Could Justin Peck be any busier? In the midst of pulling triple duty at New York City Ballet—as a soloist, resident choreographer and a member of its interim artistic team—he also managed to choreograph a Broadway show. Then, last month, on his first try, he won a Tony Award for best choreography for the revival of Carousel.
The morning after the ceremony, he shared an exuberant Instagram post: As he exited the stage after winning, he ran into the Carousel sailors backstage as they were entering to perform "Blow High, Blow Low" for the telecast. He wrote: "None of them knew we had just been awarded the Tony, and I stood in front of them holding the award, speechless. They erupted in excitement and we exchanged a beautiful moment of embraces, cheers, and happiness. Certainly the highlight of the night for me!" Recently, via email, we caught up with the peripatetic Mr. Peck.
The biggest weekend in Broadway is finally upon us: The Tony Awards are this Sunday (airing at 8 pm EST on CBS). While other media outlets might be busy forecasting winners, we're speculating about the dancing we might get to see during the broadcast.
Needless to say, we have a few ideas.
It's Broadway awards season (hello Tony, Chita Rivera and Drama Desk Awards!), and this year, there's a lot for fans to sing and dance about. If you're a millennial, your heart is certainly happy with this morning's Tony announcement: SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls scored the most nominations for a musical at 12 each. (The two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got 10.)
Mean Girls leads the pack with 12 Tony nominations. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
You could call it island-hopping, but it's not exactly a vacation. After choreographing last season's Come From Away, and winning a Tony nomination, Kelly Devine zipped from frosty Newfoundland to the Caribbean beach resort that is the setting for Escape to Margaritaville.
In the fall, she was shuttling between them, before they start this month: flying to Toronto to prepare a new Canadian production of Come From Away, then jetting back to Chicago for the final stop of Margaritaville's four-city pre-Broadway tryout.
"These two shows could not be more different from each other," Devine says with a dash of understatement. Come From Away is about the small Newfoundland town where airliners grounded by the 9/11 attacks dumped thousands of unexpected visitors; Escape to Margaritaville, at the Marquis Theatre, is a comic island romance concocted from the beachcomber songbook of Jimmy Buffett.
Conscientious theatergoers may be familiar with The School for Scandal, The School for Wives and School of Rock. But how many are also aware of the school of Fosse?
The 1999 musical, a posthumous exploration of the choreographic career of Bob Fosse, ran for 1,093 performances, winning four Tonys and 10 nominations; employing 32 dancers; and, completely unintentionally, nurturing a generation of Broadway choreographers. You may have heard of them: Andy Blankenbuehler and Sergio Trujillo danced in the original cast, Josh Rhodes was a swing, and Christopher Gattelli replaced Trujillo when he landed choreography jobs in Massachusetts and Canada. Blankenbuehler remembers that when Trujillo left, "It was as if he was graduating."
The 2017 Tony Awards were last night, and despite it being a highly competitive Broadway season, things went more or less as predicted. Andy Blankenbuehler took home yet another Tony for Best Choreography after the cast of Bandstand showed everyone exactly why he deserved it (and, of course, the award was announced during a commercial break). Ben Platt broke everyone's hearts with his live performance of "Waving Through a Window" before going on to take Best Actor in a Musical for Dear Evan Hansen. Bette Midler didn't sing but did finally get a Tony Award for acting (and refused to let anyone rush her long-awaited acceptance speech). Josh Groban and the cast of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 went all in for the final performance of the night. Dear Evan Hansen took home Best New Musical, while Come From Away, which was neck-in-neck for the big prize, got Best Direction of a Musical.
What we really, really weren't expecting: host Kevin Spacey singing and dancing through the first ten minutes of the ceremony.
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It's that time of year again. The Tony Awards are this weekend, and frankly, we can't decide on which performance we're most excited to see—Andy Blankenbuehler's swing-infused Bandstand choreography? Whatever the kooky-cool Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 cast has up their old-fashioned sleeves (and, by default, Josh Groban's golden pipes)? Best Actor in a Musical favorites Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) and Andy Karl (Groundhog Day) duking it out? Can the answer just be yes, all of the above?
In contrast to last year's Hamilton-mania, there's a sea of new musicals vying for the top prizes (with no clear front runners except for in a couple of key categories), and most of them are prepping what are sure to be fantastic performances. (Not to worry, Hamilfans: Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to present, and Leslie Odom Jr. is on the performer list.) In a way, the uncertainty is making for an even more exciting buildup to the Tonys than usual. Here are six of our biggest questions going into this year's ceremony.
It's Broadway awards season, and tons of our favorite dancers and choreographers are getting big-time recognition.
The Tony Award nominations were announced yesterday and the Best Choreography finalists include:
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane for Groundhog Day
Kelly Devine for Come From Away
Denis Jones for Holiday Inn
We're not saying that we called it, but...okay we did. The 2016 Tony Awards were last night, and Hamilton swept up 11 of 13 possible awards, including Best Musical and Best Choreography for Andy Blankenbuehler. The smash hit was nominated for 16 awards, but with multiple nods in some categories.
However, even though it was inarguably Hamilton's night, other dance-heavy shows got to have their say in performances throughout the evening. Here are some of our favorite moments.
The infectious energy brought by On Your Feet! Choreographer Sergio Trujillo had the ensemble moving nonstop to a medley of Gloria Estafan's pop hits that feature in the musical. The dancers were fantastic in the high-speed, Cuban inspired partnering, but a pair of young boys absolutely stole the show with huge smiles that were not at all affected by their absurdly quick footwork. They even managed to get Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda on his feet down in the first row.
Fiddler on the Roof reminding us of why Hofesh Shechter was nominated. If anyone still had doubts about the contemporary choreographer taking on a Broadway show, they were erased last night. The dancing in the wedding celebrations is fantastic—rhythmically surprising, beautifully detailed, exciting to watch and seamlessly fitting into the world of Fiddler.
The entire cast of Shuffle Along showing off their tap skills. Honestly, how can you pick just one favorite moment from this performance? Savion Glover took home a Drama Desk Award for his choreography, and any other year he probably would have snagged the Tony as well. From a line of chorus girls to a series of jaw-dropping soloists to the rest of the ensemble, every single person onstage brought fantastic energy and technical chops to the floor. Do yourself a favor and watch the entire performance.
The cast of Spring Awakening making us wonder why Spencer Liff wasn't nominated for Best Choreography. It takes a considerable amount of skill to sign a song using American Sign Language in a way that reflects not just the words but the meaning and emotion behind them (while being musical, to boot), and the hearing and deaf actors in the cast of Spring Awakening have talent in spades. Major kudos to Liff for integrating choreography and sign language in such a way that the signing was perfectly legible while feeling like a natural extension of the choreography and music.
Hamilton. Really, what else is there to say? It's no secret that we—and pretty much everyone we know—love this musical, even though this live broadcast is probably the closest most of us will get to seeing it. The cast is phenomenal, doing battle with invisible bayonets (they nixed the usual prop guns in light of the events that took place in Orlando yesterday) or falling into formation, changing qualities at the drop of a hat without losing an ounce of the determined conviction that characterizes the show.
If you want to hear from the fantastic ensemble of Hamilton about how they pull it off, grab our June issue!
It's anyone's guess as to what shape next year's biggest Broadway hits will take, but with works as stylistically different and undeniably innovative as these currently calling the Great White Way home, it seems like absolutely anything is possible.
We all know why this year could very well be the most watched Tony Awards of all time. Not only has Hamilton converted the unlikeliest of people into musical theater lovers, but its tickets are so hard to come by that a live television performance may be the closest most of us get to seeing the revolutionary show. Though the Tonys, hosted by James Corden of "The Late Late Show," will likely be a Hamilton love-fest, there's still lots more to look out for this Sunday when the show airs—including one of the strongest, most diverse choreography line-ups in recent years.
Five shows are nominated for the Best Choreography award, each of them featuring completely different styles:
Audra McDonald and the cast of Shuffle Along in rehearsal. Photo by Devin Alberda, Courtesy Shuffle Along.
The legendary hoofer has another show on Broadway, and, as to be expected, the tapping is out of this world. What's unique about this show is that it isn't only the ensemble that's shuffling away—all the leads tap just as much and with just as much confidence. Though it seems like Shuffle Along isn't going to be as big as Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, which won Glover a Tony, it's still a strong contender. Plus, the choreographer will be joining the cast soon!
Hofesh Shechter teaching choreography at a Fiddler rehearsal. Photo by Kyle Froman.
Who would have thought that modern dance giant Hofesh Shechter would choreograph a Broadway show—and be really good at it?! The Israeli-born choreographer's reinvention of Jerome Robbins' dances references and upholds the "Traditions" so integral to the show, and innovates them in exciting ways. Any other year, this would be my pick for Best Choreography.
Dames at Sea—Randy Skinner
Skinner's choreography for Dames at Sea (which closed in November) is classic show tap. It's fun and serves the show well, but among the other standout nominees, it lacks that sense of innovation and excitement. (Go "Behind the Curtain" with Mara Davi to get a peek at the moves.) This feels especially true when you consider who wasn't nominated for this category—notably the revival of Spring Awakening, which featured Spencer Liff's breathtaking fusion of sign language and dance.
Sergio Trujillo tapped into authentic Cuban rhythms to tell the story of pop sensation Gloria Estefan, and the result is a high-energy, nonstop dance party. It's a style we haven't seen much of on the Great White Way, and Trujillo seamlessly integrates it into the plot.
Hamilton ensemble members Sasha Hutchings, Voltaire Wade-Greene and Ariana DeBose at our June cover shoot. Photo by Jayme Thornton.
Surprise, surprise. Blankenbuehler's hip-hop driven, style-bending magnum opus is the strongest contender for the Best Choreography prize—and the likely winner. No, Hamilton doesn't need to win in all the 13 categories it's nominated in. But the choreography—along with Lin-Manuel Miranda's book and score—are definitely aspects of the show that deserve extra recognition.
This brings me to only disappointing part of the Tony Awards—the fact that the Best Choreography award usually isn't aired on the live broadcast. How is it that the Tonys uses dances from various shows (including all those mentioned above except for Dames at Sea) to pump up viewers, but the choreographers who made the moves don't get to be recognized in front of the television audience? Come on, Tonys.
On the bright side, it seems like the dance lineup on Broadway just keeps getting better. Tune in to CBS at 8pm on Sunday for 10 exciting performances.
Hamilton has made Tony Awards history. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Hamilton.
The 2016 Tony Award nominees have been announced. And, unsurprisingly, everyone's favorite musical that they've never seen, Hamilton, swept the ballots. In all, the show is up for 13 categories—every single one that involved musical theater, except revivals. And with multiple nominations in some, Hamilton has 16 shots at winning—the most in Broadway history.
Even if you can't get tickets to the show, you can read all about the ensemble bringing the historic production to life—and what its runaway success might mean for dance on Broadway—in Dance Magazine's June issue. Go to dancemagazine.com/hamilton to pre-order your copy.
Who is Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler's competition in the Best Choreography category? It's a mix of people that touch on many different styles of dance. There's Savion Glover, who brought true rhythm tap back to Broadway with Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed; Randy Skinner, with classic show tap that Broadway thrives on, in Dames at Sea; Hofesh Shechter's humanistic modern dance moves for Fiddler on the Roof; and Sergio Trujillo's authentic Cuban dances in On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan. If anything, it's wonderful to see so many corners of the dance world meet on Broadway.
Here is the full list of musical nominees:
School of Rock - The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Best Book of a Musical
Steve Martin for Bright Star
Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
Julian Fellowes for School of Rock - The Musical
George C. Wolfe for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bright Star (Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Lyrics: Edie Brickell)
Hamilton (Music and lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda)
School of Rock - The Musical (Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics: Glenn Slater)
Waitress (Music and lyrics: Sara Bareilles)
Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman for School of Rock - The Musical
Danny Burstein for Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi for She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
Leslie Odom, Jr. for Hamilton
Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti for She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack for Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller for Waitress
Phillipa Soo for Hamilton
Best Performance By an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Daveed Diggs for Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Christopher Fitzgerald for Waitress
Jonathan Groff for Hamilton
Christopher Jackson for Hamilton
Best Performance By an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks for The Color Purple
Renée Ellse Goldsberry for Hamilton
Jane Krakowski for She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard for Disaster!
Adrienne Warren for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Es Devlin and Finn Ross for American Psycho
David Korins for Hamilton
Santo Loquasto for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
David Rockwell for She Loves Me
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes for Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshle for She Loves Me
Ann Roth for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Paul Tazewell for Hamilton
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley for Hamilton
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Ben Stanton for Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend for American Psycho
Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden for Spring Awakening
John Doyle for The Color Purple
Scott Ellis for She Loves Me
Thomas Kall for Hamilton
George C. Wolfe for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Andy Blankenbuehler for Hamilton
Savion Glover for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Hofesh Shechter for Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner for Dames at Sea
Sergio Trujillo for On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan
August Eriksmoen for Bright Star
Larry Hochman for She Loves Me
Alex Lacamoire for Hamilton
Daryl Waters for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
See the full list of musical and play nominees here. James Corden of "The Late Late Show" will host this year's Tony Awards, airing on CBS on June 12 at 8/7 central.