Previews of Coming Attractions: Tony Awards Favor Future Musicals Over Present Ones

By Robert Simonson
12 Jun 2014

Andy Karl
Andy Karl
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Surprised by seeing Sting on the Tony Awards? How about Jennifer Hudson? Playbill.com talks with members of the theatre community about the musical numbers that were broadcast on the Tony Awards and how the choices were made. 

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The Tony Awards broadcast is often charged by its critics as being nothing more than a three-hour-long advertisement for the shows that played on Broadway that season. The 2014 telecast, however, shed itself of that reputation. Instead, it is being criticized as an advertisement for shows that are going to be on Broadway next season.

Many theatre professionals and observers were confused — and some were irate — when precious airtime during the June 8 broadcast was devoted to upcoming musicals. Sting performed a number from his musical The Last Ship, which will premiere at the Neil Simon Theatre in October. And Jennifer Hudson sang a song from Finding Neverland, a Harvey Weinstein-backed show about the creator of "Peter Pan," which is expected on Broadway spring 2015.



Meanwhile, a couple shows that did play on Broadway during the 2013-14 seasons got short shrift. Rocky, the musical adaptation of the popular Sylvester Stallone boxing movie, which ended up winning a Tony for Best Scenic Design, performed a scene during the show, but one that did not feature the score. However, it fared better than The Bridges of Madison County, which, despite being nominated for a few Tonys, got no airtime at all.

Ironically, Jason Robert Brown’s unheard score and orchestrations both won Tony Awards. Upon mounting the stage, while accompanied by a snippet of his score, he quipped, "Glad you got to hear that music from Bridges of Madison County, 'cause that's all you'll hear tonight.” (Brown declined to comment further for this article.)

On social media, some of his colleagues agreed with his grievance. “Instead of having a song from a show YET to be on Brdwy- they should have had a song from Bridges of Madison County,” tweeted actress Debra Messing.

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