somewhat of an understatement) writers, and was inspired to snap photos of some of their stars, and here they are ...

 

Lucille lortel west village 029
Looking down at the stars ...

 

CHARLES BUSCH

 

Charles busch
 
The 67-year-old Busch made his reputation playing larger-than-life female characters (with flaming red hair) in shows he wrote, such as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom; Psycho Beach Party and Die, Mommie, Die! One show he wrote, but didn't appear in, was the Tony-nominated play, The Allergist's Wife.

 

Charles busch 

 

 

CHARLES LUDLAM

(1943-1987)

 

Charles ludlam
 
Ludlam was founder of The Ridiculous Theater Co. and is best known for writing The Mystery of Irma Vepp (one of 29 plays he wrote). Like Charles Busch he also directed and acted in many of his productions. He won six Obie Awards.
 
Charles ludlam

 

 

CHRISTOPHER DURANG

 

Christopher durang
 
Best known for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, for which he won a Tony in 2013.

 Christopher durang

 

 

EDWARD ALBEE

(1928-2016)

 

Edward albee
 
Best known for writing Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Seascape; A Delicate Balance; Three Tall Women and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?  He wrote 34 plays, three of which won the Pulitzer Prize and two a Tony Award.

 

Edward albee2

 

 

LANFORD WILSON 

(1937-2011)

 

Lanford wilson
 
Best Known for The Fifth of July; Burn This; Talley's Folly and Hot L Baltimore. Awards include one Pulitzer, one Drama Desk Award, five Obies and three Tony nominations. He was co-founder of the Circle Repertory Company.

 

Lanford wilson

 

 

LANGSTON HUGHES

(1902-1967)

 

Langston hughes
 
A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s, he is best known for Black Nativity and Jerico-Jim Crow. At the age of 33 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

 

Langston-Hughes-On-The-St-008

 

 

LARRY KRAMER

(1935-2020)

 

Larry karmer
 
Best known for the Broadway plays, The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, both which captured the despair and rage created by the AIDS crisis.
 
Larry kramer washington square park

 

 

TONY KUSHNER

 

Tony kushner
 
With more than 25 plays to his credit, he is best known for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Angels in America: Perestroika; Caroline or Change; and Homebody/Kabul. He also worked on screenplays for the movies Munich and Lincoln.


 Tony kushner

 

 

TERRENCE MCNALLY

(1938-2020)

 

Terrence mcnally
McNally is best known for writing Love! Valour! Compassion!; Master Class; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Frankie & Johnnie in the Clair de Lune; A Perfect Ganesh; and The Lisbon Traviata. Winner of five Drama Desk Awards, four Tonys and two Obies.


 Terrence-McNally.-Photo-by-Jacquelyn-Martin-Associated-Press-File

 

 

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

(1911-1983)

 

Tennessee williams
 
Perhaps America's most renowned playwright, Williams name easily brings to mind The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Sweet Bird of Youth; Suddenly, Last Summer; and Night of the Iguana.


 

Tennessee williams

 

 

MART CROWLEY

(1935-2020)

 

Martcrowley2
 
Accomplished as a TV writer and producer, Crowley's biggest claim to fame is as the writer of 1968's Boys in the Band.


 Mart crowley

 

 

MARC BLITZSTEIN

(1905-1964)

 

Marc blitzstein
 
Best known for 1937's The Cradle Will Rock and the Broadway adaptation of The Little Foxes.

 Marc.blitzstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering lllustrator Robert de Michiell (1958 - 2015)

 

DeMichielle

Robert de Michielle

 

While watching last week's Tony Awards I was surprised, and saddened, when, during the In Memoriam segment, Chita Rivera said the name of illustrator Robert de Michiell (who had died in October 2015 at the age of 57).  Although I didn't know him personally I knew of his work through a friend who participated in an erotic drawing workshop that met weekly at the Leslie Lohman Gallery in SoHo.  Robert was one of the regular attendees and I bought a number of his sketches (two which are shown to the right) at the gallery's first Dirty Little Drawings show in 2003.  It exhibited work by participants of the workshop (all submissions were 4X4 inches square).  Once I knew his style I recognized his work in Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker.  He also produced a series of colorful Fire Island postcards that captured the carefree, body-beautiful atmosphere of the Pines. 

 

XRSCN4942
One of the postcards in de Michiell's Fire Island Pines collection

 

Robert de Michielle chest
Another of his drawings that I own

 

Robert de michiell man on beach towel
Having spent a number of summers in the Pines, might I have been the inspiration for this sketch? 

 

New yorker cover by robert demichiell
March 1, 1993 cover illustration

 

I often found myself confusing de Michiell with another gay illustrator, Robert W. Richards (still alive, at the age of 80), who also participated in the erotic art workshop.  Their drawing styles, however, differ - de Michiell's hot and masculine men are a blend of caricature and cartoon while Richards' men are more lifelike and have pretty faces with a high-fashion flair.

 

Robert richards
An example of Robert W. Richards' work

 

After a number of Dirty Little Drawings exhibits the organizers of the workshop compiled nearly 300 of the sketches and published them in a handsome hardbound book (like the drawings, 4X4 inches) titled, you guessed it, Dirty Little Drawings.  de Michiell had four of his sketches published and eight of Richards' were chosen.

 

Dirty Little Drawings

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2016 Tony Awards Air on Same Day as Homophobic Attack in Orlando (June 12, 2016)

 

James.corden.2016tonys

 

Who could have imagined that the highlight of the Broadway season, the gay Super Bowl, would be held on the same day as the nation's deadliest attack against America's LGBT population?  Yet it did on June 12, 2016.  Before the opening of the telecast, master of ceremonies James Corden soberly, yet compassionately, addressed viewers at home with his back to those attending the awards ceremony.  With his brief commemoration completed, the coronation of Hamilton began.  During the telecast, comments about the slaughter of 49 patrons at Orlando's gay club, Pulse, were made by Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jessica Lange, Frank Langella and Barbra Streisand (yes, Babs made her first appearance in 50 years).  And everyone was sporting a silver ribbon on their lapel or gown in a show of solidarity for the city of Orlando.

 

Of course, in this day and age of 24/7 news, the coverage of the attack was continuous and unnerving.  This was in stark contrast to the indifference shown more than 40 years earlier after the previous deadliest attack against gays, in June 1973, when 32 patrons of the New Orleans bar Upstairs Lounge died in an arson fire.  Sadly, hate continues in the present day, but this time it was publicized worldwide rather than ignored.      

 

NOW, ON WITH THE SHOW!

The lovable James Corden was wonderful - and such a relief from the silliness of last year's hosts, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth.  (Actually, Corden's love of Broadway is similar to that of another former host, Hugh Jackman.)  The introduction of Corden at the top of the show was genius, replicating the rap patter of Hamilton and sung by cast members.  It poked fun at Corden being relatively unknown.  One excerpt:

CBS said, "This collision of theater and television needs a risk taker, it needs a rule breaker, it needs a troublemaker, a mover and a shaker - It needs that chubby dude from 'Into the Woods' who played the baker."    

 

Jame corden dancing tony awards  

 

PROUD PAPA

Lin-Manuel Miranda had plenty of opportunities to beam as Hamilton won 11 Tony's.  The widespread acclaim the show has received is no doubt the biggest reason the telecast's rating was the highest in 15 years.

 

Lin-manuel_miranda.tonys

Lin-manuel-tonys

Proud

 

CALLING THE FASHION POLICE!

There's always one and this year it was Cate Blanchett, resplendent in raccoon-eye makeup and an "outfit" that looked like it was made from a sweatshirt and leather harness.

 

Cate.blanchet.2016tonys

 

80+ NEVER LOOKED BETTER

At 83, the vibrant Chita Rivera introduced the In Memoriam tribute, a list she's not likely to appear on for many years.

 

Chita rivera 2016 tony awards

 

A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO "LAW & ORDER"

There was a hilarious routine about various Broadway actors who may be better known for their roles on Law & Order than on Broadway (ending with six roles by Fiddler's Danny Burstein).

 

Billporter.lalaw
Billy Porter ("Shuffle Along")

 

Daveed.diggs.tonyawards
Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton")

 

Danny.burstein.tonyawards
Danny Burstein ("Fiddler on the Roof")

 

SKEWERING TRUMP

There were three swipes at Donald Trump.  In applauding the diversity of the Tony nominees, Corden said that Donald Trump had threatened to build a wall around the theater; Nathan Lane said he learned about the great importance of winning awards at Trump University; then, near the end of the show, in a real slap at him, there was a little routine about a show about Trump coming to Broadway in the fall titled "House of Moron".

 

Book.of.moron

 

HEY, HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT DRESS BEFORE?

 

Renee.elise.goldsberry
Renee Elise Goldsberry, 2016 Tony Winner

 

Alicia.vikander.justjared
Alicia Vikander, 2016 Oscar Winner

 

UNDERSTATED CHARM

I found myself enchanted by the number, If You Knew My Story, from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's nominated show Bright StarThe song had a countrified charm, and the stage setting's soft blue hues brought to mind a water color.

 

Bright.star

 

BECAUSE OUTRAGEOUS TICKET PRICES DON'T RAISE ENOUGH REVENUE 

New York senator Charles Schumer was applauded for passing legislation providing tax breaks for Broadway.  The cynical question in my mind - does that mean ticket prices will go down?

 

Charles.schumer 

 

CUTE, HORNY BOYS IN KNICKERS

The number from Spring Awakening had the cutest display of boys in knickers since the Tony ceremony from a few years ago that featured a number from Newsies.

 

Springawakening

 

EMILIO RUINED THE SURPRISE

In introducing a number from Get on Your Feet, Emilio Estefan spoiled a surprise when he mentioned that wife Gloria wasn't at the podium with him because she was appearing in the number.  I loved the two little boys dancing the rumba while playing maracas; the Ricky Martin-esque lead also got my attention.  One of the songs in the medley was Estefan's remake of Turn the Beat Around, but for me only Vicki Sue Robinson's original version will do.

 

Getonyourfeet  

 

THE REVIVAL THAT WON'T DIE

There was a special shout-out for the 20th anniversary of the revival of Chicago, but I found it odd that no mention was made of its original run 40 years ago.

 

Chicago

 

LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM!

Lin-Manuel Miranda gave a powerful, emotional acceptance speech upon accepting his Tony for Best Score.  The most memorable, emphatic line alluded to the day's tragedy in Orlando: "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside" .

 

Lin_manuel miranda tony awards 

 

THE LIGHTS OF BROADWAY ARE SO BRIGHT SHE'S GOTTA WEAR SHADES

 

Anna.wintour.2016tonys
Anna Wintour, as always, showed up wearing sunglasses.  And, again, she went home without a Tony.

 

DIVERSITY, THY NAME IS THE TONYS

 

Asian.tonys
The night's much-touted "diversity" included presenter Daniel Dae Kim, starring in "The King & I"

 

THRILLED JUST TO BE NOMINATED

 

Janekrakowski
Jane Krakowski ("She Loves Me")
 
Jonathan.groff
Jonathan Groff ("Hamilton")
 
Shufflingalong.actor.tonys
Brandon Victor Dixon ("Shuffle Along")
 
Michelle.williams
Michelle Williams ("Blackbird")

 

PAYING TRIBUTE TO CLASSIC BROADWAY

During commercial breaks cast members of the nominated musicals would rush outside and do a quick verse from a classic Broadway show, for all of 10-15 seconds.  The giddy energy brought to mind young kids putting on a show, a la Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

 

Lin-manuel_miranda.beacon theater
At the end of the song from "Rent" sung by the cast of "Hamilton" it was amusing to hear Lin-Manuel Miranda doing light shilling for CBS, shouting, "The Tonys, only on CBS!"

 

LOVE THOSE CROWD SHOTS!

 

Audience.shot
Something must have been going on in the cheap seats ...

 

TWO MORE "HAMILTON" FANS

 

Barack.and.michelle.obama.tonyawards
The president and first lady briefly talked about, what else?, "Hamilton", offering an anecdote about seeing a version of the show in its embryonic stage at the White House a number of years ago.

 

"SHUFFLING" PAST 11:00

Unlike the Oscars, the Tonys have a reputation for ending on time, but this year the telecast went until 11:15.  Perhaps it would have ended at 11:00 if it weren't for the need for presenters to say the official title of Shuffle Along ("Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed").  Because it received ten Tony nominations it was mentioned throughout the night.

 

Shuffling.along

 

THEN ... AND NOW, THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD!

If your DVR stopped recording at 11:00, you missed the uplifting closing few minutes, featuring a number from, no surprise, "Hamilton",  with lyrics that were so very apt on this day:

Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now ... we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world - in the greatest city in the world! 

 

Hamilton_2016tonyawards

 

Here are reviews of previous Tony Awards:

2015 Tony Awards

2014 Tony Awards

2013 Tony Awards

 


The Play "Straight" Explores an Issue With Seemingly Little Relevance Today

StraighttheplayI was somewhat puzzled watching the new play Straight (at the Acorn Theatre on 42nd St.)  As it unfolded I opened my Playbill to verify that it was taking place in the present day, and not 25 years earlier.  The reason for my puzzlement is because Ben, a closeted man in his 20s, is in a relationship with Emily, who wants more of a commitment, while at the same time being involved with Chris, his twink plaything.  The plot brought to mind Elaine Stritch's oft-quoted line from The Ladies Who Lunch, "Does anyone still wear a hat?", except I was thinking, "Is anyone still closeted?".  Midway through the play Ben somewhat jokingly tells Emily that he's gay, but I sensed that he wouldn't have minded if she took him seriously.  Alas, she doesn't and his double life continues. 

 

The only time that Ben says "I love you", it's to Chris as they were settling into bed after a heart-to-heart talk.  Ben didn't even say those words to Emily after (spoiler alert!) he proposed to her.  However, I don't believe Ben loved Chris - he lusted for him.  Of the three characters, Chris was probably the lucky one, even though he was going to get hurt either way.  I felt it was better he got his heart broken when he did because if Ben had embraced his gayness he probably wouldn't have stayed with Chris for very long because of all of the opportunities he'd have  meeting men, many more suited to him.

 

Straight-jakeepstein.thomasesullivan   

 

I didn't feel much sympathy for Ben - nor was he a very interesting character.  I did, however, empathize with Chris and Emily, who were likable characters and nicely played (and it was refreshing that Emily wasn't a shrew).  When the play came to an abrupt end, with a surprise ending, I didn't care that Ben's dilemma was going to deepen, pushing him further into the closet and most likely without the outlet Chris provided.  Furthermore, besides struggling with his same-sex attractions, Ben was also unhappy with his job.  Get this man to a therapist - pronto.

 

Ben's situation brought to mind a boyfriend I had when I was new to New York.  He had been married and had two children but then lived a gay life for five years before marrying again.  He told me that he felt more comfortable being with a woman because it made life easier.  But that was 30 years ago (and at least he got a good taste of gay life - his journey is a more interesting one than Ben's).  Today, with same-sex marriage and the presence of children in gay households becoming more common, the plight of being closeted seems from a time long, long ago.

 

Closet 

 

 

   


Three Time's A Charm: The Wiz Live! Delights

TheWizLive!They say three times is a charm and, happily, that was the case with NBC's ambitious undertaking of producing Broadway musicals on live TV each year at the beginning of December.  After striking out with the The Sound of Music Live! in 2013 and then Peter Pan Live! in 2014, 2015's The Wiz Live! was a triumph.  (If a gay man doesn't gush about a musical, does it even exist?)  A vibrant and colorful production, the sets, actors, costumes, musical numbers and choreography were all top notch.  I never made it through more than the first 30 minutes of SOM or PP, but I've watched The Wiz three times (the same number of times I saw the theatrical version of Into the Woods at the beginning of the year). 

 

The Wiz Live! had a supporting cast of well-known names, including Stephanie Mills, Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Common, David Alan Grier and Elijah Kelley.  (My favorite was Ne-Yo as the Tin Man.)  Besides being a pleasure to watch, another difference this production had from its two predecessors was the casting of an unknown in the lead.  While the star power may have been the primary draw, Shanice Williams as Dorothy brought fresh energy, and even an occasional outburst of diva attitude.  (What a pity that her character was trying to get to ... Omaha!)

 

Shanice.williams


For me the musical's highlight was the middle portion when Dorothy and her buddies entered Emerald City and had their first encounter with the Wiz (played by Queen Latifah).  They first pass through a club in Emerald City that had a gay vibe.  Then there were the back-to-back numbers, the heart-tugging ballad What Would I Do If I Could Feel? sung by Ne-Yo's Tin Man and then a dance number Ne-Yo wrote for this TV production, We Got It.

 

Dorothy.emeraldcity

 

Tinman.whatwoulido

 

Wiz.wegotit

 

And here are some more favorite moments from the telecast ...

 

Goodwitch
Amber Riley as the Good Witch of the North

 

Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow
Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow. Kelley also portrayed 'Seaweed' in the 2007 movie version of "Hairspray"

 

Crow.thewiz
One of the flock of crows who harassed the Scarecrow

 

Common.thewizlive
Common portrayed Emerald City's gatekeeper/bouncer

 

Clubemeraldcity
One of the oh-show-chic club-goers in Emerald City

 

Queen.latifah.closeup
Queen Latifah as the Wiz

 

Neyo.tinman
Ne-Yo as the good-natured Tin Man

 

Guard.nobadnews
One of the Wicked Witch of the West's courtiers

 

Mary.j.blige
Mary J. Blige as Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West

 

Tinman.wiz
Upon their first encounter the Tin Man implored Dorothy to lube him up. And if oil wasn't available, Crisco would do!


 

Tinman.dancing
The Tin Man gets his groove on during the celebration after the death of Evilene ("A Brand New Day")

 

Glinda
Uzo Aduba as Glinda

 


2015 Tony Awards Fall Flat Without Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman

Alancummings.kristenchenoweth.tonyawardsI've groused in previous posts about the ubiquity of Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman at awards shows, but I must admit they were sorely missed at this year's Tony Awards (on CBS, as we were annoyingly reminded before each commercial break).  The silly banter between hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming was cringe worthy.  I wanted to swat them away like flies.  Alan Cumming on his own may have been fine (although he was sometimes hard to understand); the hyper-caffeinated Chenoweth, on the other hand, was exhausting to watch (bringing to mind Anne Hathaway when she hosted the Oscars back in 2009).  

 

Kristin.chenoweth.et.tonyawards
Perhaps one of the low points in the history of the Tonys?

 AlanCummings.KingandI.tonyawards

 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

  • At the beginning of the On the Town number, nominee Tony Yazbeck presented Anna Wintour, sans sunglasses, with flowers.  (Remind me again, what show was she in that got her seated in the VIP section?)

 

Anna.wintour.2015tonys
Anna Wintour smiles!

 

  • Fun Home's musical number Ring of Keys was so moving, it got me all choked up.  And to think this was sung by a child!

 

Funhome.2015tonys

 

  • Although Tommy Tune's lifetime achievement award wasn't part of the telecast, the 30-second clip that was shown had a great quip by him in which he said,  "Every Texas father dreams for their firstborn sons to leave Texas, go to New York and dance in the chorus of a  Broadway show!"

 

Tommytune.lifetimeachievementaward

 

  • What in the hell was Ashley (High School Musical) Tisdale wearing?  It looked like someone stole the top piece from a nun's habit or a burka.  And why was she presenting an award?  (The same could be asked of Jennifer Lopez.)

 

Ashley.tisdale.tonyawards

 

  • Matthew Morrison looked hot, and very un-Glee like, when he tore open his shirt during his number from Finding Neverland.

 

Neverland.tonyawards

 

  • The powerful performance by Lisa Howard from It Shoulda Been You (not even nominated) brought to mind Jennifer Holiday's from the 1982 Tonys when she bulldozed through And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going from Dreamgirls.

 

Lisa.howard.2015tonys

 

Jennifer.holiday.dreamgirls
Jennifer Holiday, 1982 Tony Awards

 

  • Kelli O'Hara's acceptance speech was wonderful for its excitement and gratitude and brought to mind Audra McDonald's acceptance at last year's ceremony (although it was her fifth Tony while this was O'Hara's first).

 

Kelli.ohara.2015tonys

 

  • For the first two-thirds of the show I thought Alan Cummings was saying "George Gobel" when it turned out it he was saying "Josh Groban".  Unfortunately it was painful listening to Groban struggle through You'll Never Walk Alone during the "In Memoriam" tribute.  Phylicia Rashad, however, gave it a beautiful intro (much like Meryl Streep did at this year's Academy Awards).

 

Josh.groban.2015tonys

 

  • During the "In Memoriam" tribute the biggest one-two punch was Elaine Stritch followed immediately by Marian Seldes.

 

Elaine.stritch.tonyawards

 

  • Harry Connick, Jr. - studliest presenter of the night?  Followed by Nick Jonas (standing next to Jennifer Lopez who looked relatively matronly) and Thomas Sadoski.

 

Harry.connick.jr.2015tonys

 Nickjonas.2015tonys

  Thomas.Sadoski

 

  • Tony winner Alex Sharp looked sharp in his casual, off-white/patterned tux.

 

Curious.case.ofthedog

 

  • No surprise, Broadway royalty, Bernadette Peters, looked terriffic and vied with Tony winner Helen Mirren for classiest stage presence.

 

Bernadette.peters.2015tonys 

  Helen.mirren.2015tonys2

 

  • For the second year in a row nominee Andy Karl was seated in the same far forward section of the theater, was playful when on camera and did not win in his category.

 

Andykarl
2015 nominee for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for "On the 20th Century"

 

Andy.karl.rocky
2014 nominee for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for "Rocky"

 

Finally, I leave you with a gallery of photos:

 

Onthetown.2015tonys
"On the Town's" 9 sailors a-leapin'

 

Alison.bechdel
Alison Bechdel gets her moment in the spotlight upon "Fun Home" being awarded as Best Musical.

 

Kristin.alan.tonys
One of thousands of costume changes for the hosts

 

Audience.2015tonyawards
Nominee Brandon Uranowitz ("An American in Paris") and his seat mate react differently to his name not being read as winner in the Best Actor in a Musical category.

 

Tyne.daly.tonyawards
Tyne Daly reacts to being told "I'm not your bitch" by Lisa Howard in their number from "It Shoulda Been You".

 

Max.von.essen.tony.awards
Upon seeing the camera turn to him when his name was read as one of the nominees in the Best Actor in a Musical ...

 

An.american.rhapsody
Max von Essen offers a dazzling smile.

 

Yankee.doodle.dandy
"On the Town's" Tony Yazbeck in front of the flag brought to mind Jasper John's famed "Flag" painting.


 

Funhome.michael.cirveris
Tony winner Michael Cerveris (with hair) on stage during Sydney Lucas' performance of "Ring of Keys".

Terrence McNally's Play "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" Opens (May 28, 1991)

Lips.togetherStraight couples in the Pines?  Nowadays they're no longer a novelty (nor are gay couples with kids) but 25 years ago they were.  The play Lips Together, Teeth Apart, written by esteemed playwright Terrence McNally, looks at two such couples spending the 4th of July holiday in the Pines in 1990.  They're staying at the house formerly owned by David, the gay brother of one of the women.  He recently died of AIDS and she inherited the house.  Not only is neither couple familiar with the Pines, but with gay life in general, and with AIDS.  Lips Together opened off Broadway on May 28, 1991 during some of the worst years of the AIDS crisis in terms of deaths (and a few years before protease inhibitors transformed AIDS from being a death sentence to more of a chronic, manageable scourge).

 

 

Fip

 

The cast of four was comprised of Christine Baranski, Swoozie Kurtz (the sister who inherited the house), Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald.

 

Lips.together.cast

 

Lips Together was staged two years after McNally's production of The Lisbon Traviata and three years before Love! Valour! Compassion!  All three had Nathan Lane in their cast.  (He portrayed gay characters in Lisbon Traviata and Love! Valour! Compassion! but played a straight blue collar type in Lips Together.)  I saw both of those plays but not the original production of Lips Together.  I did see a revival of it, however, in the fall of 2014.

 

Nathan.lane2

 

The action takes place out on the deck of the house and it's a perfect reproduction of a Pines beach house, i.e., the architecture, sliding doors, pool, outdoor shower, house flag, kite and even a bug zapper.  And although there is unenlightened conversation about AIDS and gay men, much of the play delves into the the four personalities and the struggles they are going through with their own lives.  And although it had constant moments of levity, overall it was a downer as it addressed subjects such as AIDS, prejudice, infidelity, cancer and death by drowning.

 

This show is especially interesting if you've spent time out in the Pines.  However, one aspect of the production that was unrealistic for me was that neither of the neighboring houses on either side ever played disco music, just classical or jazz.  Speaking of music, there's a funny scene in which the characters bicker over the title of the show tune, There's No Business Like Show Business.  Of course, because the play takes place in 1990 they weren't able to use Google to end their argument! 

 

Finally, a flag waving scene brought to mind Little Edie in Grey Gardens while at the end of the play the cast watches a shooting star, which brought to mind the star gazing scene on the rooftop at the end of Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along.

 

Lips.together..cast.2014
Cast from 2014 revival at 2nd Stage Theater in NYC

 

 

 


2014 Tony Awards Recap: Having Your Cake & Eating It Too

Hughjackman.2014tonyawards2Some viewers may have braced themselves for serious withdrawal upon the news that Neil Patrick Harris wasn't hosting this year's Tony Awards.  However, the telecast offered up a two-fer.  Not only did we get strapping Hugh Jackman as host, but Neil Patrick Harris was still present as he performed and made an acceptance speech after winning a Tony.  And like NPH, Jackman was a ball of good-humored energy.  Whereas NPH is cute and impish in an elf-like way, Jackman is leading man handsome and debonair with a playful side.  And the show's opening number showed that the 45-year-old was as fit as 40-year-old NPH. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

I enjoyed the opening although I was scratching my head over it.  After the show I discovered that the hopping idea came from the number Take Me to Broadway from the 1953 movie Small Town Girl.  (Musician Peter Wolf's 1987 music video for the song Come As You Are was also a tribute to this number.)  It might have been helpful if Hugh mentioned this fact (he did sing the title, but with no context).  Nonetheless, it was fun and I liked how Hugh interacted with the casts of the nominated musicals.  What was especially impressive was that he didn't appear to break a sweat nor was he noticeably winded.

 

Hughjackman.hopping.tonyawards 

 

I was quite entertained with Jackman's rendition of Rock Island from The Music Man, and it was further enhanced when he brought out rappers LL Cool J and TI to preform it as a rap song.

 

Hughjackman.llcoolj.ti

 

For me, the highlight of the telecast was Carole King introducing the musical number from Beautiful and then singing a duet of I Feel the Earth Move with the show's star, Jessie Mueller (who later won for her role).

 

Caroleking.2014tonyawards

 

Two award winners, Darko Tresnjak (Gentleman's Guide) and Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig & the Angry Inch) gave their respective husbands on-camera kisses.  And when he peformed as Hedwig NPH gave his hubby a very passionate kiss (almost as passionate as the one Al Gore planted on Tipper at the 2000 Democratic Convention!)

 

Darko.tresnjak.husband.tonyawards

Neil.patrick.harris.kisses.husband

Hedwig.kiss.tonyawards

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the numbers from Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway and Beautiful.

 

Rocky.tonyawards

 

Bulletsoverboradway

 

I was touched by the last line of Lena Hall's giddy acceptance speech after winning for her performance in Hedwig -  "Friendship is magic."

 

Lenahall.tonyawards.hedwig

 

Audra McDonald always gives a heartfelt, emotionally gratifying acceptance speech and this year's was no different - for her sixth Tony Award.  (I think what gave her the edge in the voting was her role as Mother Superior in NBC's live telecast of The Sound of Music last November.)  And the camera caught her husband, Will Swenson, wiping away tears and looking very proud.

 

Audra.mcdonald.2014tonys

 Audra.mcdonalds.husband

 

I found it amusing that Kenny Leon's wife was staring directly into the camera when his nomination for Best Director of a Play was announced (he won for Raisin in the Sun).

 

Kennyleons.wife.tonyawards

 

Then there was this adorable photo bomb by the son of Ramin Karimloo (from Les Miserables) as nominee Jarrod Spector's face was being shown (for his role in Beautiful).  But by the time Karimiloo's name was announced for his nomination later in the show, the little tyke was asleep and Karimiloo playfully tried to hush the audience (and there was yet another adorable son at his side).

 

Photobomb.tonyawards

Ramin.karimloo 

 

Sutton Foster and Ru Paul were pretty in pink (bringing to mind the time when Michelle Obama and Ann Romney both wore pink dresses to one of the presidential debates).

 

Rupaul.2014tonyawards

Suttonfoster.2014tonys

 

Jackman's playful interaction with each actress nominated for Lead Actress in a Musical was fun.

 

Kelli.ohara.tonyawards

 

Sutton.foster.tonyawards

 

Bare chests!  There were four of them: Adam Jacobs from Aladdin (pictured), Andy Karl and Terrence Archie (pictured) from Rocky and Alan Cumming from Cabaret.

 

Adam.jacobs.aladdin

 

Rocky.apollocreed.broadway

 

LOWLIGHTS

Judith Light's hair was a mess (the Cameron Diaz look) but Zach Brach's was even worse.

 

Zach.braff.2014tonyawards

 

Every song Idina Menzel sings sounds the same (aka Celine Dion syndrome).

 

Idina.menzel.tonyawards

 

The number from A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Marriage left me cold.  I saw the show and this was not the best number.  And I don't think it's going to drive audiences to the box office.  

 

Gentlemans.guide.tonyawards

 

The 10th anniversary of Wicked was highlighted but it was also the 10th anniversary of Avenue Q beating out Wicked for Best Musical (that wasn't mentioned).

 

AvenueQ

 

Kenneth Branagh's charcoal suit was very shiny.

 

Kenneth.brannagh

 

During NPH's acceptance speech he told his twins that hed be back soon to spend time with them and read bedtime stories, so he's letting us know that he's not going to be in Hedwig very much longer.

While it was great to see Jennifer Hudson, who looked stunning, perform a song, the show it's from has yet to appear on Broadway.  It came near the end of the telecast, pushing it past 11:00, so those taping lost the announcement of the award for Best Musical at 11:04.  (Sting's number earlier in the telecast was also for a show not yet on Broadway.)

 

Jenniferhudson.2014tonyawards

 

GAY REPRESENTATION

At least 13 gay men and lesbians got camera time and surely there were more that I missed, or I was unsure about their sexual orientation (e.g., Warren Carlyle and David Binder).

  • Matt Bomer (presenter)
  • Alan Cumming (Cabaret)
  • Harvey Fierstein (presenter)
  • Jonathan Groff (presenter)
  • Neil Patrick Harris (preformed; award winner for Hedwig)
  • Cherry Jones (nominee)
  • Michael Mayer (Hedwig)
  • Terrence McNally (stage appearance)
  • John Cameron Mitchell (stage appearance/Hedwig)
  • Rosie O'Donnell (presenter; recipient of honorary award winner)
  • Zachary Quinto (presenter)
  • RuPaul (presenter)
  • Darko Tresnjak (award winner, Gentleman's Guide)

 

MISCELLANEOUS PHOTOS

This year I snapped photos from the TV screen (couldn't have done it without the DVR!).  Here are some miscellaneous shots I liked:

 

Hughjackman.tonys2014
Hugh Jackman looks out upon his adoring public.

 

Andy.carl.rocky
"Rocky's" playful nominee Andy Karl

 

Anawintour.tonyawards
Anna Wintour goes another year without a Tony.

 

Hughjackman.hopping.tonyawards2
Hugh begins hopping.

 

Neilpatrickharris.husband.tonyawards
Neil Patrick Harris with hubby David Burtka

 

Jenniferhudson.2014tonyawards
Jennifer Hudson belts it out.

 

Adamjacobs.tonyawards
Adam Carol and his 100-watt smile.

 

 
Lesmiz.tonyawards
Kyle Scatliffe brings the number from "Les Miz"  to a powerful end.