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New York City - Theatre

Wendy R. Williams'
Theatre Column

June 20, 2009

The much anticipated Tony Awards were held on June 7, 2009 at Radio City Music Hall. Most of the winners were predictable (Billy Elliot swept the awards) but there were a few surprises.

Billy Elliot
Photo Credit David Scheinmann

The most excellent Billy Elliott won for: Best Musical; Best Book of a Musical (Lee Hall); Best Performance by A Lead Actor in a Musical (David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish); Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Gregory Jbara); Best Direction of Musical (Stephen Daldry); Best Choreography (Peter Darling); Best Orchestrations (Martin Koch); Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Ian McNeill); Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Rick Fisher); and Best Sound Design of a Musical (Paul Arditti).

So if you have not seen Billy Elliott, do everything you can to get a ticket, even if all you can purchase are tickets for 2010.

An interesting note, Stephen Daldry was the director of both the Tony Ward winning Billy Elliott and for the Academy Award Best Picture winner, The Reader. Daldry was nominated for Best Director Osca for The Reader, but lost to Slumdog Millionaires's Danny Boyle. Read my coverage of the press roundtable for The Reader which includes an interview with Stephen Daldry.


Hair won for Best Revival of a Musical, an award that was both deserved and expected. So let's Let the Sunshine In.

Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels
God of Carnage Opening Night
Photo Credit PR Photos

Now for the slightly inexpected: Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage won Best Play, the wonderful Marcia Gay Harden won Best Actress in a Play for her work in God of Carnage and Matthew Warchus won Best Director of a Play for Carnage. And although Harden's fellow Carnage actors - Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels - did not win individual Tony's the most certainly supplied a wonderful playground for Ms. Harden. This was unexpected becuase although Carnage is widely considered to be a good play, it is not considered to be an excellent play like last year's winner - August, Osage County (Osage also won a Pulitzer Prize). Carnage's win this year can be attributed in part to a lack of other strong contenders.

Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon
Exit the King Broadway Opening Night
March 26, 2009
Sylvain Gaboury / PR Photos

Other awards were more expected: Best Revival of a Play for The Norman Conquests; Best Original Score Written for Theatre for Next to Normal; and Best Performance by an Actor in a Play for Geoffrey Rush's performance in Exit the King.

Blithe Spirit

Two crowd favorites (if I can be called a crowd) were the wins by Angel Lansbury for Best Featured Actor in a Play for her hysterical performance in Blithe Spirit and an award for Best Special Theatrical Event for Liza at the Palace.

Jane Fonda in 33 Variations

One sad note was the lack of recognition for Jane Fonda's performance in 33 Variations. But award or not, it was great to see you on Broadway, Ms. Fonda.

For more information about the Tony Awards, log onto:

May 22, 2009

The 75th Annual Drama League Awards were held on May 15, 2009 at the
Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. The glitterati of Broadway turned out, stars such as: Jane Fonda (33 Variations); producer Elton JOhn (Billy Elliot: The Musical); Allison Janney (9 to 5); Geoffrey Rush (Exit the King); and Sutton Foster (Shrek) all walked the red carpet.

Jane Fonda
Janet Mayer / PR Photos

David Hyde Pierce
Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Cynthia Nixon and Elton John
Janet Mayer / PR Photos


This year' winners are:

Distinguished Production of a Musical -- Billy Elliot: The Musical
Distinguished Production of a Play -- God of Carnage
Distinguished Revival of a Musical -- Hair
Distinguished Revival of a Play -- Blithe Spirit

The Drama League also paid tribute to more than 60 of the season's best performers, all of whom were nominated for the annual Distinguished Performance Award. The winner of this year's Distinguished Performance Award is Exit the King star Geoffrey Rush.

The The Drama League also presented its four previously announced special recognitions:

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award -- Elton John
The Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing -- Arthur Laurents
The Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award -- Angela Lansbury
The 75th Anniversary Leadership Award -- Herb Blodgett

(Awards quoted from the Drama League press release).

For more information about the Drama League, log onto: dramaleague.org/index.htm

Here is some information about the winning shows:

Billy Elliot
Photo Credit David Scheinmann

Billy Elliot: The Musical - Distinguished Production of a Musical
Tuesday 8:00pm
Wednesday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00pm
Friday 8:00pm
Saturday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm
Previews Start October 1, 2008
Opens November 13, 2008
Open Run
Imperial Theatre

Billy Elliot is a funny, heart-warming and feel-good celebration of one young boy's dream in a gripping tale of triumph over adversity. Based on the enormously popular film, this powerful new musical is the story of a boy who discovers he has a special talent for dance, while the boys all around him are more interested in boxing. An unprecedented smash in the West End, where it has won 9 Best Musical awards, broken UK box office records and continues to sell out nightly, Billy Elliot has been created by the film's director (Stephen Daldry), writer (Lee Hall) and choreographer (Peter Darling), who are joined by music legend Elton John, one of the most celebrated pop songwriters of the last 30 years.

Tickets $41.50-$136.50 $301.50 Premium - 212-239-6200 &
800-432-7250 www.telecharge.com

Imperial Theatre |249 West 45th Street

Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit - Distinguished Revival of a Play
Previews Start February 26, 2009
Show Opens March 15, 2009
Open Run
Shubert Theatre

What happens when his once-beloved won't take "til death do us part" for an answer? What happens when his new wife finds out they're not alone anymore? Can anyone conjure up a solution?

Angela Lansbury returns to Broadway in the revival of Noel Coward's classic 1941 farce Blithe Spirit, about a successful novelist haunted by his biggest fan -- his deceased first wife.

The production also stars Rupert Everett, Christine Ebersole, and Jayne Atkinson. Michael Blakemore directs.

Ticket Price: $31.50-$116.50; $151.50 - $301.50 Premium 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250 www.telecharge.com

Shubert Theatre | 225 West 44th Street

Marcia Gay Harden, Hope David, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels
God of Carnage Opening Night
Photo Credit PR Photos

God of Carnage - Distinguished Production of a Play
Show Opens March 22, 2009
Previews Start February 28, 2009
Open Run
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Matthew Warchus directs Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, in a translation by Christopher Hampton. The play is about a schoolyard dispute and its aftermath. The cast includes Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Marcia Gay Harden.

Ticket Price: $66.50 - $116.50 telecharge.com
Tickets by Phone: 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250

For more information on God of Carnage: www.godofcarnage.com

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre |242 West 45th Street

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical -
Distinguished Revival of a Musical
Previews Start March 6, 2009
Show Opens March 31, 2009
Open Run
Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical features book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot. Diane Paulus directs.

With a score including musical numbers as "Let the Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Hair" and "Good Morning Starshine," Hair follows a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War. As they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn draft cards, the "tribe" in Hair creates an irresistible message of 'hope' that continues to resonate with audiences 40 years later.

Tickets $37.00 - $122.00; $252.00 Premium 212-239-6200 800-432-7250 telecharge.com hairbroadway.com

Al Hirschfeld Theatre|302 West 45th Street

ABOUT THE DRAMA LEAGUE (from the press release)

The Drama League was founded in 1916 as an association of theatre professionals and patrons dedicated to encouraging the finest in professional theatre, and has since developed into the theatre's premiere service organization.

The Drama League provides an unparalleled training program for emerging theatre artists through The Directors Project, which encourages and trains young talents while providing much-needed exposure and essential connections to the professional theatrical community.

The Drama League's Audience Project is dedicated to building strong, passionate audiences for the American theatre, providing discounted tickets for its members to the best Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional productions across the United States while enhancing the theatergoer's understanding and experience of live theatre through its informative panels, luncheons and discussions with leading figures in the field.


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