With the Tony Awards only a few days away (June 13) and nearly every theatre-oriented website extolling predictions for the ceremony, I thought it appropriate to weigh in on the past Broadway season, and even toss out a few of my own picks for best in show.
It is nearly impossible to dismiss the fact that Broadway experienced a rather lackluster year, star-studded shows or not, as can easily be seen by the list of Tony nominations. When musicals like “Memphis” and “Million Dollar Quartet” are able to snag nods for best musical, and the dreaded “Addams Family” can be listed as having one of the best original scores, it’s certain that the creative juices flowing around Times Square were strained this past season.
Perhaps this season is slightly a result of the recession bounce-back effect. In late 2008, as the realities of a recession were preparing to strike Broadway, the New York Post’s Michael Riedel reported that “backers who regularly used to cut checks for $200,000 have all but vanished.”
There were, of course, Broadway cheerleaders during those hard times, claiming that art would endure and the show would go on, but what turned out to be more accurate was that the full effect of scared theatre funders and opportunistic producers would not be completely realized for years to come.
Just look at the celebrity-filled stages over the past few seasons, culminating in a string of Hollywood productions this time around. From Catherine Zeta-Jones in “A Little Night Music” — audiences would never eat their musical vegetables like this show without a celebrity endorsement — Jude Law in “Hamlet,” Christopher Walken in “A Behanding in Spokane,” Denzel Washington in “Fences,” and so on.