- Last Updated: 6:44 PM, May 14, 2012
- Posted: 11:06 PM, April 24, 2012
The most powerful people on Broadway this weekend will be the 28 theater professionals who make up the Tony nominating committee.
Their nominations — anxiety over which will keep producers, publicists and agents up all weekend — will be announced Tuesday morning.
But for the time being, the theater industry in is in the grip of yet another committee.
(This business, once a playpen full of gamblers, rascals and lunatics, is now very professional. Which means focus groups, committees and dull shows.)
The Tony administration committee decides which artists and production elements are eligible for awards — and in which categories. Its rulings determine the number of Tony nominations a show can pick up, and then brag about in the month leading up to the Tony telecast.
The committee, made up of producers and theater owners who have gigantic conflicts of interests — “but that doesn’t matter because we cancel each other out,” everybody says, blithely — meets on Friday.
The key decision will be whether “One Man, Two Guvnors,” a very funny comedy from London, is a revival or a new play. The producers have written a letter to the committee arguing that playwright Richard Bean has done an adaptation of Goldoni’s 18th-century commedia dell’arte masterpiece, “The Servant of Two Masters.”
But there might be a hidden agenda here, given that some of the producers of “One Man” are also behind “Other Desert Cities,” a bona-fide new play.
Why go up against yourself when you might pick up two Tonys?
I’d imagine the producers of “Death of a Salesman” are keeping their fingers crossed that “One Man” is ruled a new play. If it is, “Salesman” has a clear path for Best Revival.
My guess is the committee says “One Man” is a new play. Many shows based on classics were deemed new productions — “The Blue Room” (based on “La Ronde”), “Indiscretions” (“Les Parents Terribles”), “Crazy for You” (“Girl Crazy”) and this season’s new musical, “Lysistrata Jones” (“Lysistrata”).
In London, “One Man” is advertised as a “new play.” And it was just nominated for the Olivier Award in that category.
I asked Bean and director Nicholas Hytner where they stood on the issue. Their response: We really don’t care. It’s just nice to be on Broadway, and a Tony nomination in any category is icing on the cake.
These guys are pros!
An informal poll of the administration committee leans heavily in favor of “One Man” as a new play.
And so there should be a nice horse race between “One Man” and “Other Desert Cities,” with “Clybourne Park” a potential spoiler.
The committee will also have to sort out eligibility for Best Score. “Once” is out — all the songs are from the movie. But “Newsies” should get in, since Alan Menken wrote several new songs for the musical. And there are some plays that have songs and original music — “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “One Man, Two Guvnors” and “Stick Fly” (scene change music by Alicia Keys).
Even “Death of a Salesman” has a score — by the legendary Alex North — though it was written for the original 1949 production, so I doubt the committee will deem it new.
“I think several plays will be eligible for score,” says a source on the committee.
The acting categories can also be a bit of a nightmare: Who’s a lead, who’s a supporting player?
It’s going to take at least a half-hour sorting out all those TV stars from the ’80s and ’90s who are in “Gore Vidal’s The Love Boat” (a k a “The Best Man”): Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”), John Larroquette (“Night Court”), James Earl Jones (“Gabriel's Fire”), Angela Lansbury (“Murder, She Wrote”), Michael McKean (“Laverne & Shirley”).
Over at “The Lyons,” Linda Lavin (“Alice”) will certainly be considered a lead, but Dick Latessa (“Get Smart”) should hope he’s slotted in supporting. If he is, he’ll be nominated. And he has a very good chance of winning.
The other actor (if you can call him that) who’ll be hotly debated is Ricky Martin as Che in “Evita.”
Mandy Patinkin, who originated the role in the 1980 production, won the Tony for Best Supporting Actor. But Martin’s name is above the title, and he sings every other song.
Frankly, I think there’s a much larger issue here.
Martin’s playing an oppressed revolutionary who despises what Eva and Juan Peron have done to his country. But he’s so smiley and cheerful and gay (in the old-fashioned sense, people!) that he seems to be in another show.
If the Tony administration committee has any integrity left, it will rule that Ricky Martin is eligible as lead actor — in Disney’s “Newsies.”