Who To Root For At The Tonys In A Post-Hamilton World

Congrats everyone who decided to enter the Tonys this season and not last season – Hamilton will not be dominating the awards this year. But will another show take its place instead?

The 71st Annual Tony Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and coming out on top was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 with 12 nominations. For those of you reading this that may not be Broadway fans per se, but more of a “Hamilton changed the way I look at musical theater” type of person, I’m guess you’re less likely to watch the Tonys this year because Ham won’t be as featured as it was in 2016. But let me tell you, there are still plenty of fantastic shows that are worthy of your support, both on Tonys day and in the theater year round. Here are just some of our top picks for who to root for, and who’ll dominate come June 11th.

Dear Evan Hansen

9 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Ben Platt), Best Score (Oscar winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)

What it’s all about: “All his life, Evan Hansen has felt invisible. But when a tragic event shocks the community and thrusts him into the center of a rapidly evolving controversy, Evan is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be somebody else.” {x}

Starring: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones

Why: Let’s just say it’s the Hamilton of 2017. Dear Evan Hansen has been winning acclaim ever since it premiered in D.C. back in 2015. When it was Off-Broadway, the show won five various awards, including an Obie for its star Ben Platt. Just for a second – we need to talk about TONY NOMINATED Ben Platt. The Pitch Perfect star may just be adding some hardware to his name come June because this is a freaking breakout role for him. If you haven’t yet, listen to the soundtrack, or at least listen to For Forever, which legit gave me goosebumps and made me cry in its 5 minute span. Another actor to look out for is Tony nominee Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Evan’s mom, a woman who just doesn’t know how to connect with her son. Her emotions pour out on So Big/So Small, and if you get to this point in the soundtrack/show without crying, this track will be the breaking point.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack debuted at number 8 on the Billboard chart, which is the highest debut by a cast recording since 1961. Hamilton didn’t even do that! It’s also worth noting that a number of notable Ham creatives are also behind DEH, including Alex Lacamoire (Music orchestrations and arrangements), David Korins (Scenic design) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound design). The first two also got nominated, but not Nevin because the Drama League is dumb and the category was taken out a couple years ago (but is being reinstated next year!). 

Come From Away

7 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score

What it’s all about: “Following the 9/11 attacks, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of one small town on the edge of the world. Based on interviews with locals, Come From Away is about how hosting this international community of strangers spurred unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances.” {x}

Starring: Jenn Colella, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kessebaum

Why: Making a 9/11 musical is toeing a fine line between tacky and offensive and honorable. But Come From Away has gotten positive reviews that lean towards the latter, and in fact suggest that this story is what needs to be told in this shitshow of horrific times. Peter Marks of The Washington Post even noted Come From Away “an antidote for what ails the American soul.” And while the actors may not be household names, the ensemble is a mix of both veterans and newbies, who are all worthy of a Tony, including Jenn Colella, who is up for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.

Miss Saigon

2 nominations, Best REvival of a Musica, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

What it’s all about: “Set in 1975 during the final days of the of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between Chris, an American GI and Kim, a young Vietnamese woman. They are separated when the country falls, until she returns to his life years later, in this musical inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly.” {x}

Starring: Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Jon Jon Briones, Rachelle Ann Go

Why: This 25th anniversary production earned rave reviews when it opened in London in 2014, and finally three years later, it has made its way across the pond with most of its original revival cast, including Eva Noblezada, who plays the lead of Kim and earned her very first Tony nom yesterday. It’s no easy feat playing a role that Filipino royalty Lea Salonga originated, but 21-year-old Eva made the role her own and is set to become a star much like Lea did years ago. In fact, like Lea was discovered at just 18 (this video will never get old), Eva was 17 when she performed at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a casting director pegged her to play Kim for the London revival. The rest is history. But it shouldn’t be a surprise – here’s a vid of Eva at 14 giving Sutton Foster a run for her money .

War Paint

4 nominations, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole)

What it’s all about: “Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th Century. Brilliant innovators with humble roots, both were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. They were also fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their remarkable rivalry was ruthless, relentless and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men.” {x}

Starring: Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole

Why: Um, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole? Diva-off. 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

12 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction 

What it’s all about: “Natasha is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing (but already married) Anatole and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre, the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.” {x}

Starring: Denee Benton, Josh Groban

Why: I’ve heard nothing but great things about this show, and every clips I see makes me want to see it even more. The intimate setting, the creative blocking, the overall fanciful atmosphere might give it the edge over Dear Evan Hansen, which has long been considered a front runner for months.  Also worth noting – both its stars Denee and Josh Groban made their Broadway debuts with Natasha, and they’re both nominated for their first Tony awards. The girl from UnReal and Ally McBeal star Josh Groban could be Tony winners, y’all. 

Hello, Dolly!

10 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Bette Miller, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin)

What it’s all about: “A meddlesome matchmaker brings together the young clerk of a wealthy Yonkers merchant and his assistant with a widowed milliner and her assistant, while making sure she herself gets to marry the merchant, in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.” {x}

Starring: Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel

Why: We are bad musical theater nerds. Molly only saw the movie of Hello, Dolly for the first time recently, while I have seen neither stage musical nor movie. What I do know is that other more well-educated theater nerds have been v excited for this revival, mainly because of the return of Bette herself to the Broad-way. An established show with revered actors is bound to get some love from the Tonys, and with 10 noms it’s clear someone’s gonna go home with that trophy. 

Falsettos

5 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Christian Boyle, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephanie J. Block)

What it’s all about: William Finn and James Lapine’s musical combines their Off-Broadway works The March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which tell the story of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer, Marvin’s wife Trina and their extended family from the early ‘80s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Starring: Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, Brandon Uranowitz, Tracie Thoms

Why: The OG version of this show premiered nearly 25 years ago, but its themes of gay relationships and the AIDS crisis are still hot topics of conversation today. In addition to the fact the story itself is so relevant, the stellar cast tells the Falsettos tale in a whole new way, and it’s definitely one to watch out for on Tonys night.

Kevin Spacey

2 nominations, 1 win

What it’s all about: Kevin Spacey is hosting the Tonys for the first time. Kevin Spacey! It seemed like kind of a random choice but I’m here for it! #MaybeHeWillAdmitHisLoveForTheaterGoesBeyondJustTheToeTappingMusical

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What ‘Cats’ Characters Are Probably Like, Based On Their Names

Can Jellicles? We’ll find out next week, when the Cats revival either winds Broadway up like a ball of yarn … or coughs up a big ‘ol hairball.

Cats is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical based on T.S. Eliot’s book about cat poems. Turn that sentence over in your head a bit. Theater-goers WENT IN FOR THIS. In the early 90s my mom took my three older siblings to Cats on Broadway and left me at home. The tales of the amazing theater experience convinced me that the stage was a place where anything can happen – I mean, Rum Tum Tugger himself stroked my brother (or something. I don’t exactly know because I wasn’t invited).  I exacted my revenge by making my siblings attend dozens of my plays and musicals over the following years, most of which were not good. The cast recording was a constant in our car and kitchen, and in first grade I could sing you verse after verse about the “heavyside layer,” which I don’t remember but was probably cat death? When I was 6 I finally saw the national touring company. In a bit of family lore, my father walked into the lobby during intermission with a bemused expression, shaking his head. “I don’t get it,” he said.

Now I’m a full-grown adult, and to be quite honest, I don’t get it either. My memories of actors Fosse-dancing while wearing giant carpet suits have faded into the mist just like the memories that one sad cat sang about. I remember snippets of songs and the feeling of something magical happening on stage, but I look at the list of characters and musical numbers and none of it makes sense to me. In the spirit of the new Cats production, here’s what the kitty characters are probably like, based on their weird names alone.

Mungojerrie

Okay, so this has to be a racist minstrel-y caricature from the 1930s,  yet also still a cat.

Rumpleteazer

You know how in really old movies they couldn’t say someone was gay so they’d use all these weird euphemisms instead? That.

Like, (and here you have to do a voice like you’re from an early talkie): “he’s a confirmed bachelor and a real rumpleteazer.”

Jennyanydots

Neighborhood snob thinks she’s cute.

Grizabella

Meth Gabriella.

Need further clarification? OK Take whatever Gabriella means to you:

Then make it meth:

Gus the Theatre Cat

This really old guy who hangs around a bar in the theater district and when people start talking about Hamilton, he chimes in with stories about, like, the original run of Company. Very into Sondheim. Sits with one foot propped up on his knee. Wears that one kind of hat. (I’m visualizing a cat Harold Prince.)

Mr. Mistoffelees

 

A pretentious college professor who wears jackets with suede patches on the elbows.

Rum Tum Tugger

Oh, goodness. Like a tubby booze uncle. And not the fun one, but the one where you’re just praying that no hot-button topics come up when he’s around because you know it’s going to be awful. Says stuff he knows you disagree with because he’s trying to start an argument, then keeps badgering you when you don’t react. A superfan of a failing NFL franchise, but all he does is complain about it.

Jellicle Cats

Sneaky assholes.

When I was a kid, my grandmother said she didn’t like cats because you could feel their bones squirming under their skin (which is also how I visualized myself as a scrawny, not-put-together child). That’s what jellicle cats are. You pick them up and their skin just slinks over their bones until they’ve wriggled out of your arms.

Bombalurina

That neighbor you had as a child who was Italian or Cuban, wore a housecoat, and her main things were obsessively sweeping her front steps and tending the marigolds around her Bathtub Madonna.

(Author’s note: describes roughly 10% of my childhood neighbors.)

Old Deuteronomy

The gruff, wizened old neighbor who was actually a cool writer in the 1960s and who teaches the protagonist, a teenaged white boy, about the world, the pen and himself.
Except the cat version of that.

Skimbleshanks

Eugene from Grease. Neville Longbottom. Samuel ‘Screech’ Powers. All those guys on Big Bang Theory. The geeks on Freaks and Geeks. Steve Urkel. Skimbleshanks.

Macavity

One of those lacrosse bros who has gone by his last name for so long that you can never remember what his first name was. (It’s Brent. Or Shane. Or Bryce.)

Quaxo

A third-tier sidekick who appears in one of the less-good chapters of Don Quixote or The Canterbury Tales or Pilgrim’s Progress, and then Jo March used it as a reference and you never understood it until you read the source book in college.

Bustopher

A cat rapper. Began his career as a kitten, when he was known as Lil Bustopher.

By the way, the characters’ full name in the musical is Bustopher Jones and his first album as an adult act was called The Bustopher Jones EP.

Jellylorum

False. This isn’t a name. It’s one of those weird, but non-fatal, things that can happen when a baby is brand new. “He’s mostly healthy, they just want to keep him in the hospital for the few days because he has jellylorum.”

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So You’re Seeing A Hamilton Understudy*? I’m Jealous.

You’ve been anticipating the day for months. You paid a significant amount of money to be in the room where it happens and see the most talked about musical in years. It’s won Tonys and a Grammy and other countless theater awards – the creator literally was named a genius for the masterpiece – then the day finally comes. And it’s July 10th. Or basically any day after July 10th. You missed the original Broadway cast by a day.

In the span of a week, four of Hamilton’s principal stars, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo and Daveed Diggs all took their final bow while Renee Elise Goldsberry also announced she’d be leaving this fall. All of them departed to pursue other opportunities and legitimately take a break. Are you one of the people upset about this? Well apparently you’re not alone.

And while I guess I expected there to be some backlash, I didn’t expect to see this headline the other day:

First of all, this isn’t a review – Samantha Tomaszewski wrote an article for the New York Post (established none other by the bastard, orphan, son of a whore Alexander Hamilton) in which audience members from the first post-Lin & co. spouted off their frustration on missing the original Broadway cast by a day.

“I’m extremely disappointed because I really want to see Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s like going to see a band you like but they get someone else to be the lead singer. You’re not really getting what you originally paid for.” Ok, Kiara.

Ashley and Matt from Florida paid $500 each for orchestra seats in December, and were also disappointed. “When we found out…  it was a little heartbreaking. We considered selling them but figured we would be at a loss because no one would want to pay as much to see the show without Lin.”

These two quotes are the most negative ones in the article. Neither said it was a “total letdown”. I guess Samantha took a page out of A. Ham’s book of dramatized writing.

But to play Devil’s Advocate, I get it though. I will pay to see shows only because someone famous that iI love is in it. I just went to a concert version of West Side Story solely because Jeremy Jordan and Angelica Schuyler-to-be Karen Olivo were starring in it. Sorry, I’ll pick up those names I just dropped. Had it been people I wasn’t interested in, I wouldn’t have paid money to see a 1957 musical that’s been done a million. But Hamilton is different.

Molly & I are seeing Hamilton in October (#Hamtober) and my mother recently asked me, “Isn’t the guy who wrote the show leaving?” (loose translation from Tagalog). I said yes, but that seeing Lin wasn’t the only reason I bought the tickets. Would I love to have seen Lin in the role he created? Yes. Would it have been amazing to see Leslie and Daveed and maybe Renee in the parts they won Tonys for? Of course. But Hamilton is a musical that transcends the people who are in it. Obviously stellar writing needs a stellar vessel to act it out, but if you have a story and score as good as Hamilton, the actors playing the parts are almost secondary. If you’re mad you’re not seeing Lin, you’re missing the point.

Second, you have to remember most of these cast members have been with the show a long time. Just because Hamilton has received acclaim over the past year and more so in the past few months with all its awards, it doesn’t mean the actors just started their respective runs. For starters, Lin has been working on the show for SEVEN YEARS. And in 2013, when it was titled The Hamilton Mixtape, Daveed, Leslie and Chris Jackson assumed their roles of Lafayette/Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and George Washington respectively, in a workshop production at Vassar.

Lin and Chris Jackson at the 2013 Hamilton Mixtape workshop at Vassar

By 2015, the show became the Hamilton it is now (for the most part), and debuted Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. That version picked up all the remaining Original Broadway Cast members, including Renee, Phillipa, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Anthony Ramos and Oak Onaodowan. A lot of the ensemble members have also been in the company since the Public, and in case you’re a pedestrian Broadway fan strictly because of Hamilton, these folks do 8 shows a week. That’s more times than there are days in the week. And it’s the same show over and over again. Lest us forget that this is also a physically and emotionally demanding show. While some might think otherwise, doing a full on production for 3 hours, sometimes twice in one day, it can be draining. You try dying twice in one day as Laurens/Phillip. Four deaths if you’re doing a matinee.

Third, and probably most importantly, put faith in the casting directors for the show. They’re the ones who picked out the OBC in the first place, and they’re responsible for the current bench on Hamilton is way, way, deep. We touched on it during #HamilWeek when discussing the ensemble members/swings – these are people who have had leading roles in shows Wicked and Rent. They’re not just timid backup singers. They’re integral cogs to the entire Hamilton machine and often times know more than one role.

Actually, let’s back up a bit. *Understudy = every person that steps into a leading role. The actors filling in while parts like Lafyette/Jefferson are being recast have been around the block a few hundred times.

There are three types of cast members you need to get to know:

Understudy: Regular performing members of the cast (usually ensemble members) who also cover other roles for when the regular actors are on vacation or can’t perform at the last minute. Hamxample: Ensemble member Carleigh Bettiol is an understudy for Eliza, while other ensemble members like Sydney James Harcourt and Austin Smith both understudy Burr and Washington, among others. A tweaked version to this is a Stand-By, like Alysha Deslorieux, whose job is to just understudy the three principal female roles of Eliza, Angelica and Peggy/Maria.

Alternate: An actor scheduled to play a role for a set number of performances per week. Hamxample: Javier Munoz (current A.Ham/#Javilton) was Lin’s alternate on Sunday afternoons, and 2 shows a week toward the end of his run.

Swing: Swings understudy ensemble tracks, and possibly principal roles, which is the case for Hamilton. Hamxample: The ultimate swing is Andrew Chappelle, who covers Lafayette/Jefferson, Madison/Mulligan, Laurens/Phillip, Burr, King George, and all the male ensemble tracks (I believe).

Anyway, all this to say, these stand-bys and alternates and swings whose name appear on the little insert of your Playbill aren’t just randos. They’re talented folks who have worked hard to memorize MULTIPLE roles. Sure, they’re not who you’re accustomed to per the soundtrack, but you’ve already listened to that a million times. What about hearing it in a while new way? It might even make you see the show differently. These are people who bring a freshness to the role and new excitement, since they don’t do it every single night. It’s part of the magic of live theatre. With a different cast of multiple possibilities, it’s truly a new show every time, not to mention the actors’ performances vary depending on the audience’s energy and reactions as well.

Much like everyone else who has tickets for the rest of the show’s run, we’re not going to see the OBC in its full version, and I’m okay with that. You should be too. I remember seeing Wicked on Broadway a little over a year and a half after it premiered, and although it was sans Idina and Kristin, it starred Tony nominee Jennifer Laura Thompson as Glinda and vocal gymnast Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and I was still in awe. So much so that I legit cried 90% of the time. The music, story and outstanding performances all were stellar, and made me forget I wasn’t seeing the OBC.

We as theatergoers owe it to these actors to respect their craft, as corny as that may sound. The “understudies” already have the added pressure of proving to the audience that they’re worthy, so why add fuel to the fire? Imagine you had a friend in the chorus of a Broadway show, and they suddenly get called up to play the leading role for that night’s performance. You wouldn’t complain. You wouldn’t compare them to how good the regular actor is. You’d be proud and support them, because you know they have so much talent to share that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

So to Kiara and Ashley and Matt – I am jealous of you. I am jealous you got to see these standbys/swings/understudies/alternates take center stage. I am jealous you are even seeing the show at all. And I’m sure there are millions more who are jealous too. I hope you get what you paid for.

Highlights from the HamilTonys

Last night, Hamilton: An American Musical went in with a record-breaking 16 nominations and by the end of the show, it left with 11, just short of tying The Producers’ record of 12 in 2001. But you know what, it doesn’t even matter. The fact that this groundbreaking, impactful, diverse show has done this well at all should be an accomplishment enough. It’s obvious we’re big fans of Hamilton here (see: #HamilWeek), but we’re also big fans of theatre in general, so if you happened to miss any of the show last night, here are some of the best moments you didn’t see, and some you’ll want to relive over and over again.

The Entire Opening Number

Let’s be real, half the people tuning into the Tonys this year don’t even usually know they’re happening. For theater nerds like us, the Tonys have always been our version of the Super Bowl. But I’m willing to bet for all these n00bs who watched the Tonys last night, it was all about Hamilton. So naturally, the producers pandered to their audience and gave them a whole lotta Hamilton, including the very first bit, which was a parody of Hamilton’s opening number, Alexander Hamilton. Except the lyrics were changed to fit host James Corden. After that, James launched into a medley of musicals that made me think he was gunning for some kind of Guinness World Record. The whole idea of the number was reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris’ sentiments in his opening number a few years ago (starting around 5:44, makes me cry every time), but the feeling still rings true – the Tonys are a chance for those young kids in the middle of nowhere to know that their “weird” obsession with theater and musicals isn’t just them. The end features mini-mes of all the leading musical actors and actresses and that’s what really got me. Surprise, I cried.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Playing Tambourine in an All-Star Jam Band

In homage to #Ham4Ham, casts of nominated shows stood under the Beacon Theater marquee and paid tribute to iconic shows of the past. Kicking it off were the nominees for Best Score, what winner Lin-Manuel Miranda called a “jam band”, featuring himself, Sara Bareilles, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew Lloyd Webber on tambourine. TAMBOURINE.

Audra McDonald, Queen of Tonys, Slays With Child

Even though she wasn’t nominated, six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald managed to still make headlines because she did this tap number pregnant. She’s 45. I want to be her when I grow up.

Cynthia Erivo & The Cast of The Color Purple

Listen, I can only spread the gospel of Cynthia Erivo so much (#WomanCrushWednesday and all), and her performance of I’m Here is, yet again, pick your jaw up off the floor flawless. Add in the rest of the cast of the Tony-winning The Color Purple – including newest addition Heather Headley – and you’re gonna need a few moments to gather yourself after your wig gets snatched.

Spring Awakening Takes Center Stage

The revival of Spring Awakening, which featured both deaf and hearing cast members, has been closed for three months. It was nominated for both Best Revival of a Musical and Best Director for Michael Arden (not Chris Fitzgerald), but in order to perform at the Tonys, you need to shell out literal thousands of dollars. Since the show isn’t open, Michael and the cast launched a crowdfunding campaign to get them to the Tonys and it worked! We got to see this inspiring new rendition of Spring Awakening and it was worth every penny. Thank God this show is going on the road.

Netflix Marketing Strikes Again

In the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus talks about auditioning (and ultimately losing) a role in Hamilton. Because Netflix folks are essentially marketing geniuses, they created an ad specifically featuring Titus in what looks like his legit audition tape trying out for Hamilton. This commercial was played during the Tonys. Amazing.

This Pre-Show Huddle

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Behind-the-scene pep talk at #TonyAwards

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One of my favorite things about the Tonys and Broadway in general is that there’s a real camaraderie between actors and genuine love within the community. Everyone seems to be supporting others in a way you’d think is odd in Hollywood. Prior to the show, members of Hamilton, On Your Feet!, Shuffle Along and more gathered for a pre-show pep talk/prayer circle because they’re all on the same team, striving to do their best on stage. You won’t see Oscar nominees doing this backstage.

Commercial Karaoke

 

 

I think it was Audra who told James Corden that the best advice she could give him is just to keep everyone in the audience entertained throughout the night. It’s a long show, so make sure the crowd enjoys it. It seems he took this to heart because during commercials, he instated Commercial Karaoke and recruited stars to sing the great hits – including Sean Hayes and Jake Gyllenhaal singing Aladdin. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Jessie Mueller Goodbye

Also Sara Bareilles rolling out on the Tonys stage with her piano knowing full well she’s about to wreck us all.

The Fashion

Usually our post-awards show post is a Best/Worst Dressed situation, so to fulfill that quota, here are some of my faves from last night, starting with the absolutely gorgeous Laura Benanti in Oscar de la Renta and stunning Nicolette Robinson (Mrs. Leslie Odom Jr.) in a flowing Christian Siriano gown. Of course our patron saint Lupita Nyong’o didn’t disappoint, while Sara Bareilles, Jane Krakowski and Adrienne Warren all did their thang too.

*I took a page out of the Tony producers’ handbook and saved the HamilTonys for last suckasss

Kings & Queens of Social Media

Unlike major Broadway phenomenons with fervent fan bases of the past (A Chorus Line, Rent, etc.) Hamilton came in an era where social media reigns and fans from all over the world can send one simple tweet to Lin and he’ll respond in Internet-language like he’s your BFF. The cast members of Hamilton kill it when it comes to social media, and on Tonys day, they did not disappoint. From my fave Andrew Chappelle taking over the official Hamilton Snapchat to Seth Stewart sharing backstage videos to the MOST turnt Broadway warmup ever, to my boo Oak posting videos of the boys dancing (just look at his whole feed from Sunday it’s worth it). This is how you werk social media, y’all. I freaking love this cast.

RENEE

I attempted to count how many times I cried during the Tonys, and I stopped because I was already at an obscene amount prior to the show started (thanks to seeing rehearsal vid of the HamilCast’s Rent bumper). I def stopped the cry count because I was sobbing SOBBING during Renee’s speech.

LIN

A) His fistbump/fireworks explosion with Vanessa. Definition of #CoupleGoals. B) Lin casually writing a sonnet like it’s easy. Literal genius. C) EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SONNET.

What Kind of Day Has It Been

Lin has long said The West Wing is one of his favorite shows and thus a big influence on Hamilton (“looking for a mind at work” in The Schuyler Sisters is straight from TWW), so it’s not really a surprise that he snuck this sly move in. The signal was used in S1E22, What Kind of Day Has It Been and basically alerted President Bartlet of good news. Good news indeed.

History Is Happening In Manhattan

For the first time in Tony history, all four musical acting awards went to people of color – Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Daveed Diggs and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Hey Oscars (and everyone else still sleeping) – stay woke.

Look Around, Look Around

Everyone who won for Ham had a great speech, but the best way to end the show was with a performance with the whole cast (because, pandering but also, history). It was the most joyous number because everyone was dressed in their formal gear and not in revolutionary costumes. For once it was the actors having fun and reveling in their 11 wins. I mean what other show has actors that dab on the stage after winning all those Tonys?

Best of Hams & Best of Ham4Hams

Welcome to #Hamilweek! The Tony Awards are this Sunday, and until then we’re going to write like we’re running out of time (sorry). Hamilton is one of the first hit musicals of the social media era. Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast realize that a majority of the fans can’t make it to the show, so they try their best to bring an up-close experience to their supporters through the magic of the internet. Case in point: Ham4Ham. Originally intended to give people who don’t win the ticket lotto a consolation prize, it has grown into a must-watch YouTube sensation. We could easily put every damn Ham4Ham on the list, but we tried to narrow it down a bit. Here are some of the best of Hams and best of Ham4Hams:

 

We Three Kings

Hamilton has been #blessed with three (now four) very talented men to play King George – Brian d’Arcy James, Jonathan Groff and Andrew Rannells. The great tragedy is that they never get to grace the stage at the same time. So it was invevitable that a Hamilfan suggested the three of them get together to sing The Schuyler Sisters. Request on Twitter and ye shall receive, so Lin organized this lip sync version featuring royalty. I love this because someone actually cut all the best angles together to create the best supercut. The fandom is great. – T

Star Techs

An amazing example of the behind-the-scenes coordination and dedication needed to produce a single number in the show. Ladies and gentlemen, I present stage manager Jason Bassett calling cues with the rhythm and timing of a star performer. -M

I Don’t Own Emotion, I Rent

For the 20th anniversary of Rent, we dedicated a week of posts to the revolutionary rock musical. Similarly, Lin sang What You Own with a very special guest (still not over this). -T

Patti LuP-owned It

Whenever I’m tempted to half-ass something from now on, I’m going to remember that Patti LuPone does the whole damn introduction to Give My Regards To Broadway that NOBODY DOES. -M

I’ma Compel Him To Include Women in the Sequel

First the Kings take over for the Schuyler Sisters, then the fierce women take over for A. Ham and the rest of the squad for My Shot. There was a rumor a while ago that the touring production was auditioning females for the male roles and vice versa – it proved to me false, but this video alone shows the ladies are more than ready to go. – T

THIS IS PAVEMENT YOU GUYS.

This is one of those Ham4Hams that has nothing to do with the show – not the performers, not the music, just members of the New York City ballet making my brain explode by performing on the sidewalk so beautifully that it made me want to cry. -M

WERK

For one day, the #Ham4Ham turned into #Bam4Ham, as the the cast took a field trip to Washington D.C. to perform for the president. Naturally, Lin took advantage of the setting and recorded three digital Ham4Hams, including this one, which again features the ladies of the show. I still get chills every time I watch it. Which is a lot. It’s a reminder that the story they’re telling at the Richard Rodgers stemmed from real events, not just made up characters for a Broadway show. That Hamilton and the rest of the founding fathers built this nation from the ground up, and these beautiful actors have the privilege of telling their story.  -T

Fun Ham

If you’ve read Chernow’s biography, or just engaged in some deep-Googling, you probably know that Alexander and Eliza had eight children. And if you’re a youngest or middle child, you won’t be surprised that everyone only talks about the oldest. The Fun Home kids bring the other Hamilton sibs to life and tell you a little about their accomplishments. Is Oscar Williams old enough to play Phillip when Anthony Ramos leaves (long may Anthony Ramos remain, though)? -M

Minamahal Kita

This Ham4Ham holds a special place in my heart because it was the video that informed me Lin’s longterm girlfriend in college was Filipino. And like the type of Filipino that taught her boyfriend conversational Tagalog. And that Lin is the type of person that would compose a song in Taglish (Tagalog and English) to mack on his girl. My brain exploded and all that came out were the emojis with heart eyes. Oh, also Queen of the Philippines Lea Salonga is in this too. -T

Heights4Ham

Chances are if you love Hamilton, you loved Lin’s first venture, In The Heights, as well … and this miniature ITH reunion was better than I even hoped for. Karen Olivo, everyone! -M

Funny Girl

Has anyone proven that Jasmine Cephas Jones ISN’T magic? At least a little bit?

Silky Strikes Again

Leslie Odom Jr. could me the McDonalds value menu and I’d be so enthralled by it that I’d buy every damn thing. But when you mix my fave track Wait For It with an emotional song like Stars from Les Mis – forget it. I am undone. -T

~*BFFLs*~

I love Jimmy Fallon. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda. They are both equally cinnamon rolls too precious for this world. So when they get together it’s sugar overload. What? Yes. Just watch. – T

If I Was A Schuyler

Tevye’s daughters from the Fiddler On The Roof (including Lin’s former intern!) make their best case for appearing as the Schuyler sisters. I’m sold. -M

Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Summer 2015: in addition to the diverse cast playing the founding fathers in Hamilton, Broadway had its first black Valjean in Kyle Jean-Baptiste. You could, and can, feel theater changing. This is bittersweet now: Kyle died tragically at just 21 years old, but thanks to this Ham4Ham we can still appreciate his talent.

Tony Nominations To Celebrate That Aren’t Hamilton

We established a while ago that we’re basically a Hamilton blog now (seriously, check out all our posts here), so we could easily make another post gushing over its historic 16 Tony Award nominations, or how Lin-Manuel is a precious cinnamon roll of a genius that created a new American institution, or dissecting every bit of this video of Daveed Diggs getting woken up this morning with news of his nomination. We could go on.

No, friends, we’re not going to do that (today). Today is all about the other shows nominated that deserve just as much attention as Hamilton. I imagine it’s bittersweet being on Broadway at the same time as a groundbreaking musical. Everyone wants a ticket to Hamilton and it’s all anyone talks about, but there are nearly 40 other shows open right now. Any one of those productions would love to see you in the audience. But it’s like when you’re up against an MVP player and you have to step up your game just to keep up. It might be a little frustrating along the way, but for the sport (Broadway) as a whole, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened.

But at the end of the day, theatre is not a competition. If anything, it’s a community. A smaller-than-you-think community of artists who support each other and cheer each other on instead of tearing each other down. It’s been an incredible year for theater in terms of the storytelling, quality production and the talent on stage, so in that spirit, we’re putting the spotlight on a few of the other shows we’re rooting for come Tony day, and the names you’ll need to know when they end up winning.

Waitress

Best Musical

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name starring Keri Russell, Waitress centers on Jenna, a waitress at a small-town diner who’s in a horrible marriage, but ends up preggo. Other affairs ensue. Waitress also made history with its all-female creative team, thanks to music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Lorin Latarro.

I had the chance of seeing Waitress in Boston last year before it transferred to Broadway, and hearing all the positive reviews of the show didn’t do it justice in person. I laughed, I cried (way more than I expected), I left feeling like a warm blanket had swaddled itself around my heart… is that weird? This is the only show I’ve seen out of this year’s batch of nominees, and TBH, it sucks it’s up against Hamilton this year because it deserves so much recognition for making a musical out of a movie – and feeling like the movie never existed at all.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

I can’t express to you how good this score is, and what a masterpiece Sara Bareilles has created. I can, however, direct you to her album, What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress, which features a few select numbers from the show. This was released after the Boston run and before they opened on Broadway, and so Sara’s version includes songs cut from the final show, including one of my faves, Door Number Three. This album is still in my rotation six months after its release. Sara uses that same talent she has to tug on your heartstrings with songs like Gravity and I Choose You and incorporates that same spirit in these songs. The official Broadway cast album comes out June 10th. Mark your calendars.

Jessie Mueller (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Jessie Mueller, Tony winner and ethereal goddess, was the clear star of the Boston production, and she’s still the clear star in the Broadway one as well. Here she is singing the most emotional number from the show, so get a tissue ready JIC.

Other nominations: Christopher Fitzgerald (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Eclipsed

Best Play

Written by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, Eclipsed is set in 2003, near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War and tells the story of five Liberian woman and their survival against all odds. In another record for the Broadway history books, Eclipsed is the first play with not only an all-female creative team, but all-female and all-black cast as well.

Lupita Nyong’o (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play)

Listen, if you need to be educated on Queen Lupita, read this then go off on the Internet or watch her movies then come back. She is royalty. Royalty who is a step closer to an EGOT.

Other nominations: Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play), Best Costume Design of a Play, Liesl Tommy (Best Direction of a Play)

Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Musical

Shuffle Along: A revue-style 1921 musical written, produced by and starring an all-black team. Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed: A new musical telling the story of all the challenges the Shuffle Along cast had in mounting the production, and its effect on race relations and Broadway. Stars little-known actors Tony winners such as Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter and newcomers Tony nominees Joshua Henry, Brooks Ashmanskas, Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren.

Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Shuffle Along is only Adrienne’s second Broadway show, but on Tuesday she earned her first Tony nomination. She’s one of those young actresses you know has a bright future on Broadway and beyond. And if you’re wondering why she might look familiar, she was in an episode of Orange is the New Black as a wheelchair-bound inmate who Pennsatucky attempted to “heal”. *I saw her in Lin-Manuel’s Bring It On musical and she was just as fantastic IRL.

Best Choreography

Tap dancing and Savion Glover. That is all.

Other nominations: Best Book of a Musical, Brandon Victor Dixon (Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical), Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

She Loves Me

Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Chuck is nominated for a Tony! Fun fact: Zachary replaced Ted Mosby who was originally supposed to star in the role of Georg, a perfume shop employee who is constantly at odds with co-worker Amalia. Unbeknownst to them, they’ve been secret pen pals the whole time. Sound familiar? It’s adapted from the play Parfumerie, which You’ve Got Mail (yes, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) is adapted from.

Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Cannot stress this enough: we love Laura Benanti. Love. Her.

Jane Krakowski (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Here’s hoping Jane channels Jenna Maroney if she wins.

Other nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

The Color Purple

Best Revival of a Musical

I mean, you know what The Color Purple is, right? It’s the same plot as the book. And the movie. And the OG Broadway musical.

Cynthia Erivo (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

If you don’t have goosebumps and/or tears in your eyes after watching that, check your pulse, because you’re probably dead. Cause of death: Cynthia Erivo. Look out for this one, y’all.

Danielle Brooks (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

I don’t know what it is about Danielle Brooks but I cry anytime I think about her success. Or hear her sing. Or read an inspirational post on her Instagram. I’m so proud of her and I don’t even know her.

Other nominations: Best Direction of a Musical

Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Musical

I admit I was a little surprised to hear Spring Awakening, featuring teens in late 19th-century Germany dealing with their sexuality, was being revived since it only closed on Broadway in 2009. But then I was totally game once I found out they were incorporating sign language and completely making the production its own. Fact: I saw the OG Spring Awakening U.S. tour thrice when it was in Boston for like, a minute. Another fact: I was a dumbass and didn’t see the revival in Los Angeles before it went up on Broadway, and am kicking myself for it. There’s supposedly another tour in talks. See ya there.

Michael Arden (Best Direction of a Musical)

Before Michael Arden earned his first Tony nomination as a director, he was known as an actor. I personally knew his name from the Off-Broadway musical Bare, but more so for this song, Run Away With Me. I don’t know how nerdy you and your friends were circa 2008, but there was a period of time when this Kerrigan & Lowdermilk song was THE JAM, and all the hot, young, theatre boys were doing their covers of it. Aaron Tveit, Jeremy Jordan, bright young high schoolers hoping for a shot of fame all uploaded their own versions of the song on the YouTube. Michael had one of my favorite takes on it, and this has nothing to do with Spring Awakening, I just want you to know he’s really talented.

Other nominations: Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Tony Awards 2015: Best Dressed

If you love both theater and fashion, the Tony Awards are just about the snazziest night of the year. Unless you’re me, reading tweets about the event while on flight delay at O’Hare, eating a $6 pile of kale – during 30 minutes of free wifi. 30 MINUTES. As though you can accomplish anything on the internet in the duration of an episode of Step By Step (with commercials). But while I’m basically in the developing world (in that there’s scant wifi and it cost 1/3 of my paycheck to buy two cups of vegetables), the stars are shining on the broad way. Here were the best dressed of the night. But be forewarned: due to cruddy bandwidth, the first time I saw these outfits they were on people so pixelated they looked like they were made of Lego.

Dame Helen Mirren in Badgley Mischka

Well, look who’s making sure you don’t forget the “dame” in front of her name. I love that Mirren never tries to dress too young, but she also doesn’t wear stuffy “lady of a certain age” outfits – nor should she. If you told me “dramatic lace sleeves” I would have told you “absolutely not,” but this actually looks great.

Jennifer Lopez in Valentino

I don’t know why 3/4 of the people on this red carpet are on it (Kendall Jenner: book for Finding Neverland? Costume design for Curious Incident ? No, she’s just there). J.Lo is at least taking this seriously, and this gold and midnight blue number is so event-appropriate. I also like that it’s not that one kind of dress she usually wears. You know the one.

Vanessa Hudgens in Naeem Khan

The musical Vanessa’s from is High School, but she looks Broadway-ready. I tend to think there are different levels of conventionality required for the different awards shows. You can take bigger risks at the Grammys than at the Oscars, for instance. I’d say the Tony’s are traditional, but not so much that a print seems out of place. Even Anna Wintour’s daughter wore one. Besides, a large print is one of those youthful looks that you may as well wear while you can. Great place to wear a less-known designer, too! 

Kelli O’Hara in Oscar de la Renta

I don’t know if Kelli KNEW that this was the year she’d break away from being a Broadway Susan Lucci, but she sure is dressed like she is. So on one hand, this gold and black dress is formal enough for the event. It actually reminds me of damascena jewelry. But on the other, the shorter length makes it look a lot fresher than a longer gown situation.

Sydney Lucas in Erin Featherstone

I haven’t seen Fun Home, but just from listening to the great soundtrack you can tell that Sydney Lucas isn’t just some kiddo belting Tomorrow (I know, some great actresses have played Annie, it’s just not a role with a lot of levels, you know? She’s more at a Daisy Eagan in Secret Garden-level). I’m so happy everyone got to see that when she performed at the Tonys! Plus, it’s adorable that she’s obviously a young lady who cares about her fashion. One of my favorite parts of the Tonys is seeing all of these actresses that you’ve only seen in costume getting to really shine, and this girl absolutely looks like a Broadway star.
 

Judith Light

I’m going to go ahead and use the passive voice to describe some of the fashion at last night’s awards, so I don’t put anyone in particular on blast. Risks were taken, and sometimes mistakes were made. This white suit was a risk worth taking, and reminds me that Judith Light is an honest-to-goodness, Tony-winning star (sometime in the past year, my top Judith Light association became that golden retriever from Broad City).

 Elisabeth Moss in Oscar de La Renta

When I first saw this white gown with floral accents, I felt like it was like a livelier, more fun update on that iconic Halle Berry Golden Globes gown from 2000 – remember, the one with the red flowers? The color scheme on this one could have looked a little Delia’s but it comes across as young and summery, instead.

Kristen Chenoweth in Zac Posen

It can be hard to have a lot of presence when you’re as small as Kristen Chenoweth. It can also be hard to look anything other than adorable. This dress pretty much does the trick though, right? 
 

Playlist of the Month: Songs From Musicals We’ve Been In

Ah, the first breath of spring. In high schools across the nation, now is the time for students to work together to create something bigger than themselves, to forge new friendships and let their talents shine. Baseball season? Nah. Prom planning? Please. It’s high school musical season!

We spent the first years of our friendship hanging out in our high school’s auditorium during musical rehearsals. We had snacks from a special “junk food locker” (an abandoned locker that we stocked with bulk candy) and played Bullshit and Spoons with the young, pre-gay gay boys we were friends with. Before high school, we were both big fish in our respective theater ponds, and being in chorus and dance company roles just felt so wrong, but we were still happy to be involved in a show.

Even the songs still stick with you years later. In honor of those hardworking theater kids in Hell Week for Grease or Man Of La Mancha right now, here are some songs from musicals we’ve been in – songs we still get stuck in our head over a decade later.

Check out the entire playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

Feel So Near – Some Weird Play From My Childhood

When I was a kid, I was in this odd, somewhat avant garde youth theater company. I mean, of course I was. For a few years our plays were these adaptations of obscure folk tales with minimalist staging and costuming and kabuki-inspired makeup. A chorus of children sang this folksy tune by Dougie MacLean and what do you know, it sounds pretty good sung by a chorus of children. I’m including this as a nod to my weird childhood.

Oh What A Beautiful Morning – I Seriously Cannot Remember What Play This Was

Oh, cool, Oklahoma? Nope. Just some random play I was in that rather inexplicably included the song Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Again, it was a strange childhood, theater-wise.

The Boy Next Door – Meet Me In St. Louis

In eighth grade, a group of 10-15 local Catholic schools got together to put on a mega-musical. It was like an awkward plaid dream team, and I was thrilled to land in the principal cast. Because I’ve been the same person my whole life, you won’t be surprised to learn that it was the comic relief character, who was an Irish maid. But I had a solo and I was very pleased and honored to finally be in a play where I wasn’t wearing white pancake makeup and a black turtleneck.

I Can’t Be Bothered Now – Crazy For You

When I was a kid my sister had the cassette tape of the Crazy For You soundtrack, and I thought it was just about the best thing ever. [A note: during my sister’s high school tenure our school was putting on, like, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Rough.] I know the concept of compiling a bunch of Gershwin’s best tunes into a loosely conceived plot is probably, technically, bad, but our school put this on our junior year and years later, I can barely decide which song to include.

On The Street Where You Live – My Fair Lady

Senior year, we performed My Fair Lady and I learned that when it doesn’t involve Audrey Hepburn or Julie Andrews, I really don’t care for My Fair Lady. But we had fun with it – I remember sitting in English class singing Ascot Gavotte with extra-plummy accents because as seniors, and I guess as people, we just didn’t care. In true Lerner and Loewe fashion each number is catchier than the last,  but I’m including On The Street Where You Live because I remember my mom singing it when I was little, and in fourth grade I thought it was THE perfect song for my grade school crush. Yes, like so many theater kids before and after me, I was maybe just a little dramatic.

Traci’s Picks

Embraceable You – Crazy For You

Like Molly said, I could barely decide which song to include because every song was a classic. I legit changed my mind about which one to put on the list three times. Crazy For You was the first time I was really exposed to music of this era – that I actually paid attention to. Lo and behold, I took a liking to it. Since the musical is a bunch of Gershwin songs put together, this one is from Girl Crazy, as seen here by Judy Garland and a bunch of strapping young men. Swoonworthy.

Something Good – The Sound of Music

Okay, I’m cheating a bit. This song wasn’t included in the OG Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is the version I was in, but rather was added for the film that we all know and love. After the movie, however, this song was included in some revivals of the show so it counts. The version by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is stunning and simple, like a reflection of their love *awwww cheesy stfu*

Close Every Door – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Like Molly said, we were “big fish” in our respective little ponds, and for me, that pond was my church. We used to put on full musical productions (and were kind of really good and well known for it in the immediate community?) so it’s not like me in a basement naming all the colors of Joseph’s coat. Anyways, this show marked my first “big” role – I was a Narrator. Emphasis on A, because I was one of 6 HAHAHA. When I would listen to Donny Osmond’s version of the soundtrack, I was obsessed with Close Every Door, particularly the last 45ish seconds when he does the key change and the riffs at the end – changed my life. Also, that’s when I retroactively developed a crush on Donny Osmond way past his prime. IDK you guys, I was a weird kid.

I Don’t Need Anything But You – Annie

Annie is like a rite of passage for any theatre kid, including this AZN one right here. I obviously wasn’t Annie, and by the time I did the show, I was too old to be an orphan, so I was a servant/the “Star-to-Be” aka the solo in NYC aka the part OG Annie Andrea McArdle plays in the Audra McDonald verz of Annie. This song always struck me as a super sweet tune between Annie and Daddy Warbucks, and was just filled with positivity about the future. She’ll learn soon enough.

Beautiful City – Godspell

Again, I guess this is cheating a bit, since Beautiful City wasn’t included in the original 1971 Off-Broadway cast recording, which is the soundtrack we went by when my church did the show. It was the first real musical I was ever in, and I’m kinda sad that this song wasn’t included. The song was written for the 1972 film, starring Victor Garber as the big JC, and the version above is from the 2011 Broadway revival starring Hunter Parrish as Jesus. When I first heard this, it was probably a mix of me not being too familiar with it and the fact that I was stunned by how beautiful Hunter’s voice is. It’s a haunting song that still holds up in 2015. Fun fact: My friends walked down the aisle to this song. Not creepy, really cute and made me cry.

Peter Pan Live! – A LaterBlog

Well folks, it happened. Months of waiting and anticipating and dreading NBC’s live version of Peter Pan culminated in a two hour show last night, and boy did we have a lot of thoughts on it. Like last year’s Sound of Music Live! special, Peter Pan dominated social media last night and we’re still talking about it today. But if you didn’t get a chance to watch with the other millions of folks who tuned in, here’s your opportunity to join in on the conversation with our own recap/liveblog/laterblog of the show (queue up your DVRs or streaming devices or watch on NBC.com if you want to follow along). And if you did watch it, let us know what you thought of a flying Allison Williams and dancing Walken!

peter-pan

Traci: I would like to say that I’ve never actually seen this version of Peter Pan, so I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. I mean I know what’s going to happen, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Molly: Allison Williams requested that our inner children watch and live tweet this program. I am watching with my 7 and 5 year old nephews and they are already rooting for disaster. You tried, Marnie.

M: Either the audio and video tracks aren’t synchronized or all of this dialogue is lip synced to Ashlee Simpson-level cruddiness.

M: The harmonies on Tender Shepherd are pretty good! The kids are so cute, but the little one seriously looks like Timmy from Passions (who was adorable, so no shade).

T: Allison Williams was on Seth Meyers promoting PP recently, talking about the kid who plays Michael and how he asked her to stop saying the F-word so much. He also told her to eat wheat bread to be healthier. That is what I am thinking about while watching this kid.

T: Kelli O’Hara ::emoji with heart eyes:: (she is Broadway royalty, get to know her)

THAT’S A REAL ACTOR DOG, Y’ALL

I will say that the production value and camera work is great so far, much better than Sound of Music last year.

“I am the master of this house!” – Mr. Darling/ Monsieur Thénardier

T: THAT’S NOT A REAL TINKERBELL, Y’ALL

Say what you will about casting, but Allison Williams is just too delightful and I don’t have it in me to say anything bad about her.

M: AW is the identical hair twin of Androgynous Gym Girl, my college gym’s resident elliptical hog. A.G.G. had that haircut because it was the most workout-efficient, we theorized. And she only ate foods in bar or shake form because they metabolized better. Again, all conjecture. She just really loved that elliptical. Bitch.

T: Yo, Tink is a little bitch, doe.

M: Okay, Gotta Crow was sort of charming. I probably would have had a weird crush on this Peter Pan when I was 10. Crushed on a LOT of gay musical theater boys, y’all.

T: How do babies just “fall out” of their carriages??? #LostBoysMoreLikeDumbBoys

“Girls are much too clever to fall out of their carriage” BUT WAIT THIS IS SO TRUE

M: My 7-year-old nephew just says that Peter “has more magic than my Elf on the Shelf, even.” Okay, Allison Williams. You win this round.

T:  Whoa, I had like a nervous moment for AW when she went up in the flying rig for the first time. This is live television anything could go wrong. You’ve seen that YouTube fail from the high school production of this show, right?!? That’s what I’m picturing. This is obviously very different.

M: Screw it. I’m Flying is charming as hell.

T: Guys, AW is great. Whatever. I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS ABOUT THAT I’M FLYING SONG GOING INTO NEVERLAND THIS IS AMAZING. But also, stop integrating Shazam into my programs.

M: The 4-year-old just asked why they are flying over one of those Christmas villages. Shut it down, we have a baby live blogger on our hands.

T:  How do I get this miniature London cityscape outside my french windows?

T: Melissa Joan Hart has scored a series of commercials during Peter Pan Live promoting WalMart with her real family. Yes, her real family, and the internet went crazy for her attractive husband. My friend Scott had a perfect explanation for this:

T: That is actually Christopher Walken on an NBC live musical special on TV.

T: Christian Borle (Smee/Mr. Darling) look like he could be in Rock of Ages

Photo Dec 04, 9 05 05 PM

M: Well, the children aren’t scared of Captain Hook, but I am. Christopher Walken on a boat? Am I the only one still sketched out about the whole Natalie Wood thing?

T: What I love about Walken is that whoever he plays, he plays it brilliantly but still very Walken-y. Amazing. Also, he’s not even singing HAHAHA I LOVE IT.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD TAP DANCING THERE IS TAP DANCING I’M CRYING

Photo Dec 04, 9 05 16 PM

M: This soundstage is so amazing that I want to hide out and sleep in it, Basil E. Frankweiler-style.

M: The 7-yr-old nephew would like to know how the Lost Boys got dance lessons if they don’t have parents. Fair point.

T: So many Newsies! Like actual Newsies. Like the Newsies who were on Broadway.

M: I love the cheesy island scenery. I mean that non-ironically. It reminds me of 1960s fantasy kitsch, like It’s A Small World.

M: So do they have to return the crocodile to Rainforest Cafe after, or.. ?

T: THAT’S NOT A REAL CROCODILE Y’ALL.

M: Something feels so wrong about a group of Lost Boys that look, you know, probably sexually active. And the Lost Boys are already forcing the virgin/whore/mother dynamic on Wendy. Congrats, kids. You’ve had a girl for all of 5 minutes and it’s already a patriarchal society.
Again, the LBs are all very good, but this works better when they cast Lost Boys who don’t have 401(K)s already.

T: Random aside: Bri Willy took the night of from the NBC Nightly News to watch AW in her big show. He said, “We will be watching the broadcast – immediate family only – sequestered in an undisclosed location – close enough to the production as to burst through the stage door the moment the credits roll.” CAN U NOT. I STILL CAN’T GET OVER HIM ANNOUNCING SHE WAS GOING TO BE PETER PAN ON TV.

M: EW. Wait a few minutes; when the grown-ass pirates start yo-hoing about stealing Wendy for their mother the Lost Boys don’t look so bad.

M: The Lost Boys are so old that their ratty Neverland clothes are looking like hipstery club clothes. Like a troupe of Lost Bois.

T: Anything that Walken does with his one hook is hilarious to me, apparently. Like this hitting the tambourine mess, I can’t.

… He’s not holding that major note right?? He is. He’s definitely doing that. Fun fact: they do something similar to this in Peter and the Starcatcher, which is a play about making the play of Peter Pan. Christian Borle won a Tony for playing Black Stache in it.

LOLZ TO THEM CUTTING BACK TO WALKEN HOLDING THE NOTE IN THE MIDDLE OF COMMERCIALS

M: On a scale from one to America, how racist is the Native American stuff going to be?

T: Because of social media, we are treated with gems from celebrities such as Anna Kendrick, who just gets it.

T: Is this where that Ugg a Wugg song is supposed to be? I appreciate that the producers hired a Native American consultant for this to rework the lyrics. Respect for not being racist.

M: The Native American stuff was, like, Pocahontas- level racist? The Disney movie not the historical figure.

T: For someone who doesn’t like to be touched, Peter does a lot of partner dancing.

oh hey alex wong from SYTYCD!

T: I love that the mic picked up everyone’s heavy breathing after that big dance number. Theatre kids – they’re real people too.

M: During the commercial I made my Lost boys some hot cocoa, and I missed a little but came back for the best musical theater lesbian duet since Take Me Or Leave Me.

M: My sister-in-law came in and asked if they’ve been speaking in English accents the whole time and scout’s honor, I could not answer. Not sure if that says more about me or the production – and for the record, I find the production magical as heck.

M: I aimed for Wendy’s bangs in 1997, so I kind of know what I’m talking about, and those puppies require some serious round brush action.

M: Marnie has some nice vibrato! If only Wendy’s cleavage weren’t looming over her. Dawson casting at its finest.

T: Yeah wait, what’s the timeline for this? How long have they been gone? Why isn’t there a search party out for the Darling kids? Mrs. Darling is gonna be all, “I saw a suspicious man about the size of my fist a couple days ago…”

M:  The song they sing about Hook is totally the same as the Gaston song from Beauty And The Beast.

T: “Who’s the creepiest creep in the world?” honestly never knew how amazing some of these lines were.

M: I don’t know how these child actors can memorize lines, nail blocking, learn choreography and execute stunts, and the kids I’m watching this with can’t even SIT STILL and PAY ATTENTION for one measly three-hour musical event.

M:  My favorite weird Peter Pan is still the Baby Sitters Club Super Special where they performed it at SMS, but you know what? This comes close.

M: This battle sequence has been going on a while but the Lost boys have been able to prep for it ever since John’s scar started tingling. Total Sorcerer’s Stone vibes.

T: It makes sense that the part that makes me tear up is when Hook throws Michael’s teddy bear into the ocean.

T: UPDATE ON THE CROC FROM THE QUEEN THAT IS LAURA BENANTI:

M: The kids’ mom is singing, and I’m almost expecting Sister Suffragette thanks to her costume. The kids come back, which is more than these garbage parents with the dog babysitter deserve. Just as garbage as the McCallisters, if you ask me.

T: On the real tho, if 12 rando boys came into your house and presented you with a single sock and then started singing and dancing would you actually take them in as your own? Mr. Darling’s answer to that is yes.

M: No wonder she raised Wendy to be such a pushover. Also the lost boys are all like 24 years old. So way to go, Mrs. Darling, you now live in an Edwardian frat house.

M: I didn’t know Minnie Driver would be in this! It makes me hate, a little less, the part where Wendy grows up.

T: Is this the story of how it’s possible to grow up to be Minnie Driver?

You’re all grown up!
Yes, it does keep a person rather earthbound.

M: Okay, overall I have to admit it. I think Allison Williams was right. I joked about the production – gently, and because that’s how I interact with the world or whatever. But I couldn’t tear it apart and honestly, I didn’t want to. Several years ago, a friend and I both discovered that we loved live action productions of Peter Pan. We’re probably not the only ones. I love magic. Whatever. No shame.

T:  So in full disclosure, I know a couple people involved with this production, including one of the Lost Boys (Tootles/guy with the top hat) and it is SO WEIRD for me to see him on TV. He has been in a few Broadway shows over the past few years, and it’s amazing to see this kid I used to work with share the stage with Christopher Walken. Because of my personal connection to the production, I had an obvious bias prior to this.

Before the show tonight, he wrote a post on Facebook acknowledging that people (read: staunch Broadway nerds) will probably criticize the show’s every move more so than a regular viewer, but to keep in mind to respect the work that this cast and crew has put in over the past two months. And I took that to heart. Thinking about when I was part of a production like this (not to this scale, obvi), you put so much time and effort into it, and then for a weekend or two, you get to show the world what you’ve been working on. It must suck to have critics hate on you IMMEDIATELY thanks to social media, so in light of my retrospection and respect for my friend, I tried to refrain from saying anything bad about this show.

Good thing is – I don’t have anything bad to say at all. The production value was outstanding, which can be difficult considering live theater isn’t meant to be tape and aired on TV in the first place. I thought Allison Williams was great – I was in the camp of pro-AW upon announcement of her casting, partly because I knew she could sing and partly because I didn’t know the show well enough to judge her. The fact that 90% of the cast had been on Broadway certainly helped bring the show to life, and all in all, it was a heartwarming three-hour show that families can sit and watch together for years to come. I believe.

Come On and Sit Side by Side by Susan Blackwell

The 68th annual Tony Awards are this Sunday, which for everyone that isn’t a theater nerd like me, it’s basically our Super Bowl. In fact, I used to attend a Tonys party every year with my friends/co-workers from a theatre and it pretty much was our Super Bowl. I admit, I’m not a super geek like some of my pals, but I’m at a level where I watch videos of Broadway stars online in my spare time (or just, time).

A few years ago along my internet travels, I came across this magic web series called Side by Side by Susan Blackwell. Hosted by – you guessed it – Susan Blackwell, an actress who’s been on TV and film, but most notably in the theater world for her outstanding performance in the musical [title of show]. She recruits her fellow Broadway friends for an interview, but not just any interview, it usually takes place in an odd location and includes some kind of fun activity.

My first introduction to Susan was with this interview with Daniel Radcliffe while he was doing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011, and he is legit cleaning her house. Yes, Potterheads, in this video, you see DanRad cleaning a toilet. Seriously. If that’s not enough to get you to watch this then IDK what is.

Actually I do. Susan is charming, hilarious, affable, and has a way to get her interviewees to talk about stuff that not many others can. Oh and she licks her guests on the face. The DanRad vid was a gateway drug into her other Side by Side interviews, so here now are some other standout videos from her collection.

Zachary Quinto

Where: Dog Park

Activity: Watching dogs in a dog park

Highlight: A rousing game of ‘Name That Dog’ and Susan ‘smashing ZQ like a pancake’ on a picnic table

Where: ZQ’s apartment

Activity: Having a sleepover

Highlight: Prank calling Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Smash star Christian Borle

Sutton Foster/Jonathan Groff/Laura Benanti

Where: In Bed/A Horse-Drawn Carriage/Hooters

Activity: Breakfast/Cuddling/Eating Wings

Highlight: Sutton lying in bed with her Tony gown and actual Tony/JGroff singing Left Behind from Spring Awakening/Susan handling Laura’s boobs

Jonathan Groff #2

Where: His parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania (lit’rally Amish country)

Activity: Chillin in a hayloft, petting some horses and goats

Highlight: JGroff singing a part of Totally Fucked (from Spring Awakening) while shaking a bucket of corn kernels to get the goats to eat

Laura Benanti #2

Where: Ziva Meditation

Activity: Being zen on a couch

Highlight: Playing iPhone roulette and landing on a pic of her former Go On (RIP) co-star taking a nap in her own bosoms

Steven Pasquale

Where: Steven’s apartment

Activity: Using a Vitamix to make super healthy green juices

Highlight: Steven prank calling Taye Diggs and leaving a voicemail as Jim Carrey

Audra McDonald

Where: Great Jones Spa

Activity: Getting massages, drinking cucumber water

Highlight: Audra singing a fantastic version of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song

Norbert Leo Butz

Where: Strand Bookstore

Activity: Sitting in the parenting section

Highlight: Flipping through the pages of a book called Surgery of the Anus, Rectum and Colon

Andrew Rannells

Where: McKittrick Hotel

Activity: Playing with a Ouija board

Highlight: Imitating the pageant hosts on Toddlers and Tiaras