I had the pleasure of attending The Tony Awards this year for the very first time. Right there at Radio City Music Hall, with Liza sitting over yonder talking to John Waters, and John Lithgow over there talking to Mandy Patinkin, who looked as though he were doing a remake of “Fiddler On The Roof”, and Brooke Shields sitting over to my left…well anyway, you get the picture. What was unusual was this: I’ve been watching the Tonys on tv for at least 35 years, and there was something, well, kind of anti-climactic about actually being in the room.
First of all, we actually in front of all the tv cameras, right down in front, in what they refer to as the “TONY mosh pit”. Anyone who performed center stage (like ALL the musical numbers) were right on top of us, which was really great, but which didn’t FEEL like the Tony awards, more like a kinda private stage show for us and about 5000 other people.
Secondly, during the official commercial breaks, when the people at home were checking their TONY ballots or chowing down on pizza and whatever else they were subjected to in other people’s living rooms, there was this really bizaare ABSOLUTE silence in the Music Hall. Oh, a couple of times they screened these little films made especially for that live audience, that the people at home didn’t get to see, such as this wonderfully hysterical film of members of the armed forces stationed in NYC trying to sing and dance to the “South Pacific” showstopper, “There Is Nothing Like A Dame”, which actually got some noise stirring in that vast auditorium. That was one funny piece of film that more people should somehow get to see, but no matter, too late now. They also screened a series of vintage television commercials originally made for Bway shows from the 70’s on, one of which was a spot for the original production of “Grease” in 1972, in which Sharon Stone(!!??) was supposed to be a member of the audience. And THAT was pretty funny.
But for the most part, as the night wore on, during those breaks, it just got unnaturally silent in the mammoth Music Hall. Another weird thing-when our favorites won, we kind of yelled and carried on right there, live, the way we normally do when watching at home. (I know-this is waaaaay too much information). And so, I don’t really think we’ll be invited back again, but hey, it was kinda fun, for more than four butt numbing hours in a folding chair. And we did get to see “South Pacific” win all the big awards, we got to see Stew win Best Book of a musical, which he truly deserved, and we got to see the charmingly goofy Mark Rylance from “Boeing, Boeing” give the most bizaare acceptance speech ever. I’d mention the after-party but you’d get all jealous and hate me, so I won’t.
And so, on the the stuff that’s coming up real soon. To a theatre near me. Or you.
You’ve already missed the first Spakespeare in the Park production of the summer, which was Oskar Eustis’s frighteningly good production of “Hamlet” starring a brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg, however…the next production in Central Park is so hotly anticipated, they’ve already extended it two more weeks. The 2nd production will be the original “tribal love-rock musical”, as it was called back in 1967, a little landmark musical called “Hair”, which originally starred people like Diane Keaton and Keith Carradine, and which, this time around, will star Jonathan Groff, the former star of last season’s “Spring Awakening”. Vogue has already done a 14 page spread on the new production and its stars, it’s being looked at as Broadway’s next big revival and there it will be in Central Park for 6 weeks, for FREE. If you know “Hair”, you’ll want to see this(for nothing, folks, then prices go up to, Oh I don’t know, 700 bucks a ticket or something), and if you don’t know “Hair”, then shame on you. Just make plans to get thee to the park in July and August.
Also coming up this summer will be a major new revival of “Godspell”, which will play the Barrymore Theatre starting early August. This is the first major Broadway revival of this 60’s hit in a long time, so there’s a lot to look forward to here as well. It will star Gavin Creel, who’s just back from London, where he’d been playing Bert in “Mary Poppins”, and who was last here on Broadway in the revival of “La Cage Aux Folles”.
Is everything coming, a revival, you might ask? Yes, I’d have to answer. (completely tongue-in-cheek, of course). There will be a major new production of my favorite Arthur Miller play, “All My Sons” starring Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow come this September at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. It will be directed by the super-talented British director Simon McBurney, the founder of Theatre d’ Complicitie, so it promises to be a new take on a classic. Also coming, Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Saarsgard in “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, a production from the Royal Court Theatre.
There’s a bunch of new material coming as well, but most of it will be off-Broadway (hey, I’m kidding, really…), but in the interest of keeping you interested and focused, I’ll save it until next month…right now I have a video of the Tony Awards to watch just to see if I can find myself……