few weeks ago, I promised to try and muster up enough energy to get through the Tony Awards. After Sunday night, I can say I mostly delivered on my promise, in that I DVRed the awards and fast-forwarded through everything except the performances and certain key acceptance speeches. (I kinda want to see Cry Baby now.) If you managed to make it all the way through the festivities without the blessed use of fast-forwarding, I’m going to accuse you of being a producer.
After tallying up the wins, no one show was a runaway hit. South Pacific racked up the most honors with seven awards, which seems impressive until you realize it was nominated for 11. Similarly, In the Heights (my personal favorite) walked away with four, but was nominated for 13 (the most).
Having a pretty even split among the Tonys could mean one of two things. It could mean this was a very good year for Broadway, and that voters really found themselves split between great shows and found ways of honoring them all. Or, it could mean it was a so-so year for Broadway, and the even distribution means that there was no one show worth rallying around.
I personally haven’t seen enough shows to tell which case it is. Apparently, that’s typical. After a conversation I had with Bob Funking and Bill Stutler, the owners/producers of the Westchester Broadway Theatre, I found out that only 3 percent of Broadway’s audience comes from Westchester. That statistic surprised me; we’re so close, I figured more of us would take advantage. (For more with Funking and Stutler, keep an eye out for the August issue.)
Even though county residents aren’t going to Broadway, a lot of them are certainly involved. Unfortunately, they probably walked away from the awards this Sunday unhappy. Let’s take a look:
1) For the second time this year, Alan Menken didn’t take home a gold statue for which he was nominated. His “Best Original Score” Tony went to Lin-Manuel Miranda of In the Heights, and his “Best Original Song” Oscar went to the singer/songwriters from Once. Though my Westchester pride knows no bounds, I’d have to say that both of these upsets were deserved. (Besides, how many awards can you win for re-writing “Under the Sea” over and over?)
2) Similarly, our local producers came home with zilch. Chappaqua resident Ron Fierstein’s A Catered Affair didn’t cash in on any of its three nominations (“Best Performance by a Leading Actor,” “Best Performance by a Leading Actress,” and “Best Orchestrations”). Young Frankenstein, produced by White Plains natives Steven Baruch and Thomas Viertel (who also have producing credits on A Catered Affair), also walked away with a big goose egg. Turns out Mel Brooks was wrong: It’s no so hard to produce a flop, at least when it comes to awards.
Then again, some locals have reason to celebrate.
1) As you know already, I’m a huge fan of In the Heights. But one Pleasantville resident is, too: Andres Patrick Forero, the show’s drummer. We were both probably clapping excitedly as the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, did a not-quite-freestyle rap as his acceptance speech for his first award—and then returned to the stage to get three more.
2) I mentioned that South Pacific was the big winner of the night, with seven statues. This must’ve been welcomed news to Alice Hammerstein Mathias, a Harrison resident—and daughter of Oscar Hammerstein.
3) Steven Baruch and Thomas Viertel are also producers on Gypsy—talk about not putting your eggs all in one basket—and that show took home three awards, all for performance. So the key to producing an award-winning Broadway show isâ€¦to produce a lot of them, and hope that one makes good on its nominations.
That’s about it for the Tony Awards. Now, don’t tell me you want me to watch the Emmys, too.