Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019: In Review

2019: A Year In Review 

2019 was fun right? At least in Hiddles-Land. It felt like every day there was a new interview, a new photoshoot, a new performance. It was surprisingly difficult for me to narrow it down to a Top 5. Especially when you think about how this year was dominated by one particular thing - we will get to that later

Number Five: Hype Man Tom 

I promise that this is the only label that I repeat from 2018, but seriously I could say this about Tom every year. Whether you were a co-star, a charity, or a tennis player he'd only just met, Tom Hiddleston had you covered 150% all year. 

In February, Tom was the literal poster boy for the Equity #MyCardMyUnion campaign. Which was followed up by 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 charity auctions from Comic Relief, Omaze, Charity Buzz, BFI Luminous etc.. Exactly figures were never released but I wouldn't be surprised if Tom Hiddleston raised more than £100,000. Betrayal Broadway also went on to raise another $100,000+ for Broadway Cares. 

The Betrayal Broadway 'throuple' was an unstoppable force that extended far beyond the stage. Tom (and Charlie Cox) were there as Zawe Ashton reached some major milestones in her career: publishing her first book Character Breakdown and the debut of her first Off Broadway play for all the women who thought they were Mad

... and Tom also lent his voice to the #SaveDaredevil campaign. 

But my far my favorite moment was the US Open. So, Tom Hiddleston randomly meets tennis player, Johanna Konta. Thus began not only one of the greatest runs from a British female tennis player at the US Open, but also a masterclass in the kind of supportive energy everyone needs in their lives. 

Number Four: Stage Door Tom

I went back and worth about whether Stage Door should have been included in the overall Betrayal moment but no, Tom Hiddleston at the stage door is a moment. Stage Door Tom is a legend, an icon, selfie master, king of sass, sweeter than Southern tea. 

Between West End and Broadway, Tom had more than 200 performances this year - and he came out for Stage Door after nearly ever single one of them. Whether you were forming an orderly queue in London or mosh pitting in NYC, you were in for a treat.

I would estimate that Tom met more than 10,000 fans. There were some incredibly moving moments like when he greeted a deaf fan in sign language. ps: British Sign Language is very different than American Sign Language. 

And there were some hilarious moments.

And then there was the Sass King ready to help everyone improve their selfie skills. 

Number Three: InstaTom 

So long Twitter Tom, hello InstaTom. Tom Hiddleston finally remember his Instagram password in 2019. He posted more times in 2019, than in the previous 3 years he was on IG combined. Selfie game was strong. Came at you with the filtered aesthetic. Even threw out some emojis...  

I'm still crying over the fact that Tom's first Betrayal Broadway selfie...

A post shared by Tom Hiddleston (@twhiddleston) on

...was also his last Betrayal Broadway selfie. 

And that squash video with Charlie Cox? Blessed. 

Number Two: Dou Sen

Tom Hiddleston was here to shake all the forests in 2019.  

Your imaginary boyfriend fed us with his Centrum ad

Then he served us during the BAFTA China launch. 

And finally he shook us with the Bosideng campaign. Now I know why he is called Shaking Forest. 

Alexa, how do I say "thank you" in Chinese? 

Number One: Betrayal 

Tom Hiddleston would often joke that Kenneth Branagh referred to the year they did Ivanov, Wallander, and the Thor casting as his "Hiddleston Year". 2019 was undeniably Hiddleston's "Betrayal Year". There was not a single month this year where Tom wasn't either rehearsing, performing, or doing promotions.

Two continents. 234 shows. 200,000 audience members. 

When I started compiling this list it was clear that every road would lead back to Betrayal. Hype Man Tom (5) went hard for his co-stars Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton. There can't be a Stage Door Tom (4) without him first being on stage. InstaTom (3) had 19 Betrayal related posts this year - which is like 9283298 in Hiddles-Land. Even Dou Sen (2) incorporated Betrayal into his commercial and took time to thank all his Chinese fans for coming to the play. 

 Tom Hiddleston said that his heart belonged in the theatre. And even if you weren't personally there, we all felt the joy in his heart for being on stage again. And on Broadway! 

I expect to continue to hear more from Betrayal in 2020. Tom and his costars are all up for WhatsOnStage Awards. I would be shocked if there weren't also Tony and Olivier nominations in the future. Fun factoid: Even though the play is 40 years old and has countless revival - no actor has ever won a major award for Betrayal. This cast may just have what it takes.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Podcast: Open Ears Project (2019)

December 20, 2019: 

Tom Hiddleston stopped by WNYC Studios to spread a little holiday cheer on the Open Ears Project Podcast. 

The Open Ears Project allows people to share the classical track that means the most to them, and is hosted by Clemmie Burton-Hill. This is definitely the perfect place for Tom Hiddleston. Back in March, Tom was on another radio show to talk about the importance of music in film. Who could forget his infamous Song of the Day! Frequently he would listen a music score or instrumental pieces as his Song of the Day. 

You can listen to the podcast below or on the website. Tom chose Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. Tom 

"I love this piece. I am 38 years old and I have been listening to it for 35 or 36 years - and that's not be trying to show off! When I was a very small child - in the early '80s - we had a family VHS player and we only had two video cassettes, and one of them was a performance of The Nutcracker by the Royal Scottish Ballet. And my elder sister and I must have watched this production over 50 times... I remember there was a green sofa. You know how when you're a child you're really aware of the fabric of furniture? You put your face against it and it feels cool or it feels warm. I used to leap off the sofa and dance around. It was one of my earliest memories. My pirouettes are not precise shall we say but I've always found the piece lifts me out of wherever I am..."

You can really feel Tom's childish enthusiasm for this music shining through when he speaks. It is so descriptive you feel like you were there..

Ms. Burton-Hill shared a picture of Tom on her Instagram. 

There's been a lot of questions about when was this recorded. On all their social media posts Tom, the host, and the studio mention today but based on the clock in the studio it was definitely pre-recorded at some point. The clock says 17:26 (5:26pm) but the pictures were released much earlier in the day. 

It is very possible Tom recorded this in September when he and Zawe did an interview with WNYC. 

You can see that Tom put his red sweater (John Smedley Crowford) over his blue sweater (John Smedley Lundy). Hey, that's one way to change up your outfit.   

Monday, December 9, 2019

Betrayal Broadway: Closing Night (2019)

December 8, 2019: 

The best way to close out Betrayal Broadway? A four-minute standing ovation! Throughout their 17-week run, the show grossed nearly $10 million dollars ($9,890,441 to be precise) and had an attendance of 103,600! That's a lot of fans!

"We've lived this play that's such an extraordinary piece of work. We all think it's about - you make up your mind's what you think. We think it's about three people specifically who love each other very much and it's because they love each other they have the capacity to hurt each other. It's been a very profound experience to inhabit Harold Pinter's extraordinary work, and his pauses and silences, over this time. I couldn't personally have wished for more extraordinary artists to share this journey with. I'm so proud of them and grateful to them. Thank you." 

I apologize for the crappy camera work. I was busy crying. It was a very emotional night. In the trailer for Broadway Betrayal, Tom quotes Harold Pinter's famous line, "Our beginnings never know our ends." That may be true... but we were there for the beginning of this Broadway run and sure as heck were coming back for the end. 

The final performance felt like a completely different show than the one we saw back in August. If you had given me an audio from both nights, I would have thought it wasn't even the same set of actors. I don't know if that was a deliberate change they've made based on audience feedback over the past seventeen weeks or if the play felt sadder, more emotional because the actors themselves were feeling more emotional on such a significant night. Or maybe it's because I was armed with more information? The cast has done many extensive interviews during this run where they break down every aspect of their characters. 

Tom talked in an interview about how his character only has six words in the play that are said before he knows about the affair. Six words! Even before he says a word the affair is already sort of started. We get one scene of the Robert before, everything else is Robert after. So he can be forgiven for being a little douchey. But tonight Robert was the opposite of that. Gosh, he just sounded like a big old bully the first time I saw this play. And Robert is usually played that way. Tonight he spoke all the same words but his voice was softer, his words came out slower and more thoughtfully, his tears fell more freely. Brb, crying again. Even in the scene where he confronts Emma about the affair, Tom does it with such patience that it's almost painful. My favorite part was the collective oooooh that went through the audience. 

And Charlie. I don't really know how to describe his character. Jerry is like the guy from school who never studied or did any homework but still got all As. Maximum results with minimal effort. Don't ask me why but he reminded me of Frodo. For real Sam did all the work but somehow Frodo gets to be the hero! Jerry was so earnest tonight. His declaration of love had me ready to leave my nonexistent husband. His complete cluelessness of everything going on around him is the root of all the comedy in the show. I love all the reviewers trying to label Robert as the cuckold husband. I don't know what play they watched but in Betrayal Broadway Jerry is the monkey in the middle of this power struggle.

Now Zawe. This time I fully understand why people walk away from this play with hate in their hearts for Emma. I'm talking full Grinch "loathe you" hate. Especially with this production, because all the great emotional moments come from the men. Emma never really loses or at least she doesn't lose as much as the other characters. Emma is like the cat. She struts across the stage. She has nine lives. She bounces from one situation to another without too much damage - at least not outwardly. Obviously the scene when Robert finds out about the affair and the scene when she ends things with Jerry are tough on her, but deservedly so. And she doesn't have affairs with some random man? No, she has an affair with her husband's best friend. And then once that affair is over she moves on with another man who is close to both Robert and Jerry. A man whom they both need financially. So who's really on top here?

So long Betrayal Broadway. 

Here's the final send off message from Betrayal Broadway

Here is Tom's final Betrayal Broadway message

We're not even going to talk about how similar Tom's last picture at the Jacobs Theatre is to his first picture at the Jacobs Theatre. No we are not. 

Just when I thought I was finished crying. Nope... Also, we still need to know what they were recording stage door for!

If the first stage door was sponsored by heart eye emoji faces, then the final stage door was sponsored by red-rimmed heart eye emoji faces. I'm glad I had my sunglasses on because I was a mess. Tom, Zawe, and Charlie are all the loveliest of humans. 

Here's a video of Tom receiving his puzzle present. I'm sharing it to highlight how sweet our fandom (and Tom always) can be. I was way in the back on the stage door queue so the people around me made sure that Tom received it. People I had never even met before. They went full hype squad about it too. Also, if anyone desires to hear my voice I'm the one that says, "I don't know, I can't see it". Which everyone thought was hilarious because I'm obviously going blind. 

For everyone asking. Here are the puzzles. They are all the same on the left side with cast pictures from the first Preview, Opening Night, the Halloween special, and the 200th show. And then the other side has individual pictures from the show and stage door. I ordered them from PrinterPix (11" x 8"). And to answer Tom's question - there are 126 pieces. I think.  

There's also a nice long Stage Door video from HiddlesAmuseThink Mosh Pit.  If you're already feeling nostalgic already, here's a Betrayal compilation: 

Thank you to Victoria for taking all the photographs for me. You the real MVP.