Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Trend Reversals in Tony Land

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Trend Reversals in Tony Land

Article excerpt

Part of the fabric of Tony Awards season is the Quick Closing. That is, after the nominations are revealed, several shows announce they're leaving.

What's strange this year is that the two departing productions were nomination winners, not disappointed losers.

On April 30, only hours after it became one of four shows to receive a prized selection as a best-new-play nominee, "The Testament of Mary" announced it would close May 5, rather than run through June 16 as planned.

On Monday "Orphans," a nominee for best play revival, made its announcement: It would end next Sunday rather than run until its scheduled June 30 closing.

An important thing to understand about the Tonys is that, while they're cherished for the honor by actors, writers, directors and designers, for most producers, they're all about business.

If a show receives nominations, it gets six weeks to advertise the news before the winners are announced. That's supposed to boost ticket sales.

What happened with both "Mary" and "Orphans" is that, since opening in the latter part of April, business had been disappointing, and advance sales were believed to be weak.

There were also disappointments in neither of the show's stars, British actress Fiona Shaw ("Mary") and Alec Baldwin ("Orphans"), being selected in Tony performance categories. (Baldwin's co-star, Englishman Tom Sturridge, was nominated as best actor, but relatively few people know who he is.)

The bottom line, though, was the bottom line: The producers didn't think the nominations would significantly help at the box office and decided to cut their losses by closing early.

On the other side of the coin, two shows that were shut out in best-production categories are doing such great business that their omissions seem financially meaningless.

I expect that Bette Midler wasn't happy that her one-woman show, "I'll Eat You Last," didn't receive a best-play nomination, nor, more surprisingly, that she failed to get a nod for best actress for her generally acclaimed performance. …

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