The 2002-2003 Restie Awards
Filichia bestows his coveted Restie Awards upon the shows and actors who've been overlooked this season.
As I don't need to tell you, the esteemed Restie Awards acknowledge the rest of the people who did fine work during the season but were shut out from nominations by the four aforementioned award committees. The Restie nominating committee, of which I am a proud member, insists on acknowledging these other worthies. We know that some didn't make the cut because they had the misfortune to play during a season in which there was an embarrassment of riches. Had their shows opened a year earlier or later, they might very well have been nominated for -- and might have even won -- a Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and/or Lucille Lortel Award.
And so, this Friday night, the coveted Resties will be bestowed at a restaurant (as always). When I called Nathan Lane to be a presenter this year, he quipped, "Why are the Resties always in a restaurant? Why not a rest home for once?" I joked that we'd take his suggestion under advisement but, at least for this year, the Resties will fittingly rest in the Resto Leon restaurant on 12th Street. If you'd like to attend the ceremony, call 212-555-5555.
Every year, thousands upon thousands of readers beg me to predict the results of the Resties. I imagine that on Friday night, the Best New Play prize will go to Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden and that its cast will receive a Best Ensemble Award, too. All right, the Tonys are off the hook for neglecting these two plays, since they ran Off-Broadway. But should a cast that had to perform two shows simultaneously -- running off-stage from one to appear immediately in the other and then back again -- not be acknowledged by the other awards organizations as a Unique Theatrical Achievement?
The Best New Musical will be The Alchemists, currently running at Theatre for the New City. Julie Andrews, who was egregiously overlooked for her performance in The Boy Friend by everyone except the Resties, will present. And won't it be a thrill for The Alchemists' composer-lyricist, Peter Mills, to win for Best Score and get his Restie from Stephen Sondheim, the 1963 winner for his score to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum? I hope that Sondheim mentions not only Mills's astonishing talent but also the young man's achievement in writing a drawing room musical set in England in the early 1800s and doing it in a classical musical theater style, never resorting to anachronistic pop opera histrionics.
The Best Play Revival will be The Winter's Tale, Barry Edelstein's swan song at Classic Stage Company. And which show will get the Restie for Best Musical Revival? The Boys from Syracuse? Flower Drum Song? No, Merrily We Roll Along will win, thanks to its galvanic benefit performance last September 30. Granted, it was a one-night-only affair, but not a day went by this season that the Restie nominators didn't think of it, so we just had to make it eligible. Kathleen Marshall will also win for giving the show the season's Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography. I was so sure Merrily would win all of these that I tabbed Hal Prince, who won the Best Musical Restie in 1982 for the original production, to present all three trophies.
Best Featured Actor in a Play will be Johnathan F. McClain of The Last Sunday in June for his sensitive, honest portrayal of a partner in a gay marriage who finds out that his beloved has been cheating on him. Best Featured Actress in a Play will be Ana Gasteyer, who in Kimberly Akimbo played the ne'er-do-well relative who blithely tore a U.S. Postal Service mailbox off its moorings and dragged the thing into her sister's house, pooh-poohing every objection. Gasteyer will just beat out Fiana Toibin, Cathleen of Long Day's Journey into Night, the only performer to not be nominated from that revival. But Toibin will be overheard to say, "Hell, I'd even play the maid to be in that show!"
The Restie for Best Actor in a Musical -- bestowed by Jerry Herman, a 1975 winner for his score to Mack & Mabel -- will go Mark Linn-Baker of A Year with Frog and Toad. In his acceptance speech, Linn-Baker will express surprise that he won this Restie over Urban Cowboy's Matt Cavanaugh because, Linn-Baker will say, "He gave the show the shirt off his back. And front."
The Best Actress in a Musical Restie will go to Sandra Allen of Flower Drum Song. Angela Lansbury, the 1964 Restie Best Actress in a Musical winner for Anyone Can Whistle, will present it while quipping, "This award is enough to make me finally make 'the visit' I've been promising Broadway for a while." Nathan Lane -- a Best Featured Actor Restie winner in 1983 for his performance in Merlin -- will present the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award to Frank Vlastnik, the delightful Snail with the Mail in A Year with Frog and Toad. Nice guys may finish last, but nice snails finish first. Lane, by the way, will joke that, "Next season, I'm going to both star in and direct an ancient Greek classic, so I'll expect two Resties for my Orestes."
But I'm really looking forward to the end of the show, when all the presenters will sing to this year's Restie winners and nominees, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" The Legrand-Bergman song will be fit with new lyrics (thank you, Alan and Marilyn) that reflect the essence of the Resties: To be denied a nomination when you deserve one is a strange and almost necessary rite of theatrical passage. Fortunately, this year's Restie winners and nominees are so talented that I'm sure they'll have many future shots at real nominations and awards.