Tag Archives: Broadway

Recap: The 2014 Tony Awards

June 8, 2014: The night that this happened. via TonyAwards.com

To the credit of Sunday night’s Tony Awards,  I wasn’t tempted once during the broadcast to check in on the inmates at Litchfield or those who’ve taken the black at the Wall. That’s the magic of a well paced, mostly inoffensive, and relatively diverse major televised awards show.

Hosted by Hugh Jackman (returning to Broadway in The River this fall), the show began with a great (if slightly obscure to those not obsessed with the MGM Studios of the 1953) homage to Bobby Van with a performance from the cast of After Midnight following, featured Audra MacDonald’s 6th Tony win, that one time when Hugh Jackman, TI, and LL Cool J rapped lyrics from The Music Man , Neil Patrick Harris licking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses during a performance of ‘Sugar Daddy’ from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a montage of nominated playwrights that reminded us just how white and male Broadway has chosen to let that world become, and a performance of ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables that was just the opposite.

Kenny Leon’s third iteration of A Raisin in the Sun took home 3 awards including Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance By An Actress in A Featured Role In A Play for Sophie Okonedo, and Best Director of a Play for Leon himself. Audra McDonald won Best Performance By An Actress For A Leading Role In A Play for Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill, James Monroe Iglehart of Aladdin won for Best Performance By An Actor For A Featured Role In A Musical, and Linda Cho won for Best Costume Design of a Musical for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love And Murder. The send up to 1920s Harlem After Midnight which has, at different times, starred Fantasia Barrino, Toni Braxton, Baby Face, Dule Hill, and Vanessa Williams, with Patti LaBelle starting this week, also took home a win for best choreography.

Even if The Great White Way is still pretty white the Tonys seem to at least make more of an effort to showcase the diversity that does exist on New York stages. Six winners of colour make for two more than we saw last year, and certainly more than we’re going to see at, say, this year’s Oscars. With shows like Holler If Ya Hear Me (aka, ‘The Tupac Musical’), You Can’t Take It With You (starring James Earl Jones) opening this summer and The King and I, and Oprah produced ‘night, Mother eyeing 2015 runs the future shows that theatre will at least stay the course.

For more highlights highlights, tweets, and performances jump under the cut!

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Broadway Preview: A Raisin In The Sun

By Kendra James

On Thursday night WNYC presented A Raisin In The Sun: Inside Look at The Greene Space in New York City. Joining moderator Elliot Forrest for an hour long discussion on the new Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s play were director Kenny Leon with cast members, Anika Noni Rose, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Stephen McKinley Henderson.

Our readers are encouraged to watch the video in full (it’s an hour long, but a good Friday afternoon lunch time distraction). The discussion and the subsequent Q&A has that rare perfect mix  of a great moderator, intelligent and thoughtful panellists, and an engaged audience that proceeded to ask insightful questions. Some of the discussion highlights included:

  • Kenny Leon has done A Raisin In The Sun several times in various productions, including the production with Sean Combs that premièred on Broadway ten years ago.  When planning for this production he wanted the audience to ask, “What does it mean to do this play ten years later?” The panel pointed out that African-American plays often lack reinventing for new generations, but that a show like Raisin should be affected by events like the election of a Black president and the two Stand Your Ground trials in Florida.
  • Also in that vein, Leon wanted this audience to see Travis (the Younger’s son) not just as a boy, but as the man that he’d become. It was important to him that people actively engage and think about what his life would be like in America ten years from the moments presented on stage.
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson gave a cold reading of Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem which provided Raisin its name.
  • Broadway always seems a bit starved for original content when the new season rolls around. As mentioned this is the second revival of Raisin in 10 years, and it joins shows like Aladdin, Rocky, The Bridges of Madison CountyCabaretLes Miserables, and many other revivals or adaptations coming this spring and fall.  So it was appreciated when a blogger from Arts In Color got up to ask if the cast had any favourite young POC playwrights producing original material fit for the stage. Answers included Danai Gurira, Robert O’Hara, Dominique Morisseau, Marcus Gardley, Lydia Diamond, and Katori Hall.

A Raisin In The Sun also stars Denzel Washington (Walter Lee Younger) and Sophie Okonedo (Ruth Younger) and begins previews at the Barrymore Theatre (home of the original production in 1959) on March 8. Thanks to WNYC for having us, and to Anika Noni Rose for not laughing when I told her about the time I auditioned to be Tiana for Disney On Ice.

Race + Theatre: On The Tony Awards 2013

Theatre Diversity Gap infographic

• On New York City stages during the 2011–2012 season, African American actors were cast in 16% of all roles, Latino actors in 3%, Asian American actors in 3%, and other minorities comprised 1%. Caucasian actors filled 77% of all roles. Caucasians continue to be the only ethnicity to over-represent compared to their respective population size in New York City or the Tri-State area.

• The percentage of minority actors rose to 23% this past year, a 2% increase from the year prior. While a significant jump, this level is fairly consistent with levels of minority representation which have consistently remained within the low twenty percent range. The last time representation hit 23% was during the 2007/08 season.

• African American actors increased by 2% compared to last season.

• Latino actors remained at 3% for the third straight year in a row.

• Asian American actors increased slightly from 2% to 3% this past season.

• Only 10% of all roles played by minority actors were non-traditionally cast. This remains the same as last season.

• African Americans were far more likely than any other minority to be cast in roles which were not defined by their race.

• For the second year in a row, the not-for-profit sector lagged far behind the commercial sector when it came to hiring minorities. The opposite was true in the four years preceding this shift, where actors of color were once more likely to find employment within the not-for-profit sector. While total number of minority actors in this sector increased by 3% from 19% the year prior, this is still far below the industry average and is the second year in a row that minority employment among the not-for-profit companies fell below 20%.

• This past season, African Americans and Latinos on non-profit stages increased 1% and 2%, respectively. Asian American actors, however, have been at their lowest point, 2%, for three years in a row now. This is a substantial drop from where they were six and five years ago (4% and 7%, respectively).

“Where’s The Diversity? The Tony Awards Look In The Mirror” by Jason Low of LeeandLow.com, June 6, 2013

Read the full report from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition here. We have the list of last night’s individual winners (performers) of color under the cut. Black actors and actresses, at least, had a good showing in top categories, but four wins can’t negate the facts.

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Introducing: The Racialicious Casting Couch

By Kendra James

“Casting Couch” by Derek Lane. Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara-esque young white ingenues are a dime a dozen on Broadway, but can you name  three Asian women who have risen to that level of fame on the Great White Way? And we all know it’s easier to become the next Julia Roberts than it is to become the next…is there an Asian American Julia Roberts in Hollywood?

All the talk concerning casting in film, television, and theatre this week (plus the advent of television pilot season) had me diving back into my favorite source of online Casting Fails, a few of which I’ve posted under the cut.
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