PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 28-May 4: Tony Mania!
By Robert Simonson
The breakneck horse race of last week over and done with, the standings were read aloud on May 1, as the nominees for the 66th Annual Tony Awards were announced at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center.
Once, the new musical based on the film of the same name, showed that something modest and unusual can work on Broadway by earning 11 Tony nominations, the most of any production of the season. The two Gershwin musicals proffered this season, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It, took in 10 nominations apiece, the latter despite having received largely mixed reviews.
All four Best Play nominees, including the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Clybourne Park, arrived on Broadway after acclaimed Off-Broadway runs. The others were Venus in Fur, Other Desert Cities and Peter and the Starcatcher.
The play category was perhaps the most interesting, owing to the fine contenders who were left out. The Lyons; One Man, Two Guvnors; The Columnist; Chinglish; and Seminar — all plays that had won their share of acclaim — did not make the grade. (When David Auburn, Nicky Silver, David Henry Hwang and Theresa Rebeck constitute the second tier of Broadway offerings, you have to reflect on the wealth of plays The Street has seen this season.) Seminar reacted by posting a closing notice, as did the basketball drama Magic/Bird. Both were nom-free.
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark did not find itself among the nominees for Best Musical. Though the show was to originally open during the 2010-2011 Broadway season, it actually finally celebrated its opening night on June 14, 2011, after playing a record-breaking 192 previews. Spider-Man snagged only two nominations: Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical (the latter, posthumously, for Eiko Ishioka).
Productions from 2011-12 that were left completely empty-handed included Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett; and Seminar, which couldn't even muster a nomination for lavishly lauded star Alan Rickman. The only musical to not garner a single nomination this season was the revival of Godspell.
The Tony Awards, celebrating excellence in Broadway theatre in the 2011-12 season, will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from the Beacon Theatre on CBS June 10. Broadway's resident Puck, Neil Patrick Harris, will again host.
One show that was supposed to be part of the past season — Rebecca, the musical based on the classic novel by Daphne du Maurier, about mysterious and highly campy doings in an English estate called Manderley — announced that it will begin Broadway previews on Oct. 20 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
No casting has been announced for the roles of the romantic leads. Sierra Boggess was previously announced to play the narrator-wife, but she has since been announced for the new musical Prince of Broadway.
Bobby Cannavale will star in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Clifford Odets' seldom-seen, Hollywood melodrama The Big Knife. It will begin previews March 22, 2013, at the American Airlines Theatre.
Directed by Doug Hughes, the upcoming production marks the first new Broadway staging of The Big Knife since it premiered on Broadway in 1949. It was directed by Lee Strasberg back then.
Cannavale will play Charlie Castle, a big Studio star who has a big secret the studio bosses use to keep him in line and in contract. Among the many exposés of Hollywood sleaze that have been written over the decades, few match the dark picture painted here by Odets.
Finally, yet another Broadway Tennessee Williams revival is on the way.
Scarlett Johansson is close to finalizing a deal to return to Broadway in a revival of Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, according to Variety. She will play Big Mama.
Just kidding. She will play Maggie.
Johansson cut her teeth on Broadway in a revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, impressing nearly every cynic in town. She won the Tony for her turn.
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