The Playgoer: No Tony for Patti

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Monday, August 06, 2007

No Tony for Patti

Cara Joy asks a neat, mischievous question: is this summer's hit Gypsy revival eligible for Tonys? And of course we mean one Tony in particular.

After all, it played in a way-over 500 seat house at City Center. Try 2700.

Then again...

The production is a "legitimate theatrical production" (which is wording in the rulebook that I've never understood) and it is officially opening.

City Center is not currently on the list of Tony eligible theaters. However things at the theater used to be eligible. Doesn't everyone remember Bob Fosse playing Joey in Pal Joey at City Center in 1963? No?[.... ] Fosse was nominated for a Tony Award for that production.[...]

It would seem that what was once Tony eligible can be Tony eligible again. There is one sticking point--technically to be an eligible theater, the theater must "be used principally for the presentation of legitimate theatrical productions." City Center is home to a lot of dance--I'm not sure that dance events would be counted as "legitimate theatrical productions," but it's arguable. There is a discussion to be had there.

Tony eligible shows must perform on a "reasonably conventional playing schedule." This is very vague and there is some petitioning that can be done here. [...] In the case of Gypsy, the show is playing eight performances a week, which is perfectly normal. The run is limited, but that shouldn't be a big problem.

Now, here is the key, they have to invite all Tony voters in a "timely manner." They haven't. And I doubt they could fit in all the Tony voters now. However, if a little time was added, I suppose it would be possible. (There is some sub-rule about the production having to give voters like eight performances to choose from or something, but I'm not an expert on that one.)
But now that the show is closed, I don't think that ever happened.

(Another question I'd have is what kind of Equity contract Encores performs under. Presumably, they did this one under a different one than their usual "concert readings," but they're still a nonprofit.)

So there you have it. The most talked about performance of the summer--and what might well be the Performance of the Year in many theatre fans lists, will not be eligible for a measly Best Actress statue. And in all probability will lose to the Xanadu girl.

(I know, I hear she's good, too. But some competition would be nice.)

PS. Don't miss Isherwood's two cents on Sunday, registering his disappointment with the performance. Implicitly, I feel, he's coming to his NYT colleague Ben Brantley's defense, but this is a more thoughtful critique, at least.

1 comment:

Aaron Riccio said...

I had the same reaction as Brantley and Isherwood, specifically this of Charles', which I wrote about at the 7/29 finale:

"At City Center, alas, I found myself once again entertained but also disappointed, and it occurred to me that Ms. LuPone’s supportive fan base might be part of the problem this time, more inhibition than inspiration. To perform before an audience all but expecting rapture is surely an intimidating, even unnerving experience.

How do you set aside the knowledge that your admirers are out there, hoping to be transported by your assumption of an all-but-legendary role? How do you find the courage and concentration to disappear into the skin of another character when you know it is also your own voice they have come to hear?"

Mama Rose's whole beef, her whole inner turmoil, comes from her struggle to BE recognized. When you have an audience that's overly supportive -- no matter what -- it because that much harder to stick in the role. Where's the conflict for LuPone, if she's already getting what she needs from the audience? Her popularity makes it harder -- though we'd like to believe it shouldn't -- for her to play the "role she was born for."