Inside the 2014 Tony Award Nominees: Best Play

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Image Credit: Matthew Murphy

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Casa Valentina

Opened: April 23, 2014

Closing: June 29, 2014

Starring: Reed Birney, Mare Winningham, Patrick Page, John Cullum, Gabriel Ebert, Lisa Emry, Tom McGowan, Larry Pine, Nick Westrate

Directed by: Joe Mantello

Written by: Harvey Fierstein

Synopsis: The year is 1960, and there’s a group of heterosexual men in the Catskills who enjoy dressing up as women. When they’re forced to decide if they want their playful past time to go public or not, problems erupt.

EW’s review: “Fierstein’s explosive resolution feels rushed and less authentic to the characters than the Donna Reed wigs on their heads. Still, the most lasting impressions of Casa Valentina are good ones: Fierstein’s meticulous dialogue, Joe Mantello’s smooth and confident direction, the cast’s flawless performances. And if the characters teach us anything, it’s that confidence and charm can cover a multitude of imperfections.” B+ –Adam Markovitz

Tony nominations: 4 — Best Play; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (Reed Birney); Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Mare Winningham); and Best Costume Design of a Play (Rita Ryack)

Odds on winning: It’s a long shot.

Mare Winningham on playing Rita, the wife of one cross-dresser and den mother to the group: “It’s a real special experience to be involved in a new play. And the fact that it’s Harvey [Fierstein], who specializes in putting a spotlight on marginalized people. And who knew that there were heterosexual cross-dressing communities? I just didn’t know such a thing existed. And Harvey has unfolded this story where these beautiful men want to be women, and Joe Mantello has assembled this cast of mega-talented actors who spent five weeks just finding their inner woman and bringing it out, and so for me to be, as Harvey says, the ‘G.G.,’ the genetic girl, the genuine girl, and to be someone who the audience kind of comes to the play because she’s sort of their eyes…it’s a special place to be.”

NEXT: Mothers and Sons


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