Saturday, June 9, 2012

Myopia of Tony Awards Committee Is Plain to See


fans of theater, Tony season is both exciting and stressful.

Only 35 people make the selections, nominating the plays and musicals that 750 Broadway pros will vote as “Best.” And, really, we should be grateful to the rotating cast of the nominating committee, each of whom serves for an overlapping three-year term. Thanks should also go to the select members of the various theatrical guilds who comprise the voters that they have to make the tough choices for the 2012 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards. (Visit to see who votes for the Tonys.)

Just as there are no favorites among our children, all theater is special and beloved. Since most of us don’t get a vote, this reviewer can only sit on the sidelines and scold the Tony committee for neglecting some of the worthy work that has graced Broadway stages this season.

Although “Master Class” was named in the Best Revival of a Play category, Tyne Daly was overlooked. Her stellar performance as Maria Callas was scintillating, even in the gossipy so-so Terrence McNally vehicle. TD, known for her populist roles (like the Emmy-winning one in TV’s “Cagney & Lacey”), was in full diva mode in this portrayal. (See review at

Also unjustly ignored was Lydia R. Diamond’s family drama, “Stick Fly.” Perhaps compounding its woes, it did not have a lot of traction with the theater-going public. Its lackluster box office and lack of Tony recognition as a Best Play contender are both a shame. All is not lost, however. Among the fine cast, the wonderful Condola Rashad got a nomination for Best Performance as an Actress in a Featured Role. “Stick Fly” was an imperfect but entertaining play in a lovely production. (See review at and see video above)

Garrett Sorenson and Tyne Daly in “Master Class.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

And not only was David Henry Hwang’s wry “Chinglish” unappreciated by audiences, this well-written, incisive and witty play was totally ignored by the Tony committee. Its bilingual cast had plenty of charm and the production lots of umph.

Now one can only wonder whether Tony voters will overlook the obvious winners among those nominated shows. It’ll all become clear soon enough. The Tony Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. EDT tomorrow on CBS. Red carpet webcasting begins at 6 pm.

Visit to learn more about the “2012 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards,” nominations, presentations and the “Live! from the Beacon Theatre” show.

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