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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Filichia names "The Comeback Player of the Year" and doles out other baseball-themed encomiums to this theater season's notables. logo
Christina Applegate
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
It was a good season, without a doubt -- although it was a better season with Doubt. It was a season where we saw Dracula bite, Tom and Amanda Wingfield fight, and a car take flight like a kite. The Pillowman gave us a fright, the piazza gave us a light, and Spamalot gave us many a knight. We sympathized with Charity's plight, and learned from Democracy that might doesn't always make right. We met William Barfee, who was not only quite a sight, but was also quite bright. We saw Marc Antony incite, Chad excite, George and Martha get tight, Twelve Angry Men unite, and Jo March write. Finally, Natasha Richardson played White -- or, as they say in France, Blanche.

We now know how the Tonys turned out and what were judged the Best Play, Musical, and Revivals, not to mention the Best Performers, Directors, etc. But aren't we all a little bored by these same old "Best" categories after all these years? How about, just for a change, giving out prizes as they're given out in sports?

If we used football as a model, we'd have to award Most Face Masks to The Phantom of the Opera for the 18th year in a row. If we instead opted for basketball's prizes, Most Foul Shots would go to the characters in Glengarry Glen Ross, who foul each other with cheap shots virtually every minute of the play. If we used hockey as our inspiration --well, we wouldn't give out any Bests at all, for major league hockey was on strike this entire past season. (Oh, didn't you know? Don't feel bad. According to many polls, most Americans weren't aware that hockey teams weren't playing. That's how much into hockey we are. But why would we be, considering that we have Broadway to occupy our hearts and mind?)

Anyway, because we're right now in the middle of the baseball season, let's use that sport as our model. Christina Applegate was not only the Comeback Player of the Year but also the season's Most Valuable Player. For one thing, she made a strong debut in a role in which she is barely ever offstage. For another, she saved the show (and plenty of jobs) by rallying the finances after the nominal producers closed it in Boston. But, most of all, I was astonished at how Applegate could possibly do the role after breaking her foot. How did she dare to fall into the orchestra pit in the first scene, survive a fall when Vittorio Vidal knocks her on her tush, and then stomp steps worthy of a flamenco dancer when he goes to get her a present? At any moment, I expected her to hit the floor and crawl to Daddy (or Oscar or Herman), but she never needed to. So, when Nickie asked her, "But baby, what can you do?" I wanted to stop the show and detail all the things that Applegate was doing.

Sweet Charity gets two other awards: The Most Effective Pinch Hitter was, of course, Charlotte D'Amboise, who kept the home fires sizzling while Applegate sat on the bench. Secondly, the show amassed the Most Singles thanks to its 12 unmarried misses in the Fandango Ballroom, including Charity herself. But Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? had the Most Doubles and Most Triples because of all the drinking that George, Martha, Nick and Honey do in the nearly three-hour marathon. Billy Crystal, though, had the Most Home Runs, as he went home for hundreds of performances over his 700 Sundays.

A triple play is rare in baseball; often, six or seven months out of every year go by without a single one. But the 2004-2005 theater season had one, thanks to The Apple Tree at Encores! In each of these three one-act musicals, Kristin Chenoweth was a delight, Malcolm Gets was most appealing, and Michael Cerveris was better in his three roles than the original performer was in 1966.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels had the Most Steals: 50,000. I won't tell you who made them, just in case you haven't seen the show (which you must). And who had the Most Saves? Presumably, the Times Square Church, which is included here because it was once a Broadway house -- and I still hope that it will be again. Hard for me to believe that it's been closed to theatrical use for more than 16 years now and that most young musical theater enthusiasts never have had the pleasure of seeing a show there.

The Longest Hit Streak was a tie between The Roundabout Theatre, which has scored at least one Best Revival nomination or win for the past five years, and producer Carole Shorenstein Hays, who has snagged a Best Play and/or Best Musical Tony nomination (and occasional win) each year since 2001. Let's also name Hays Manager of the Year, for her name was above the title on half of the Best Play Tony nominees -- both Doubt and Gem of the Ocean. And we wouldn't have seen the latter show at all had she not suddenly come to the rescue.

The Golden Glove Award goes to Dame Edna Everage, for those lovely gold lamé gloves she wore in the second act. Jackie Mason had the Most Walks. Granted, his incessant struts across the stage weren't as lengthy as when he played in bigger Broadway theaters. But even though he's now in the street's smallest -- the Helen Hayes -- he still winds up as champ for the sheer number of walks that he's taken.

Good Vibrations didn't get any award nominations along the way but it gets one award here, for Best ERA. It wins because, of all this year's Broadway productions, it took us back to the sunniest, happiest era. On the other hand, Richard Dresser, the show's book writer, could be said to have made the Most Errors in a Single Season. The Most Strikeouts were amassed by the The Belasco Theatre, for both of its tenants this season -- Dracula and Julius Caesar -- received no Tony nominations at all.

Most Times Caught Stealing was Shelly Levene, who's been nabbed eight times a week for the past couple of months in Glengarry Glen Ross. The Most Fly Outs were tallied by the car known as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has flown out from the stage twice per night (and each matinee) since late March. La Cage aux Folles had the Most Put-Outs: Jean-Michel wanted Albin put out of his house, the kid's insensitivity made Albin feel put out, and Daniel Davis was put out in a completely different way.

As for the Most Left on Base statistic, this was a tie among the many actors who leave the theater without bothering to first remove their makeup.


[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at [email protected]]

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