The 2008 Antoinette Perry (remember her?) Award nominations were announced this morning. I shall spare you a complete listing, but will touch on a few talking points. In the Heights (13 noms? not bad…), Passing Strange (7) and Xanadu (4) seemed the most likely to receive nominations from the comittee, but I think most people were expecting the fourth slot to go to A Catered Affair before it went to Cry-Baby, a show that has received unanimous pans from everyone I know who’s seen it. However, it’s practically no surprise that the critically eviscerated juggernauts Young Frankenstein and The Little Mermaid didn’t get much love. (Disclaimer, I’ve not seen a single new musical this season). In terms of Best Play, August was a no-brainer there, but I was also quite pleased to see The 39 Steps get recognition as well. Also, was it absolutely obligatory that the Tony committee had to give out four nominations for Best Musical Revival? It’s asinine to think that Grease is anywhere near the other three superlative revivals. I’ve seen the latter three, but will not under any circumstances venture towards Grease. I even turned down a free ticket to that too. Another minor quibble: since when is it Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific? (However that’s nothing in comparison to The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein. What the hell…?)
Let’s hear it for Deanna Dunagan, Amy Morton and Rondi Reed, the three superlative Steppenwolfe actresses of August: Osage County in three landmark performances that are helping this play’s reputation as the must-see of the season. Other nominated performances that I’ve seen and am thrilled for: Patti Lupone, Laura Benanti and Boyd Gaines in Gypsy; Paulo Szot, Kelli O’Hara and Loretta Able-Sayres (who is such an unbelievably adorable person, I almost can’t stand it) in South Pacific (not Danny Burstein though, I feel that Matthew Morrison deserved his slot); Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell in Sunday in the Park With George; S. Epatha Merkerson in Come Back, Little Sheba. (I was secretly hoping that they’d just give an award to Harriet Harris for her triumphant apartment trashing in Old Acquaintance, it’s up there with the act two finale of August as one of my favorite moments in a play this season). There was no Tony love at all for the revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which scored zero nominations. Also, Kevin Kline didn’t make the final cut for Cyrano de Bergerac.
Let it also be known that Robert Russell Bennett, quite possibly the greatest orchestrator in the history of the American musical, is getting a posthumous Tony award for his contributions. A recipient of a special 1957 award, I’m mildly curious as to why (other than the fact that his spectacular South Pacific, which is one of the best of the best in terms of orchestrations, is currently a smash-hit revival) they felt the need to give him another, not to mention waiting until 27 years after he died to do it. He is best represented in an abbreviated list of his original orchestrations: Show Boat, Of Thee I Sing, Anything Goes, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, Finian’s Rainbow, Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, My Fair Lady, Bells Are Ringing, Juno, The Sound of Music, Camelot, The Girl Who Came to Supper and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (to name only a few). Not too shabby, huh?
Oh, and Sondheim’s getting one too for the whole “Lifetime Achievement” thing. 😉
I guess we’ll see what’s what on 6/15. Not that the Tony’s play politics or award commercial shows based on whether or not they will tour. Hmmm? What’s that you say? They do? Fiddlesticks! (Yeah, let’s take another look at the Best Musical Cry-Baby).
The Theatre World Award winners will be announced on 5/15. I’m much more excited about what will happen there.