Tony nominations don't seem to pack the oomph they used to. The week following the announcement of the Tony nominations saw several nominated shows throwing in the towel or teetering on the edge of the abyss. Even as nominees for Jane Eyre and Seussical were picked up their award certificates at a Sardi's luncheon on May 16, their producers were hanging up closing notices. Seussical, the once golden property that has struggled to correct itself since opening in Boston last fall, will give its last performance on May 20. That date was to mark the end of the road for Jane Eyre as well, but mere hours after the announcement went out, the box office window blind snapped up again, as news came that singer songwriter Alanis Morissette, of all people, was injecting $150,000 into the show. Ms. "Jagged Little Pill" may put her hand in her pocket for more bucks yet, allowing the musical to stay open through the Tonys.
Meanwhile, A Class Act, the Edward Kleban show which collected five nods, including one for best musical, was kept busy batting off persistent rumors that it, too, would shutter on May 20. Producers and spokespeople vociferously denied any such fate for the show. Then, the New York Post filed a report that the cast and crew paychecks overs at Bells Are Ringing were bouncing (including that of star Faith Prince). Producers explained that the snafu had been corrected, but the news didn't bode well for the tuner, leading people to wonder exactly how many of the best musical and best musical revival nominees would be open by the time the awards ceremony came around. (Riverdance is last year's news, but it, too, decided to close, on Aug. 26, allowing the Susan Stroman-Trevor Nunn mounting of Oklahoma! to pounce on the Gershwin Theatre for a March 2002 debut.)
Meanwhile, for the shows that are already doing well, there was more good news and prospects of further money to be made. The Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan-Susan Stroman smasharoo, The Producers, is hoping to open a London production in early 2003. A U.S. tour will precede London. And, unbelievable as it may seem, Urinetown! is to be the first musical of the 2001-02 Broadway season. The hit Off-Off-Broadway musical comedy is moving into a bigger, er, facility. Starting in late July, the Henry Miller's Theatre on W. 43rd Street near Seventh Avenue will be the show's home. Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman's satirical, neo-Brechtian spoof is currently housed in the American Theatre of Actors, a 120-seat space at 314 W. 54th Street. Thus, Urinetown! may end up the unlikely recipient of Tony nominations or even awards at the end of the 2001-02 Broadway season. (Don't expect too much from it, boys)
Oblivious to the Tony hullabaloo, the 2001-02 Off-Broadway season got underway. John Guare's latest, Chaucer in Rome, began previews at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Melanie Marnich's Blur opened at Manhattan Theatre Club, with Polly Draper in the lead. And New York Theatre Workshop proved it's supportive to all Rapps alike, giving Rent actor Anthony Rapp's playwriting brother Adam his first big New York production, Nocturne.
Lastly, playwright Jason Miller, who won the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for That Championship Season, died May 13 in Scranton, PA, following a massive heart attack.