April 29, 2015

Taking Time Out for Tony Talk-2015 Edition

It’s hard to argue with the Tony nominations announced yesterday morning. The much-admired An American in Paris and the even more critically beloved Fun Home lead the pack with 12 nods each but other well-deserving musicals and plays got recognized too. 

Old favorites (The King and I, Chita Rivera) picked up nominations but so did some cheeky newcomers (Hand of God, Fun Home’s 11-year-old Sydney Lucas). And while the influx of Hollywood émigrés to the Great White Way continued, they got judged on the basis of their skill and not their celebrity, which meant a spot on the ballot for Elephant Man's Bradley Cooper but none for Fish in the Dark's Larry David. You can get more information about all of the nominees by clicking here.

Needless to say, the generally smart choices that the 38 folks on this year’s nominating committee made aren’t going to keep people from finding things to gripe about, even if I could come up with just one real head scratcher: The Heidi Chronicles stiff Elizabeth Moss beating out the emotionally supple Mia Farrow in Love Letters.

But the buzziest news this season has been the dozen musicals that opened on Broadway over the past three months and even the blah-est of them (Doctor Zhivago, I presume) have their partisans (click here to read the list of the overlooked shows).  

Of course Broadway isn't like kindergarten where every kid gets sent home with a prize of some kind. Still, you can count me among those who had been hoping against hope that the feel-good, but already departed, Honeymoon in Vegas might squeak by with a nod for Jason Robert Brown’s zippy score or the endearing performance by Rob McClure.

And although he’s been publicly gracious (click here to see what he said) I can imagine how galling it must be for Harvey Weinstein, a master at finagling Oscar love for the films he produces, to end up with zippo for Finding Neverland, the Peter Pan origin story that marked his first time as a lead producer on Broadway.

At least people, perhaps drawn by the presence of “Glee’s” Matthew Morrison and “Frasier’s” Kelsey Grammer, have been buying tickets to see Weinstein’s show. Within hours of the nominations, the producers of Living on Love, a play set in the opera world and starring real life opera star Renée Fleming, announced that they were closing that show this weekend.

But I don’t want to end this on a down note. There are lots of things to celebrate. While I wish Airline Highway had gotten more Tony love (click here for my review) I’m delighted that Julie White was nominated for her performance as the heavy-hearted hooker who is the anchor of that show about life on the margins in New Orleans.  

I’m also really pleased that director Stephen Daldry got nominated for the superb revival of David Hare’s Skylight, illuminated by the also superb (and also nominated) performances of Billy Nighy and Carey Mulligan instead of for the historical pageant of Queen Elizabeth II’s life in The Audience, which rides mainly on the train of its leading (and nominated) lady Helen Mirren (click here to read an interview with Daldry).

Also hats off and off and off and off to the prodigiously-talented costume and set designer Bob Crowley, who is nominated for three shows in four different categories. 

 And until the Tony administration committee creates a much-need category for video projections, I’m glad to see that Crowley is sharing one of his slots with 59 Productions, which did the amazing visuals for An American in Paris.

Cheers to them all. 

Now here’s where, in recent years, my theatergoing buddy Bill and I have appended a podcast in which we debate the nominations but we found that we had so little to talk about this year that we’re going to sit this one out. 

In fact, the nominees are all so basically udebatable and deserving that this is likely to be one of the least predictable—and therefore all the more exciting—Tony contests that we’ve had in years. 

So I’ve set up a special magazine on Flipboard to keep track of all the doings between now and the awards ceremony that CBS will broadcast on June 7. Click here to check it out and subscribe.

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