All in Music That Makes Me Dance
The 2005 Tony Awards represented a season where all four Best Musical nominees could have easily walked away with the Best Musical prize, each show offering something very different and special. It will make for a great debate. The nominees that season were Monty Python’s Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Light in the Piazza, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, so you can see how this would be a contentious season. I’m also going to say in advance of discussion that I definitely have my favorite amongst these shows and I will try to remain unbiased.
1961 was an interesting year in Tony history for a couple of reasons. First, it was a year where there were only three Best Musical nominees instead of four, and second because there were plenty of shows that could have filled a fourth category, but were left out of the running. The nominees that year were Bye Bye Birde, Do Re Mi, and Irma La Douce, with Bye Bye Birdie ultimately taking home the Best Musical prize. For this week’s installment, I am going to do things a little differently. After looking at the three nominees, I want to take a minute to examine a couple of shows that should have qualified, but somehow didn’t make the final cut.
When I was a teenager, I would pace back and forth waiting for the Tony nominations to come out each spring. I’d walk to the gas station on the corner and pick up a copy of The New York Times, sit down on a bench outside the… um… establishment (next to the cranky old lady who sat there every day chain smoking), and immediately tear through the balance of the paper to find that coveted list. I’d begin imagining what type of telecast it would prove to be, asking the question “Will this year’s nominees add up to a decent night of entertainment?”
In writing about these the Tony-nominated Best Musicals of various seasons and making a judgment as to which nominee deserved to win, I take full ownership of my opinion and realize that many of you will disagree. In fact, I invite the debate and am always interested in hearing your opinions as well. Theatre is obviously subjective, and what appeals to me might invite disdain from you. Contrarily, what I detest might be something you are passionate about. When I write these pieces, I do try to keep by opinions balanced, supported with reasoning, while trying to find that good and the challenging in each musical I dissect. That being said, I often find myself at odds with my own determinations, loving one show more, respecting another, while ultimately conceding that yet another deserved to win. 1987, which featured Les Misérables, Rags, Starlight Express, and Me and My Girl as the Best Musical nominees, is a year that leaves me so divided, as each of them offered something very different and each excelled in very different ways.