The Playgoer: Tony Reality Check

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tony Reality Check

Critic Dominic Papatola, writing from the Twin Cities, challenges the conventional wisdom on the value of a Tony-win outside of the NY/Broadway cocoon. As he says, Wicked lost the Tony to Avenue Q and has dominated "the road" ever since. (While the puppet show now only survives on the Rialto.) "Put simply," Papatola writes, "the aesthetic glow of the Tonys doesn't shine very far out and barely reaches markets where both audiences and producers are less likely to use awards as a tool in their theater-making and theatergoing decisions."

As for non-musicals:

And regardless of who wins next month, you're likely to see more productions of "[God of] Carnage" and "[Reasons to be] Pretty" than "[Dividing the] Estate" and "[33] Variations." The reasons have infinitely more to do with economics than aesthetics: Those first two shows each have a cast of four, while the cast list for the latter two runs into double digits.
Indeed.

2 comments:

Aaron Riccio said...

Papatola makes a scary point about economics trumping aesthetics--I don't doubt that he's right about shows with small casts being the most produced (Wasn't "Doubt" everywhere a year ago? And "Proof" before that?), but if writers are encouraged to write "small," I worry that the future of playwriting may be a very straightjacketed place.

aaron said...

Re: Wicked and Avenue Q: immediately after the Tonys, the latter signed an exclusive deal with its Vegas venue. Only after it closed there could it tour.