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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And Best Carbon Copy goes to...

So Riedel reports today on what's already emerging as this (next?) year's Tony awards fracas, further proving the senselessness of the award categories if not the awards themselves.

A decade or so ago, of course, the Tony folks came up with the Best Revival category, basically to acknowledge that Broadway had become a themepark museum, generating little interesting new and original work and profiting off of nostalgia alone. But at least, in the case of a vastly different new production of a known quantity, you can argue, why not reward a great production that is essentially new. Like John Doyle's radical rethinking of Sweeney Todd. (Which, of course, lost the category last year to The Pajama Game.)

But what to do when your revivals skip the rethinking part and just cash in on the whole original production, top to bottom? What if you're reviving a show that just won best "new" musical yesterday? In short, wouldn't it be more apt to refer to the current incarnations of Chorus Line and Les Miz not as revivals but remounts?

Well that's what the Tony committee is debating. Essentially--what should be counted in a sub-category of a sub-category? And it's not just an issue of the show itself but the direction, design, and choreography being resurrected. Are those artists eligible to compete alongside more fresh work?

While indeed, it just doesn't seem right to let Trevor Nunn, for instances, get nominated for directing Les Miz again (if he even did this time), it's hard to take a principled stand on this since it all exposes just what's so ridiculous about the Tonys itself. Obviously, Nunn would most likely not win a Tony. Unless voters are just bribed by Cameron Mackintosh and Disney, they'll know it's a re-do job and can vote accordingly. But what's being fought over is--can he be nominated. Because you never know if there won't be four other decently directed musicals out there and you'll have to fill the category!

Of course the issues of the shows themselves is crucial to the producers in each case--especially the Chorus Line people who probably could win that category of Best Musical Revival. (Especially if the competition is Les Miz lite, The Apple Tree, and 110 in the Shade.) Remember, the Tonys are primarily about helping producers promote their shows.

Ultimately, having said that, I do believe if you're going to have silly awards, then you might as well reward good work when you see it. Being roped into a crazy nominating process and outdated categories just doesn't help.


Aaron Riccio said...

I certainly hope that Company wins what it can in the Best Musical Revival category--I notice you left that off your list of possible contenderes. Or is this one getting lumped in another area because of the whole Sweeny Todd redux effect?

Anonymous said...

While we're on the subject of silly categories, how about Best Play? This year, the nominators will have to choose just four contenders, scrupulously narrowing their choices from a vast field, six? Or seven? My gosh, how will they find time to SEE everything?

Of course, if they considered off-Broadway plays, this might be a category worth talking about. But since this award is determined entirely by real estate and who owns it, I guess that won't happen.

Aaron Riccio said...

Well, if last year's fiasco with Well is any example, even with only seven straight shows to see, the judges will still find a way to not manage to make it there, so let's not give them too much credit in the first place.

Agreed though, and I think this whole discussion came up earlier this year on this site, that the Tony awards are a pretty exclusive and commercial club.