What you’ve heard is true: nothing surprising happened at last night’s Tony Awards. The word that comes to mind is unexceptionable. I think that most critics, myself included, would probably have given the best-play award to Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate over Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, but beyond that I’m not feeling or hearing a lot of dissatisfaction with any of the specific awards. Yes, the Brits walked away with more than their share of prizes, but that’s not news. Broadway long ago ceased to be a center of original creative activity–it now mostly imports shows from elsewhere, including London.
The big news, if you want to call it that, is that the Tonys are now a local story rather than a national one. Scarcely anyone outside New York City watches the telecast. And the ceremony itself is mainly about musicals, which in certain seasons has been understandable, but definitely not this time around. Moreover, the Tonys themselves are about Broadway, which means that the most important new play of the season, Lynn Nottage’s Ruined, and the best straight-play revival to open in New York, David Cromer’s Our Town, both went unmentioned at last night’s ceremony.
So who cares who won and lost? The producers of reasons to be pretty do: they posted a closing notice this morning after failing to win any prizes. Conversely, The Norman Conquests is likely to see an upward spike at the box office. Otherwise, I can’t see that this year’s Tony Awards will have any effect whatsoever on the American theater, whether on Broadway or anywhere else–and that’s just fine with me.
UPDATE: I chatted about the Tony Awards with a PBS reporter by phone from Connecticut this morning. The results have just gone up on the website of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which has launched a blog called Art Beat that runs Web-only art-related audio and video features.
To listen, go here.