We are just about 12 hours away from the announcement of this year’s Tony nominees, and in the final installment of this series, we will make predictions for which shows will be competing for musical theatre’s highest honor.
Best Revival of a Musical
There seems to be an overall consensus that Follies, Evita, Porgy and Bess, and Jesus Christ Superstar are all shoe ins for the awards this year. The first three I can understand. But why is JCS so deserving of a nomination?? The show was panned by the New York Times at both the Canadian engagement and in New York. In fact, the reviews on the show were mostly negative across the board. I don’t see many non critics writing glowing reviews on the message boards or blogosphere.
The award season love for Superstar reminds me of the scene in Mean Girls where Gretchen keeps saying the word “fetch” in an effort to “make it happen”. People, stop trying to make Jesus Christ Superstar “happen”. There weren’t many in loved it the first time around and it’s not like we all have to still kneel at the Lloyd Webber altar in 2012.
Why has no one shown some love for a little 40-year-old musical that was absolutely charming? Godspell might have the hardest working ensemble on Broadway this season. While it’s not a show to satisfy your inner theatre snob like Follies, the show has a ton of heart, and was surprisingly enjoyable for me, even as someone who has never been a fan of the show itself.
I’m going with Godspell for the last slot, because
A) I loved the show
B) Do we really need two mediocre Webber productions in the same category??
Once again, it seems that the first three slots are all locked up as Newsies, Once, and Nice Work If You Can Get It have a ton of momentum. From there, you have any of 5 shows that could land the 5th spot.
Ghost– seemed like it was a no brainer 3 months ago. The West End production picked up an Olivier nomination despite tepid reviews in London. American critics have been even harsher to the show, mostly for the backlash against big budget musicals that emphasize technology over story telling. Ghost is guilty as charged, but it was still an enjoyable date night at the theater.
Spiderman- Just think, if I would have predicted this show even being mentioned for a Tony a year ago, I would have been burned at the stake for witchcraft. Look, I have a lot of respect for the producers and creative team behind this show, even if I hated the end product. To shut down a show that’s grossing 1.5 million a week to retool it and make it better is a ballsy move. I cannot imagine what it was like for those cast members to be caught in the PR storm last year. Not only did they survive, they are still running and putting up big grosses week after week. Spiderman is one of those “gateway” shows, that could bring a new audience to the theater. However, if you are going to rule out Ghost, which is a far superior show, for relying too heavily on gimmicks, then you automatically have to discount Spiderman on the same grounds.
Bonnie & Clyde– I didn’t see the show, but I’m digging the cast recording. Sadly, now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, Frank Wildhorn is the number one most hated man in New York City. Moving on….
Lysistrata Jones- We are all familiar with the 9/11 disaster. This show was the 20/11 disaster and was the single most insufferable theatrical experience i’ve ever had. I know there are some people who think the Tony voters will recognize it since it’s an original, American musical, that isn’t based on a movie. If that’s the logic, then Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson would have been recognized last year. That happened to be a far superior show to the mess at the Walter Kerr Theater.
Leap of Faith- The hatred over this show has been so strong that you would think Wildhorn wrote it. The crowd I saw it with at first preview gave it a standing ovation, and I’m told there have been many since. Yes, the story is predictable. Yes, it’s based on a movie that wasn’t successful in the first place. No, the show doesn’t take a stand and say anything deep about religion. Yes, there are holes in the material. I won’t argue you on any of these points.
But as to where Lysistrata had a cast that consisted of actors that were better suited for summer stock regional theater (Don’t get me started on Josh Segerra), Leap of Faith boasts a polished cast of pros who lift up the material and keep you smiling and tapping your toes throughout the two and a half hours. Raul Esparza is electric. Kecia Lewis-Evans and Leslie Odom Jr are wonderful. Kendra Kassebaum is solid in a supporting role. The show also has an Alan Menken score that is being unjustly criticized as being bland. Would Leap be a serious contender in a stronger year? Perhaps not. However, it’s a show that deserves to be seen. Quite frankly, if it doesn’t snag a nomination tomorrow morning, there might not be much time left to do so.