Theatre Lover's Journal for May 10, 2005

Tony Nominations 2005

by John Kenrick

As someone who loves musical theatre, I could not care less about this season's Tony nominations. As far as I am concerned, none of the musicals that opened on Broadway this season merited much attention. I am tired of pretending that recycled movies are something to get excited about -- and even at my worst, I could never feign interest in the so-called jukebox musicals.

Let's be frank. This has been a pathetic season for Broadway musicals. There isn't a single one that I can sit back and applaud -- let alone stand up and cheer for. Conversely, it was a magnificent year for drama. Doubt is one of the most fascinating plays to hit the American stage in years, and this season has also brought us the intriguing Pillowman and dazzling revivals of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Bill Irwin's performance is a mind blower) and Glengarry Glen Ross. Talk about an embarassment of riches!

But the heavily nominated Spamalot is strictly a series of in-jokes for Monty Python fans, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has a weak book and an even weaker score. Light in the Piazza has some real merit that is often defeated by pretension, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a sweet little Off-Broadway show that would not have dared coming to Broadway in a healthier season.

Yes, I am delighted to see longtime stage pros like Tim Curry and Chris Seiber getting well-deserved nominations. But a stage amateur like Christina Applegate merits a nomination for Best Actress in a Musical? That's all you need to know about the state of the art. We now openly encourage those with no theatrical experience to sidestep the tedious process of learning the craft of stage performance. Why bother? Now they can break in their untried talents on Broadway.

Will I watch the Tony broadcast this June? Of course -- I am not about to miss a chance to watch Hugh Jackman live and unedited. One flash of his smile, and I probably won't even mind that he's fully clothed. But I will watch with no real interest in which musicals win the spinning disks. And if a lifelong musical buff like me doesn't give a damn, I can only wonder how unshakeable the disinterest of the general public will be this year. My prediction -- lots of Tonys for Spamalot and a new all-time ratings low for Tonys.

Ah well, as sports fans say, there is always next season. We'll just have to wait and hope . . .

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