May 13, 2017

Tony Talk Podcast-Episode 7: The Other Awards

The theater awards season is like a presidential campaign. Everyone has their eyes on the ultimate prize but there are lots of other contests along the way that offer trophies and with them, the chance to improve a show or a performer's odds of ending on top. This week both the Outer Critics Circle, which honors both Broadway and off-Broadway productions; and the Lucille Lortel Awards, which celebrate only off-Broadway, announced their selections for the best of the 2016-2017 theater season. Both chose Oslo for Best Play, just as the New York Drama Critics' Circle did earlier.

That would seem to clinch it for Oslo, J.T. Rogers surprisingly entertaining look at the backstory behind the Oslo Peace Accord. Lending validity to that conclusion is the fact that OCC and Tony voters have disagreed on the Best Play only once in the past 15 years when the OCC went with One Man, Two Guvnors in 2012, and the Tonys chose Clybourne Park.

Even so, the competition this year remains fierce. All the contenders are by first-time playwrights with compelling backstories of their own. And each has devoted partisans.

A Doll's House Part 2 earned raves from nearly all the major critics and features an all-star (and all-Tony-nominated) four-person cast headed by Laurie Metcalf, who's the frontrunner in the race for Best Actress in a Play.

Indecent by the deservedly beloved Paula Vogel is not only imaginatively directed by Rebecca Taichman but deals with subjects—the suppression of art, the love between two women, the plight of immigrants—that strike a particularly resonant chord with the people who vote for the Tonys.

And equally relevant is Sweat, Lynn Nottage's moving meditation on the effect that the deindustrialization of America is having on the people who once worked in the nation's mills and factories and the winner of this year's Pulitzer for Best Drama. 

The stakes go beyond bragging rights.  With the exception of Oslo, none of the other three is doing well at the box office. A Tony would give its winner a chance for a longer run and to recoup its investment.  

In this week's episode, my theatergoing buddy Bill and I speculate about what effect the wins thus far may have on the big one on June 11. Click the orange button below to hear what we have to say or check out all the Tony Talk podcasts on our show page by clicking here. 

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