2024 Tony Awards: ‘Stereophonic’ is the top winner

June 16, 2024

by Carla Hay

Team members from “Stereophonic” at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on June 16 , 2024.(Photo by Mary Kouw/CBS)

With five awards, including Best Play, “Stereophonic” (about a fictional rock band in the 1970s) was the top winner at the 77th annual Tony Awards, which were presented on June 16, 2024, at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Ariana DeBose hosted the Tony Awards for the third consecutive year. The ceremony was telecast in the U.S. on CBS and livestreamed on Paramount+ With Showtime.

According to a Tony Awards press release: “The nominees were selected by an independent committee of 44 theatre professionals appointed by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. The 2024 Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.”

“The Outsiders” (based on S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel about feuding young gangs) won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “Merrily We Roll Along” (about a close friendship between two men and a woman) also won four Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical.

“Hell’s Kitchen” (a musical with songs by Alicia Keys and based on her youth in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood) and “Stereophonic” had the most nominations (13) going into the ceremony. “Hell’s Kitchen” won two Tony Awards: Maleah Joi Moon got the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, while Kecia Lewis was awarded Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.

Musical performances included those from the casts of “Hell’s Kitchen” (featuring a surprise appearance by Keys and Jay-Z, who performed their hit “Empire State of Mind” at the end of a medley); “The Who’s Tommy”; “Merrily We Roll Along”; “Water for Elephants”;
“Illinoise”; “Stereophonic”; “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club”; “Suffs”; and “The Outsiders.”

Nicole Scherzinger performed “What I Did for Love” for the In Memoriam segment. Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Audra McDonald and Tony Awards host DeBose were also a special tribute to Chita Rivera, who died at age 91 on January 30, 2024.

The Tony Awards also had prizes in non-competitive categories, where the recipients were announced weeks in advance of the show. These awards were given during the non-televised portion of the ceremony. The Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre went to Jack O’Brien and George C. Wolfe. Special Tony Awards were given to Abe Jacob, Alex Edelman and Nikiya Mathis. The recipients for the Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre were Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Dramatists Guild Foundation, Judith O. Rubin, the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts, Wendall K. Harrington and the Wilma Theater.

Presenters at the ceremony were Taraji P. Henson, Danai Gurira, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Pete Townshend, Taylor Tomlinson, Wendell Pierce, Ashley Park, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Patrick Wilson, Anthony Ramos, Ben Platt, Julianne Hough, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, Jim Parsons, Tamara Tunie, Nate Burleson, Solomon Thomas, Jeffrey Wright, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Hudson, Sean Hayes, Brooke Shields, Nick Jonas, Adrienne Warren, Cynthia Erivo and Idina Menzel.

Here is the complete list of nominations and winners for the competitive categories at the 2024 Tony Awards:

* = winner

Best Play

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Author: Jocelyn Bioh
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings, Madison Wells Live, LaChanze, Taraji P. Henson

Mary Jane

Author: Amy Herzog
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings

Mother Play

Author: Paula Vogel
Producers: Second Stage Theater, Carole Rothman, Lisa Lawer Post, Salman and Vienn Al-Rashid, Courtney Lederer and Mark Thierfelder, Jerry and Roz Meyer, Alix L.L. Ritchie, Jayne Baron Sherman

Prayer for the French Republic

Author: Joshua Harmon
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings

Stereophonic*

Author: David Adjmi
Producers: Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Seaview, Sonia Friedman Productions, Linden Productions, Ashley Melone, Nick Mills, Jillian Robbins, Stella La Rue, Alex Levy & David Aron, Dori Berinstein, James Bolosh, Burnt Umber Productions, The Cohn Sisters, Cathy Dantchik, Alexander R. Donnelly, Emerald Drive, Federman Koenigsberg, Dann Fink, Ruth Hendel, Larry Hirschhorn, Jenen Rubin, John Gore Organization, Willette & Manny Klausner, LAMF Protozoa, Katrina McCann, Stephanie P. McClelland, No Guarantees, Marissa Palley & Daniel Aron, Anna Schafer, Soto Namoff Productions, Sean Walsh, Bruce & Peggy Wanta, Hillary Wyatt, deRoy Howard, Winkler & Smalberg, 42nd.club, Craig Balsam, Concord Theatricals, Creative Partners Productions, Jonathan Demar, Douglas Denoff, DJD Productions, Echo Lake Entertainment, Faliro House, FilmNation Entertainment, Roy Gabay, GFour Productions, Candy Kosow Gold, Wes Grantom, Rachel Bendit & Mark Bernstein, Playwrights Horizons, Adam Greenfield, Leslie Marcus, Carol Fishman

Best Musical

Hell’s Kitchen

Producers: AK Worldwide Media, Inc., Roc Nation, DML Productions, Mandy Hackett, The Sunshine Group, Julie Yorn, The Jacobs Family, No Guarantees Productions, Front Row Productions, Sharpton Swindal Productions, Grove Entertainment, The Jaime Family, John Gore Organization, Terria Joseph, Andy Nahas, James L. Nederlander, Candy Spelling, Clara Wu Tsai, Universal Music Publishing, Independent Presenters Network, Della Pietra Spark Theatricals, Today Tix ARGU, Score 3 Partners, Aaron Lustbader, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

Illinoise

Producers: Orin Wolf, Seaview, John Styles, David Binder, Emily Blavatnik, Susan Rose, ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann, David F. Schwartz, Patrick Catullo, Jon B. Platt, Diamond & Melvin, Nelson & Tao, Ruth Hendel, Elysabeth Kleinhans, Ted & Mary Jo Shen, Putnam & Thau, Chase & F.K.R., GJJJM Productions, Steve & Leticia Trauber, Tim Forbes, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, Park Avenue Armory, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Nate Koch, TT Partners, Fisher Center at Bard

The Outsiders*

Producers: The Araca Group, American Zoetrope, Olympus Theatricals, Sue Gilad & Larry Rogowsky, Angelina Jolie, Betsy Dollinger, Jonathan & Michelle Clay, Cristina Marie Vivenzio, The Shubert Organization, LaChanze & Marylee Fairbanks, Debra Martin Chase, Sony Music Masterworks, Jamestown Revival Theater, Jennifer & Jonathan Allan Soros, Tanninger Entertainment, Tamlyn Brooke Shusterman, Geffen Playhouse/Howard Tenenbaum/Linda B. Rubin, Kevin Ryan, Mistry Theatrical Ventures, Galt & Irvin Productions, Tulsa Clarks, Paul & Margaret Liljenquist, Bob & Claire Patterson, Voltron Global Media, James L. Nederlander, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, The John Gore Organization, Independent Presenters Network, Stephen Lindsay & Brett Sirota, Jeffrey Finn, Playhouse Square, Sue Marks, Indelible InK, Lionheart Productions, The Broadway Investor’s Club, Starhawk Productions, Distant Rumble, Green Leaf Partnership, Michael & Elizabeth Venuti, Leslie Kavanaugh, Deborah & Dave Smith, Belle Productions, Chas & Jen Grossman, Miranda & Sahra Esmonde-White, Rungnapa & Jim Teague, Michael & Molly Schroeder, Casey & Chelsea Baugh, James L. Flautt, Jon L. Morris, Becky Winkler, William Moran Hickey, Jr. & William Horan Hickey, III, Oddly Specific Productions, Melissa Chamberlain & Michael McCartney, Rachel Weinstein, Wavelength Productions, Rob O’Neill & Shane Snow, Eric Stine, Cornice Productions, La Jolla Playhouse

Suffs

Producers: Jill Furman, Rachel Sussman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Roy Furman, Allison Rubler, Cue to Cue Productions, Sandy Robertson, Kevin Ryan & Diane Scott Carter, Renee Ring & Paul Zofnass, Walport Productions, Judith Teel Davis & Joe Carroll, Tom D’Angora & Michael D’Angora, Louise Gund, Erica Lynn Schwartz, Stone Arch Theatricals/Mayer Productions, Xan Weiser/Matters of the Art, Nothing Ventured Productions, Christin Brecher, Chutzpah Productions, Morgan Steward, 16 Sunset Productions, The Broadway Investor’s Club, Ari Conte, Rose Maxi, Jennifer Friedland, David Carroll, Julie E. Cohen, The Garelicks, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Meena Harris, John Gore Organization, Laura Lonergan, Sally Martin, Peter May, The Mehiels, Nederlander Presentations, Brian Spector, Candy Spelling, Ed Walson, Zuckerberg/Segal, Needle Productions/Oddly Specific Productions, Alissandra Aronow/Wandi Productions, Craig Balsam/Jennifer Kroman, Burkhardt Jones Productions/Adam Cohen, Vibecke Dahle Dellapolla/Samantha Squeri, Funroe Productions/Kim Khoury, Sheri Clark Henriksen/Robert Tichio, Michelle Noh/Todd B. Rubin, Nick Padgett/Vasi Laurence, Seaview/Level Forward, Sixpoint Productions/Theatre Nerd Productions, Stanley S. Shuman/Marcie Orley, Soto Productions/The Cohn Sisters, Theatre Producers of Color, The Shubert Organization, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

Water for Elephants

Producers: Peter Schneider, Jennifer Costello, Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, Seth A. Goldstein, Jane Bergère, Elizabeth Armstrong, Jason M. Brady, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Erica Rotstein & Crista Marie Jackson, Jana Bezdek & Jen Hoguet, John H. Tyson, Rich Entertainment Group, Jeremiah J. Harris, John Gore Organization, Jeff & Shannon Fallick, Patti & Mike Sullivan, Rodney Rigby, Larry Lelli, Bonnie Feld, Yonge Street Theatricals, Larry J. Kroll, The Shubert Organization, Nederlander Presentations, Nancy Gibbs, Jack Lane, Amy & PJ Lampi, Gwen Arment & Vasi Laurence, Mark Parkman Fairview Productions, Nothing Ventured Productions, Pam Hurst-Della Pietra & Stephen Pietra, Steven Spielberg & Kate Capshaw, The Glasshouse USA, Willette & Manny Klausner, John Paterakis, Hope Tschopik Schneider, Patty Baker, The Burcaws & Q’d Up Productions, Crescent Road, Cynthia Stroum, Sally Jacobs & Warren Baker, Tawnia Knox & Stuart Snyder, Madison Wells Live & Takonkiet Viravan, Terry H. Morgenthaler, Pamela Moschetti, Gabrielle Palitz & Fahs Productions, The Roehl Family & Chema Verduzco, Shapiro Jensen Schroeder, Tre Amici Productions, We Eat Dreams Productions, Rachel Weinstein, Maik Klokow, Margot Astrachan, Mehr-BB Entertainment

Best Revival of a Play

Appropriate*

Author: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Producers: Second Stage Theater, Carole Rothman, Lisa Lawer Post, Ambassador Theatre Group, Amanda Dubois, Annapurna Theatre, Bad Robot Live

An Enemy of the People

New Version: Amy Herzog
Producers: Seaview, Patrick Catullo, Plan B, Roth-Manella Productions, Eric & Marsi Gardiner, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, Jon B. Platt, Atekwana Hutton, Bob Boyett, Chris & Ashlee Clarke, Cohen-Demar Productions, Andrew Diamond, GI6 Productions, Sony Music Masterworks, Triptyk Studios, Trunfio Ryan, Kate Cannova, DJL Productions

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Leslie Odom, Jr., Louise Gund, Bob Boyett, Curt Cronin, John Joseph, Willette and Manny Klausner, Brenda Boone, Salman Moudhy Al-Rashid, Creative Partners Productions, Irene Gandy, Kayla Greenspan, Mark and David Golub Productions, Kenny Leon, John Gore Organization, W3 Productions, Morwin Schmookler, Van Kaplan, Ken Greiner, Patrick W. Jones, Nicolette Robinson, National Black Theatre, Alan Alda, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kerry Washington, The Shubert Organization

Best Revival of a Musical

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Producers: ATG Productions, Underbelly, Gavin Kalin Productions, Hunter Arnold, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Wessex Grove, Julie Boardman, Tom Smedes, Peter Stern, Heather Shields, Caiola Productions, Kate Cannova, Adam Blanshay Productions & Nicolas Talar, Aleri Entertainment, Alex Levy Productions, Bunny Rabbit Productions, D’Angora Padgett Productions, Cyrene Esposito, David Treatman, Eddie Redmayne, The Array IV, Bad Robot Live, BlueJay Productions, Grace Street Creative Group, Iocane Productions, Jim Kierstead, Marco Santarelli, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, George Waud, Yonge Street Theatricals, Federman Koenigsberg Productions/Sara Beth Zivitz, Tina Marie Casamento/Jennifer Johns, M. Kilburg Reedy/Tilman Kemmler, Greenspan Proffer/Kat Kit 4, Patty Baker/Matthew Christopher Pietras, Broadway Strategic Return Fund/Red Mountain Theatre Company, Evan Coles/The Cohn Sisters, Nolan Doran/Fakston Productions, Epic Theatricals/Jeffrey Grove, Jessica Goldman Foung/Andrew Paradis, William Frisbie Tilted Marguerite Steed Hoffman/Willette & Manny Klausner, Vasi Laurence/Stephen C Byrd, Brian & Dayna Lee/City Cowboy Productions, Maybe This Time/3D Productions, Nothing Ventured Productions/Theatre Producers of Color, Perfectly Marvelous/Catherine Schreiber & Co, Second Act/Freedom Theatricals, SSP Holdings/Todd & Bronwyn Bradley, Two Ladies/Nicole Eisenberg, Ilana Waldenberg/W Stage Productions, The Wolf Pack/Burnt Umber Productions, The Shubert Organization

Gutenberg! The Musical!

Producers: Ambassador Theatre Group, Patrick Catullo, Bad Robot Live, Seth A. Goldstein, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, Runyonland Productions, Elizabeth Armstrong, Timothy Bloom, Larry Lelli, Alchemation, The Council, Crescent Road, Wendy Federman, Marcia Goldberg, Hariton deRoy, LD Entertainment, James L. Nederlander, Al Nocciolino, Spencer Ross, Independent Presenters Network, Medley Houlihan/Score 3 Partners, Tryptyk Studios/Iris Smith, Jonathan Demar/Griffin Dohr, Andrew Diamond/Alexander Donnelly, Futurehome Productions/Koenigsberg Subhedar, Roy Gabay/Nicole Eisenberg, Jessica R. Jenen/Linda B. Rubin, Daniel Powell/Amplify Pictures, Jeremy Wein/Walport Productions, Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Bee Carrozzini

Merrily We Roll Along*

Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, David Babani, Patrick Catullo, Jeff Romley, Debbie Bisno, Lang Entertainment Group, OHenry Productions, Winkler & Smalberg, Stephanie P. McClelland, Timothy Bloom, Creative Partners Productions, Eastern Standard Time, Fakston Productions, Marc David Levine, No Guarantees, Ted & Mary Jo Shen, Gilad Rogowsky, Playing Field, Key to the City Productions, Richard Batchelder/Trunfio Ryan, FineWomen Productions/Henry R. Muñoz, III, Thomas Swayne/Lamar Richardson, Abrams Corr/Mary Maggio, Osh Ashruf/Brenner-Ivey, Craig Balsam/PBL Productions, deRoy DiMauro Productions/Medley Houlihan, Andrew Diamond/Katler-Solomon Productions, Dodge Hall Productions/Carl Moellenberg, Friedman Simpson/Vernon Stuckelman, William Frisbie/J.J. Powell, Robert Greenblatt/Jonathan Littman, Cleveland O’Neal, III/Tom Tuft, Roth-Manella Productions/Seaview, New York Theatre Workshop

The Who’s Tommy

Producers: Stephen Gabriel, Ira Pittelman, Sue Gilad & Larry Rogowsky, Mary Maggio & Scott Abrams, Tom Tuft and Glenn Fuhrman, Batman Harris/Elliott Cornelious, Laura Matalon/Spencer Waller, Richard Winkler, Sheldon Stone, Firemused Productions/Stone Arch Theatricals, LeonoffFedermanWolosky Productions/Koenigsberg Batchelder, Roy Putrino/Narang Moran, Rich Martino, Aged in Wood/Lee Sachs, Paul and Margaret Liljenquist, R & R Productions, Marla McNally Phillips, Merrie Robin, O’Neill Snow, Work Light Productions, Nederlander Presentations, Independent Presenters Network, John Gore Organization, Palomino Performing Arts, Wavelength Productions, Robert Nederlander, Jr., Botwin Ignal Dawson, Jamie deRoy, Betsy Dollinger, Stacey Woolf Feinberg, Gold Weinstein, Tyce Green, Jenen Rubin, Jim Kierstead, Marco Santarelli, Nancy Timmers, Thomas B. McGrath, Olympus Theatricals, Goodman Theatre

Best Book of a Musical

Hell’s Kitchen

Kristoffer Diaz

The Notebook

Bekah Brunstetter

The Outsiders

Adam Rapp and Justin Levine

Suffs*

Shaina Taub

Water for Elephants

Rick Elice

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Days of Wine and Roses

Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel

Here Lies Love

Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
Lyrics: David Byrne

The Outsiders

Music & Lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Stereophonic

Music & Lyrics: Will Butler

Suffs*

Music & Lyrics: Shaina Taub

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People*
Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Jessica Lange, Mother Play
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
Sarah Paulson, Appropriate*
Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Brody Grant, The Outsiders
Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along*
Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Eden Espinosa, Lempicka
Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen*
Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Will Brill, Stereophonic*
Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
Jim Parsons, Mother Play
Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch*

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along*
Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
Amber Iman, Lempicka
Nikki M. James, Suffs
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen*
Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Scenic Design of a Play

dots, Appropriate
dots, An Enemy of the People
Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
David Zinn, Stereophonic*

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
David Korins, Here Lies Love
Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical
Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club*

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, Appropriate
Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding*
Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, An Enemy of the People

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby*
David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
Jane Cox, Appropriate*
Natasha Katz, Grey House

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants
Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders*

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Tom Gibbons, Grey House
Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate
Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic*

Best Sound Design of a Musical

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen
Cody Spencer, The Outsiders*

Best Direction of a Play

Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic*
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Best Direction of a Musical

Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
Leigh Silverman, Suffs
Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants
Danya Taymor, The Outsiders*

Best Choreography

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
Justin Peck, Illinoise*
Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Best Orchestrations

Timo Andres, Illinoise
Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen
Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along*

Review: ‘Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge,’ starring Diane von Furstenberg

June 7, 2024

by Carla Hay

Diane von Furstenberg in “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” (Photo courtesy of Hulu/Disney)

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge”

Directed by Trish Dalton and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Some language in French with subtitles

Culture Representation: The documentary film “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” features a predominantly white group of people (with a few black people and Asians) from the fashion and entertainment industries discussing the life and career of fashion designer/mogul Diane von Furstenberg.

Culture Clash: Diane von Furstenberg battled against sexism and antisemitism and became one of the few female owners of a major fashion company in the 1970s, but her complicated personal life has had a lot of chaos and heartbreak.

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Diane von Furstenberg fans, “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching documentaries about the fashion industry, celebrities and feminists who conquered a male-dominated field.

Diane von Furstenberg, Talita von Furstenberg and Morgan Hill in “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” (Photo courtesy of Hulu/Disney)

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” is a definitive visual biography about the trailblazing fashion designer/mogul Diane von Furstenberg, who is candid about her personal life and career. Her charisma and unconventionality make this very conventionally formatted documentary shine. Because she’s been open about many aspects of her life over the years (including her 2014 memoir “The Woman I Wanted to a Be”), there isn’t too much revealed about von Furstenberg in this movie that she hasn’t already revealed about herself. However, von Furstenberg’s hindsight gives the documentary a richer perspective of her life, as she is equally comfortable discussing her past and her present, while looking ahead to her future.

Directed by Trish Dalton and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” had its world premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival. “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” is also the name of an installation that went on display in New York City in June 2024. The installation could be considered an extension of the documentary and vice versa,

The documentary begins by showing a 1980s clip from an interview that von Furstenberg did with David Letterman. In the interview, he’s somewhat condescending, as he tries to make it sound like von Furstenberg was a “one-hit wonder,” whose claim to fame was inventing the wrap dress and being previously married to a prince (Egon von Furstenberg). The rest of the the documentary shows that Diane was far from a one-hit wonder but has actually been a master of reinvention and staying relevant in fickle industries. And even though she was married to a prince, her life has been far from being like a fairy tale.

Born to Jewish parents on December 31, 1946, in Brussels, Belgium, her birth name was Diane Simone Michele Halfin. Her mother Liliane, also known as Lily, is discussed a lot in the documentary as Diane’s biggest life mentor, but von Furstenberg barely mentions her father. As a child of Holocaust survivors (Lily survived the notorious Auschwitz death camp), von Furstenberg said the Holocaust wasn’t discussed in her family, but she learned from her mother what would become a lifelong motto about survival: “Fear is not an option.”

In the documentary, von Furstenberg (who is an only child) talks about how her mother was told by doctors that her child wouldn’t live. In a sense, von Furstenberg’s entire life snce birth has been about beating the odds and defying people’s expectations. She says in the documentary that her mother taught her to be fearless and independent. “She wanted to equip me, in case I needed to live the way that she lived.” And that meant growing up fast.

Here parents’ marriage fell apart when Lily left the family to be with another man. Diane, who was a teenager at the time, was sent to live in a boarding school. In the documentary, Diane doesn’t express any bitterness about this family turmoil and says that being sent to boarding school was probably the best thing that could have happened to her during this time. It was at boarding school where Diane (who describes herself as sexually fluid) says she fell in love for the first time with a man and with a woman and had affairs with both sexes.

A recurring theme in the documentary is that Diane is someone who doesn’t like restrictions placed on her, whether these restrictions are traditional gender roles, monogamy or whatever she wants to do with her life. She has gotten pushback and criticism from some people for how she has lived. However, even with her constant battle to retain these personal freedoms, she has a tendency to want to escape or be in denial when life gets too difficult for her, by her own admission.

In the documentary, Diane describes her first husband Egon (a German prince), whom she married in 1969, as a magnetic charmer who swept her off of her feet in a passionate love affair. At the time, it was considered somewhat scandalous for this German prince to marry a middle-class Jewish woman. Diane also describes the antisemitism of Egon’s father, who would refer to Diane’s and Egon’s two children—Alexander (born in 1970) and Tatiana (born in 1971)—as the “little Jews.” Diane says when she was pregnant with Alexander, also known as Alex, she told her unborn child, “We’ll show them.”

Alex and Tatiana are both interviewed in the documentary. They describe their mother as not beng very attentive when they were children, but she taught them to be more independent than most kids their age. Tatiana says that Diane’s style of parenting can ether be considered “neglectful” or “free.” Diane admits that she was a very non-traditional mother whose was busy running a business and having a very active social life where her children were not necessarily her biggest priority, even though her love for them always existed. Lily has the main child caretaker of Alex and Tatiana. Diane also shares painful memories about Lily having a mental breakdown.

In the early 1970s, Diane says she and Egon (who was also openly bisexual) were living in New York City and were fully immersed in a celebrity lifestyle of parties and swinging in their open marriage. Diane describes Egon as being more promiscuous than she was and the reason why they separated in 1972 eventually got divorced in 1983. Egon died of AIDS in 2004, at age 57. In the documentary, the family’s devastation over his death is discussed by Diane, Egon and Tatiana.

Alex says in the documentary that it wasn’t unusual to see famous people spend the night. Diane doesn’t name drop a lot about who her famous lovers were, but she mentions that she slept with Ryan O’Neal and Warren Beatty separately on the same weekend. And she says that Mick Jagger and David Bowie propositioned her to have a threesome with them, but she turned down this offer.

Diane says of the end of her first marriage: “Divorce, for me, was freedom … I became the woman I wanted to be … I was the woman in charge.” Her split from Egon also coincided with the rise of Diane as a designer and a business mogul in the fashion industry during a period of time when it was highly unusual for a woman to be either or both.

The documentary retells the well-known stories behind the wrap dress (which Diane invented in 1974) and Diane’s meteoric rise in the fashion industry with her self-titled fashion brand, also known as DVF. Diane says she initially got the inspiration for the wrap dress from wrap blouses that ballerinas would wear. When Diane saw Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon wear a DVF wrap blouse over a skirt during the 1973 Watergate scandal, Diane got the idea to make a wrap dress. It became worldwide sensation and was popular because it looked like high fashion but was affordable.

And for someone who considers herself a fiercely independent feminist, a few close friends (such as writer Fran Lebowitz) say in the documentary that there have been periods in Diane’s life when Diane transformed herself to be more compatible with whichever man she was in a serious relationship with at the time. When Diane was married to Egon, she was the jetset and glamorous princess wife that she was expected to be.

Later, her photographer friend Peter Arnell says that when Diane was having problems with her business and her love life in the 1980s, she escaped from her problems by doing a lot of traveling. Her love affair with Italian writer Alain Elkann resulted in Diane dressing differently, by changing her wardrobe from her signature bright prints to more toned-down and conservative clothes that university intellectuals tend to wear. In her current phase, she has been part of a power couple since her love affair with billionaire entertainment mogul Barry Diller, who is interviewed in the documentary and whom Diane describes as her “soul mate.” Diane and Diller (who also identifies as sexually fluid) eloped in 2001, after meeting in the mid-1970s and being in an on-again/off-again romance since the 1980s.

Even though Diane preaches having a fearless attitude, she also expresses some vulnerability when she says that she doesn’t like going back to Brussels. “I feel really sad in Brussels,” she says. “Every time I come back, I feel small again.” She is vague about how she overcame business difficulties. (The closure of DVF stores in 2020 is not mentioned at all in the documentary.) However, she gives credit to good timing that wrap dresses became popular again in the 2000s.

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” has an eclectic mix of people interviewed. They include media mogul Oprah Winfrey, former U.S. first lady/politician Hillary Rodham Clinton, artist Anh Duong, model Karlie Kloss, Diane’s friend Olivier Gelbsman, former British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, makeup artist Gigi Williams, former Interview editor Bob Colacello, fashion designer Christian Louboutin, former DV creative director Nathan Jenden, author Linda Bird Franke, New York Times fashion writer Vanessa Friedman, “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” installation curator Nicolas Lor, “Diane von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped” author Gioia Diliberto, Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad, George Washington University international affairs professor Muqaddesa Yourish, spritual guru Deepak Chopra, TV host Seth Meyers, and Diane’s grandchildren Talita von Furstenberg, Tassilo von Furstenberg and Antonia Stenberg.

At an age when most people have retired, Diane says she has no intention of retiring anytime soon. In the documentary Close friends and family members describe her as having more energy than most people who are decades younger than Diane is. Unlike many people in the fashion/beauty industry, Diane also says she’s not afraid of being old.

There’s a scene early on in the movie where Diane climbs into a bathroom sink while she does her own makeup. She declares, “I do not understand why people do not embrace age. You shouldn’t say how old you are. You should say how long you have lived. If you take away wrinkles, you take away the map of your life. I don’t want to erase anything from life.”

in the documentary, Diane also says that her decision to sell her products on QVC, as of 1996, was one of the best business decisions she could’ve made—even though she got a lot of criticism for it by many people at the time who thought this QVC association would ruin the DVF brand. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for a designer with haute couture experience to partner with a low-priced retailer for business ventures. Diane’s ability to be relatable to the “1%” in high society and the rest of the “99%” of society has a lot to do with her longevity and popularity. “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” is a reflection of this wide appeal, since it’s a documentary that can be enjoyed for its celebration of the human spirit—regardless of how much or how little viewers care about fashion.

Hulu will premiere “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” on June 25, 2024.

Review: ‘Robot Dreams’ (2023), an emotionally moving, dialogue-free animated film about the friendship between a dog and a robot in 1980s New York City

June 3, 2024

by Carla Hay

A scene from “Robot Dreams” (Image courtesy of Neon)

“Robot Dreams”

Directed by Pablo Berger

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City sometime in the mid-1980s, the animated film “Robot Dreams” (based on Sara Varon’s graphic novel of the same name), features a cast of non-talking characters that are animals and a few robots.

Culture Clash: A lonely dog buys a robot, which becomes the dog’s best friend, but their friendship is tested when the dog and robot get separated from each other. 

Culture Audience: “Robot Dreams” will appeal primarily to people who are open to watching an unconventional animated film that has themes about friendship, love and loss.

A scene from “Robot Dreams” (Image courtesy of Neon)

“Robot Dreams” is a gem of a movie that is best appreciated by viewers who are open to watching an animated feature film with no dialogue. This is a charming and often emotionally moving story about a dog, a robot, and what happens to their friendship. It’s a simple story that packs many big wallops in how personally invested viewers can feel in finding out the story’s outcome.

Written and directed by Pablo Berger, “Robot Dreams” is based on Sara Varon’s 2007 graphic novel/comic book of the same name. “Robot Dreams” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and its North American premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. “Robot Dreams” was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film for the 2024 Academy Awards.

The movie takes place sometime in the mid-1980s in New York City, where a male canine character named Dog lives alone in his East Village apartment. It’s an alternate world where there are animals and no humans who live in New York City. The animals (wild and domesticated) act like humans, but they are not shown speaking.

Dog buys a robot companion, which he assembles himself. This robot, like most of the characters in the movie, does not have a name, but can be called Robot. Dog and his robot become inseparable friends in an adorable relationship. The robot is a quick learner, can express emotions, and can imitate almost anything that the robot sees someone else do.

Although there is no talking in “Robot Dreams,” there are creatures and things that make wordless sounds. Songs are also played in movie. The favorite song of Dog and his robot is Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 hit “September.”

On a Labor Day weekend, the two pals go to Coney Island and spend the day at the boardwalk and Ocean Beach. At the end of the day, the robot and Dog find out that the robot (which is lounging face up on a beach towel) has gotten rusty from the ocean water and can’t move.

The beach has become deserted, and Dog can’t move the robot on his own. Dog tries to drag the robot on the towel, but the robot is too heavy. The robot indicates with its eyes that Dog should go home for the night. The beach has also been closed, locked up, and won’t re-open until June 1 of the following year.

A large dog security guard forces Dog to leave. But Dog doesn’t want to leave his robot friend behind. Dog goes back to the beach the next day, and breaks off the locks on a gate, using bolt cutters that he bought at a hardware store. Unfortunately, Dog is caught by the security guard, who arrests Dog.

The rest of the movie shows what happens in the months that follow. There are unexpected twists and turns. Several other animals (including a cat, birds, an alligator and a monkey) are part of the story. Some of these animals make a difference in whether or not Dog will be reunited with his robot best friend. During this separation, the robot has fantasies about what it would be like to reunite with Dog.

“Robot Dreams” has superb sound design and a story rich in a myriad of experiences that will make viewers feel many emotions. What makes this movie exceptional is how it creates and develops empathetic characters with memorable personalities without using any verbal language for the characters. It’s a highly unique animated film that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

Neon released “Robot Dreams” in select U.S. cinemas on May 31, 2024. The movie was released in Spain and in France in December 2023.

Review: ‘Asphalt City,’ starring Sean Penn, Tye Sheridan, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Raquel Nave, Kali Reis, Michael Carmen Pitt, Katherine Waterston and Mike Tyson

May 19, 2024

by Carla Hay

Tye Sheridan in “Asphalt City” (Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions and Vertical)

“Asphalt City”

Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, the dramatic film “Asphalt City” (based on the novel “Black Flies”) features a racially diverse cast of characters (white, African American, Asian, Latin and multiracial) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A young rookie paramedic, who wants to eventually become a medical doctor, experiences harsh realities when he is paired with a middle-aged, jaded paramedic, as they work in a rough part of New York City. 

Culture Audience: “Asphalt City” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and can tolerate a movie that’s too long for its weak plot and is filled with formulaic stereotypes and scummy characters.

Sean Penn in “Asphalt City” (Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions and Vertical)

The long-winded “Asphalt City” clumsily mixes melodrama with long stretches of dullness. This turgid movie about two contrasting paramedic co-workers has a mismatched cast and an off-kilter story plagued with predictable clichés. This last third of “Asphalt City” (which has a total running time of 125 minutes) is very manipulative when it turns into a hollow soap opera that cannot be improved.

Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, “Asphalt City” (formerly titled “Black Flies”) is based on Shannon Burke’s 2008 novel “Black Flies.” Ryan King and Ben Mac Brown co-wrote the “Asphalt City” adapted screenplay. “Asphalt City” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, an event for movies that are either artsy or commercially crowd-pleasing. “Asphalt City” is neither.

“Asphalt City” takes place in New York City, where the movie was filmed on location. The movie has two main characters, but the story is told from the perspective of the younger character. Ollie Cross (played by Tye Sheridan) is in his mid-to-late 20s and has just started a new job as an ambulance paramedic for the Fire Department of New York. Ollie has been assigned to work with Gene Rutkovsky (played by Sean Penn), who is in his early 60s and is trying not think about getting close to the age when many people retire.

Ollie is inexperienced and eager to please. Gene is jaded and gruff. There have been so many movies and TV shows with this character dynamic of a young rookie paired with a cynical veteran. If you’ve seen enough of these types of duos on screen, then you can easily predict how this movie is going to go. In these types of stories, the younger person loses some type of innocence when spending time being taught by the older, more experienced person. The older colleague is usually “corrupt” or morally ambiguous in one way or another.

Ollie and Gene (who does most of the ambulance driving when they work together) work in the crime-ridden, low-income East New York neighborhood in New York City’s Brooklyn borough. Ollie is a bachelor who lives with two Chinese-speaking roommates in New York City’s Manhattan borough. Not much else is revealed about Ollie except that he’s originally from Colorado, and he’s studying for entrance exams for an unnamed medical school because he eventually wants to become a medical doctor.

Gene is divorced and lives alone in Brooklyn. Gene admits that his marriages have been ruined mainly because he’s a workaholic and a philanderer. Gene doesn’t say how many times he’s been married, but there’s a scene where he visits his “most recent ex-wife” Nancy (played by Katherine Waterston), who has custody of their daughter Silvie (played by Onie Maceo Watlington), who’s about 5 or 6 years old. Nancy doesn’t let Gene see Silvie until Gene has made the child support payments that he owes. In this scene, Gene brings Ollie along for this visit so that Gene can introduce Ollie to Sylvie, as if to prove that Gene is capable of being an attentive father.

Much of the screen time in “Asphalt City” consists of Ollie and Gene responding to medical emergencies. There are some scenes where people legitimately have to be taken to a hospital emergency room. Some of the violence in the movie is there for shock value, such as a scene where a boy at an apartment complex was hurt by a violent pit bull, and Ollie sees an angry mob of men take the dog outside while one of the men shoots and kills the dog.

Too many other paramedic scenes become annoying spectacles of Ollie and Gene dealing with mentally ill people who don’t need an ambulance but are just shouting and causing disturbances. These time-wasting filler scenes don’t add anything significant to the story at all. In between responding to these calls, Ollie and Gene have mostly forgettable conversations while they are driving in the ambulance.

Ollie begins casually dating a single mother named Clara (played by Raquel Nave), who met Ollie at a nightclub. Clara has an infant son and doesn’t talk about who the father of her baby is. Don’t expect to learn anything meaningful about Ollie or Clara in this relationship. The movie’s only purpose for this relationship is to show Ollie and Clara having sexual trysts, and Clara experiencing how the stress of Ollie’s job starts to affect him.

The co-workers of Ollie and Gene are two-dimensional characters if they have any speaking lines of dialogue. The boss of Ollie and Gene is Chief Burroughs (played by Mike Tyson), a typically no-nonsense supervisor. Tyson doesn’t embarrass himself in this role (mainly because his screen time in the movie is less than five minutes), but his acting skills are obviously not as good as many other people in the cast. A paramedic named Verdis (played by Gbenga Akinnagbe) is very generic and has no real effect on the movie’s overall plot.

There’s an obnoxious paramedic co-worker named Lafontaine (played by Michael Carmen Pitt, also known as Michael Pitt), who sometimes goes in the same ambulance as Ollie and Gene. Lafontaine is a drug-abusing bully who has no qualms about stealing medication and illegal drugs when he’s working. Predictably, Lafontaine makes newcomer Ollie a target for some of the bullying. Lafontaine is yet another empty “Asphalt City” character with no backstory and with dialogue that goes nowhere.

The movie doesn’t take a turn from repetitive and pointless scenes until the last third of the story, when Ollie and Gene respond to a call about an unconscious, HIV+ woman named Nia (played by Kali Reis), who has given birth in her apartment, shortly after she overdosed on heroin. What happens to the baby becomes a source of conflict and leads to a very heavy-handed part of the movie.

Sheridan and Penn are not bad in their performances, but their acting isn’t outstanding either. They have both played these types of personalities (Sheridan as an earnest protégé, Penn as a shady mentor) in many other movies, so there’s nothing new to see here. The movie’s supporting characters don’t have enough depth to be impactful. Ultimately, “Asphalt City” shows a lot of urban grittiness and sleaze, but the emotional core of the movie has no real substance.

Roadside Attractions and Vertical released “Asphalt City” in select U.S. cinemas on March 29, 2024. The move was released on digital and VOD on April 16, 2024.

Review: ‘The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed,’ starring  Scott Cohen, Babak Tafti, Joanna Arnow, Michael Cyril Creighton and Alysia Reiner

May 18, 2024

by Carla Hay

Babak Tafti and Joanna Arnow in “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

“The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed”

Directed by Joanna Arnow

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, the comedy/drama film “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Asians) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A gloomy and drab office worker, who is 33 years old and a submissive in her casual BDSM relationships, drifts from one day to the next until she starts dating a man who is interested in her for reasons beyond sex. 

Culture Audience: “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” will appeal primarily to people who can tolerate oddball movies that have full-frontal nudity and quirky “slices of life” scenes.

Joanna Arnow and Scott Cohen in “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

“The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” is definitely not a mass-appeal movie. It’s intended for mature audiences who aren’t easily offended by full-frontal nudity and kinky sex scenes among consenting adults. Viewers of this unique but often-repetitive film about BDSM sex and social isolation must be willing to appreciate the very dry and deadpan comedy that is the opposite of Woody Allen’s talkative and fidgety films about neurotic New Yorkers. It’s a series of “slice of life” sketches rather than a comprehensive story.

Written and directed by Joanna Arnow (who also stars in the movie as the main protagonist), “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The movie screened at other major film festivals that year, including the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. It’s a minimalist and quirky movie that won’t appeal to people who don’t like slow-paced movies with open-ended conclusions.

“The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” is set in New York City (where the movie was filmed on location) and has a writer/director who plays an insecure protagonist who feels misunderstood and is struggling with relationship issues. It sounds a lot like the types of movies that made Oscar-winning filmmaker Allen famous, but Arnow has a filmmaking approach that is the antithesis of Allen’s style. The characters in Allen’s zippy-paced films are verbose and overly analytical about their problems, often to the point of being very self-absorbed. As seen in “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed,” the characters don’t do a lot of talking, and there are stretches of deliberately uncomfortable silences.

Arnow portrays Ann, a 33-year-old never-married bachelorette who lives alone and has no children and no friends. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she works in administration at an unnamed company that is in the business of selling unnamed products. Ann is the type of person who is so quiet and unassuming, people she’s known for years either don’t know many things about her or they forget. She’s the type of person who can be in a room and people will deliberately ignore her or don’t even notice that she is there.

Needless to say, Ann feels unappreciated in her job, where her supervisor Karl (played by Michael Cyril Creighton) is sometimes condescending to her and sometimes seems to feel sorry for her. It doesn’t help that Ann speaks in a monotone voice that would make anyone wonder if she has a personality. She is also the type of person who gives the impression that she is dull as dirt and has given up on trying to be happy.

As an example of how Ann hasn’t really connected with people at her job, one day she gets a plaque in the shape of a star, as a gift to commemorate her one-year anniversary on the job. “I’ve been here three-and-a-half years,” Ann says in her flat voice. No one seems to care. In group meetings, her ideas are dismissed by Karl. And in a one-on-one conversation with an unnamed supervisor (played by Ronda Swindell), the supervisor rudely tells Ann that Ann won’t last long at the company because Ann will make her own job obsolete.

Ann’s personal life does not have any fulfilling relationships either. Since she was 24, she’s been casually meeting up with a divorced, middle-aged father named Allen (played by Scott Cohen), in one of many relationships she has that revolve around BDSM, an acronym for bondage, discipline (or domination), sadism (or submission) and masochism. Ann is always the willing submissive in these non-monogamous relationships, because she seeks out sex partners who want to be the dominant person in their hookups.

The movie’s opening scene shows Ann in bed with Allen at his place. Allen is clothed under the covers and almost asleep. She is on top of the covers and completely naked. She grinds up against the left side of his body and says, “I love it how you don’t care if I cum and you don’t do anything for me. You go to sleep right after you finish. It’s so disrespectful and misogynist.” This is Ann’s version of foreplay.

“The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” has several scenes showing Ann doing things with BDSM sex partners. In addition to Allen, Ann hooks up with a musician/composer named Thomas (played by Peter Vack), whom she meets through a personal ad; verbally derogatory Elliot (played by Parish Bradley), who tells Ann to wear animal costume designs, such as rabbit ears and a pig’s snout, while he insults her; and emotionally open Chris (played by Babak Tafti), who is the only one who treats her like a real human being, not just a sexual plaything.

Warnow is the only person in the movie who has full-frontal nudity, which is her way of showing that Ann is the most vulnerable person in these scenes. Ann never seems self-conscious about her body, but she does seem self-conscious of her emotions and about the possibility that any of these relationships could turn into love. Being treated like garbage or sometimes asking to be in physical pain in the confines of BDSM is comforting to her. Falling in love is what really terrifies Ann, even though she doesn’t say it out loud. The closest that she will admit to having intimacy problems is when she tells Chris that she has never had an orgasm by someone touching her.

Ann’s immediate family members (who don’t have names in the movie) live nearby, but she is emotionally distant from them. Her family and co-workers do not know about her secretive life as a submissive in BDSM sex. Ann’s parents (played by David Arnow and Barbara Weiserbs) have given up hope that Ann will get married and have kids. Getting married and having children are sensitive subjects that Ann gets somewhat defensive about whenever those topics are discussed.

Ann’s older sister (played by Alysia Reiner) has a traditional life of being a married parent with children, but she doesn’t seem very happy either because she’s been having marital problems. Still, when the sisters are together or with their parents, Ann seems noticeably envious that her parents seem to love her sister more and consider Ann to be a “disappointment.” Ann doesn’t seem to have any interest in being around kids at all.

Even though Ann is a submissive in her sex life, that doesn’t mean she’s a complete pushover. There are times at her job and in her personal life when she asserts herself and makes it clear that she does or does not want to do something. However, don’t expect the movie to give a backstory about Ann to explain why she is the way she is.

“The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” is an example of how people shouldn’t always be judged by surface-level appearances. Based on her physical appearance, many people would assume that Ann is very prim and uptight and would be surprised to find out about her uninhibited BDSM sex life. It’s not a movie that is supposed to make people feel the same way that a romantic comedy makes people feel, but the movie is bold enough to be different. It offers an unusual perspective of someone who is usually not the protagonist of a movie and is usually overlooked in real life.

Magnolia Pictures released “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” in select U.S. cinemas on April 26, 2024.

Review: ‘Babes” (2024), starring Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau

May 16, 2024

by Carla Hay

Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau in “Babes” (Photo by Gwen Capistran/Neon)

“Babes” (2024)

Directed by Pamela Adlon

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, from 2019 to 2020, the comedy film “Babes” features a racially diverse cast of characters (white, African American and Asian) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two longtime best friends go through very different experiences when they get pregnant and give birth within a year-and-a-half of each other. 

Culture Audience: “Babes” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners, director Pamela Adlon and female-focused movies that have adult-oriented comedy.

Michelle Buteau and Ilana Glazer in “Babes” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Babes” won’t be considered a major classic for films about childbirth and motherhood, but it’s entertaining enough for viewers who can tolerate crude jokes. The movie tries too hard to be raunchy, but the jokes are more hit than miss. Some of the situations in the movie are unrealistically absurd (and not in a good way), but the realistic female friendship depicted in “Babes” is the heart and soul of the movie.

Directed by Pamela Adlon, “Babes” was written by llana Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz. “Babes” takes place in New York City (where the movie was filmed on location), from 2019 to 2020. The movie had its world premiere at the 2024 SXSW Film and TV Festival. It’s a movie that has frank and frequently vulgar talk about pregnancy, sex, childbirth, body parts and bodily functions. It also shows the nuances of female friendships when two friends are at different stages of emotional maturity and personal responsibilities

“Babes” (which is told in chronological order) begins with a scene taking place at a movie theater sometime around Thanksgiving in 2019. Two longtime best friends—neurotic Eden (played by Glazer) and sassy Dawn (played by Michelle Buteau)—have had a tradition for the past 27 years to see the same unnamed movie around Thanksgiving time. This particular movie happens to be playing in a theater, although in real life, there is no movie theater in New York City that has played the same movie during Thanksgiving from 1992 to 2019.

Eden (a self-employed yoga teacher who works from home) arrives at the theater feeling a little flustered because she had to travel 115 minutes and take four subway trains to meet Dawn (who is a dentist) at this theater in New York City’s Manhattan borough. That’s because Eden lives in Astoria (in New York City’s Queens borough), and Dawn lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Eden and Dawn used to live near each other in Astoria. Eden (who is a never-married bachelorette) is a little bitter that Dawn and her emotionally supportive husband Marty (played by Hasan Minhaj) have moved several miles away from Eden. Marty works for an unnamed business.

Dawn is pregnant with her second child and is due to give birth in two weeks. When Dawn and Eden go inside the screening room, Dawn notices that every seat she sits in is wet. And then, Dawn realizes that water is leaking from her vagina—or, as Dawn put it, she has “pussy drizzle.” Dawn begins to wonder if she’s in labor, so she asks Eden to see what her vagina looks like, right there in the nearly empty screening room. Eden confirms that Dawn’s vagina looks like it’s dilated, so Dawn calls her OB/GYN doctor, who says she’s probably in labor.

Instead of going to a hospital right away, Dawn and Eden decide to go to a restaurant and have an eating binge, since Dawn thinks she shouldn’t be eating this much after Dawn gives birth. At the restaurant, Eden looks at Dawn’s vagina again in public to check on the dilation size. When their waiter finds out that Dawn is in labor and starts to give unsolicited advice, Dawn snaps at him: “What are you? The Gordon Ramsay of my pussy?”

The trip to the hospital is chaotic. Dawn is in too much pain to walk, and she won’t sit down in a wheelchair, so she crawls to the delivery room. (It’s a very unrealistic scenario.) Eden and Marty are there in the delivery room, where Eden is nauseated by what she sees and is shocked to find out that someone can defecate while giving birth. You can easily predict how Eden will react to seeing an umbilical cord and placenta up close for the first time. If these types of scenes don’t sound like something you want to see in a comedy, then “Babes” is not the movie for you.

Dawn gives birth to a baby girl named Melanie and is on maternity leave. Dawn and Marty’s first child is 4-year-old Thomas, nicknamed Tommy (played by Caleb Mermelstein-Knox), who has some arrested development because he still wears diapers and still drinks from a baby bottle. During the course of the movie, Dawn stars to feel the pressure and stress of taking care of two children under the age of 5.

At the hospital where Dawn gave birth, Eden is shocked and annoyed that the hospital charged her nearly $500 for sushi that she ordered from hospital room service. Eden takes the sushi with her on the subway and starts to eat it inside the subway car. Sitting across from her is an actor named Claude (played by Stephan James), who is in a waiter uniform. She strikes up a conversation with Claude by offering to share some of her sushi with him. Claude tells her that he’s in costume because he’s an extra in a Martin Scorsese movie.

Eden and Claude have an immediate attraction to each other. They talk some more and find out that they share the same enthusiasm for the video game “Street Fighter,” so they go to her place to play “Street Fighter” together. Eden and Claude also reveal that they’ve never had unprotected sex with other partners. One thing leads to another, and Eden and Claude agree to have unprotected sex with each other. Eden tells Claude that she’s currently menstruating, but he doesn’t mind.

There are indications throughout the movie that although Eden is in her late 30s, she often still has the mindset of a child. For example, she thinks she can’t get pregnant while she’s menstruating. As already revealed in the “Babes” trailer, Eden does get pregnant. She decides to keep the child.

For reasons that are explained in the movie (but won’t be revealed in this review), Claude is unable to be in the child’s life. Dawn’s OB/GYN (obstetrics/gynecology) doctor Dr. Morris (played by John Carroll Lynch) becomes Eden’s OB/GYN doctor too. A running joke in the movie is how Dr. Morris handles his receding hairline and bald spots.

Eden is very emotionally co-dependent on Dawn and expects her friendship with Dawn to be the same as it was before they both became parents. It leads to the expected conflicts and arguments. There’s also a subplot about Dawn and Marty trying to rekindle their sex life, which has gone stagnant because they’re so exhausted from their jobs and taking care of their kids.

Glazer and Buteau are believable as best friends, but the some of the jokes they’re given in “Babes” fall very flat. Some viewers might be offended by a scene where Dawn is worried that her breasts are not producing milk to breastfeed her newborn child, and Dawn takes illegal drugs anyway. In this scene, Eden (who doesn’t know yet that she’s pregnant) and Dawn decide to take psychedelic mushrooms together.

It’s during this psychedelic experience, Dawn finds out that she is, in fact, lactating. The expected “breast squirting” scene ensues. During the hallucinations, Dawn’s breasts also talk to her. Whoopi Goldberg is the voice of Dawn’s breasts.

Nothing is shown or told about Dawn’s parents, but Eden’s widower father Bernie (played by Oliver Platt) is in a few scenes in the movie. (Eden’s mother died when Eden was 3 years old.) Bernie is described by Eden as someone who is a “hoarder” with mental health issues. Eden and Bernie are not close, but they don’t hate each other. Their best scene in the movie happens when Eden tells Bernie that she’s pregnant.

“Babes” has some rough spots where the movie drags, the dialogue is kind of stupid, and the comedic timing isn’t very good. However, the bright spots outshine the movie’s flaws. Viewers who don’t mind watching movies with a lot of explicit adult language might be charmed by how the friendship of Dawn and Eden authentically evolves. The ending of “Babes” is undeniably sappy, but it puts a sweet finishing touch on a comedy that is often very salty and deliberately distasteful.

Neon will release “Babes” in select U.S. cinemas on May 17, 2024, with an expansion to more U.S. cinemas on May 24, 2024. A sneak preview of the movie was held in U.S. cinemas on May 13, 2024.

2024 Met Gala: Event Photos and Videos

May 6, 2024

The 55th annual Costume Institute Gala, also known as the Met Gala, took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 6, 2024. The event’s theme in 2024 was “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This year, the Met Gala was co-chaired by entertainers Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Here are photo and video highlights from the event.

Hari Nef, Paloma Elsesser, Adwoa Aboah, Ann-Sofie Johansson, Stefon Diggs, Quannah Rose Chasinghorse, Victor Glemaud and Awkwafina dressed for the Met Gala in New York City on May 6, 2024. (Photo courtesy of H&M)

 

Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Zac Posen at the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 6, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

2024 Tony Nominations: ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ ‘Stereophonic’ are the top nominees

April 30, 2024

The following is a press release from the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing:

Nominations in 26 competitive categories for the American Theatre Wing’s 77th Annual Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards® were announced today by Tony Award winners Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Renée Elise Goldsberry live from Sofitel New York and live on CBS Mornings.

The nominees were selected by an independent committee of 44 theatre professionals appointed by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. The 2024 Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. (The list of nominations follows.)

Marking 77 years of excellence on Broadway, The Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, will air LIVE on Sunday, June 16, 2024 from the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City from 8:00-11:00 PM, ET/5:00-8:00 PM, PT on the CBS Television Network, and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+.*

CBS and Pluto TV will present THE TONY AWARDS: ACT ONE, a pre-show of live, exclusive content leading into THE 77TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS. The celebration commences when the first round of Tony Awards is presented to audiences on Pluto TV, the leading free streaming television service. Viewers can access the show on their smart TV, streaming device, mobile app or online by going to Pluto TV and clicking on the “ET” channel.

Legitimate theatrical productions opening in any of the 41 eligible Broadway theatres during the current season may be considered for Tony nominations. The 2023/2024 eligibility season began Friday, April 28, 2023, and ended Thursday, April 25, 2024. The Tony Awards will be voted in 26 competitive categories by 836 designated Tony voters within the theatre community.

The 2023-2024 Tony Award Nominating Committee consists of: Warren Adams, Becky Ann Baker, Bob Balaban, Pun Bandhu, Danielle Barlow, Sarah Benson, Christopher Burney, Jordan E. Cooper, Ty Defoe, Andy Einhorn, Dionne Figgins, Kamilah Forbes, Dan Foster, M L Geiger, Linda Goodrich, Miranda Haymon, Christine Toy Johnson, John Kilgore, Michael Korie, Kathy Landau, Andrea Lauer, Zhailon Levingston, Lisa McNulty, Ira Mont, Jacqueline Diane Moscou, James C. Nicola, Antoinette Nwandu, Helen Park, Neil Patel, Nancy Piccione, Jill Rafson, Susan Sampliner, Dick Scanlan, Florie Seery, Rachel Sheinkin, Devario Simmons, Natasha Sinha, Jason Tam, Cori Thomas, Reginald Van Lee, Michael Benjamin Washington, Ben Wexler, Patricia Wilcox and David C. Woolard.

The Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards are bestowed annually on theatre professionals for distinguished achievement. The Tony is one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry and the annual telecast is considered one of the most prestigious programs on television.

The 2024 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Kristin Caskey is Chair and Jason Laks is Interim President. At the American Theater Wing, Emilio Sosa is Chair and Heather A. Hitchens is President & CEO.

The Tony Awards are produced in collaboration with Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, and White Cherry Entertainment. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are showrunners and executive producers for White Cherry Entertainment, and Weiss will serve as director. Jack Sussman is also an executive producer.

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Nominations for the 2024 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing

Best Book of a Musical

Hell’s Kitchen

Kristoffer Diaz

The Notebook

Bekah Brunstetter

The Outsiders

Adam Rapp and Justin Levine

Suffs

Shaina Taub

Water for Elephants

Rick Elice

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Days of Wine and Roses

Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel

Here Lies Love

Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
Lyrics: David Byrne

The Outsiders

Music & Lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Stereophonic

Music & Lyrics: Will Butler

Suffs

Music & Lyrics: Shaina Taub

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Jessica Lange, Mother Play
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Brody Grant, The Outsiders
Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Eden Espinosa, Lempicka
Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Will Brill, Stereophonic
Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
Jim Parsons, Mother Play
Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
Amber Iman, Lempicka
Nikki M. James, Suffs
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Scenic Design of a Play

dots, Appropriate
dots, An Enemy of the People
Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
David Zinn, Stereophonic

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
David Korins, Here Lies Love
Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical
Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, Appropriate
Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, An Enemy of the People

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby
David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
Jane Cox, Appropriate
Natasha Katz, Grey House

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants
Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Tom Gibbons, Grey House
Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate
Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Best Sound Design of a Musical

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen
Cody Spencer, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Play

Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Best Direction of a Musical

Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
Leigh Silverman, Suffs
Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants
Danya Taymor, The Outsiders

Best Choreography

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
Justin Peck, Illinoise
Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Best Orchestrations

Timo Andres, Illinoise
Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen
Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

Best Play

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Author: Jocelyn Bioh
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings, Madison Wells Live, LaChanze, Taraji P. Henson

Mary Jane

Author: Amy Herzog
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings

Mother Play

Author: Paula Vogel
Producers: Second Stage Theater, Carole Rothman, Lisa Lawer Post, Salman and Vienn Al-Rashid, Courtney Lederer and Mark Thierfelder, Jerry and Roz Meyer, Alix L.L. Ritchie, Jayne Baron Sherman

Prayer for the French Republic

Author: Joshua Harmon
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Chris Jennings

Stereophonic

Author: David Adjmi
Producers: Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Seaview, Sonia Friedman Productions, Linden Productions, Ashley Melone, Nick Mills, Jillian Robbins, Stella La Rue, Alex Levy & David Aron, Dori Berinstein, James Bolosh, Burnt Umber Productions, The Cohn Sisters, Cathy Dantchik, Alexander R. Donnelly, Emerald Drive, Federman Koenigsberg, Dann Fink, Ruth Hendel, Larry Hirschhorn, Jenen Rubin, John Gore Organization, Willette & Manny Klausner, LAMF Protozoa, Katrina McCann, Stephanie P. McClelland, No Guarantees, Marissa Palley & Daniel Aron, Anna Schafer, Soto Namoff Productions, Sean Walsh, Bruce & Peggy Wanta, Hillary Wyatt, deRoy Howard, Winkler & Smalberg, 42nd.club, Craig Balsam, Concord Theatricals, Creative Partners Productions, Jonathan Demar, Douglas Denoff, DJD Productions, Echo Lake Entertainment, Faliro House, FilmNation Entertainment, Roy Gabay, GFour Productions, Candy Kosow Gold, Wes Grantom, Rachel Bendit & Mark Bernstein, Playwrights Horizons, Adam Greenfield, Leslie Marcus, Carol Fishman

Best Musical

Hell’s Kitchen

Producers: AK Worldwide Media, Inc., Roc Nation, DML Productions, Mandy Hackett, The Sunshine Group, Julie Yorn, The Jacobs Family, No Guarantees Productions, Front Row Productions, Sharpton Swindal Productions, Grove Entertainment, The Jaime Family, John Gore Organization, Terria Joseph, Andy Nahas, James L. Nederlander, Candy Spelling, Clara Wu Tsai, Universal Music Publishing, Independent Presenters Network, Della Pietra Spark Theatricals, Today Tix ARGU, Score 3 Partners, Aaron Lustbader, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

Illinoise

Producers: Orin Wolf, Seaview, John Styles, David Binder, Emily Blavatnik, Susan Rose, ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann, David F. Schwartz, Patrick Catullo, Jon B. Platt, Diamond & Melvin, Nelson & Tao, Ruth Hendel, Elysabeth Kleinhans, Ted & Mary Jo Shen, Putnam & Thau, Chase & F.K.R., GJJJM Productions, Steve & Leticia Trauber, Tim Forbes, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, Park Avenue Armory, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Nate Koch, TT Partners, Fisher Center at Bard

The Outsiders

Producers: The Araca Group, American Zoetrope, Olympus Theatricals, Sue Gilad & Larry Rogowsky, Angelina Jolie, Betsy Dollinger, Jonathan & Michelle Clay, Cristina Marie Vivenzio, The Shubert Organization, LaChanze & Marylee Fairbanks, Debra Martin Chase, Sony Music Masterworks, Jamestown Revival Theater, Jennifer & Jonathan Allan Soros, Tanninger Entertainment, Tamlyn Brooke Shusterman, Geffen Playhouse/Howard Tenenbaum/Linda B. Rubin, Kevin Ryan, Mistry Theatrical Ventures, Galt & Irvin Productions, Tulsa Clarks, Paul & Margaret Liljenquist, Bob & Claire Patterson, Voltron Global Media, James L. Nederlander, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, The John Gore Organization, Independent Presenters Network, Stephen Lindsay & Brett Sirota, Jeffrey Finn, Playhouse Square, Sue Marks, Indelible InK, Lionheart Productions, The Broadway Investor’s Club, Starhawk Productions, Distant Rumble, Green Leaf Partnership, Michael & Elizabeth Venuti, Leslie Kavanaugh, Deborah & Dave Smith, Belle Productions, Chas & Jen Grossman, Miranda & Sahra Esmonde-White, Rungnapa & Jim Teague, Michael & Molly Schroeder, Casey & Chelsea Baugh, James L. Flautt, Jon L. Morris, Becky Winkler, William Moran Hickey, Jr. & William Horan Hickey, III, Oddly Specific Productions, Melissa Chamberlain & Michael McCartney, Rachel Weinstein, Wavelength Productions, Rob O’Neill & Shane Snow, Eric Stine, Cornice Productions, La Jolla Playhouse

Suffs

Producers: Jill Furman, Rachel Sussman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Roy Furman, Allison Rubler, Cue to Cue Productions, Sandy Robertson, Kevin Ryan & Diane Scott Carter, Renee Ring & Paul Zofnass, Walport Productions, Judith Teel Davis & Joe Carroll, Tom D’Angora & Michael D’Angora, Louise Gund, Erica Lynn Schwartz, Stone Arch Theatricals/Mayer Productions, Xan Weiser/Matters of the Art, Nothing Ventured Productions, Christin Brecher, Chutzpah Productions, Morgan Steward, 16 Sunset Productions, The Broadway Investor’s Club, Ari Conte, Rose Maxi, Jennifer Friedland, David Carroll, Julie E. Cohen, The Garelicks, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Meena Harris, John Gore Organization, Laura Lonergan, Sally Martin, Peter May, The Mehiels, Nederlander Presentations, Brian Spector, Candy Spelling, Ed Walson, Zuckerberg/Segal, Needle Productions/Oddly Specific Productions, Alissandra Aronow/Wandi Productions, Craig Balsam/Jennifer Kroman, Burkhardt Jones Productions/Adam Cohen, Vibecke Dahle Dellapolla/Samantha Squeri, Funroe Productions/Kim Khoury, Sheri Clark Henriksen/Robert Tichio, Michelle Noh/Todd B. Rubin, Nick Padgett/Vasi Laurence, Seaview/Level Forward, Sixpoint Productions/Theatre Nerd Productions, Stanley S. Shuman/Marcie Orley, Soto Productions/The Cohn Sisters, Theatre Producers of Color, The Shubert Organization, The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Patrick Willingham

Water for Elephants

Producers: Peter Schneider, Jennifer Costello, Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, Seth A. Goldstein, Jane Bergère, Elizabeth Armstrong, Jason M. Brady, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Erica Rotstein & Crista Marie Jackson, Jana Bezdek & Jen Hoguet, John H. Tyson, Rich Entertainment Group, Jeremiah J. Harris, John Gore Organization, Jeff & Shannon Fallick, Patti & Mike Sullivan, Rodney Rigby, Larry Lelli, Bonnie Feld, Yonge Street Theatricals, Larry J. Kroll, The Shubert Organization, Nederlander Presentations, Nancy Gibbs, Jack Lane, Amy & PJ Lampi, Gwen Arment & Vasi Laurence, Mark Parkman Fairview Productions, Nothing Ventured Productions, Pam Hurst-Della Pietra & Stephen Pietra, Steven Spielberg & Kate Capshaw, The Glasshouse USA, Willette & Manny Klausner, John Paterakis, Hope Tschopik Schneider, Patty Baker, The Burcaws & Q’d Up Productions, Crescent Road, Cynthia Stroum, Sally Jacobs & Warren Baker, Tawnia Knox & Stuart Snyder, Madison Wells Live & Takonkiet Viravan, Terry H. Morgenthaler, Pamela Moschetti, Gabrielle Palitz & Fahs Productions, The Roehl Family & Chema Verduzco, Shapiro Jensen Schroeder, Tre Amici Productions, We Eat Dreams Productions, Rachel Weinstein, Maik Klokow, Margot Astrachan, Mehr-BB Entertainment

Best Revival of a Play

Appropriate

Author: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Producers: Second Stage Theater, Carole Rothman, Lisa Lawer Post, Ambassador Theatre Group, Amanda Dubois, Annapurna Theatre, Bad Robot Live

An Enemy of the People

New Version: Amy Herzog
Producers: Seaview, Patrick Catullo, Plan B, Roth-Manella Productions, Eric & Marsi Gardiner, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, Jon B. Platt, Atekwana Hutton, Bob Boyett, Chris & Ashlee Clarke, Cohen-Demar Productions, Andrew Diamond, GI6 Productions, Sony Music Masterworks, Triptyk Studios, Trunfio Ryan, Kate Cannova, DJL Productions

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Leslie Odom, Jr., Louise Gund, Bob Boyett, Curt Cronin, John Joseph, Willette and Manny Klausner, Brenda Boone, Salman Moudhy Al-Rashid, Creative Partners Productions, Irene Gandy, Kayla Greenspan, Mark and David Golub Productions, Kenny Leon, John Gore Organization, W3 Productions, Morwin Schmookler, Van Kaplan, Ken Greiner, Patrick W. Jones, Nicolette Robinson, National Black Theatre, Alan Alda, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kerry Washington, The Shubert Organization

Best Revival of a Musical

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Producers: ATG Productions, Underbelly, Gavin Kalin Productions, Hunter Arnold, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Wessex Grove, Julie Boardman, Tom Smedes, Peter Stern, Heather Shields, Caiola Productions, Kate Cannova, Adam Blanshay Productions & Nicolas Talar, Aleri Entertainment, Alex Levy Productions, Bunny Rabbit Productions, D’Angora Padgett Productions, Cyrene Esposito, David Treatman, Eddie Redmayne, The Array IV, Bad Robot Live, BlueJay Productions, Grace Street Creative Group, Iocane Productions, Jim Kierstead, Marco Santarelli, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, George Waud, Yonge Street Theatricals, Federman Koenigsberg Productions/Sara Beth Zivitz, Tina Marie Casamento/Jennifer Johns, M. Kilburg Reedy/Tilman Kemmler, Greenspan Proffer/Kat Kit 4, Patty Baker/Matthew Christopher Pietras, Broadway Strategic Return Fund/Red Mountain Theatre Company, Evan Coles/The Cohn Sisters, Nolan Doran/Fakston Productions, Epic Theatricals/Jeffrey Grove, Jessica Goldman Foung/Andrew Paradis, William Frisbie Tilted Marguerite Steed Hoffman/Willette & Manny Klausner, Vasi Laurence/Stephen C Byrd, Brian & Dayna Lee/City Cowboy Productions, Maybe This Time/3D Productions, Nothing Ventured Productions/Theatre Producers of Color, Perfectly Marvelous/Catherine Schreiber & Co, Second Act/Freedom Theatricals, SSP Holdings/Todd & Bronwyn Bradley, Two Ladies/Nicole Eisenberg, Ilana Waldenberg/W Stage Productions, The Wolf Pack/Burnt Umber Productions, The Shubert Organization

Gutenberg! The Musical!

Producers: Ambassador Theatre Group, Patrick Catullo, Bad Robot Live, Seth A. Goldstein, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, Runyonland Productions, Elizabeth Armstrong, Timothy Bloom, Larry Lelli, Alchemation, The Council, Crescent Road, Wendy Federman, Marcia Goldberg, Hariton deRoy, LD Entertainment, James L. Nederlander, Al Nocciolino, Spencer Ross, Independent Presenters Network, Medley Houlihan/Score 3 Partners, Tryptyk Studios/Iris Smith, Jonathan Demar/Griffin Dohr, Andrew Diamond/Alexander Donnelly, Futurehome Productions/Koenigsberg Subhedar, Roy Gabay/Nicole Eisenberg, Jessica R. Jenen/Linda B. Rubin, Daniel Powell/Amplify Pictures, Jeremy Wein/Walport Productions, Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Bee Carrozzini

Merrily We Roll Along

Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, David Babani, Patrick Catullo, Jeff Romley, Debbie Bisno, Lang Entertainment Group, OHenry Productions, Winkler & Smalberg, Stephanie P. McClelland, Timothy Bloom, Creative Partners Productions, Eastern Standard Time, Fakston Productions, Marc David Levine, No Guarantees, Ted & Mary Jo Shen, Gilad Rogowsky, Playing Field, Key to the City Productions, Richard Batchelder/Trunfio Ryan, FineWomen Productions/Henry R. Muñoz, III, Thomas Swayne/Lamar Richardson, Abrams Corr/Mary Maggio, Osh Ashruf/Brenner-Ivey, Craig Balsam/PBL Productions, deRoy DiMauro Productions/Medley Houlihan, Andrew Diamond/Katler-Solomon Productions, Dodge Hall Productions/Carl Moellenberg, Friedman Simpson/Vernon Stuckelman, William Frisbie/J.J. Powell, Robert Greenblatt/Jonathan Littman, Cleveland O’Neal, III/Tom Tuft, Roth-Manella Productions/Seaview, New York Theatre Workshop

The Who’s Tommy

Producers: Stephen Gabriel, Ira Pittelman, Sue Gilad & Larry Rogowsky, Mary Maggio & Scott Abrams, Tom Tuft and Glenn Fuhrman, Batman Harris/Elliott Cornelious, Laura Matalon/Spencer Waller, Richard Winkler, Sheldon Stone, Firemused Productions/Stone Arch Theatricals, LeonoffFedermanWolosky Productions/Koenigsberg Batchelder, Roy Putrino/Narang Moran, Rich Martino, Aged in Wood/Lee Sachs, Paul and Margaret Liljenquist, R & R Productions, Marla McNally Phillips, Merrie Robin, O’Neill Snow, Work Light Productions, Nederlander Presentations, Independent Presenters Network, John Gore Organization, Palomino Performing Arts, Wavelength Productions, Robert Nederlander, Jr., Botwin Ignal Dawson, Jamie deRoy, Betsy Dollinger, Stacey Woolf Feinberg, Gold Weinstein, Tyce Green, Jenen Rubin, Jim Kierstead, Marco Santarelli, Nancy Timmers, Thomas B. McGrath, Olympus Theatricals, Goodman Theatre

Tony Nominations by Production

Hell’s Kitchen – 13

Stereophonic – 13

The Outsiders – 12

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club – 9

Appropriate – 8

Merrily We Roll Along – 7

Water for Elephants – 7

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch – 6

Suffs – 6

An Enemy of the People – 5

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding – 5

Here Lies Love – 4

Illinoise – 4

Mary Jane – 4

Mother Play – 4

Days of Wine and Roses – 3

Doubt: A Parable – 3

Lempicka – 3

The Notebook – 3

Prayer for the French Republic – 3

Back To The Future: The Musical – 2

Grey House – 2

The Great Gatsby – 1

Gutenberg! The Musical! – 1

Monty Python’s Spamalot – 1

Patriots – 1

Uncle Vanya – 1

The Who’s Tommy – 1

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About the Tony Awards

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Kristin Caskey is Chair and Jason Laks is Interim President. At the American Theatre Wing, Emilio Sosa is Chair and Heather A. Hitchens is President & CEO.

Sponsors for The Tony Awards include: City National Bank – the official bank of The Tony Awards; American Express – the official payments partner of The Tony Awards; Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever, exclusive higher education partner; Baccarat – the official partner of the Tony Awards; FIJI Water – the official water of The Tony Awards; Shake Shack – the official burger of The Tony Awards; Sofitel New York – the official hotel of The Tony Awards; Playbill; Rainbow Room – the official partner of the Tony Nominee Luncheon

*Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate on the service, as well as on-demand. Paramount+ Essential subscribers will not have the option to stream live, but will have access to on-demand the day after the special airs.

Review: ‘Stress Positions,’ starring John Early, Theda Hammel, Qaher Harhash, Amy Zimmer, Faheem Ali, Rebecca F. Wright, Davidson Obennebo and John Roberts

April 26, 2024

by Carla Hay

Theda Hammel in “Stress Positions” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Stress Positions”

Directed by Theda Hammel

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City in the summer of 2020, the comedy film “Stress Positions” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black people, Middle Eastern people and Latin people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A gay man, who’s in the midst of a bitter divorce, is visited by his young adult nephew, who temporarily stays with him, as the nephew’s presence becomes a source of gossip and intrigue with the man’s best friend and other people in his social circle. 

Culture Audience: “Stress Positions” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in movies about the middle-class queer community in 2020s New York City, but this movie has a lot of unrealistic and silly dialogue.

Qaher Harhash in “Stress Positions” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Stress Positions” is the type of aimless and smug indie comedy that exists so the movie’s characters can aggravate each other and annoy viewers. The movie’s diverse LGBTQ representation deserves better than this incoherent story. It isn’t until the last 15 minutes that “Stress Positions” finally gets around to a part of the story that should have happened earlier. But by then, it’s too late to save this pretentious mess.

Written and directed by Theda Hammel, “Stress Positions” is Hammel’s feature-film directorial debut. She is also a co-star in the movie, where she portrays a gossipy and demanding transgender woman, who starts off as a supporting character and then turns into a co-lead character. (Hammel is a transgender woman in real life.) “Stress Positions” had its world premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

The movie is unfocused and confused about which character’s perspective has the story’s main point of view. One person narrates the first half of the movie, while another person narrates the second half of the movie. It gives the impression that Hammel’s screenplay writing was such a jumbled process, she didn’t bother to make the screenplay more cohesive because she also directed the movie. Maybe another writer/director could have salvaged this story into something that was more entertaining to watch, because the movie’s concept had potential to be made into a much better film than “Stress Positions.”

“Stress Positions” takes place in New York City’s Brooklyn borough in the summer of 2020, the period of time when COVID-19 infection rates were among the city’s highest of that year. The narrrator for the first half of the film is a transgender woman named Karla (played by Hammel), who says in the beginning of the movie that Terry Goon (played by John Early), who also lives in Brooklyn, is her best friend from college. Karla explains that Terry is a homemaker who’s in the middle of a bitter divorce from his husband Leo, who used to be Terry’s boss when Terry was an intern. (Leo’s occupation is not mentioned.)

Leo left Terry for another man and has been encouraging Terry to also find a new love. In the meantime, because Terry can’t afford his own place, he’s been staying in the former spouses’ apartment until the divorce is final. Karla also mentions in the voiceover that Terry has very limited work experience, because he quit his internship to become a homemaker in the longtime relationship that Terry had with Leo.

Terry is very high-strung, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the divorce have made him even more stressed-out and jumpy. Terry is so paranoid about getting infected with COVID-19, he sometimes wears a gas mask inside his house if he’s around people he doesn’t know are infected or not. Terry also makes an unexpected house guest wear a gas mask sometimes.

Terry’s unexpected house guest is his nephew Bahlul (played by Qaher Harhash), who has an American mother (Terry’s sister) and a Moroccan father. Bahlul was born in the United States but was raised in Morocco. Bahlul has done work as a model. He has arrived at Terry’s place with a broken left leg that was injured in a scooter accident. Therefore, Bahlul is mostly seen recovering in a bed, on a sofa or in a wheelchair.

Bahlul says his mother sent Bahlul to Terry’s place for a very good reason. As soon as Bahlul says this, you know exactly where this movie is going to go, since almost everyone in Terry’s socal circle is a member of the LGBTQ community. The only neighbors shown in this somewhat shabby walk-up apartment building are also queer. When Karla first meets Bahlul, he doesn’t say what his sexuality is, but she asks him if he’s ever dressed as a woman because he would make an attractive-looking woman.

Karla identifies as a transgender female lesbian. Her live-in girlfriend is a sarcastic and jaded author named Vanessa Ravel (played by Amy Zimmer), who is a politically active progressive feminist. Vanessa is somewhat self-conscious about originally being from suburban Larchmont, New York, because this suburb doesn’t fit her current image of being an urban hipster. Vanessa is also frustrated because she hasn’t been able to finish her second book. Vanessa’s first book is a novel called “Paulette,” whose title character was mainly inspired by Karla.

Karla has mixed feelings about the book. One the one hand, Karla brags to people that Vanessa wrote a book about her, and Karla sometimes autographs copies of “Paulette.” On the other hand, Karla feels resentment that Vanessa used her as the basis of the book, which apparently depicts Paulette as an unlikable character. Maybe the truth is a little to close for Karla’s comfort because Karla really is unlikable.

Karla is overly intrusive, rude, racist and xenophobic. Before Karla meets Bahlul and finds out that he is Terry’s nephew, she describes Bahlul as a “little brown kid” to Leo and wrongfully assumes that Bahlul is Terry’s lover. Whenever Karla meets people who aren’t white, Karla asks where they are from, because she expects them to give an answer that describes what their ethnicity is. If the person says that they are from somewhere in the United States, she asks the person where their family is from, to find out the family’s ethnicity or country of origin.

Karla does this type of interrogation when she meets a Grubhub delivery guy named Ronald (played by Faheem Ali), who delivers some Greek food to Karla one evening. Karla and Ronald strike up a flirtation. And it soon becomes clear that maybe Karla isn’t quite the “lesbian” that she says she is. Ronald’s bicycle becomes a pointless subplot in the movie.

The big “event” in “Stress Positions” is a Fourth of July barbecue party hosted by Terry in the apartment building’s tiny back courtyard. The movie doesn’t really explain how Terry goes from being so fearful of getting infected with COVID-19 that he wears a gas masks to Terry hosting an intimate gathering when COVID-19 infection rates are high, there’s no COVID-19 vaccine available at this point in time, and people won’t be wearing masks at this party. Two of the party guests are Terry’s obnoxious, cocaine-snorting, soon-to-be-ex-husband Leo (played by John Roberts) and Leo’s fiancé Hamadou (played by Davidson Obennebo), who politely asks Terry to sign the divorce papers so that they can all get on with their lives.

Terry (who has some slapstick scenes where he falls down more than once in the kitchen) is a stereotypical neurotic New Yorker. However, Terry’s story arc fades into the background as Karla and Bahlul (who is the narrator in the second half of the movie) have storylines that take over and dominate the movie. As Terry, Early clearly has the best comedic skills in the “Stress Positions” cast, so it’s a mistake that his talents are somewhat sidelined in the movie.

Bahlul talks mostly about his childhood in his tedious voiceovers, in which he comments on his mother almost as much as he talks about himself. (Bahlul is obviously a “mama’s boy.”) Even with all this talk, very little is revealed about who Bahlul is as a person, except when he tells Karla he’d like to write a book. Karla advises Bahlul to have more life experiences that he could put in a book.

“Stress Positions” has an irritating attitude that seems to say, “Showing a bunch of eccentric New York characters will be enough to make a good movie.” One of these eccentrics is Coco (played by Rebecca F. Wright), a mute upstairs neighbor who lives alone and appears to be a drag queen. Terry tells Ronald at one point in the story: “Coco’s not trans. She’s mentally ill.” Coco has only one pivotal scene in the film. Otherwise, she’s just in the movie to so a catty snob like Terry can make snide remarks about her.

“Stress Positions” will probably find a certain number of fans who automatically want to gush over anything that can be described as “quirky indie filmmaking,” while ignoring huge flaws in the filmmaking. (A lot of the movie has amateurish dialogue and unimpressive technical production.) The truth is that if you take away the underrepresented “diversity” in “Stress Positions,” it’s just another poorly made beginner film that is often dull. The identities of the characters are not reasons enough to care when their personalities and the story are so hollow.

Neon released “Stress Positions” in New York City on April 19, 2024, with an expansion to more U.S. cinemas on April 26, 2024.

Review: ‘The Family Star,’ starring Vijay Deverakonda and Mrunal Thakur

April 7, 2024

by Carla Hay

Vijay Deverakonda and Mrunal Thakur in “The Family Star” (Photo courtesy of Sarigama Cinemas)

“The Family Star”

Directed by Parasuram

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Hyderabad, India, and in New York City, the comedy/drama film “The Family Star” features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with some white people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A workaholic architect, who is the main financial caretaker for his large family, physically beats people up in various circumstances and has a volatile relationship with a woman who becomes his tenant. 

Culture Audience: “The Family Star” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and stupid movies with egotistical main characters.

Vijay Deverakonda and Vennela Kishore in “The Family Star” (Photo courtesy of Sarigama Cinemas)

“The Family Star” is a disgusting glorification of toxic masculinity. This horrible movie excuses the arrogant protagonist’s physical abuse of his love interest. The film’s messy tone goes from melodrama in the first half to wretched comedy in the second half. “The Family Star” is a shameful and shoddy waste of time and has the putrid gall to literally describe the abusive main character as a “superhero” multiple times in the movie. It shows an appalling and warped attitude about what it means to be a decent and respectful human being.

Written and directed by Parasuram, “The Family Star” has a total runtime (about 159 minutes) that is as bloated as the protagonist’s ego. “The Family Star” has an unrelenting materialistic message that a man is a “hero” if he provides gifts and financial security to his loved ones. The problem is that the movie’s protagonist does a lot of things to show that he’s definitely not a hero: He physically beats up people in business deals. He cruelly slaps his love interest very hard in the face because she described him as financially struggling. He is obsessively controlling over who can spend money on his family. The movie’s fight scenes are over-the-top idiotic because the central character has superhuman strength with no explanation.

In “The Family Star,” the jerk who is grossly elevated to “superhero” status is Govardhan (played by Vijay Deverakonda), a 25-year-old bachelor architect who financially supports several family members who live with him in Hyderabad, India. The family members are his grandmother, his two older brothers, his brothers’ wives, his two nephews and three nieces. The children’s ages range from about 5 to 11 years old. Almost all of these relatives of Govardhan do not have names in the movie, which is the movie’s way of saying that Govardhan is the only family member who matters the most in this trashy story.

Govardhan’s grandmother (played by Rohini Hattangadi) tells Govardhan that he needs to get married so that he doesn’t have to carry the burden of taking care of his brothers’ families. One of Govardhan’s brothers (played by Ravi Prakash) is an unemployed alcoholic. The other brother (played by Raja Chembolu) has a struggling business and is heavily in debt. The brothers’ wives (played by Vasuki Anand and Abhinaya) are passive and mainly react to whatever Govardhan does.

It’s mentioned several times in the movie that whenever something needs fixing in the household, Govardhan takes care of everything. He also helps with grocery shopping and cooking. “The Family Star” keeps trying to make Govardhan look like he’s caring and responsible. And there are times he can be affectionate to his family members. But the reality is that he uses his “head of household” status as a way to manipulate and control his family and other people in his life. He also has a nasty temper and often verbally lashes out at people, including his family members.

Govardhan is obsessed with social class status and being upwardly mobile. He is middle-class, but he wants to be thought of as “upper middle-class.” Throughout “The Family Star,” it’s pretty clear that Govardhan is on an ego trip about being the family “breadwinner,” and he likes feeling superior to everyone in the household. Govardhan also likes to make his family members feel guilty that he’s their main source of financial support. He takes advantage of that guilt by acting like a dictator to his family. He also likes using his “breadwinner” position as a way to boost his public image, so that people can admire him for being such a “great” family man.

At Govardhan’s office job, an attractive female co-worker (played by Divyansha Kaushik), who’s about the same age as Govardhan, seems to be in love with Govardhan. She has proposed marriage to him several times, but he has rejected her proposals every time. (These marriage proposals are not shown in the movie, but they are mentioned in conversations.) Govardhan smugly tells her that he’s too caught up in his family’s problems and responsibilities to get married.

“The Family Star” is so stupid, there’s a scene early in the movie where Govardhan does a business pitch in a meeting for one of his ridiculous architectural designs. His design is a three-bedroom household that is only 600 square feet. Govardhan says that people who are psychologically happy with this small living space won’t complain. However, it’s obvious that the real size problem is Govardhan’s small mind.

Govardhan has a penthouse that he barely uses. This penthouse is next to the place where Govardhan lives with his family. The penthouse is being rented by a wealthy young woman named Indu (played by Mrunal Thakur), who is a graduate student at Central University. A flashback shows that before Indu rented the place, she was warned that Govardhan is very protective of his family and doesn’t want his family’s privacy to be disturbed. She decided to rent the place anyway.

Govardhan doesn’t really like a stranger living on his property. He has told his grandmother that he’s going to tell Indu to leave. However, Govardhan has been postponing this eviction conversation with Indu for two reasons: First, he doesn’t really want give up the rent money he’s getting from Indu, who makes sure that Govardhan sees that she carries large wads of cash. Second, Govardhan is infatuated with Indu, but he doesn’t want to admit it to anyone yet.

Govardhan is such a control freak, he tells Indu that she can’t buy delivery meals because the kids in the household will want the same meals when they see the meals being delivered. Govardhan orders Indu to only have meals that she can cook in her own home, or else she can go out somewhere else to eat instead. Indu tells Govardhan that if the kids request certain things to eat, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to their requests. Govardhan strongly disagrees.

The real issue for Govardhan is that Indu has been trying to befriend the women and children in the household. She is kind to them and often gives them gifts. Govardhan is insecure and feels threatened that Indu (who has a lot more money than he does) will be more respected than he is by his family members.

One day, Indu treats the women and children to a party dinner at a shopping mall’s food court. They all have a good time. But when Govardhan finds out, he has a temper tantrum and orders his family members to stay away from Indu. Meanwhile, Indu sees and hears Govardhan go on this rant, and she feels insulted, but she eventually forgives Govardhan, and they start dating each other.

“The Family Star” is an annoying, tedious mishmash showing the ups and downs of the relationship between Govardhan and Indu. It’s a repetitive loop of Govardhan doing something wrong, Indu getting upset and distancing herself from him, and then she eventually goes back to him. It’s the movie’s terrible attempt to make a co-dependent, abusive relationship look romantic.

The scene where Govardhan slaps Indu on the face happens in front of several of her university colleagues. This slap was not done in self-defense. Govardhan slapped Indu because he was angry that Indu did an academic report where she truthfully described Govardhan as having financial problems. What makes the scene even more heinous is that no one says or does anything about this physical assault, which is a crime where the attacker should be held accountable. However, “The Family Star” makes this physical abuse look acceptable and eventually acts like the slap never even happened.

The movie’s not-funny-at all attempts at comedy, especially in the second half of the film, have no imagination and just regurgitate things that have been seen and done in so many other romantic comedies where a rich woman is being courted by a man who is not wealthy. In this part of the movie, Indu’s student lifestyle completely disappears and turns into something else that involves Indu’s business mogul father (played by Jagapathi Babu) and one of his hapless employees named Samarth (played by Vennela Kishore), who is ordered to spend time with Govardhan, for reasons that are explained in this garbage movie.

“Family Star” has a pathetic “battles of the sexes” storyline that’s phony and unappealing. All of the acting performances in “The Family Star” are mediocre or substandard. The musical numbers are unimpressive. Everything about “The Family Star” is creatively bankrupt, so it deserves to be the flop that it is.

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