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This Week on Stage: Tony presenters, baby blues, and problematic Sondheim

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Cradle All Dizzia
Joan Marcus

Theater awards season got hot this week. The 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards were given out on Monday, with The Book of Mormon and Anything Goes snagging five trophies each — and The Motherf—er With the Hat’s Bobby Cannavale scoring a surprise win for Outstanding Actor in a Play over both Al Pacino and Mark Rylance. The upcoming Tony Awards also gained some presenters, including Chris Rock, Jim Parsons, Alec Baldwin, Daniel Radcliffe, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In other news, Godspell will officially return to Broadway at Circle in the Square this fall. Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark continued mounting its comeback on Wednesday when leading man Reeve Carney and composers Bono and The Edge performed one of the musical’s songs on American Idol’sfinale. And Zach Braff’s new off-Broadway comedy, All New People, lined up its cast, lead by Hangover actor Justin Bartha.

Our critics also checked out two new off-Broadway shows and one Washington, D.C. revival. Highlights below.

Cradle and All: I was turned off by this urban yuppie drama’s negative views on both parenthood and living sans kids, but I couldn’t ignore actress Maria Dizzia’s excellent turn in dual roles as a childless actress and a struggling new mom. I give it a B, noting that Dizzia “radiates brains and kindness even when she’s laughing one moment and throwing knickknacks the next.”

The Best is Yet to Come: Critic Melissa Rose Bernardo had few kind words for this off-Broadway turner based on the music of Cy Coleman. Grading it a C+, she calls it “cramped” and “haphazardly staged,” remarking “it’s just song after song after song … shoehorned into random situations to give the barest suggestion of a plot … Coleman created a whole host of fascinating characters. Why cut them out of the show?”

Follies: This big budget Sondheim revival at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center earns a B from Bernardo, who laments its unemotional first half, but called the second act “all-singing, all-dancing, and all-feeling,” adding “I thought no one could top Donna Murphy’s ‘Could I Leave You?’ in the 2007 Encores! staged concert version of Follies, but [Jan] Maxwell delivers the most blistering rendition I’ve ever heard.”

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