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Best Stunt Directing
Upstart GM Peter Gelb has begun bringing non-traditional talents to the Metropolitan Opera to spice things up a bit, lest the Lincoln Center house become just a museum of Franco Zeffirelli sets. The most successful of these experiments was bringing in South African artist Kentridge (who simultaneously enjoyed a retrospective at MoMA
) to helm Shostakovitch's ultra-modern The Nose
. Kentridge went all out, practically inventing a new medium by fusing collage, sculpture, video, and animation with opera's traditional forms music and theater. It was the season's most audacious theater—well, uptown, anyway.
Worst Stunt Directing
Silence of the Lambs
and Rachel Getting Married
director Demme tried his hand at theater with Family Week
in May, and boy was it middling: Rachel
's greatest strength was the warm rapport between its cast, but the actors in Week
always felt like caricatures banging against each other rather than, you know, characters in conflict. Add to that Demme's reliance on easy musical cues, short scenes, "cuts" and other out-of-place techniques borrowed from the language of film, and you had one seriously overhyped letdown.
Best New York Debut
In The Pride
, a confused but serviceable play, Ben Whishaw was so magnetic and such an exciting stage creature that we can only hope he comes back to the New York stage sooner rather than later, in more modern plays and also in the classics that John Gielgud once made his own. Whishaw would make a spectacular Richard II.
Worst-Ever Rendition of "Send in the Clowns":
Catherine Zeta-Jones at the Tonys
On stage, Catherine Zeta-Jones delivered a decent performance as Desiree in a revival of A Little Night Music
, but when she sang "Send in the Clowns" on the Tony Awards broadcast, she embellished the familiar tune with so many weird stares, angry gasps, over-enunciated consonants and wildly over-the-top emotions that when she subsequently won the Tony for Best Actress in a musical, New York theater actors were understandably up-in-arms.
Most Prolific Performer
It's no wonder he received
a Sustained Achievement Obie for all his work this year the poised, high-pitched and putty-faced performer just about did it all since donning drag to play the sinister Other Mother in the Coraline
musical last summer (for which he also wrote the book). He revived his marathon multi-character one-man show, The Myopia
, wielded an iPhone as a Greek Goddess in the po-mo Euripides update Rescue Me
, and wisecracked about slovenly novelists as a literary agent in The Metal Children
. Amazingly, he left us wanting more.
Best Swedo-Australian Collaboration in Brooklyn
Suck it, Manhattan! The year's hottest show, BAM's Streetcar
, with Cate Blanchett, forced the "won't go to Brooklyn in ermine and pearls" crowd to cross a bridge to see actors who'd taken a plane from Australia perform in a play directed by Liv Ullman, who'd traveled from Sweden (presumably by oceanliner), proving that Brooklyn really is the crossroads of the world. The arts world, anyway.
This was sooooo awkward On opening night of the Bridge Project's Sam Mendes-directed Tempest
at BAM, Dillane (Prospero) managed to recover from one flub as he recalled a childhood story for his daughter Miranda (Juliet Rylance), but later in the scene he went blank, starring into his sandpit and rubbing his temples for what seemed like ages. It got so bad that Rylance, blindfolded and reaching randomly for her father, stopped, lifted her bandana and offered to help. By then someone in the front row had already shouted Dillane's line for him.
Best Awkwardly Realistic Projectile Vomiting On Stage
Easily the best part of this overwritten period pastiche about drug-doers and dealers in 70s Brooklyn, Segal's Billy was blissfully tight-lipped, perpetually on the verge of overdosing as he writhed and slunk across the stage. When he opened his mouth, the comic relief burst forth with a tinge of sadness and desperation, or, in one scene, with full-body convulsions and what looked like waffles.
Best Awkwardly Realistic Orgasm On Stage
In the 60s-set section of Jonathan Reynolds's triptych, buddies Hutch (Gershenzon) and Teddy (Aresco) are driving Barb (Lippitt) to have an illegal abortion when she interrupts the college boys' bromantic banter with doubts and second thoughts. Hutch, the would-be father, takes her to the side of the road and shows her how much he likes her while Teddy watches from the car, masturbating. Their coordinated climaxes were the closest thing to a successful threesome we've seen at the theater in much too long.
Best Broadway Prop
It's a Martin McDonagh play, so you know it's going to be violent, but it was still a bit of a shock when Christopher Walken's suitcase in A Behanding in Spokane
spilled open to reveal dozens of severed hands—of all shapes, colors and sizes (including "child"!). Like everything else in McDonagh's oeuvre, it was hilarious, and horrifying. At the same time.
Best Use of Newspapers
Piles of newspapers co-starred alongside Nerve Tank's small ensemble as perfectly malleable symbols of disposable knowledge for this experimental journey into media-saturated information-age absurdity. The papers proved their range, beginning in orderly stacks before blowing around the beautiful Brooklyn Lyceum basement like so many tumbleweeds, burying one performer alive before erupting in a stormy cloud and drifting off into the audience's feet like dead leaves.
Best Butterfly Love Dance to Make You Cry
Just before it struck out with Banana Shpeel
, Cirque du Soleil scored with the all-about-bugs Ovo
at Randall's Island
; it was your standard Cirque, packed with expert clowning and stunning feat after stunning feat. But the show's highlight didn't just impress me: it made me cry. A corde lisse/aerial silk routine between two "butterflies" made gloriously literal the idea that love sends you flying. Oh, and that trust between partners is, like, really important.
Best Performance on a Decommissioned Coast Guard Vessel
Woodshed Collective's amazing multi-track, split-narrative, meta-fictional journey through the life of Herman Melville and his novel The Confidence Man
led visitors across virtually every room, hall and deck on this romantically rusted old ship moored at Pier 40 on the Hudson. You could follow your appointed docent, but when it turned out that they were in on the act rather than impartial guides, running down gangways in fits of rage, the choose-your-own-adventure approach let visitors discover the superb play and place at their own pace.