Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Caring About the Tonys

People have been asking why I have not posted a commentary on the Tony nominations -- something Musicals101 used to do religiously. Well, my reason for not doing so this year was simple. After a truly craptacular season for Broadway musicals, I cannot work up much enthusiasm one way or the other for the current crop of nominees. When the only interesting race of the evening is whether Gypsy or South Pacific will win Best Revival, its a sad commentary on the lack of new musical magic on Broadway. As it is, I will skip watching this Tony telecast.

A long time ago, I wrote on Musicals101 that musical theatre is bound to develop in ways no one can possibly foresee, and it will doubtless evolve in ways some of us are not going to like very much. This year, the Tony committee resolutely overlooked some big-budget traditional musicals of dubious merit (like the bloated Young Frankenstein and the tasteless Little Mermaid) and aimed most of their nominations at musicals that took a more innovative approach. While I applaud this apprach in theory, I cannot pretend to care about the "innovative" shows in question. I found Passing Strange to be deafening example of "sound and fury signifying nothing," a self-indulgent performance piece. In The Heights is a pleasant little show, but I can't say it really moved or delighted me. I will mercifully refrain from commenting on the other nominees, who are more or less on hand to fill out the category.

Am I really itching to see numbersfrom any of the new musicals performed on the Tony telecast? Frankly, no. One hopes we will get great scenes from the revivals, but beyond that, I have no qualms about not watching the Tonys this year. That night happens to be when the York Theatre is closing a weekend-long revival of the 1985 musical Grind. Sure, I will record the broadcast (for clips to show during classroom lectures), but I am not going to rush home that night to view the results.

I miss caring about the Tonys.
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