The Outer Critics Circle nominations were announced on Monday, April 20 at the New York Friars Club. We are the first to announce the nominees for the 2014-15 Broadway and Off-Broadway season. The Drama Desk followed on April 23 with their choices, and The Tony Nominations Committee follows with their choices for Broadway exclusively on April 28. It will be interesting to see which shows win.
To end the Broadway season, producers packed in one show after another. On the final night on April 23, there was the unusual situation of two shows opening on the same night. After the Tony nominations are announced, believe me you will see many of them disappear.
I attended the opening night party for Fun Home at Urbo, with guests Joel Grey, Sutton Foster and Cherry Jones. I had seen the chamber type musical Off-Broadway the year before, with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, now at Circle in the Square, so it was not considered again this year by Outer Critics Circle nor Drama Desk. It is based on a true story about a lesbian writer, Alison Bechdel (played by three actresses at different stages in her life), who discovers that her father is gay, and he commits suicide. The cast act and sing splendidly, directed by Sam Gold, but the story is rather strange and weird. It is certainly not your typical stage musical.
Living on Love, by Joe DiPietro, at the Longacre Theatre, is based on a play by Garson Kanin, about an opera singer (Renee Fleming) and her husband, an Italian classical music conductor (Douglas Sills), a womanizer and a maniac. They hire ghost writers to write their memoirs. for which they lie about themselves. Although, it is a comedy, it is not particularly funny. Fleming is currently a world famous opera singer, who seems to want to crossover to theatre. Unfortunately, she chose a poor play to make her Broadway debut.
Something Rotten!, book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, at the St. James Theatre, is a silly musical, about, supposedly, the first musical, that was presented in 1595, by the Bottom brothers (Brian d'Arcy James and John Cariani) to successfully challenge the monopoly of plays by Shakespeare (Christian Borle). The cast is excellent, directed by Casey Nicholaw. It is an amusing show.
Airline Highway, by Lisa D'Amour, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, is, without doubt, one of the worst plays of the season. A cast of sixteen unattractive actors, directed by Joe Mantello, stay in a rundown motel in New Orleans, waiting for a former burlesque queen to die. They dress as if for a fancy dress ball, as they bring her down from her second floor room, in the second act, to enjoy their spectacle of drinking, dancing and singing. I obviously missed the point of this unpleasant play, with the most insane dialogue on Broadway.
Dr. Zhivago, book by Michael Weller, lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers, music by Lucy Simon, at the Broadway Theatre, is based on the novel by Boris Pasternak. It is a love story between a married doctor (Tam Mutu) and a woman (Kelli Barrett), separated from her husband, in Russia, during a war, followed by a revolution, in the first decades of the twentieth century. It is an overlong, dull and boring epic. The film, starring Julie Christie, was better.
The Visit, book by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, at the Lyceum Theatre, has been around for many years in different forms, but they now seem to have gotten it right. Starring the legendary Chita Rivera, who returns to her home town as the wealthiest woman in the world, she now seeks her revenge on the man who did her wrong. (the always excellent Roger Rees). It is almost operatic musically, but the highlight is a ballad Love and Love Alone, sung by Chita Rivera, near the end of the show.The superb cast is directed by John Doyle. The opening party at Espace was filled with guests, like Tommy Tune, Matthew Broderick and F. Murray Abraham.