Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Prognostication

Keeping up with my recent thread discussing the thinking behind my pics for the upcoming Tony nominations, I'll be writing today about the last of the four production categories -- Best Revival of a Musical.  As a reminder, the productions that can be considered for this year's award are "Bye Bye Birdie",  "Finian's Rainbow", "Ragtime", "A Little Night Music", "La Cage Aux Folles", and "Promises, Promises".  Of these, the first four have opened and the first three have closed.  With only six potential nominees for four slots, this year the decision is rather easy, but that's not to say that there isn't some logic to my choices.

Based on what I know of the productions that have already opened, "Bye Bye Birdie" seems the only one not fit for nomination.  "Bye Bye Birdie" was so horrendous that I was actually embarrassed for the people on stage.  The other three were very well received by both critics and audiences, and I think are all deserving of nomination.  Further, in the case of "A Little Night Music", we have another strong revival of a classic Sondheim musical with major star wattage from Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  As for "Finian's Rainbow", the well received production harkens back to the old fashioned M-G-M style musicals that made "Pajama Game" such a success a few years ago.  In fact, that's what won that show the Best Revival Tony in 2006 -- while most voters thought that the John Doyle revival of "Sweeney Todd" was smart and innovative but had so much more fun at "Pajama Game" that it won them over and got their votes.  The thing that ended up being this show's demise was, I think, related to the thing that made it great.  While that M-G-M quality was wonderful and the size of the cast and pit made the show that much more rich, it ended up making the show too costly to keep going.  As for "Ragtime", this fabulous production (and the first revival of any musical from the 1990's) suffered from an awful marketing department and, thus, failed to pick up a wide audience.  While theater die-hards who remember the original flocked to this production, there was a lot of untapped opportunity to expand the audience base for the show.  That being said, I still think the show was strong enough to net a nomination come May 4th.

Then there is the enviable fourth spot, which will go to either "Promises, Promises" or "La Cage Aux Folles".  For the moment I have gone with "La Cage" for two main reasons.  One is that it is a show with which I (and the voters) am familiar and which has great brand value, compared to "Promises, Promises", which I only know as the show in which Jerry Orbach won his Tony some 40 years ago but about which I know nothing otherwise.  The second reason is that this production which is a transfer from London, at the now famous Menier Chocolate Factory, where it was pretty well received and popular enough to transfer to the West End and now to Broadway.  In fact, it was so well received that it has been said that this production is better than the 2004 Broadway production which received only mixed reviews and still managed to win that year's Best Revival Tony.

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