I wince a little whenever I see the Tony Awards tagline, “There’s a little bit of Broadway in everyone,” but I can live with the discomfort because it is my favorite awards show. I always watch the Academy Awards, I often watch the Emmys, and I’ll never forget when Christine Lahti was in the bathroom when she won the Golden Globe for Chicago Hope in 1998; but the Tony Awards feature big song and dance numbers. They’re the gayest awards show out there, with all the men (and the occasional woman) thanking their same-sex partners, and the acting awards winners give good speeches because they’re comfortable in front of a live audience. So really, they’re just great.
Speaking of great, there are a couple of really great things about this year’s nominations, which were announced earlier this week. Most importantly, The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein did not get nominated for Best Musical or for Best Book of a Musical. In fact, the show only got a couple of reasonably well-deserved acting nominations and a scenic design nod. Now, I might have picked Megan Mullally over Andrea Martin for Best Featured Actress, but I take no issue with the strength of the performances.
The issue I take is with the never-ending comments about how well-endowed the monster is. (You may have guessed that I did not love Young Frankenstein and that I am so over Mel Brooks.)
The other really great thing is that two of the four Best Director of a Play nominees are women — that’s a full one-half, people! (At the Academy Awards, it’s still fairly rare to get one female nominee, and I’m still stewing that Kasi Lemmons didn’t get nominated last year for Talk to Me.)
Now, I certainly don’t women to get nominated simply because they’re women, but talented women getting recognized equally with men makes my day. And while I cannot currently judge the prowess of the male directors of Boeing-Boeing or The Seafarer, or of the female director of The 39 Steps, I can tell you that Anna D. Shapiro directed the socks off of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County.
I’ve already waxed rhapsodic about the show, so I won’t blather on about it again, except to say that it was extraordinary and I hope it sweeps the Play awards.
Other than my anti-Young Frankenstein and pro-August: Osage County sentiments, I find myself in a bit of a quandary for the rest of the awards: I just haven’t seen a number of the important shows. I know that I want the revival of Gypsy to make a strong showing because the show was fantastic, and Patti Lupone and Laura Benanti were both mesmerizing.
The revival of South Pacific is also supposed to be good: Are Patti Lupone and Laura Benanti better than Kelli O’Hara and Loretta Ables Sayre?
I liked — but didn’t love – Xanadu, and have heard mediocre reviews of Cry-Baby. What about Passing Strange? And does the fact that In the Heights got the most nominations (13) mean that it’s the best show on Broadway? How can I know without having seen it?
Such is my dilemma, and most likely yours, too. I must either find a bunch of time and money to go to the theater during the next few weeks or I must rely on the opinions of others. And given that I have a huge work deadline, I’m guessing I’m going with the latter option.
So, here’s where I turn to you. Have you seen the nominated shows? (You can see the full list of Tony nominations here.) Do you have opinions? Please share them in the comments and we’ll see how well you predicted come Tony night.