Tony Awards 2013 Nominations Announced: Which Film/TV Actor Has a Chance at a Theater Award?

Jessica Hecht and 2013 Tony nominee, Judith Light, in “The Assembled Parties”

The nominations for the 67th Annual Tony Awards were announced this morning by Broadway veterans Sutton Foster (ABC Family’s Bunheads) and Jessie Tyler Ferguson (ABC’s Modern Family.) Among the nominees are your standard theater performers, who have yet to make themselves known to a wider audience, but there are a lot of familiar faces from television and film as well. The late Nora Ephron received a posthumous nomination for penning the play, Lucky Guy, which stars fellow nominee Tom Hanks (who starred in Ephron’s films Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail.) Broadway and film vets Nathan Lane, Tracy Letts, David Hyde Pierce, and Tom Sturridge vie for top honors along with Hanks in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play category. In my humble opinion, Alan Cumming was snubbed for his tour de force performance in Macbeth.

For Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, television and film veterans fill a category where it’s clear they all started in the theater. It includes the stellar works of Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place) Amy Morton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Cicely Tyson (A Trip to Bountiful.) The thing that I find most interesting about this category is the fact that Jessica Chastain was snubbed for her Broadway debut in The Heiress.

The most fun however, will come with the featured actors in plays (both male and female categories.) For the male category, it includes: Danny Burstein, Golden Boy, Richard Kind, The Big Knife, Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy and Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy.  They are all theater veterans and well-known in television and film as well. For the female category it’s the battle of the Judiths with both Judith Light and Judith Ivey getting nominations. Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Judith Ivey, The Heiress, Judith Light, The Assembled Parties and Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful.

It will be interesting to see who wins in these categories considering most of them do theater, film and television. For a complete list of nominations you can go here.

Canadian Connection: Kirsten Dunst in “Deeply” (2000)

Kirsten Dunst as Silly in “Deeply” (2000)

Every once and a while, I notice some weird indie films on an actor’s IMDB page that intrigue me simply due to the fact that they are rarely, widely released films. Oftentimes, when I am looking up an actor’s credits whom I admire, I realize that, yeah, they do the work whether it’s “successful” or not. It’s work. I’ve also noticed that, many times over, actors seem to gravitate towards movies that are produced in Canada. There was a great article written by Slate.com about the benefits of filming movies in Canada (whether they are Canadian or American produced.) The thing I find interesting about the article is the fact that there is a tax break on digital effects by 20% given that one of the two highest paid actors is Canadian.

Not only that, but due to the fact that it is simply cheaper to film across the boarder, many American television series film in Canada. Fringe, although set in Boston, filmed in NYC for the first year, it moved to Vancouver, British Columbia for its second season, and has remained there ever since.

So, it’s no wonder that American actors seem to go to Canada to find work. Actress/director, Judith Ivey, reportedly worked in the Canadian theater for six years during the course of her career.

In 2000, Kirsten Dunst went up to Canada to film the German/Canadian produced film, Deeply, co-starring the late Lynn Redgrave. From Canadian director/writer, Sheri Elwood, it is an interesting indie film.

A mythic memory play in the vein of The Wicker Man, Deeply is the story of a traumatized teenager, Claire McKay, who is brought to the Island of her ancestors in the hopes of she will recover from the sudden death of her first love. Claire encounters an eccentric writer, Celia, who tells her the story of another grief-stricken teenager, Silly, and the curse which has haunted the Island since the days of the Vikings. As Celia recounts the story of Silly and her great loss, a story that is yet without an ending, Claire relives her own trauma and undergoes a catharsis which sets her spirit free, healed of the grief and horror. As Celia said, a good story does indeed have the power to heal. But the ending to Celia’s story has still to be written…  (From IMDB)

I must admit, this film can be a tad confusing upon the first viewing, and Kirsten Dunst’s accent is really wonky and all over the place, but all in all, it’s a film worth checking out. If not for the acting, for the cinematography. Oh, and there’s what I’m calling a “Jack & Rose from Titanic Moment” in there too. You’ll just have to watch it to find out what it is.  Thank you Canada for all you do for Hollywood.

VHS Vault: Brighton Beach Memoirs

Back in the day, the motto of every video store yes, VIDEO store, was “Be Kind. Rewind.” Embracing the current movement to be “retro” I’m going to talk about a little movie called Brighton Beach Memoirs. Adapted from the play by Neil Simon of the same name, Memoirs chronicles the life of Eugene Jerome as he reaches puberty. It’s heart-warming, hilarious, and semi-autobiographical.

“Eugene, a young teenage Jewish boy, recalls memories from his time as an adolescent youth. He lives with his parents, his aunt, two cousins, and his brother, Stanley, whom he looks up to and admires. He goes through the hardships of puberty, sexual fantasy, and living the life of a poor boy in a crowded house.”–via IMDB.

The popular play is still being produced to this day by community theaters and pubescent high school drama departments all over the country. If you don’t believe me, do a YouTube search of the title and watch what comes up. I got it on VHS when my college was selling “old movies.” Jonathan Silverman does justice to the role and his voice-overs as Eugene are seared into my brain’s  association of the role for all time. However, I would have loved to see Matthew Broderick reprise his Tony-winning role on film.  Blythe Danner, the outstanding actress that she is, plays a Russian- Jewish mother more convincingly than anyone given the fact that most associate her with the WASP-y mother type. The fact that Danner didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this role escapes me. Equally as impressive is well-known stage actress Judith Ivey. Other than Designing Women,  growing up, my associations with Ivey and her work included Memoirs. It wasn’t until I got into the business myself and started seeing more New York theater that I truly gained an appreciation for Judith Ivey and her work as an actor and director. She’s slated to direct the revival of The Miss Firecracker Contest and I saw her perform the role of Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie which was amazing. A young Jason Alexander plays a bit part in the film as well, long before his days on Seinfeld. I do wonder what happened to the actor who  plays Stanley. But alas, a “Where Are They Now” post is one for another day.

The movie is humorous, heart-felt and still relevant today. Put it in your Netflix queue and if you can find a video store that doesn’t just sell porn, rent it. Pin-ups and puberty are the main themes of the movie and Eugene’s “wet dream” monologue will forever be considered one of the funniest speeches in theater and film history.