Theatre Is Easy: Tony Awards Wrap-Up

Written by Theatre, Theatre Is Easy

Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes of Promises, Promises lock lips in an ironic and hilarious FU to
that homophobic journalist from Newsweek. (photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com)

The Tony Awards are over and it’s officially summer in the city (theatre-wise, at least). Here’s the rundown of what you can expect in the next two or three months, before the new season starts in the fall. Good times, people — there’s a lot of stuff out there to be seen this summer.

Big Winners

Red won the Tony Award for Best New Play but is still closing on June 27 as originally intended. It’s interesting that it isn’t extending, as it would certainly do well with its newfound notoriety. The play’s two actors, Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, were both nominated for acting Tonys — for Best Leading Actor in a Play and Best Featured Actor in a Play, respectively. Redmayne won his category. If you want to catch this masterpiece, do it now, because you don’t have much time.

Likewise, the ever-extolled revival of August Wilson’s Fences took the Tony for Best Revival of a Play (no surprises there), and is also closing its limited run as anticipated, on July 11. It’s been impossible to score reasonably priced tickets to this production since it opened. Starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, I guess it’s easy to see why — they both won acting Tonys for their performances. Your best bet for seeing this show (unless you have an extra $350 to spend on one ticket) is to buy a Standing Room Only ticket for a mere $26. You can get SRO tickets when the box office opens each morning.

The Best New Musical prize went to Memphis, ensuring this cheery show will see a long run on Broadway. This was a rather lackluster season for new musicals, and although Memphis is definitely enjoyable in its own right, I am inclined to think that receiving this coveted prize had a little to do with seasonal luck. Regardless, Memphis is a spirited, vibrant love story that is totally uplifting. See it now, or see it in a few months — I don’t think this is one you have to rush to since it will likely play for a while longer.

La Cage aux Folles won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, and I am totally on board with that decision. This production is equal parts quirky and traditional, and the combination makes it accessible yet interesting. Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer are endearing as the couple at the story’s heart, and both were nominated for Tonys for their performances (Hodge won). Tickets might be slightly hard to come by as it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser for locals and tourists alike, but I’d guess it will play for some time, and it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Other Shows Well Worth Your Time

Everyday Rapture: Sherie Rene Scott’s autobiographical, sort of one-woman show, musical review is heartfelt, charming, and diva-tastic. SRS proves herself and then some, and the interesting song choices (and arrangements) — by the Band, the Supremes, Judy Garland, and Mister Rogers, to name a few — offer brilliant performance opportunities for SRS and her brilliant supporting cast (of three).

Next Fall: It was nominated for Best New Play and deserves every accolade it receives (and could have received). A dramedy at its core, it boasts one of the best ensembles seen on a Broadway stage in the past few years, and it’s intellectually stimulating enough to give the audience much to talk about after the curtain falls. I am amazingly impressed by this production and its verve. It probably won’t play too much longer (just a guess), so I’d recommend seeing it soon.

Fela!: The rhythms are infectious, the performances are inviting, and the story is, well, underdeveloped. Nonetheless, Fela! is a rockin’ good time, with an even more rockin’ house band (Antibalas) producing the most amazing of Afrobeat concerts — well worth the price of admission. The dancing is incredible, too.

A Little Night Music: Catherine Zeta-Jones (on her way to an EGOT after her Tony win for Best Leading Actress in a Musical) and Angela Lansbury (nominated for a Tony herself) bow out June 20. But in a producer’s dream, they will be replaced July 13 by the incomparable Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. Trading up?

Want more 2009-’10 season insight? Read Dan’s Tony Talk 2010 columns at theasy.com for all the snarky commentary you can handle:

Tony Talk 2010 – The Plays

Tony Talk 2010 – The Musicals

Tony Talk 2010 – Everything Else