Would you like some Hollywood with your Broadway? Let’s hope so.
The Tony Awards show was held in New York’s Beacon Theatre ostensibly so the Broadway community could celebrate its accomplishments and Neil Patrick Harris could be a delightful host once again. But the Sunday show, broadcast on CBS, also provided a parade of Hollywood stars with connections to the theater world to gawk at and created opportunities to yell out, “Hey, it’s the guy from ‘Smash!’ ” and “Wait, is that one of the Jonas Brothers? What is a Jo-Bro doing here? Did he get a haircut?”
Presenters included such bona fide movie stars as Paul Rudd and Jessica Chastain, who will separately appear on Broadway this fall, as well as singer Sheryl Crow, who is helping adapt the 1982 movie “Diner” into a musical for some reason.
James Earl Jones, Andrew Garfield and Cynthia Nixon were just a few of the famous-faced actors nominated this year. Non-nominees Ricky Martin, Matthew Broderick and a kid from “High School Musical” performed, while Hugh Jackman was given a special award. Even the first winner of the night, Judith Light, has Hollywood ties. Don’t tell me you don’t remember Angela from “Who’s the Boss?”
Yes, for three hours, the close relationship between Hollywood and Broadway was as apparent as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s distaste for buttoning his top button and losing. And if you like your Broadway with a heavy dash of Hollywood, and vice versa, then this is going to be a good year. If not, at least you’ll have a lot to complain about.
Take, for example, “Rock of Ages,” which opened Friday. The big-screen adaptation of the Tony-nominated jukebox musical stars Tom Cruise as a Bret Michaelsesque rock star, as well as Alec Baldwin and Mary J. Blige. Based on early reviews, it seems the Frankensteinian musical — pieced together from ’80s metal ballads and injected with a level of cheesiness that should be illegal —is striking out with critics. But come on — do you think bad reviews will stop moviegoers from seeing Cruise belt out “Pour Some Sugar on Me”?
As an early holiday gift to theater nerds, Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the beloved musical “Les Miserables” will hit theaters in December. The film stars the aforementioned Jackman, as well as Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne and theater veteran and movie newcomer Samantha Barks. Illustrating one of the sad aspects of the Hollywood-Broadway relationship, Barks was not billed with the other stars in the much-buzzed-about first trailer, released last month.
There are also several offerings on the horizon for those who find the Hollywoodization of Broadway delightful. The day after the Tonys — where films-turned-musicals “Newsies” and “Once” won top awards — it was announced that a “Gilligan’s Island” musical is in the works. If hearing the Skipper sing doesn’t sound appealing, perhaps you’ll be interested in planned stage adaptations of the very serious movies “Austin Powers” and “Animal House,” which will feature a score by (I kid you not) Barenaked Ladies.
Will this relationship last? Well, this year’s starry Tony Awards telecast is believed to be the lowest-watched in its history, which doesn’t bode well for public interest in Broadway. But the shows that won Tonys did see the expected bump in ticket sales, so perhaps America was just busy last weekend. As far as musical films go, I suppose their future will depend on how they’re received — and maybe just a teensy bit on the box-office returns.