I was hoping for a miracle tonight. I was hoping that when the moment came to name 2015’s Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical, the Tony Award would go to “Alison” and three names will be announced rather than one: Sydney Lucas as “Pennsylvania Alison” (~ age 14), Emily Skeggs as “Ohio Alison” (~ age 18), and Beth Malone as Adult Alison = “Alison-the-Artist.”
I knew it wouldn’t happen & it didn’t. And isn’t that a shame 🙁
Click HERE to see the list of the 5 Fun Home Tony Wins (including Best Musical of 2015). Hooray for one & all!!!
6/6/15: Fun Home & the 2015 Tony Nominations (JLH)
I respect rules because I know civil society can’t function without rules. So I do my best to “play by the rules” even when I think they are ridiculous, and even when I am certain the rules are rigged because the system has been gamed by the powers-that-be.
But I also believe in the old adage (often attributed to General Douglas MacArthur): “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”
So I am hoping for a miracle tomorrow night. I am hoping that when the moment comes to name 2015’s Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical, the Tony Award will go to “Alison” and three names will be announced rather than one: Sydney Lucas as “Pennsylvania Alison” (~ age 14), Emily Skeggs as “Ohio Alison” (~ age 18), and Beth Malone as Adult Alison = “Alison-the-Artist.”
Now I know this is impossible because the Tony Rules specify only one candidate per category, but my point is that this rule has resulted in a preposterous set of 2015 choices. Beth Malone (Adult Alison) has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical even though she has no big musical numbers, and Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs have both been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, thereby competing with one other and cancelling out any potential recognition for Judy Kuhn as Alison’s mother “Helen” (who has also been nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical category).
The probable outcome is absurd: None of the female characters in Fun Home is likely to receive a Tony Award on June 7, 2105, but Michael Cerveris will almost certainly receive a Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role in a Musical as Alison’s father “Bruce.” Don’t get me wrong, Cerveris is wonderful and totally deserving. But this is Alison’s story and for “Alison” herself–the Alison who is the creator of The Bechdel Test, the Alison who just won a MacArthur Genius Award–for this Alison to go unrecognized in the acting category is an outcome only “the lazy” can tolerate!
I am undoubtedly sensitive on this point because of my role in the Slumdog Millionaire Brouhaha. Long before I knew there would be a “brouhaha,” I wrote a review of Slumdog Millionaire in which I said this: “Slumdog Millionaire rests on the shoulders of the nine young actors who play Jamal and his two fellow ‘musketeers’ at various ages, and co-directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan do a dazzling job of completely individuating them through a complicated series of often heart-breaking adventures.”
Later, once the Brouhaha became international news, I even said that I was supporting Loveleen Tandan’s right to be a Best Director candidate precisely because convincing the audience that these nine actors were playing three coherent characters was the greatest accomplishment–and the best special effect–of this whole wonderful film.
But when the time for nominations arrived, Loveleen Tandan–who had been co-director during the production phase, and co-director during the marketing phase–was suddenly an “invisible woman.” Why? Because AMPAS–the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences–has a rule: only one candidate per category. So Danny Boyle–and only Danny Boyle–was named Best Director at the 2009 Oscars… And so it goes… At least I–and those who fought with me–had the consolation of seeing Loveleen Tandan on the platform…
In the heat of battle, when every guy and his brother sent a message mansplaining the One Candidate Rule (as if my problem was that I didn’t know the rule versus I simply didn’t buy into it), I kept asking them about the Coen Brothers. Hadn’t the Coen Brothers won an Oscar together for No Country for Old Men (which came out before Slumdog Millionaire)…? Yes! And then they were nominated again–together–for True Grit (which came out after Slumdog Millionaire). Aha!
Apparently AMPAS had no trouble breaking the rules in the case of the Coen Brothers. AMPAS didn’t take the lazy route in the case of the Coen Brothers. Why not? Because it would have been absurd… Just as absurd as it was to pit “Thelma” against “Louise” for a groundbreaking movie called–d’uh–Thelma & Louise!!! (Be honest now, regardless of who got their Oscars when, where & how, we all know Gena Davis and Susan Sarandon will always be defined by their roles as “Thelma” and “Louise.” Am I the only one wondering why male-dominated organizations–like AMPAS–find it easier to bend the rules for men than for women?)
And then later, guess what: I found out that twice before AMPAS had waived the rules in the Best Director case. In 1962, AMPAS awarded Best Director Oscars to both Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise for West Side Story in 1962 (even though producer Walter Mirisch had fired Robbins during the production phase). And in 1979, they nominated both Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Best Director for Heaven Can Wait (something not quite so easy to understand).
So I am on my knees once again, begging the powers-that-be who control the Tony Awards to give their 2015 Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical to “Alison x 3” because it’s the right thing to do.
Good luck tonight to the whole Fun Home team, and all those who have received individual nominations in additional categories including Lisa Kron (Best Book of a Musical & Best Lyrics), Jeanine Tesori (Best Original Score-Music), David Zinn (Best Scenic Design of a Musical), Ben Stanton (Best Lighting Design of a Musical), Sam Gold (Best Direction of a Musical), and John Clancy (Best Orchestrations).
50 years ago at the 1965 Tony Awards, Fiddler on the Roof crossed over from Broadway hit to Historical Phenomenon. There can be no greater tribute to Jerome Robbins than to honor Fun Home tonight as Best Musical of 2015. Right? Of course right!!!
(No, this is not a non sequitor. As the author of Tevye’s Daughters: No Laughing Matter, I have a right and a responsibility to make this specific connection.)
Q: Does Fun Home pass The Bechdel Test? You betcha 🙂
© Jan Lisa Huttner FF2 Media (6/6/15)
Top Photo: Beth Malone as “Adult Alison” = “Alison-the-Artist.”
Middle Photo #1: Beth Malone with Sydney Lucas as “Pennsylvania Alison” (age 14).
Middle Photo #2: Beth Malone with Emily Skeggs as “Ohio Alison” (age 18).
Bottom Photo: The Three Alisons transform before our eyes into the amazing artist who gave us The Bechdel Test… and so much more!
Photo Credits: Joan Marcus for the Fun Home pres kit. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Click HERE for Alison Bechdel’s Wikipedia page.
Click HERE for the Fun Home Broadway Website.
Click HERE for the Fun Home page on IBDB (the Internet Broadway Database).