Lin-Manuel Miranda: Most Handsome Young Man 2016

Posted by Kim, Sage, and Shannon

The competition was fierce and the competitors were easy on the eyes and the heart. But among a field that included Chris Evans, Sterling K. Brown, Santino Fontana, Oscar Isaac, and Karl Urban, just ONE Handsome Young Man could be voted as our readers’ CHOICE Handsome Young Man. Today, Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Adam Scott, Joel McHale, Tom Mison, John Cho, and Harry Styles in a very attractive fraternity. Not only that – he won our fourth annual poll with the largest margin we’ve ever seen. You showed love to his opponents too, but the numbers don’t lie. And they tell us that you think Lin-Manuel Miranda is one handsome son of a gun.

Since I wrote Lin’s nomination, I’m ceding most of this winner’s post to Kim and to our This Is Us recapper/head of the #HamforHandsome committee to elect Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shannon. I just want to add two points to my initial endorsement:

1. Enthusiasm is such an attractive quality. Though he’s a megastar now, Lin never looks or acts like he’s over it. He CAN’T BELIEVE what he gets to do every day and how many people he gets to reach. I think his fans see themselves in him. If they were in his place, they’d be soaking up every delicious moment too. That’s humility right there.

2. I don’t know why, but the way he says “yes” does things to me. (See: “No hablo Ingles!” “YES.”; “You punched the bursar?” “YES.”; and the entirety of “Say No to This.”)

Lin just can’t lose right now. And we’re happy to be heaping one more honor onto his teetering pile of awards. –Sage

#Ham4Handsome

#Ham4Handsome

I can admit that I am a latecomer to the Lin-Manuel Miranda train. I never saw In the Heights, his Tony winning musical that thrust him into the national spotlight. (I KNOW. BELIEVE ME.) But I can remember watching the Tonys that year and being completely endeared by the sprite of a composer who had FIRE in his eyes as he wrapped his acceptance speech, quoting Stephen Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat”. I remember him popping up on How I Met Your Mother and going toe-to-toe with Hugh Laurie in two magnificent episodes of House (both in red because Lin clearly knows his colors). I was aware of his genius and quick-thinking mind as he churned out those magnificent show ending raps for Neil Patrick Harris’ Tony hosting gigs. I was COMPLETELY aware of Lin-Manuel Miranda and yet I WASN’T. It’s one thing to know of him and it’s an entirely DIFFERENT thing to KNOW OF HIM and that’s something that can really only be achieved by seeing him live and in person.

Which brings me to Hamilton. While all of my friends were going apeshit when the original cast recording came out, I steadfastly refused to listen to it. Not because I wasn’t interested, because GOD KNOWS I was, but because I was holding out to experience Hamilton for the first time in the theatre. I proudly deemed myself as a Hamilton unicorn as I stubbornly clung to the dream that SOMEHOW I would be able to score a ticket. It was tough because the show was EVERYWHERE and all of my friends were obsessed. (God BLESS them, they tried to preserve my innocence as much as possible.) The Hamilton Gods smiled down on me in April, when one of my best friends from high school called me up one day and said “So my sister and I are taking her daughter to see Hamilton and we have a fourth ticket. Do you want it?” After crying profusely and desperately switching my tickets to see Gillian Anderson in Streetcar to another night, my ticket to the Room Where It Happens was secured. And it was EVERYTHING. I totally get people listening to the OBCR before seeing the show, because for some, it’s the only way of being able to connect with this masterpiece. But let me tell you…FOR ME…my choice of being a Hamilton Unicorn made my experience perfect because it was like baptism by FIRE when it comes to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin would probably be the first person to tell you that he is not a conventional Broadway leading man. He doesn’t have the full-bodied soaring voice that peers like Santino Fontana, Jeremy Jordan, and Hamilton‘s own Jonathan Groff have. But when you look at Lin on stage, none of that fucking matters. What sets Lin apart is his passion and charisma and that untenable quality that prevents you from looking at ANYONE else when he’s on stage. (And that says a LOT considering he’s standing next to people like Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.) Lin’s Alexander Hamilton is MESMERIZING. He acts from his gut, from the deepest part of his soul, and it pours out of him from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet. From the buoyant JOY and determination of “My Shot” to the despondence of “Hurricane” to the reflective “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Lin’s performance was a masterclass. He knew his Alexander Hamilton inside and out and I will forever be grateful that I got to experience it in person.

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“I’ve Gotta Crow” – Live Blogging Peter Pan Live!

Posted by Kim

I grew up wearing out my VHS tape of the Mary Martin Peter Pan,  so obviously when NBC announced that the successor to last year’s Sound of Music Live! would be Peter Pan, I was both intrigued and terrified.  While the Celebrity Casting is not quite as rage-inducing as last year'(In fact, I am more than okay with the casting, slight Network Nepotism aside), I can’t resist the opportunity to live-blog NBC’s latest venture into presenting a live “theatrical” production.   There are MANY moving parts in Peter Pan.  There are kids.  There are live animals (as Nana is being played by an actual dog, as opposed to the traditional method of having a person in a dog suit).  There are people flying on wires.  There’s Christopher Walken tap-dancing.  And it’s all LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!

Will NBC strike gold a second time?  Join me here at 8/7C to find out!

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“My black and deep desires.” – Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory Review

Alex Kingston Kenneth Branagh Macbeth Posted by Sage

New York sees a lot of the Scottish Play.

Just last season, we had Ethan Hawke take on the ambitious Thane at Lincoln Center. Alan Cumming too took it on – plus the rest of the roles – in his one-man Macbeth on Broadway. I last saw the tragedy staged on a morgue-like set at BAM with Sir Patrick Stewart and a magnificent Kate Fleetwood as Scotland’s most bloodthirsty couple. Then there was Liev Schrieber in the Park – a tedious version for completists only. (The unbearably muggy weather that evening is responsible for at least half of that grumpy critique.) And of course, Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More has become an institution in immersive theater and a “cultured New Yorker” test, where masked audience members wander from room to room and watch (and sometimes participate) as a burlesque-like version story plays out.

So, in the grand scheme of our perpetual fascination with Macbeth, what purpose does a new production serve? If it brings Kenneth Branagh to our city for what is unbelievably his first New York stage appearance, that might just be enough. Add Alex Kingston (also making her New York theater debut) as his lusty bride, master of Broadway spectacle Rob Ashford, and the Park Avenue Armory, the grandest non-traditional theater space we’ve got, and okay, okay, we want it!

The Armory also bills its production as an “immersive” one, though don’t expect any bloody dancers writhing against you. We’re talking tradition here. Fine, upstanding, classic Shakespeare. But so much of it! Branagh’s Macbeth isn’t recast as a WWII-era dictator, a mental patient, or whatever it is that roams the halls at the McKittrick Hotel. He’s the Thane of Glamis and a soldier. He wears a kilt – and quite well, might I add. We’re in 11th Century Scotland, and, from the moment the audience makes it past the will-call table, the Armory wants us to know it.

Head Over Feels Macbeth Park Avenue Armory

Audience members were assigned to an actual historical clan based on our seat locations. And for lack of a budget to outfit us all head to toe in our family tartan, we were given Livestrong-style rubber bracelets bearing our clan’s name. From there, we were encouraged to explore the Armory’s rooms before reporting to the Ross clan’s headquarters, fifteen minutes before showtime. The building does its duty by placing visitors in a not-so-distant history when the military and the nobility were one and the same – it was the home of the first volunteer militia that formed in 1861 after President Lincoln called for troops and listed some of New York’s most fancypants names on its roster. After admiring many a fireplace, bronze bust, and dangerous-looking chandelier, we met up with the rest of our kinsman to, as the performer-ushers declared, “go into battle.” We picked up programs emblazoned with our name and an inside cover explaining the clan system and the history of the noble Ross. “Tonight,” our programs told us, “Ross marches with Macduff against the ambitious Thane.” Oh, goodie. We win.

Room by room, clan by clan, an army of a house staff leads the audience to their seats. (This show must be a House Manager’s nightmare.) And even if you can’t make this production, I urge you to see anything in this building. The Wade Thompson Drill Hall is like a moderately-sized airplane hanger, which enables directors’ imaginations to run wild when it comes to usage of the space. A guy dressed like a druid opened the Hall’s massive doors for us and we looked out into what, for all the world, looked like a foggy Scottish heath. A winding stone path leads to the actual “theater.” And outside of that path, three witches squirm and crawl in the moss. It’s creepy, my friends. I wasn’t 100% convinced that Banquo’s ghost wasn’t going to grab me and drag me off somewhere if I lagged too far behind.

Macbeth Armory Fight Scene

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Tony Week Spotlight – 10 Unforgettable Tony Moments

Neil Patrick Harris Hosting Tonys

Posted by Sage

Happy Tony Sunday!

Tonight, the best of Broadway (minus some egregious snubs – did someone say The Bridges of Madison County?) take Radio City Music Hall to strut their stuff and pat each other on the back. We’ve been gearing up all week with a series of Tony spotlight posts. First by celebrating our multi-talented Master of Ceremonies and then by counting down our Top 20 performances. (Part 1 and Part 2.) All that’s left before the big show is to highlight some of our favorite pieces of Tony miscellany: the skits, the opening and closing numbers, the speeches, etc. These ten historic moments barely scratch the surface of the entertainment and inspiration that the Tony telecast has provided us over the years. But it’s a start.

Phylicia Rashad Wins Leading Actress in a Play

God damn, that’s a regal speech. Phylicia Rashad looked shocked when her name was called for her performance in the last revival of A Raisin in the Sun, but then she hit us with a loopy but powerful prepared oration. She let her hunger for the award show, and for that: respect.

“Kiss LA Goodbye”

Last year’s show included this inspired ode to Broadway stars forever trying and failing to book a long-running network show. Andrew Rannells, late of The New NormalSmash‘s Megan Hilty, and Laura Benanti, whose canceled series track record includes Starved, Eli Stone, The Playboy Club, and (sob) Go On, joined Neil on stage to sing about the glories of that elusive mistress, television.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Wins Best Score

I was already sobbing when Lin Miranda gave his wife (THE REAL VANESSA) a little pound and went to receive his award for composing the groundbreaking hip-hop/Latin/showtune fusion score of In The Heights from Spring Awakening mastermind Duncan Sheik. Then he launched into an acceptance speech rap that had both his friends in the audience and me at my viewing party jumping out of our seats. “Look, Mr. Sondheim, I made a hat. Where there never was a hat. It’s a Latin hat at that!” I’ve no doubt that this win is the first of many in the long and illustrious career Lin still has ahead of him. There are plenty more hats for him to finish.

Daisy Eagan Wins Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Video won’t embed – Check it out at Theatermania.

Little Daisy Eagan became the youngest Tony winner ever when she won for her work in The Secret Garden. This moment is certainly the cutest on our list. She marches herself up to the stage, all poofy sleeves and teased hair and then just breaks down. All that adoration is a lot for a 12-year-old to process. But then she pulls herself together and lists all of her thank yous, endearingly peppering her speech with the word “wonderful” to describe everyone from her agent to her parents.

Julie Andrews Performs a Lerner and Loewe Medley

Julie Andrews and I were at the same performance of Act One at Lincoln Center a few weeks ago. I swear that I felt her presence before I even saw her. That’s how legendary she is.

James Corden Wins Leading Actor in a Play

I put my hands up at this one and confess an extreme bias in favor of anything James Corden ever does. Because he is the actual cutest. I laugh-cried all my make-up off in One Man, Two Guvnors and I have rarely seen a comic actor give so much of himself on stage. He looked like he was about to drop at the stage door. James was just as surprised as we were when he beat out fellow nominees including Frank Langella and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman for this statue, but that’s the beauty of the Tonys. It’s about as level of a playing field as you can get. He did the work and he earned the accolades. It’s always been you, Craig.

Neil’s Show Closing Rap

The show-closing rap became a tradition in the NPH years. Composed backstage by lightning speed super-genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, these numbers would break down the entire show in lyrical form. They’re all fantastic, really. But I’m partial to this one for its simplicity, story, and flawless final line: “What’s next? Who knows. Anything goes. Now go see a motherfucking Broadway show.”

Cyndi Lauper Is First Solo Female to Win Best Score

To be perfectly honest, I was rooting for Tim Minchin’s work on Matilda to take this award. I just think it’s a better show overall. But Kinky is all kinds of fun and joy. Will the score be considered a classic in 50, 60 years time? Probably not. But it did nab Cyndi the first Best Score trophy to be awarded to a solo female composer. And so, in honor of lady power – and man-lady power – we applaud this choice.

Nathan Lane Wins Leading Actor in a Musical

The best thing about this clip is that Nathan Lane refused to accept his award for The Producers without his co-star Matthew Broderick. And really, how else could this have gone down? That show is the definition of a two-hander. It wasn’t Nathan Lane alone getting butts in seats and setting a new standard for Broadway pricing. (THANKS A LOT, YOU GUYS.) It was the chemistry of the two leads that set the juggernaut in motion and one of them was guaranteed this Tony win. Oh, and the worst thing about this clip is learning that Patrick Wilson’s date to the 2001 Tonys was Jennifer Love Hewitt.

“Let The Sunshine In”

The 2009 Tony telecast ended was the cast of the hit Hair revival dancing into the house and then bringing it down just like they did every night over at the Hirschfeld. This time, the rest of their Broadway neighbors joined them. I just finished reading this funny, insightful blog post, brought to my attention by Jason Robert Brown. And it explains that moment when a musical gets under your skin and turns you into a living, breathing, feeling person better than anything I’ve ever read.

Musicals can turn my bones to wind chimes. They make me feel drunk…There is so much cruelty in the world, and the American musical knows that. Sometimes it tells us everything will be okay – the curtain will come down on dancing and singing and triumph. Sometimes it tell us everything won’t be okay and that kind of honesty can set you free.”

So when I sat in the box at Hair and some member of the ensemble gave me a flower and took my hand to bring me down the box stairs and up on stage, I simultaneously felt a kinship with the hundreds of audience members who’d had the very same experience I was having and believed deep in my heart that I was the only person in the world to know what this felt like. That’s it. That’s what I’m going through every time I see a truly great piece of musical theater.

Newsies Dance

We’ll be live-tweeting the awards tonight, so join us over at @HeadOverFeels. Warm up your jazz hands, get those ballots filled out, and we’ll meet you at Radio City. Tony night!!

Tony Week Spotlight – The 20 Best Performances, Part Two

Posted by Kim

Welcome back to our Tony Week coverage.  Every year as the Tonys draw near, I rediscover my love of theatre…musical theatre specifically.  There is truly nothing like it and when you love it…you love it for life.  It gets in your bones, doesn’t it?  As an adult, I may be a bit more cynical when it comes to the business of theatre and the politics of awards and who wins them, but every year when the Tony Broadcast begins, I am that wide-eyed kid watching in my living room, dreaming of moving to New York City to be on Broadway someday.  It never fails.

And now I proudly present my Top 10 Tony performance (all approved by Sage as well).  Enjoy!

10) “The Brotherhood of Man” – How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

Fact: Daniel Radcliffe was ROBBED of a Tony Nomination for his work as J. Pierrepont Finch in the 2011 revival of How to Succeed.  I dare say that had he been nominated, he would have won.  His performance was charming and effervescent and Sage and I both sat in the audience like proud mamas.  Ever the consummate professional, DanRad showed up with his castmates Tony Night and gave the metaphorical middle finger to the Tony Nominators by dancing the SHIT out of the show-stopping (it literally stopped the show the night I saw it) “Brotherhood of Man”.  Rob Ashford’s choreography is INCREDIBLY athletic and complex and Dan more than holds his own with the Broadway chorus boys who have been training their whole lives.

DANCE HARRY POTTER DANCE.

9) “Being Alive” – Company

John Doyle’s minimalist production of Company, where all the actors played all their instruments (a conceit used much more effectively in his production of Sweeney Todd), was a bit of a mixed bag.  I felt that in the need to fill the roles with actors who could play the instruments as well, a lot of vocal power was sacrificed and the classic score didn’t SOAR as much as it could.  One thing I was not at ALL mixed on was the tour-de-force performance of Raul Esparza as perpetual bachelor Bobby.  Bobby is the one character who doesn’t play an instrument until he sings “Being Alive”.  It was a beautiful moment of surrender and you see in his tentative stroking of the keys that he truly IS finally ready to open himself up to someone (A note from Sage: Raul learned to play the piano specifically for this and IT WAS THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS LIFE).  Did that moment make the instrument conceit pay off?  ALMOST.

Remember what I said in yesterday’s post about the most effective performances sometimes being the ones with just a spotlight and a voice?  Yeah.  This is one of them.

And then he didn’t win.  NEVER FORGET.

8) “Rose’s Turn” – Gypsy

I know this is sacrilegious to many musical theatre lovers, but I saw both the Lupone production of Gypsy and the Bernadette Peters production…and I vastly preferred Peters and her take on Mama Rose.  Many said Bernadette was miscast.  She wasn’t a foghorn or big brassy dame like Merman or Daly or (eventually) LuPone.  But to me…that’s WHY she worked.  She was slightly softer and SEXIER and I hadn’t seen that before.

I was at the Tonys that year and you could have heard a PIN DROP as Bernadette did this.  It was nothing short of mesmerizing.  “Rose’s Turn” must be a hard song to perform out of context…the entire show is building towards it.  Yet Bernadette sauntered out on stage and proceeded to have a mental breakdown right there on National Television for all the haters to see.  I’ll never forget seeing it live for as long as I live.

(Oh and then she didn’t win.  I have never forgiven Marissa Jaret Winokur for that.)

7) “Gold” – Once

I had my doubts when it was announced that Once was being made into a Broadway musical.  One of my favorite movies of the aughts, I was afraid that the musical would lose the subtle delicacy of the story or that the folky music would get swallowed up in a big Broadway house.  Luckily my fears proved to be unfounded under Tony Winner John Tiffany’s exquisite direction and Tony Winner Enda Walsh’s book that wisely opened up the story where it needed to be opened, but still allowed the gentle melancholy to permeate the show.  Had it not been up against the incredibly athletic choreography of Newsies, I imagine Steven Hoggett’s movement would have won as well.  “Gold” showcases everything that is WONDERFUL and special about Once, from the gradual build to the joyous way the ensemble moves with their instruments as the music overtakes them.  Add in a Tony Winning performance from Steve Kazee as the Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy and a completely charming Future Dead Mother Cristin Milioti as the Girl who makes him come alive again and you’ve got magic.

I remember being at a Tony Viewing Party with some friends who are musicians and had not seen the show yet.  As soon as the number ended, they said “Now THAT is a show I’ve got to see.”

6) “Mama Who Bore Me/The Bitch of Living/Totally Fucked” – Spring Awakening

Medleys can often be clunky on the Tonys (which is why you don’t see The Secret Garden on this list), but Spring Awakening executed it perfectly.  From the choreography that doesn’t FEEL like choreography by Tony Winner Bill T. Jones to the spectacular lighting by Tony Winner Kevin Adams to the frenetic camerawork (well-played Tony director) to the powerhouse performances of its young cast, it captured everything that was ELECTRIC and thrilling about the show.  Remember the time when Lea Michele didn’t over-sing or over-emote EVERYTHING? (Sage: Barely.)

Also check out bb Skylar Astin and his hair do!

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Tony Week Spotlight – The Top 20 Performances, Part One

Posted by Kim

Welcome back to our Tony Week coverage!  We’re fully unleashing our not-so-hidden musical theatre geekdom all week.  Yesterday we celebrated our Host with the Most, Hugh Jackman and today we begin a two-part series on our favorite Tony Broadcast performances.

Sure there are awards given but everyone REALLY watches the Tony Awards for the performances.  The performances are giant commercials for the shows themselves and sometimes a perfectly done number can boost ticket sales even if the show doesn’t take home any hardware.  Whenever I go to a show, I watch for what I think would be “The Tony Number”.  Some shows trot out the major choreography numbers (the better to fill the gigantic stage with) while some just take their star performer and plop them center stage and tell them to SING THEIR ASSES OFF.  Both approaches are effective, as you’ll see on this list.

One note though: Obviously this list is subjective.  I’m not trying to name the greatest MUSICALS of all time, I’m looking strictly at their performances.  Sometimes affection for a particular show will bump it higher in the ratings.  It’s my website and I do what I want.  Also, thanks to technology and video quality, the oldest video on this top 20 is from 1982.  So yes, I KNOW that Ben Vereen and the company of Pippin are fucking brilliant.  You just won’t see them on here.

20) “I Believe” – The Book of Mormon

To date “I Believe” and “Hello” are the only songs I have heard from The Book of Mormon as I refuse to listen to it until I see the show, as I FIRMLY believe the songs are best viewed in complete context.  Help me, I’m poor.  Let it be known that both Sage and I are in the market for sugar daddies who will take us to see all the things.

Nonetheless, I chose “I Believe” simply for the way Tony Nominee Andrew Rannells just stood there and sang the SHIT out of one of the few songs Book of Mormon could away with doing on the telecast.  The pressure for Rannells to deliver must have been immense, as the show was the obvious front-runner for Best Musical.  But he delivered in spades.

19) “Live in Living Color/Don’t Break the Rules” – Catch Me If You Can

At first it was a toss-up between this performance and Norbert Leo Butz’s other major Tony Award performance, “Great Big Stuff” from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which he won his first Tony for).  But as I rewatched “Don’t Break the Rules” this one obviously won out for the DANCING.  Good God, I’m exhausted just watching it.  Jerry Mitchell’s choreography is highly stylized and plays to Norbert’s strengths as both a dancer and actor (also notice how his body doesn’t seem to move at all above the elbows).  Norbert’s Carl Hanratty was an uptight and by-the-book character who is still BURSTING with the desire to win and everything about the choreography plays to that.  I may have had mixed feelings about CMIYC in general but this number stopped the show every night and damn near stopped the Tony broadcast.

18) “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat” – Guys and Dolls

The 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls was damn near perfect, from the perfect casting of Nathan Lane and Faith Prince as Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide to the eye-popping sets and colorful costumes.  “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat” is the ultimate 11 o’clock number and Walter Bobbie (future Tony Award winner for directing Chicago) performs it with utter joy.  I dare you to not bust out with jazz hands along with them.

17) “Let It Go” – The Full Monty

Poor The Full Monty.  This delightful  (and vastly superior in my opinion) show was completely shut out of the Tony Awards by a little behemoth called The Producers.  But what they lacked in Actual Awards they made up for in butts (heeeeeeeeeey Patrick Wilson) that ACTUALLY made it onto the broadcast.  The true winners?  US.

16) “There Once Was A Man/Hernando’s Hideaway” – The Pajama Game

One of my greatest New York regrets is never seeing this production.  Women were basically throwing their bras at Harry Connick Jr. every night (or so I heard) and it’s easy to see why.  He’s electric, his chemistry with perpetual Tony Bridesmaid Kelli O’Hara is palpable, and once he gets behind the piano…forget it.  Even the ensemble members look like they are ready to rip their clothes off because of him.

Come back to Broadway anytime, Harry.  I know it may not pay as well as American Idol does but it’s infinitely more deserving of your talents.  May I suggest a new revival of Guys and Dolls as Sky Masterson?

Also A+ choreography by Tony Winner Kathleen Marshall, who picked up her second award for this production.

15) “Prologue” – Ragtime

I have spoken before about the brilliance of the Ragtime prologue.  It’s an absolutely thrilling 9 minutes and 45 seconds (yes, I consulted the cast recording) of theatre that perfectly sets the stage for the sweeping musical ahead.  No other song would have represented Ragtime as well as the prologue did and they did a great job of cutting it down to fit in the time slot constraints for the Tony Broadcast.  As you’ll see through out this post, there are few things I love more than a massive group of people just standing and singing their faces off.

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Tony Week Spotlight: Hugh Jackman’s Most Fab Song-And-Dance Moments

Hugh Jackman Singing

Posted by Sage

Hug a theater nerd, readers. It’s officially the week of the 2014 Tony Awards, and we’re celebrating with some Broadway-centric posts.

On Sunday, June 8 at 8PM EST, the curtain will rise on the 68th annual Tony ceremony. And I AM EXCITE, because our emcee for the night isn’t a pale, omnisexual German, but past host, two-time winner, and cute-butt-haver Hugh Jackman!

Hugh is the quintessential Renaissance man, as at home jazz-walking across the stage at Radio City as he is ripping extras to shreds with adamantium claws. But it’s song-and-dance man Hugh who will always be my personal favorite. This year, he’s taking the reins back from Neil Patrick Harris, who – don’t worry – isn’t trapped under a car or anything. NPH is on Broadway himself, starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and most likely collecting a Lead Actor trophy in a few days. And though both boys can carry a show on their shoulders without breaking a sweat, they do have their own styles. NPH adds a dash of irony, while Hugh is all enthusiasm and sincerity. He’s never been afraid to look silly. He’s never shied away from corny. Share your unsolicited opinion about his sexual orientation if you must; he’ll dance circles around you while you do. And he still seems in awe of Broadway, even though he’s taken it by storm. Several times.

While I count down the days till Hugh’s next show-opening medley, let’s relive some of his most fabulous musical moments. Be warned: this kind of joy is highly contagious.

Hugh Jackman WORK IT

“Not The Boy Next Door” – 2004 Tony Awards

I meaaaan, I can understand why taking the Tonys on again this year would have been tough for Neil Patrick Harris, but let’s not forget that Hugh Jackman fulfilled hosting duties and then some, all while still shaking his maracas eight shows a week as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. The term “hardest working man in show business” gets thrown around a lot, but here, it might really apply.

On top of all his other obligations as host, Hugh also performed as Peter for his show’s big number. Let’s pretend that the piano track hadn’t dropped and concentrate on his gold lamé pants, undulating hips, and calling out of Matthew Broderick as “bi-coastal.” (HELLO.) Every night in TBFO, he’d go into 10 minutes of ad-libbing with the crowd. And by the color of Sarah Jessica Parker’s face when he pulls her up on stage, I don’t think she was in the building for rehearsals. But when Hugh wants to dance with you, you say YES. Especially if you’re already dressed like a ballerina.

COME BACK TO BROADWAY, HUGH. In a MUSICAL.

“Surrey With The Fringe On Top” –  Royal National Theatre’s Oklahoma

Laurey is already an insufferable character, but you really have to question her judgment with a Curly as cute as this one. I’m still not 100% sure what a surrey even is, but I do know that I’d happily get into one with him.

“Me” – Beauty and the Beast, Original Australian Cast

Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney Theatricals production to take over the world. Obviously a young Hugh Jackman was cast as Gaston, because with a shitty attitude and a bigger ego, he kind of is Gaston. Sadly, no video survives; fortunately, the cast recording and a few incriminating photos do.

French Lipton Ad

Foreign countries get the best commercials. Usually unexplainable and occasionally embarrassing, the overseas ad campaign seems to be an obligatory step for an aspiring American mega-star. Hugh either lucked out or his people are more discerning, since this French iced tea spot is well-produced, cringe-less, and a suitable showcase for one of his many talents. Come to think of it, it’s about time for Hugh to make an appearance on So You Think You Can Dance. Why hasn’t he ever guest-judged? Cat would DIE. Time to make some calls, Nigel.

Opening Number – 2009 Academy Awards

Revisiting this medley, I can’t understand why Hugh Jackman hasn’t repeated as an Oscar host. I’m exhausted just watching this. He step-dances, does the robot, carries Annie Hathaway up to the stage like a damn Disney prince, takes the Academy to task for snubbing The Dark Knight (SHOTS FIRED), and I’m having serious trouble remembering a grander finale than this one:

Hugh Jackman I'm Wolverine Oscars

Did you catch the callback in the intro when he says hello to his old pal, Sarah Jessica? It’s an inside joke five years in the making and only fully appreciated by tiny sliver of the country (Manhattan, gays) who even watches the Tonys.

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In Appreciation of Debra Messing (and other January Musings)

Posted by Otto

Hey, Bitches. Guess who’s back… Everybody’s favorite Queen of Sass! No, I’m not talking about Ryan Seacrest. I’m talking about ME! Otto Titsling. And in case you missed my Head Over Feels debut last month, take a minute to catch up. I know. It’s fabulous. You can thank me later.

This January, Otto caught as much theatre as possible: Mark Rylance’s Shakespearean double bill, Fantasia Barrino’s wonderful “Stormy Weather” in After Midnight, and much more. But it was Debra Messing’s astonishing Broadway debut in Outside Mullingar that melted Otto’s cold gay heart more than any other this winter.

Messing plays Rosemary, a lonely Irish woman (with a flawless accent, P.S.) minding her late parents’ farm and pining for the next door neighbor Tony (the always formidable Brian F. O’Byrne). This 100-minute and intermission-less play by John Patrick Shanley (Doubt) isn’t bogged down by shocking revelations. Instead, it’s a sweet look at loneliness and the ways it can bring us together. But it’s Debra Messing’s performance that elevates the evening to something more. And so, in honor of her magnificent Broadway debut, Otto Titsling gives you:

Four Amazing Reasons To Appreciate Debra Messing

1. Smash might be long-gone. But Julia Houston’s stylish scarves will love on forever in our hearts. I’m happy to report that Miss Messing was wearing one at the stage door. Granted, there was a Polar Vortex that evening. But I like to think she just hasn’t been able to let go of her days as a talented, but horny librettist.

2. Grace Adler likes Chinese food. Grace Adler likes fashion. Grace Adler likes alcohol. Grace Adler likes musicals. Grace Adler likes gay men. Grace Adler likes hunky crooners with nice biceps that look remarkably like Harry Connick, Jr.. Grace Adler’s mother looks remarkably like Debbie Reynolds. Grace Adler snorts when she laughs. Grace Adler slept with a guy who looks remarkably like Woody Harrelson (who Otto has always imagined is awfully good in the boudoir). In short, Grace Adler is awesome. Even if she does squirt water from her bra sometimes. And let’s face it, we’ve all been here before…

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