Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Phony Tonys on Broadway This Year, the Pickin's Are Slim

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Phony Tonys on Broadway This Year, the Pickin's Are Slim

Article excerpt

IT'S TIME again for the Tony Awards, only this year they're the Phony Awards.

Broadway has had another bad season, but the show must go on. So Sunday night's special will honor not so much achievement as survival. That's the way it's been for a few years now in New York, and it's getting worse.

For example, in the best-musical category, four shows had to be nominated for the prize. That was a problem since only two new shows are still playing - "Beauty and the Beast" and "Passion."

So the Tony nominators filled out the category with a flop Dutch production, "Cyrano - The Musical," and a cabaret musical revue, "A Grand Night for Singing," which is a compilation of the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

And to show how absurd was the nomination process, the judges also nominated "A Grand Night for Singing" as in the "Best Book of a Musical" category even though, as a revue, it had no book.

At this rate, next year's best musical might be a play without music. No, next fall Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard" opens on Broadway. Once again, thanks to the Brits, there will be at least one big new musical in town.

Of course, the Broadway producers are mighty embarrassed about how things are going, though they appear not to have a clue how to change them.

Increasingly, the New York theater community is demanding that off-Broadway shows be made eligible for the Tony Awards, but Broadway producers have mounted this annual celebration to boost their own big-theater business where the costs are heaviest, and so far they are sticking to the plan.

Say this for the Tonys, the broadcast is usually a good show. You get to see scenes from the Broadway hits (?) and glamorous stars who seem more relaxed and wittier than the Hollywood Oscar crowd, though, of course, there are some actors who move in both circles.

This year the Tony emcees will be Anthony Hopkins and Amy Irving. Irving was picked, ostensibly, because she was expected to compete for the best-performance-by-a-leading actress-in-a-play award for her acclaimed role in Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass." But, surprisingly, she was not nominated, although Joan Rivers (for "Sally Marr . . . and Her Escorts") was, despite lukewarm reviews.

Well, what the heck. This is a bizarre year all around.

For another example, the Tony committee decided to give the Roundabout Theater, a New York subscription series, a nomination for every show it did this year. I think the committee thinks the Roundabout is good for business. "A Grand Night for Singing" was a Roundabout production, as was "She Loves Me," a revival that came up with nine nominations, second only to "Passion," which garnered 10.

"Passion," despite mixed reviews and reports that numbers of preview patrons were walking out, is a best bet for best musical. It has composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim for credibility. …

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