This year’s Tony Award nominations were announced on Tuesday, and The Wall Street Journal asked me to comment on them in this morning’s paper:
The nominations for the 62nd annual Tony Awards were announced yesterday morning. They weren’t surprising. They almost never are. Take, for instance, the Best Musical category. Eight new musicals opened on Broadway this season, and one of them, “Glory Days,” closed after a single performance. “A Catered Affair,” “Cry-Baby,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Young Frankenstein” got sharply mixed reviews, leaving “In the Heights,” “Passing Strange” and “Xanadu,” all of which received nominations, with “Cry-Baby” thrown in to fill the obligatory fourth slot. That’s about as exciting as ordering a Big Mac and waiting breathlessly to see if it contains an extra pickle….
The Tony nominations, in short, have become an exercise in ratifying the obvious–and how could they be anything else? Broadway consists of 39 houses, four of which are run by Lincoln Center Theater, the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Roundabout Theatre Company, a trio of non-profit outfits that are marginally more adventurous than their commercial counterparts. As for the remaining 35, they’re so costly to operate that anyone who dares to bring a new show into one of them is all but begging to throw his money away. That’s why today’s theatrical producers usually play it very, very safe, importing road-tested productions that have been developed by out-of-town companies. The days when an unknown author could hope to take Broadway by storm are over.
All this explains why the Tonys have grown so lackluster in recent years: Their unsurprising nature merely reflects the safety-first institutional culture of Broadway….
Read the whole thing here.