Monday, January 22, 2007

All I ever needed was the music

I honestly don't personally care when a show announces a theater, Roundabout announces casting for something at the Laura Pels or anything of the sort, but I've always cared about Tony eligibility decisions. I like them because they follow few logical rules. They aren't based on precedent--they basically go according to what the title page of the Playbill says or what the producers ask for. So I always think looking at them tells you a little bit about what is going on in the industry.

When I used to cover the eligibility decisions, I always prepared a list of questions in advance. This was helpful because a lot of things aren't included on the press release the Tony people send out. Sadly I no longer cover them really and no one seemed to ask the questions I wanted answered. So I will just write about the limited amount of things we did learn.

Mary Poppins score being eligible is worthy of a mention, though I expected it to be eligible. Likewise I knew there wasn't any chance directors and designers of Chorus Line and Les Miz would be getting nomination plaques. What most interested me was the decision to keep A Chorus Line's Charlotte d’Amboise, who is below-the-title, in the featured category even though Donna McKechnie won a Tony for Lead Actress for playing the same role in the original production. Now, I'm not saying the character of Cassie should be lead, but I have a distinct feeling the decision not to petition was based less on righting a past wrong than on d'Amboise's chances of being nominated for Best Actress, which were virtually non-existent. Charlotte is a community favorite, and even though her performance in A Chorus Line was far from universally embraced, she has a shot at a nomination in featured. The leading field not only includes Chenoweth, Ebersole, McDonald and Murphy, it also has Block, Brown, Bundy, Monk and Michele among the possible nominees. So, in that category, not so much. And it's all about nominations--it's not about who is lead or featured. It's only about reality when a production thinks they can't get away with something; that happens, but, let me tell you, it is rare unless the something is completely ridiculous. Like there is never going to a Mama Rose in featured, but I wouldn't be shocked if someday we saw a Gypsy in lead.

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