The Tony Award is the coveted prize of achievement for Broadway shows in New York City. The 2012 nominees were announced and awards will be presented at the American Theater Wing’s award show on June 10. The Tony Award show will be nationally telecast on CBS stations from 8pm (eastern time) on June 10. Recordings of older nominated productions are available at J&R.
Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theater Wing, the Tony Awards made their official debut in 1947. The award is as meaningful to Broadway shows and actors as the Oscar is to movies.
Among several nominees, you’ll find revivals of musicals and plays. While viewing current productions require tickets and attendance at a Broadway theater, J&R has audio and video discs of the earlier productions. You can appreciate them in the comfort of your home.
One major revival is Evita, a musical based on the life of Eva Peron of Argentina. Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. She won international acclaim and adoration from her own people as a champion of the poor, while glamour, power and greed made her the world’s first major political celebrity. Evita tells Eva’s passionate and tragic story through a Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber score.
Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is a restaging of George and Ira Gershwin’s opera, the first full African-American opera ever produced in the United States (or possibly anywhere). This classic American tale is set in the 1930s in Catfish Row, a neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina. Bess (Audra McDonald), beautiful and troubled, turns to Porgy (Norm Lewis), a crippled beggar, in search of safety after her possessive lover, Crown, commits murder. As Porgy and Bess’s love grows, Crown and the conniving Sporting Life threaten their future. The Gershwin score includes “Summertime”. “Bess, You Is My Woman,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”
People can’t get enough of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. When former members of the Weismann Follies reunite on the eve of their theatre’s demolition, two couples remember their past and face the harsher realities of the present. The crumbling theatre brings back memories for both couples of good times and bad as they reminisce about their younger selves and the years gone by. Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning score echoes the songs, exuberance and romance of the vaudeville days between the two World Wars.
Along with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice Evita, Broadway is graced with a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the last week of Jesus’s life. The zeal with which Christ’s followers are hailing him as the Son of God becomes a source of dismay to His disciple Judas Iscariot. Fearing that this tide of religious fervor will provoke brutal repression by the occupying Romans, Judas must make his fateful choice between faith and betrayal. While 2 Webber shows are up for awards, Webber’s Phantom of the Opera marked its 25th Anniversary this year.
Among the plays up for Tony 2012 is the latest production of the 1949 classic Death of a Salesman. Death of a Salesman first opened on Broadway on February 10, 1949, going on to win that year’s Tony Award for Best Play. Subsequent Broadway productions came in 1975, 1984, and 1999, with the latter two productions winning Tonys as Best Revival of a Play. There have also been numerous film and television adaptations.
Wit in a new production is competing with Death of a Salesman. Margaret Edson’s play follows a brilliant and exacting poetry professor as she undergoes experimental treatment for cancer. A scholar who devoted her life to academia, she must now face the irony and injustice of becoming the subject of research.
Two nominations this year are going to a musical version of Bonnie and Clyde. This show made its world premiere at California’s La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and was produced at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, FL in 2010, before coming to Broadway.
Ghost, a fondly remembered movie from 1990, also gets a musical treatment on Broadway, as Ghost The Musical.
Classics are often played over and over. Each production is a slightly different interpretation and these current Broadway productions are excellent. Yet, you can experience award winners from previous years as a great deal from J&R, at a fraction of the cost of attending a Broadway show. Some say there’s no substitute for the excitement of attending a live Broadway show. These recordings are outstanding substitutes.