'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 15, 2011
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS,
AND MUSICAL THEATER NEWS FROM CHICAGO TO BROADWAY
by Paul W. Thompson
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
Oh, my, what a telecast! And what's that you say? A show based on a book of Merman songs won the Tony Award for Best Musical? Oh, Mormon songs, got it. Sorry.... No, no, not Mormon songs???
Well, "The Book Of Mormon" (not the holy book of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but a musical with the same name) won nine Tonys in New York on Sunday night, as if you didn't know! The musical, by some of the same geniuses behind the "South Park" television series and the Tony-winning best musicals "Avenue Q" and "Spamalot," took home quite a haul. Trey Parker actually won four awards, as a producer, director, songwriter and bookwriter, which I think approaches Mel Brooks territory ("The Producers"). And Chicagoans who've seen the satirical, post-modern gem seem to echo the critical, popular and industry bravos that have honored this show (one that's a totally original story, and did not open out of town, off-Broadway or at a not-for-profit theater before hitting the Main Stem--crazy!).
The show was also honored for its scene design, lighting design, sound design and orchestrations, and actress Nikki M. James was honored for her featured role. Even though there are more Tony categories than there used to be, the show's nine awards is still extremely impressive. "The Book Of Mormon" won more statuettes than any show since "The Producers" won a record twelve awards a decade ago. Altogether now--"I Believe!"
And there was pretty much a positive vibe about the telecast itself (three hours), including a shout-out to our very own Lookingglass Theatre Company and some pretty great live musical performances--four from host Neil Patrick Harris among them. The casts of all the Best Musical nominees performed live, as did both of the nominated musical revivals and "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," whose official opening was just yesterday (making it eligible for Tony consideration next season). If Andrew Rannells in "The Book Of Mormon," Sutton Foster in "Anything Goes," Norbert Leo Butz in "Catch Me If You Can" and Daniel Radcliffe in "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" were highlights, "Spider-Man" and its peaceful love duet were described by more than one observer as "boring." Paul Shaffer and Martha Wash performed "It's Raining Men" along with the cast of "Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert," in a direct play for a certain demographic.
And VJ Michael Morehead played at least four Tony clips that I know of this week at Sidetrack, on what has come to be known as "Tony Monday." A big crowd of Tony Awards fans (and Cubs fans, too, apparently) cheered for "It's Not Just For Gays Anymore," NPH's opening number. I wonder what VJ Michael Hogan will play Wednesday and Sunday night at The Call for Mosh Pit night there (um, I mean Showtune Night)? I'm telling you, there are a lot of new clips to choose from!