A Series of Fortunate Events: Update

As I exchange gleeful emails with my viewing party hostess over the announced return of Neil Patrick Harris as host of the Tony Awards, I think about how stressful award season in New York must be.   All the different awards — Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, Theatre World, OBIE, Tonys, and more — with nominations and awards all clustered in the same 5 or 6 week period each year.

Neil Patrick Harris at the 2012 Tony Awards. Credit: Anita and Steve Shevett/Shevett Studios

Neil Patrick Harris at the 2012 Tony Awards.
Credit: Anita and Steve Shevett/Shevett Studios

As an audience member, I find value in the awards. Even when I disagree (which of course I often do, whether I’ve seen the plays or not), awards are another important piece of information in telling me who’s doing what, who to watch and what shows are special. Recognizing that the process is imperfect, awards and nominations can educate and validate our choices and heighten the visibility of some remarkable talents.

On March 1, I posted a piece called Oh To Be In New York In Spring  briefly describing six plays I would see if I could be in New York in March. Because one of them has been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play(!)  and there are a few other interesting developments, I thought an update of that list would be fun:

  • Really, Really by Paul Downs Colaizzo was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off Broadway Play and for the John Gassner Award – given for an American play, preferably written by a new American playwright;
  • Finks by Joe Gilford received two Drama Desk nominations: for Best Play and for Miriam Silverman as Outstanding Actress in a Play;
  • The Flick by Annie Baker won 4 Lucille Lortel Awards (excellence in Off-Broadway theatre): Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director (Sam Gold), Outstanding Lighting Design and Outstanding Sound Design (these awards were presented in early May so are not just nominations).  The Flick also received 3 Drama Desk nominations: Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Aaron Clifton Moten, and Outstanding Set Design.     These nominations and awards (including the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize which Annie Baker won for this play in mid-March) are particularly interesting given the rather fascinating controversy about The Flick’s running time.  The Flick is about 3 hours long and includes some purposeful and intentional pauses, and quiet stage business unaccompanied by speech.  Apparently, enough patrons complained and/or left at intermission that Tim Sanford, Playwright Horizon’s artistic director, felt compelled to write a letter to subscribers sharing some of his thoughts about the decision to support the playwright’s vision and maintain the length and pacing of the play. There are a lot of articles about this in the theatre press in late March/early April if you’re interested; here’s a good one from Playbill.
  • The Madrid.  The news here is the acclaimed performance of a new young actress, Phoebe Strole.  Seems like one to watch:

     ”Discover Phoebe Strole in The Madrid. An above-the-title talent.  Edie Falco is the name-draw here, and she’s wonderful in Liz Flahive’s moody, witty dramedy, playing a kindergarten teacher who suddenly up and vanishes. But The Madrid rests mostly on the shoulders of skillful Phoebe Strole as her befuddled daughter, a recent college grad who finds herself picking up where Mom left off. —Scott Brown”

  • The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg– Tony nomination for Best Play! Also 4 Drama Desk nominations: Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Judith Light, Outstanding Director of a Play: Lynne Meadow,  Outstanding Set Design; 3 Drama League Nominations for Outstanding Production and for Outstanding Performance for both Jessica Hecht, and Judith Light.  Originally scheduled to run only through April 21, The Assembled Parties has been extended through July 7.  Richard Greenberg must be having a pretty fun (if exhausting) spring since he’s also the bookwriter for the new musical Far From Heaven starring  Kelli O’Hara & Steven Pasquale which opened last week  at Playwright’s Horizon.
  • The North Pool by Rajiv Joseph — despite a misguided New York Times review, my scouts tell me the house sold well and audiences loved this wonderful play during its run at the Vineyard. It has been picked up for another production by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for spring of 2014 and will hopefully continue to have a long life in regional theatres around the country.  I stand by my earlier post that this is a contender for my pick of  Best New Play of the 21st Century?

And, as we all expected, Matilda  is in fact the hottest ticket in town.  (I have two on the aisle in October.)

“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them”

~ Mark Twain

Quick update to the update:   After posting this piece, I saw this great news on twitter:  Eliza Bent’s play The Hotel Colors (which TheatrePlaybyPlay.com supported in a small way through Kickstarter.com, as chronicled in the post “Help Kickstart a Dream“), opened last week at the Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn and yesterday got a pretty rave review!  Two more reviews today (5/13):  the Village Voice calls it  ”a delightful, melancholy comedy” and the New York Times  likes it too!  It’s been extended through June 1.   Congrats Eliza and The Hotel Colors team!

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2 Comments

  1. Kate
    May 12, 2013

    Is one of the aisle seats for me? ;)

    • Susan Fairbrook
      May 13, 2013

      If med school doesn’t keep you too busy, I’ll buy you a theatre ticket any time, any where.

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