Tony Time: Sondheim’s Worst Nightmare Becomes Reality
Yes that is right folks! Luner on Theatre’s hit Tony Time series is still alive and well despite the fact that the 2012 Tony Awards are over! We are questioning and suggesting a few things to you now post ceremony that we think are interesting or worth talking about. Upset and drama surrounds our next post involving the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and how justice might have been served in an unexpected way. Today, Luner on Theatre explores what has become Sondeim’s worst nightmare.
Stephen Sondheim is a Tony Award winning composer and lyricist known for some of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time. He is behind the genius of Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeny Todd, Company and Into the Woods. In recent years, Sondheim has received much success and praise with many current works heading to Broadway and various other large venues receiving much attention. He even had a Broadway theatre named after him recently (formly the Henry Miller Theatre). However, Stephen Sondheim baffled the Broadway community in a letter earlier this year he wrote about the current (then upcoming) Broadway revival of The Gershwins Porgy and Bess.
Bold words all around by Sondheim. His letter caused many investors to back out and sent lead producers scrambling for money as they raced towards a Broadway opening. The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess star Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, two of the greatest performers of our time currently on Broadway. Producers got the money they needed but gave the production a limited engagement on Broadway. Testing the unclear waters in a new ocean that suddenly seemed murky. There musical was considered to be qualified for the Broadway Revival of a Musical category for the Tony Awards. However, in the same category to be qualified was one of Mr. Sondheim’s very own works, Follies.
Follies transfered to Broadway in the late Summer of 2011 after a remarkable run at The Kennedy Center. The production starred Jan Maxwell, Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines and Danny Burstein. It played at the Marquis Theatre in Times Square for a limited engagement through January and was considered by many to be the absolute hands down winner for Best Revival come Tony Awards time. Featuring direction by Eric Schaeffer and choreography by Warren Carlyle, one quote of Follies said;
“Somewhere along the road from Washington to Broadway, the Kennedy Center production of ‘Follies’ picked up a pulse. … I am happy to report that since then, Ms. Peters has connected with her inner frump, Mr. Raines has found the brittle skeleton within his solid flesh, and Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Burstein have only improved. Two new additions to the cast, Jayne Houdyshell and Mary Beth Peil, are terrific. This production has taken on the glint of crystalline sharpness.” – The New York Times
Follies extended its limited engagement on Broadway and exceeded gross expectations through out the end of the run. However, it did not recoup its investment. However, going on the buzz of positive reviews and notion of pleasure from New York audiences, Follies seemed like the shoe in for Best Revival of a Musical come the 2012 Tony Awards. It also received the Drama League and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival.
Upset. Drama. Shock. All words that fill the theatre upon the announcement that The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is the 2012 Tony Award Winner for Best Revival of a Musical. People stood stunned but thrilled. And many remained silent in shock. And all at the same time I thought to myself;
Is this Stephen Sondheim’s Karma for speaking out against this Broadway Revival?
While there is obviously no way to say, YES! This is karma for Stephen Sonheim speaking out against The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess earlier this season, the situation is just too ironic to not talk about. This is especially ironic even more that the shoe in winner over Porgy and Bess was his own work. His own musical lost to a piece he destroyed with words earlier in the season but could not destroy the passion and brilliance of this piece. Follies, currently playing in Los Angeles, was so certain of their win they actually flew in cast members for the Tony Awards Sunday night. More embarrassing then anything if you ask me. Currently, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is scheduled through September 30th at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. I would not be surprised to see the production extended with the current Tony Award win.
I am most definitely happy to see such a classic show be brought into the 21st century and accepted into the Broadway community. And while you may think that the Tony Awards are over, they aren’t for us! We’ll be wrapping up Broadway’s biggest night for the next few days ranging from photos to thoughts to a few final questions we want YOU to question yourself! Stay tuned folks – you don’t wanna miss this! If you get the chance, check out the entire Luner on Theatre Tony Time Series. For more information as well, check out the Official Tony Awards Website. Luner on Theatre wraps it all up for the 2012 Tony Awards all this week on our Blog! And of course check out Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!