Thirteen Tony Award nominations is a couple short of The Producers-like status, but it's a heck of a lot for a musical that supposed to be a small, unassuming soufflé, dessert, Amuse Bouche, or whatever foodstuff it was to which the critics compared The Drowsy Chaperone.
Danny Burstein in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Danny Burstein in The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo by Joan Marcus

Nonetheless, 13 nods it was for the fizzy, crowd-pleasing show on May 16, when the nominations were announced. Thus, it topped all other comers, including The Color Purple (which received 11 noms), The Pajama Game (9) and leading contender Jersey Boys (8).Drowsy, Jersey, Purple and The Wedding Singer will compete for the Best Musical prize. Best Play competitors include works by one Irishman (Conor McPherson), one Brit (Alan Bennett), one who's a little of both (Martin McDonagh), and, to defend the national pride, a lonely Yank (David Lindsay-Abaire). Their titles, respectively, are Shining City, The History Boys, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Rabbit Hole. Well, which recently closed, was not nominated, but the Tonys remembered its two stars, nominating Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell.

Kron was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, a category entirely peopled by performances that have passed into theatrical history, including those of Kate Burton and Lynn Redgrave of The Constant Wife; Cynthia Nixon of Rabbit Hole; and Judy Kaye of Souvenir (who will have her next job on Broadway subbing for Patti LuPone in Sweeney Todd June 20-25).

Some reporters expressed shock that movie goddess Julia Roberts of Three Days of Rain wasn't part of the above company. They weren't really shocked, but surprise and indignation made for better copy.

Also among the "not surprised" ranks were the producers of Festen and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. The former announced on May 15 their show would close, accurately predicting that the Tonys would not be generous. The latter pulled down the curtain the next day, having won only one nom, for the Captain Queeg of Zeljko Ivanek.

Winners will be revealed at the June 11 Tony ceremony, which will be hosted by…. Oh right, they still haven't announced the host. ***

Fittingly, Cy Feuer, the last of the Broadway producers from the Golden Age, chose a very theatrical day—Tony nominations day—to leave the Rialto for good. He died the morning of May 17 at age 95, at his home in Manhattan. Feuer, along with his last partner Ernie Martin, brought may a hit show to Broadway in the '50s and '60s, but his name is forever linked in the minds of theatre lovers and historians with that of Frank Loesser. (He knew this, naming his autobiography "I Got the Show Right Here," a spin on a Loesser lyric.) Feuer produced three of the composer's shows, including Guys and Dolls, one of the classic examples of the art form. That doesn't mean he and Loesser got along. The irascible Loesser denounced Feuer in public like clockwork. But then Feuer was a tough man to work for; no less a man than George S. Kaufman failed to please—Feuer fired him from Silk Stockings. Feuer always wanted to get the show right, and if that meant people had to suffer, so be it. The audience rarely suffered.

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