PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 12-18: Spring Hopes Eternal

The 2007 Tony Award nominations were announced on May 15. The critically lauded revival of Journey's End received six nods; two days later the show posted a closing date of June 10 (the day of the Tony Awards). Conversely, the critically drubbed revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten pulled in only one nomination, and celebrated the occasion by revealing the production had recouped its investment.

As you can see, sometimes it's pretty hard to figure what Tony nominations can mean for a production. It was hard, however, to deny the triumph Spring Awakening, The Coast of Utopia and Grey Gardens, the three top nom-getters, and, not coincidentally, three of the most artistically bold efforts of the 2006-07 season. The first came out on top with 11, the other two right behind with 10. Most prognosticators agree that Spring and Utopia will be hard to beat for the Best Musical and Best Play prizes.

Also up for the Best Musical trophy is Kander and Ebb's effort Curtains, which received lukewarm reviews, but nonetheless impressed the nominating committee, winning eight nominations. Coram Boy, another show which failed to win over the majority of critics, collected a respectable six nods, though not one for Best Play. A provisional closing notice went up for May 27.

Among the disappointed, surely no show was more let down than Legally Blonde, the highly touted new musical which is in the running in seven categories, but not in the critical category of Best Musical. The fourth slot in that competition went instead to Mary Poppins, which also raked in seven noms.

The toughest category? Most people agree it will be Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play. Check out this line-up: Boyd Gaines in Journey's End; Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon; Brían F. O'Byrne in The Coast of Utopia; Christopher Plummer in Inherit the Wind; Liev Schreiber in Talk Radio. All past Tony-winners, all giving performances for the books. Tough call.

And yes, Virginia, costume designer Jane Greenwood did get a nomination. For Heartbreak House. Her 14th in 42 years and no win yet. ***

The St. James Theatre recently lost its longtime hit The Producers, but the house staff can comfort itself that its next show is already a guaranteed success. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – The Musical, which was a hit at the Hilton Theatre last year, chose the St. James as its new home this season. It will play a limited engagement beginning Nov. 1. Last fall, the show surprised many by minting money over at the Hilton box office.

Although there has been no official announcement, that booking would seem to indicate that the new Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein, which had originally been scheduled to follow The Producers into the St. James, may play elsewhere — reportedly, the Hilton Theatre, the current home of Pirate Queen.


Rock 'n' Roll — penned by Coast of Utopia playwright Tom Stoppard — will open on Broadway Nov. 4 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, it was announced. Previews of the work, which played a record-breaking run in London, will begin Oct. 19. Trevor Nunn, who helmed the London production, will direct here as well. Brian Cox, Sinead Cusack and Rufus Sewell, who appeared in the London company, will also star on Broadway.

Rock 'n' Roll is not as ambitious as the triple-decker, Russian history lesson that is Utopia, but it does take place over 22 years, and is set in both Prague, Czechoslovakia (Tom's home country!) and Cambridge, England (Tom's adoptive country!). It's also got a nifty, attention-getting title and subject matter.


Finally, the news came that The Theater at Madison Square Garden will now be known as the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. WaMu as in Washington Mutual, the bank chain. Mrs. Simonson taught her son not to say anything if you can't say anything nice, so I'll leave it at that.

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