Broadway Musical Musings: Huggin’ the Bejeepers and Other Tony Award Musings
To quote Oscar Hammerstein (or is it Leslie Uggams?), “June is bustin’ out all over” and we are inching ever-closer to the Tony Awards and the inevitable crowing of Hamilton as Best Musical. I am not spinning my psychic abilities here, as this had been a foregone conclusion since the show moved to Broadway and became the sensation that it has. It has, however, skewed the Tony Awards toward being a somewhat uneventful night that appears to have few surprises in store. I hope that we will still be startled a few times, but I am pretty much prepared for a non-event where awards are concerned. The best we can hope for are great (if predictable in choice) musical numbers from the nominated shows. I’m not blaming Hamilton’s success for this assertion, but rather that I merely prefer an awards show where all bets are off. We shall see.
The Tony Award (lack-of-substantial-nominations) fallout continues with the announced closing of American Psycho. This is another example of how an award that celebrates excellence in theatre may also inadvertently put the nails in the coffin of any show that doesn’t achieve Hamilton-sized hysteria. Due to reasons of finance and time, I did not get to see American Psycho and won’t get to see it before it closes. I had presumed it would hang on a little longer and that I would have time to explore what I am told is an edgy new piece, not without its problems, but certainly not without its merits. Yes, it is true, not every show can or will be a winner and American Psycho and Tuck Everlasting may have fared somewhat better in a less-lustrous year. I do wish there were room on Broadway for every show to sit down to at least a six-month run where it truly has a chance to settle in and maybe find an audience.
Here is what I wonder? Once the trophies are handed out and there is little left to promote other than a single win here, or zero wins there, will the also-rans be forced to close-up shop quickly? Let’s face it, Hamilton is an anomaly of this (and most) Broadway season(s) and in any other year, two or three productions besides the “Best Musical” winner would at least run the summer and probably survive until after Christmas or maybe even the next year’s Tony Awards. Will this happen if Hamilton sweeps? Does Waitress, On Your Feet, or Shuffle Along have enough life in them to hold on for a longer, more influential run? I sure do hope so. The landscape of Broadway is made all the more attractive and memorable through variety.
On an entirely different note, I had the divine pleasure of finally seeing Daddy Long Legs before it closes. If you have not seen this show, I highly recommend getting yourself to the Davenport Theatre before it is gone. Paul Gordon (music and lyrics) and John Caird (book) have assembled an intimate epic (is there such a thing?) about peculiar, predominantly epistolary acquaintanceship that evolves into a tender friendship, and finally a refreshingly awkward romance. Despite an overly long second act that needs trimming by about ten-minutes, I was enchanted by this “Little Engine that Could” musical that, due to its lovely tale and economic size, is destined (deservedly so) so find a long life everywhere. Seldom do these tiny chamber musicals get inside my heart the way this one did. Do yourself a favor and see it live, Off-Broadway, while you still can.