Thursday, May 14, 2009

three boys! boys for sale!

theater awards are silly. why you would want one is a mystery to me.

this, for example, is one of the most ridiculous, embarrassing things i've ever heard of. broadway's tony voters this year have a really difficult decision when it comes to their choice for best performance by a leading actor in a musical.

here are the seven five nominees:
  • gavin creel in the revival of hair,
  • the not-terribly-funny but big and loud brian d’arcy james in the big and loud and almost not as funny shrek the musical,
  • brooding douchebag constantine maroulis in rock of ages;
  • j. robert "i'm cleaning up my wife's blood with a sponge and a bucket" spencer in next to normal;
  • or the character of billy elliot in billy elliot: the musical.
the rigors of performing the role of billy elliot proved so daunting that there are three young actors performing it. not all at once, mind you. go one night and you might see david alvarez in the title role. any other night, your billy might be trent kowalik, or kiril kulish. i hear they're all tremendous. one a little more tremendous than the other two, but still. tremendous.

it's an incredibly demanding role, and a grueling 8-show a week schedule, so triple casting it is understandable. however, the show is so moving and wonderful that the tony committee or the tony administration or nathan lane and hugh jackman in a backroom somewhere decided that all three boys should not only share a role, but share a tony nomination.

so in all fairnesss, that last slot, amended, should read:
  • david alvarez, trent kowalik and kiril kulish in billy elliot: the musical.
see anything screwy with that? yeah.

this is insight into what a joke all of this awards crap is. and how political it is. not that i wouldn't like to have one sitting somewhere in my apartment, on the mantle, on an end table (although, we have lots of "stuff" already – blown-glass from okinawa, dog ashes in a box, people ashes in an urn i'd have to move something to make room for it. and even then, i'm not sure i'd like it featured so prominently. shouldn't it be something that people at a dinner party sort of notice by accident? after forty-five minutes or so? "wait... what's that? you have a tony award?" ...oh yes, well. you know. more cheeseballs?)

i'd be willing to bet that nine out of ten tony voters couldn't name all three actors playing billy elliot. and now, the tony administration (or whomever) has decided, hey! it doesn't really matter! in fact, you don't even need to see the actor perform to cast a vote for him.

a recently uncovered torture memo tony awards memo (not that different, when all is said and done) states, according to the new york times:
Tony award voters have to see only one of the three boys rotating in the title role of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” before voting on their joint nomination for leading actor in a musical.
i.e. you're not voting for an actor or a performance, you're voting for a role. shouldn't the writer then get this acting award? this is the nature of theater awards. silly. political. crap.

on a back bookshelf in the office, maybe?

(a sidenote: dear milwaukee theater community – [who for ten minutes considered giving themselves awards
] – you wanna get together for a big party every year? throw a friggin' barbecue in the pickering's backyard, don't give some silly actress "a milwaukee theater award" because she needs another line for her bio. that'd be as silly as, well, nominating a character for best actor.)


  1. While in MKE I was an advocate for a local version of the Tony Award. Thought that it would be a good PR vehicle for the local industry and at least one time a year get us some tv time in the form of soft news. Wiser folks prevailed that it was pointless and fraught with politics and hurt feelings.

    They were right, I was wrong.

    Now outside the snowglobe of MKE theatre, I have to agree. Any industry awards show is primarily engineered as a PR stunt by the producers, using the talent as bait for public attention. But it is the artists that are the catalysts, and as such can get consumed by the process.

    In the end, nobody cares who gets the award. It's all just an excuse to pay attention for a brief moment, in the hopes it will drive some business to the box office. Nothing more.

    Dare I say there's a similar thing happening on TV?

  2. DC has the Helen Hayes awards - perhaps as a bigger market, it can work better there.

  3. Sure, this is ridiculous. Ever notice how those boys never appear alone? Must be contractual, want one, get 'em all. Also, I saw a story about
    how they are continually training Billy Elliots in London, to replace Billys when their voices change. Think they said average time in the role is like a year an a half. So, maybe the rule does transcend the actor...
    Disagreee strongly on the Tonys, Tony. The tv show brings BWay to the whole country, despite sorry ratings, it continues to air, and surely inspires fans to go to NY to see the shows, or eagerly await touring companies (!). Tony night is the one sacrosanct tv night of the year in our house. ok, we're theater geeks, but for those who only get to NY once every couple of years, it's a big fix.


Inappropriate comments, including spam and advertising, will be removed.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.