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Aisle Seat: Broadway Basks in TONY Glow

By Naomi Serviss / New York City


Radio City Music Hall will host 2022's TONY Awards show
Radio City Music Hall will host 2022's TONY Awards show

Theater fans rejoice:


The Tonys!


The 75th Tony Awards show, to be held at Radio City Music Hall on June 12, is officially


Something to celebrate!


Yay!


A break from real life!


(And don’t feel guilty about indulging in joy.)


After the early spring deluge of 19 opening

(or reopening) productions, frazzled Tony voters

were herded through the theater district to soak up all the shows before voting.


It wasn’t a typical season: it started late and was waylaid by the virus, among other disasters.


As you well know.


No need to recap everything in toto, but in December, Covid forced about half of all shows to shutter at times.


Covid felled even the mighty Hugh Jackman and his co-star Sutton Foster!



Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster dancing up a storm in The Music Man
Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster dancing up a storm in The Music Man

Things were a mess. Don’t even mention Stephen Sondheim missing Company’s opening or someone might tear up.


Regardless of this historically tumultuous season, 34 plays and musicals managed to open.


Or to reopen.


Twenty-nine nabbed at least one nomination.


Jaquel Spivey stars in the season's hot show, A Strange Loop

A Strange Loop scored the most, eleven, and The Music Man garnered six.


One popular show’s an old chestnut with the performer’s performer, Hugh Jackman.



Who doesn’t remember seeing The Music Man on celluloid or, lucky ones (me!) on stage during its Philadelphia tryout? Robert Preston starred.


A Strange Loop might be less familiar and more squirmy.


This Pulitzer-Prize winner for Drama bills itself as: a “big, Black and queer-ass American musical.”


You will not have seen the likes of this theater-universe-shattering extravaganza of song, dance and X-rated acts.


This is not a nuclear family-friendly show.




The tale hinges on an usher (named Usher) at an unspecified Disney production. Usher is working on a musical about...an usher creating a musical while working at a Disney production.


Whose name is Usher.


Existential, irreverent, hilarious, provocative, evocative and wildly creative, A Strange Loop will thoroughly shock and entertain.


Bring your willing suspension of disbelief and enjoy the ride.


This musical resonates like Rent & Hamilton in a

ground-quaking seismic shudder.


It’s fresh, daring and taboo-busting.


And representative of talented Black writers whose work is increasingly being seen and heard on Broadway.


It’s about time.


Despite on-again, off-again vaccine and mask regulations, ticket buyers are undeterred.


Should you buy your tickets in person, be forewarned about midtown.


Tourists are back in droves.


Be on the lookout for jaywalking, sidewalk clogging, abruptly halting ticket holders scoping out Shubert Alley.


Suddenly stopping in a moving throng of experienced city walkers is a good way to get “accidently” elbowed. Or worse.


It could happen.

Playwright Martin McDonagh, who started his prolific career in the Royal National Theater with The Pillowman in 2003, penned another masterful black comedy with Hangmen.


Nominated for five Tony awards, the morbidly fascinating tale revolves around Harry Wade, the "second-best" executioner.


Wade's career derails once executions are abolished. His last victim proclaimed his innocence until the bitter end.


Once a cub reporter and a disturbing stranger appear at the pub, all hell breaks loose.


Events that follow will leave you gasping...for more!




Five new plays opened this season:


Pass Over

Chicken & Biscuits

Clyde’s

Thoughts of a Colored Man &

Skeleton Crew


There were also revivals of:


Lackawanna Blues

for colored girls who have considered suicide/

when the rainbow is enuf

Trouble in Mind

Slave Play (reprise run)



The three new musicals (A Strange Loop, MJ and Paradise Square) that earned the most Tony nominations had Black book writers, as well.


High drama was not just relegated onstage. One evening performance of Come From Away, nine of the 12 performers were standbys. Moulin Rouge (last year’s best musical) had to recently cancel four performances.


That’s life in the pandemic.


 

MY PREDICTIONS:


Best Musical:

A Strange Loop


Best Play:

The Lehman Trilogy


Best Revival:

Company


Best Actor:

Myles Frost, MJ


Best Actress in a Musical:

Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change


Best Featured Actor in a Play:

Jess Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out


For a list of nominees and a chance to play along, check out TheaterMania's Interactive Tony Awards 2022 Ballot


The author in her natural habitat
The author in her natural habitat
 

Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com

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