The 1996 Tony Award nominations brought out the best, worst, and most creative in the nominated and non-nominated shows when they designed their ads for showcasing in the New York Times Weekend section May 10.
* As might have been expected, flamboyant producer David Merrick scored an attention-getting coup with his ad for his State Fair, which was not nominated for Best Musical. Under a photograph of himself, Merrick quoted Jesus in the New Testament, saying "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. -- Luke 23:34." He then added a line that managed to mention his, and two other shows, not nominated for best musical: "When the Big Victor is announced, it won't be Fair."
* Merrick was referring to Big and Victor/Victoria. Big ran its ad the full height of a broadsheet Times page, saying "NOMINATED FOR FIFTEEN AWARDS INCLUDING," then the word "best" and "Musical*." The asterisk takes you down to the bottom of the page, where it says, in tiny letters, "DRAMA DESK NOMINATION," which is a legitimate, but lesser-known New York theatre award. Big's five Tony nominations are mentioned as well, also with asterisks.
* Victor/Victoria, perhaps ominously, ran no ad in the Weekend section. The show recently has been advertising its Outer Critics Circle Award as Best Broadway Musical of the 1995-96 season, without mentioning the Tonys at all. Victor/Victoria was nominated for only one Tony, Best Actress in a Musical for Julie Andrews. Andrews declined the nomination May 8 in a dramatic curtain speech after her show.
* Several of the shows that DID get ample Tony nominations weren't shy about saying so. August Wilson's Seven Guitars took out a large display ad with the words "EIGHT TONY NOMINATIONS" emblazoned across the top, with the nominees listed next to eight big guitars. * A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum reconfigured its toppling-Roman-column logo to list the nominees under the faux Latin headline "TONY AWARD NOMINATUS!"
* Bring in the 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk ran the words "9 TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS" next to photos of leaping cast members and a quote from the New York Times review: "SING HALLELUJAH!"
* One ad depicting a Tony-nominee was eyebrow-raising for another reason: Buried Child ran a photo of Tony-nominee Lois Smith, who plays the mother in that Sam Shepard play, under the line "Remember mom this Mother's Day . . ." Shepard's drama is the story of a family ripped apart by parent-child incest and murder.
-- By Robert Viagas