The Tony Awards, championing Broadway’s finest, are on Sunday on CBS-TV. My wife and I and about 927 other people not involved in theater will watch them – it’s traditionally a low-rated program – despite the fact that, of all the award shows, the entertainment value is the greatest.
We also watch them because, when a Broadway show goes on tour – in our case, to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady – we will be more familiar with the offerings.
Back in March, Proctors gave a preview of what it would be offering this coming season. While Phantom of the Opera has been a perennial favorite, and Book of Mormon was a big hit, the production I’m most excited to see in 2013-2014 may be War Horse. These horses are operated by three guys, who you can see (think the staging of Lion King). Yet you still get a sense of the horses’ motions and sounds as this trio of actors brings these creatures to life. It was OMG awesome. I wouldn’t have been familiar with this – except as a Spielberg film, a whole different animal, so to speak – if I hadn’t seen it highlighted on the Tonys a few seasons ago. Nor would we have been familiar with Memphis or The Drowsy Chaperone, which we’ve since gotten to see.
In the past several seasons, by commercial necessity, a lot of product on Broadway is based on familiar concepts, just as film and TV tend to be. Once (2012 winner for Best Musical), Catch Me If You Can (2011 nominee), Sister Act (2011 nominee, which we will see in the fall) and Billy Elliot (2009 winner, which we’re seeing this week) came from films.
It’s always advantageous to the Tonys, TV audience-wise, when the familiar is nominated. I suspect that’s one of the reasons why they always have Best Revival of a Play (Golden Boy, Orphans, The Trip to Bountiful, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Best Revival of a Musical (Annie, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Pippin, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella). The host once again is Neil Patrick Harris, currently of the TV show How I Met Your Mother.
More names you might recognize, nominated this year:
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Hands on a Hardbody – Music: Trey Anastasio, of Phish (with Amanda Green, who also wrote the lyrics)
Kinky Boots – Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper (I suspect she will win)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks – Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane – The Nance
David Hyde Pierce (of Frasier) – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf (of Roseanne) – The Other Place
Holland Taylor (of Two and a Half Men) – Ann; this is about the late Texas governor Ann Richards; thanks to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s book club, I’ve actually read the script, written by Holland
Cicely Tyson – The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Richard Kind (of Mad about You) – The Big Knife
Tony Shalhoub (of Monk) – Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance – Lucky Guy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Judith Light (of Who’s The Boss?) – The Assembled Parties
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Andrea Martin (of SCTV) – Pippin
Motown the Musical was also nominated for some awards.
We’ll be watching.
Who is Tony?
From Evanier: “The Theatermania website picks out some of their favorite acceptance speeches at the Tony Awards. Make sure you don’t miss Michael Jeter’s for Grand Hotel. But my favorites are still Mark Rylance’s. Here’s what he said on the two occasions when he won…”