PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 1-7: Tonys and Aftermath

News   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 1-7: Tonys and Aftermath The wins were predictable, the broadcast dull and the ratings were low, hobbled by a basketball playoff.

The wins were predictable, the broadcast dull and the ratings were low, hobbled by a basketball playoff.

Actually, that's a description of the 2001 Tony Awards ceremony, but it works for this year's show, too. It will probably work for next year's and the year after that. Seems no one had ever been or ever will be fully satisfied with the New York theatre's big close-up.

One point where Sunday's honors drastically differed from last June's was in the distribution. Put simply, more than one show won this time. Thoroughly Modern Millie did best, taking home six awards. But also faring well were Urinetown, The Goat, Metamorphoses, Private Lives, Into the Woods and Fortune's Fool. In fact, 11 different shows won in 22 categories.

Millie's victory as Best Musical was particularly significant as a triumph of popular sentiment over critical disapprobation. The show has effectively overcome a fair amount of poor reviews, particularly from the all-powerful New York Times, to become an audience and award favorite. That trick is not easy to pull off. Just ask the producers of Sweet Smell of Success. The musical was never able to shake the drubbing it suffered upon opening on Broadway, and shortly after winning its single Tony Award (for John Lithgow), announced a closing date on June 15.

As for the four dramas which competed for the Best Play prize, the contest's aftermath has been peculiar indeed. Edward Albee's The Goat won in a tight race with Metamorphoses. If you don't watch television and only take the New York Times, however, you might think there was a tie. The Sunday Times, though a snafu somewhere, will run display ads for both play, each claiming to own the 2002 Best Play Tony. Understandably, this mistake does not sit well with the Goat camp, and the Metamorphoses folks aren't so happy either. As for the two plays who didn't stand much a chance to win the Tony, Fortune's Fool and Topdog/Underdog—well, they're doing just ducky. Fool, which won Tonys for its actors Alan Bates and Frank Langella, is looking at a London production in the fall. And Topdog may extend to Labor Day. Taking the fates of all four plays into account, losing doesn't look so bad.

With the Tonys out of the way, Broadway producers felt is was safe to firm up some plans for 2002-03. Jackie Mason will visit Broadway with his sixth solo show, Prune Danish, this fall. The new show will begin previews at the Longacre Theatre on Oct. 8, said a spokesman at the Helen Hayes Theatre Center in Nyack, NY, where the show will have a pre-Broadway tryout.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ernie Sabella were named for Aldonza and Sancho in the new production of Man of La Mancha starring Brian Stokes Mitchell, due at the Martin Beck Theatre this fall. The show is to begin rehearsals in August and try out at Washington's National Theatre from Oct. 8 through Nov. 10, before beginning previews on Broadway Nov. 19.

The Roundabout Theatre Company finally announced the huge cast for its revival of Rodgers and Hart's The Boys from Syracuse; among the names: Chip Zien, Tom Hewitt, Lee Wilkof and Jackee Harry. Also, the Roundabout's new Miss Julie, with Natasha Richardson, who's meant to fall in love with the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, settled on a house: the Longacre. The fun begins in January.

Finally, Hugh Jackman, the Australian actor who's never done a Broadway show in his life, is the most talked about Broadway actor of the week. Jackman was a presenter at the Tonys. Then, playing Billy Bigelow, he joined Audra McDonald, Jason Danieley, Judy Kaye, Philip Bosco, Norbert Leo Butz, Blythe Danner and Lauren Ward in a much-publicized June 6 Carnegie Hall concert of Carousel. That was probably enough to make the original Curly of Trevor Nunn's London Oklahoma! the talk of musical theatre circles. But then it was reported June 5 that he had temporarily backed out of an upcoming Broadway production of the Peter Allen musical The Boy from Oz to sign a movie deal. Scandal! The producers of Oz quickly confirmed Jackman's involvement, although the show was pushed back to September 2003.

Imagine the press he'll generate after he finishes his first preview.

—By Robert Simonson