Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Passing Strange - 7 Tony Nominations!

Ah, don't it feel good? It's just great that Broadway's nominators can be expansive enough to give this show the recognition it deserves for revitalizing and re-envisioning the Broadway Musical. And the nominations received by Passing Strange are....

• Best Musical
• Book of a Musical - Stew
• Original Score - Stew and Heidi Rodewald
• Leading Actor in a Musical - Stew
• Featured Actor in a Musical - Daniel Breaker
• Featured Actress in a Musical - de'Adre Aziza
• Orchestrations - Stew and Heidi Rodewald

I find it interesting that Daniel Breaker isn't nominated in the Leading Actor in a Musical category. It's an interesting situation when there are basically two lead actors, but the way their respective parts call for them to play lead is quite distinct. Breaker is playing a fully drawn character "Youth", while Stew is playing the Narrator of the life said "Youth". It's obvious Breaker is acting (especially when you find out he's a Shakespearian actor with a thing for Mahler and Brahms) and doing a skilled job of playing a disaffected youth, and then emotionally skittish young man. The role of "Narrator" in Passing Strange meanwhile requires considerable understatement, sharply timed line delivery (think Thornton Wilder's Narrator in Our Town, but really different), and the ability to rock the crowd at a moment's notice. I think I'm just wishing that Coleman Domingo could have qualified for a category, but with the way they assessed the roles that wasn't going to be possible. I'm excited at the nomination of de'Adre Aziza who I think is really marvelous in each of her roles. As I've written previously, she creates fully embodied characters just using the instrument of her body posture, facial expressions, and vocal delivery and with very little changeover time to definitively establish each new character with the audience. Yet each of the portraits she draws is immediate, and quite memorable.
(photos from Opening Night February 28, Belasco Theater: above left, Stew; above right(l-r) Daniel Breaker, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and de'Adre Aziza; below right (l-r) Chad Goodridge, Coleman Domingo, and Eisa Davis)

• Endnotes •

• Christopher Isherwood's February 29, 2008 review of Passing Strange in the New York Times. The page also links to an interview with collaborators Stew and Heidi Rodewald who collaborated on the musical, and other articles on the show.
• 2008 Tony Award nominations coverage by NYT
• 2008 Tony nominations press conference and American Theatre Wing website
• Awards show: Sunday, June 15, 8/7pm; Hosting: Whoopi Goldberg

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