Next up in our category-by-category breakdown is Best Choreography. The nominees for this year are as follows, along with their overall and tech Curtain Critic scores. The “tech” score incorporates all design elements of the show mentioned in reviews, including scenic design.
- Rob Ashford, Evita. Overall: 65, Tech: 88.
- Christopher Gattelli, Newsies. Overall: 76, Tech: 83.
- Steven Hoggett, Once. Overall: 89, Tech: 96.
- Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It. Overall: 69, Tech: 75.
Who will take home the prize?
Evita’s technical aspects are some of the primary things that appealed to the majority of critics. They’re featured as a highlight in most reviews. AM New York writes, ”Grandage’s accomplished production, which features Rob Ashford’s stylish choreography, a beautiful two-story courtyard set design and truly spectacular costumes, has the potential to be a dynamic crowd-pleaser, but is seriously compromised by the casting.” Still, those in favor of the “traditional” choreography of Broadway musicals are unlikely to choose Evita, as they will probably opt for Newsies, making this an unlikely winner.
Newsies, the Disney hit, is a vibrant array of jumping newsboys showing off their gymnastic skills. AM New York discusses “the absolutely incredible young males in the cast do back-flips and audacious balletic spins, tap-dance on bar tables and shuffle with sheets of newspaper under their feet.”It’s definitely a dancing show, featuring some contestants from So You Think You Can Dance. Newsies is energetic, to say the least, but it’s dancing works with its upbeat score. Theatermania emphasizes how ”The production, directed with panache by Jeff Calhoun, bursts with a richly melodic score from Alan Menken and Jeff Feldman, and boasts some of the most energetic and cleverly conceived dancing on Broadway right now from choreographer Christopher Gattelli.”
The beautiful and subdued choreography of Once is labeled “movement”, as it features very little “traditional Broadway” dancing. That does not lessen Stephen Hogget’s incredible feat, as he has created some of the most subtle, beautiful movement since Spring Awakening (which critics frequently cited in their reviews of Once). According to The New York Times, Steve Kazee, Once’s leading man feared that the musical would turn into a dance show, as “he loved the 2006 Irish movie on which the musical was based and feared that its gently told story would be tricked out with splashy dance numbers.” His fears did not come to fruition, as the movement was a highlight for most critics, in its stunning simplicity that evoked the beauty of this love story. According to the Times, “Sometimes Mr. Hoggett sends his performers into spirited hoedowns, featuring amiably dueling violinists and dancing on tables. More often they move with calculated tentativeness, in reaching gestures that summon infinite, thwarted longing. A number performed by Ms. Milioti in this vein, ‘If You Want Me’ — sung with Erikka Walsh and Elizabeth A. Davis — is a gentle knockout; so is the first-act curtain number led by Mr. Kazee.”
Nice Work If You Can Get It is helmed by the famed Kathleen Marshall and while this musical wasn’t necessarily a huge hit with the critics, the dancing was praised. Known for her current Broadway knockout, Anything Goes, Marshall had to live up to the expectations of her acclaimed revival. According to The Huffington Post, she succeeded, as they state, “Marshall, who grabbed the 2011 Tony for her choreography in the sparkling revival of Anything Goes, keeps the entire cast on their toes in a series of dance routines are as exhausting, literally in a couple of numbers, as they are brilliant.”
So, who will win the big prize? We’re going to go with Newsies, although this is a tough one to call. Will TONY voters be enchanted by the simple, yet powerfully evocative movement of Once, or will they be energized by the strong leaps of the Newsies boys? This brings in the age-old question of tradition versus experiment, as Broadway constantly redefines itself between the old and the new. We’ll just have to wait and see!