Production costs on Broadway are through the roof, as it costs upwards of $3 million to put on a play while musicals can run between $7 million and $11 million, according to FoxBusiness.com. It’s no wonder that producers felt squemish about relying on actual art to sustain a production. After all, “A Steady Rain” proved that a complete bore could become a hit merely because it featured Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, while a worthy revival like “Ragtime” couldn’t find an audience as it had no Hollywood-linked names.
Thank goodness for the Tony nominating committee realizing “Ragtime” and “Finian’s Rainbow” were deserving of a nod for best revival of a musical, although the frontrunner is the Kelsey Grammer starring “La Cage aux Folles.”
Every name in the best leading actor in a play category can claim Hollywood stardom, from Law, Walken and Washington to Alfred Molina (“Red”) and Liev Schreiber (“A View from the Bridge”). All gave award-worthy performances, but that could be due to the lack of opportunity for a regular Broadway Joe in this creative dry spell.
Broadway’s one-time crown jewel, Kristin Chenoweth, has spent more time in Los Angeles than on the stage since her exceptional turns in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and “Wicked,” leading to an experiment gone wrong in this year’s “Promises, Promises.” Her name is nowhere to be found on the Tony ballot.
The most intriguing production to hit Broadway this time around was “American Idiot,” a concert-like musical based on the music of Green Day and shepherded to the stage by director Michael Mayer. While the show is by no means another “Spring Awakening” — a show that wasn’t even the next “Rent,” despite what teen audiences would have you believe — it was certainly the most creative idea to hit Broadway this season, although “Fela!” gives it a run for its money in that category. Of course, don’t look for “Idiot” to get much love on Tony night, as the show was mostly snubbed by the nominators.
Plays fared a little better, with “Enron,” “Time Stands Still,” “Next Fall” and “Red” all proving that good pieces of art have a place on Broadway — all but the London-born “Enron” have been able to stay open for more than a few weeks, while “Time Stands Still” is gearing up to re-open only a few months after closing.
If I were chosen to vote for the best productions on Broadway this past season — feel free to take me up on that idea, Tony folks — my picks would look something like this: “Next Fall” as best play, “American Idiot” as best musical, “Everyday Rapture” as best book of a musical, “Enron” as best original score, “A View from the Bridge” as best revival of a play, “Ragtime” as best revival of a musical, Liev Schreiber as best leading actor in a play, Viola Davis as best leading actress in a play, Douglas Hodge as best leading actor in a musical and Sherie Rene Scott as best leading actress in a musical. And Mayer didn’t even get nominated for his direction of “Idiot,” so I’d abstain from that category.
The most dramatic thing that could happen at the Tony Awards on Sunday would be if Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh showed up for a public beheading at the hands of the telecast’s host, Sean Hayes. Short of that spectacle, this past Broadway season will fade away into the annals of theatre history, and hopefully never be brought up again.