Culture & Entertainment

Parsing the Tony Award nominees

By: Guest Blogger
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Parsing the Tony Award nominees

By: Guest Blogger
b_Tonys1701 Those of you looking to take in a musical in New York over the next few months may find it useful to scan the Tony Award nominations, which were announced this morning. For my money, the Tonys have always been a fairly dubious measure of quality in that the winners are almost always the most popular shows, not the best shows. (It’s an annual tradition for the one good new musical—if there is one—to lose to the glitzy and/or fluffy mega production. See: Ragtime losing to The Lion King, or  The Light in the Piazza losing to Spamalot, or Caroline, or Change losing to Avenue Q.) But if the winners are often obvious or outright lame, the full array of nominees usually include at least a handful of worthwhile shows. This year, the show with the most nominations (10) is, for once, a seemingly deserving one (not having seen any of the nominees, I can only go by the reviews): the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Adapted from the same source material as the beloved Alec Guinness comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, it features Jefferson Mays (a previous Tony winner for I Am My Own Wife) playing eight different members of the royal D’Ysquith clan, each of whom is systematically bumped off by the ninth in line for the dukedom, played by Bryce Pinkham. Both men were nominated, as was the show, the director, and pretty much everyone else involved. The English music hall–style show has been playing to rave reviews (if not packed houses) since last fall, and by all reports it’s a witty, stylish delight. The other nominees for best musical are pretty uninspiring: the latest Disney rehash, Aladdin, and two boomer-nostalgia “jukebox” shows: After Midnight and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. As for the musical revival category, it’s much more interesting. Two of the three nominees are excellent shows that debuted off-Broadway in the 1990s and are just now getting a shot at Tony glory. The buzziest one is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which stars the beloved Neil Patrick Harris in the fabulous title role—a transgendered East German punk rocker trapped in rural America. If you’ve seen the 2001 film version or any of the previous stage productions, you know Hedwig is brilliant and funny and maybe the only rock musical ever made that actually rocks. The reviews of this new production have been stellar, and Harris is pretty much guaranteed to go home with Best Actor in a Musical. The other highly worthwhile nominee is the near-forgotten Violet, which is set in the 1960s and is about a young, naïve North Carolina woman who goes in search of a preacher to rid her of a disfigurement: a huge facial scar caused by a wayward axe blade. The original production was a neglected gem, with an inventive yet highly melodic score by Jeanine Tesori (who went on to score Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change). The show isn’t likely to be forgotten this time, as it stars the universally adored Broadway veteran Sutton Foster ( Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie), who has been nominated for five Tonys over the past decade. She was nominated a sixth time for this show. Oh, the third nominee in the musical revival category? The obligatory post-movie remount of Les Miserables. BO-ring! ( Image courtesy of the Tony Awards.)
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Parsing the Tony Award nominees

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