Tony Awards: Washington left out, ‘Once,’ Hugh Jackman honored

June 11, 2012

The 2012 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards held great promise for Washington, D.C., theaters, with the chance for area companies to take home several prizes and garner some media attention. Despite a few wins, local productions weren’t quite in the spotlight as much as anticipated, says critic Peter Marks:

The Kennedy Center fell just short of achieving Tony glory Sunday night as its acclaimed production of “Follies,” considered by some the best musical revival of the Broadway season, lost in the category to a revised version of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”

Still, in its third incarnation on Broadway, the 1970 musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman did receive one Tony, for Gregg Barnes’s costume design. The $7.3 million show, directed by Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer, received a total of eight nominations and had a 152-performance run on Broadway after its engagement last spring in the center’s Eisenhower Theater .

Washington’s presence during the night may have been a bit less sparkling than anticipated, but may be part of the theater scene’s evolution, says Maura Judkis of Style Blog:

Clybourne Park’s Washington connection was one step removed, and thus not important enough to merit mention in most coverage (except for Playbill!), even though Bruce Norris’s Best Play acceptance speech thanked Woolly (which got a huge shout from a few people in the audience — presumably from the Shakespeare Theatre group in attendance). Outside of Washington, the Shakespeare Theatre’s achievement got only a cursory mention in wrap-ups of the show, with many other outlets neglecting to mention it, or Washington, at all.

Of course, Washington theatrical accomplishments will be most interesting and pertinent to people here, where, naturally, it’s the first thing we mentioned in our coverage of the show. But as robust and brilliant as Washington theater can be, we’re still just one of the planets orbiting around the center of the theatrical universe, Broadway. Did we get our hopes up too high? Shouldn’t we be used to this by now?

In our special “State of Washington Theater ” issue in January, Marks wrote that “the city’s ambitions as a theater town of bona fide national distinction remain somewhat under-realized.” With these Tony connections, nominations and awards, we’re getting there. It just might take a while for everyone else to notice.

But the night on a whole was a competitive one, specifically in the acting and production categories, Marks says:

For best musical, two shows based on not-so-successful movies were the front-runners. “Once,” adapted from a cult 2006 film, bested “Newsies,” a stage version of the 1992 Disney film. “Once” also secured wins for actor (Steve Kazee), direction (John Tiffany), orchestrations (Martin Lowe), book (Enda Walsh), set design (Bob Crowley), sound (Clive Goodwin) and lighting (Natasha Katz). Its eight awards made it the evening’s winningest show.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” was the most-honored play, with five awards.

Best revival of a play went, as widely expected, to “Death of a Salesman,” with another statuette going to its director, Mike Nichols. One of the evening’s most popular winners came in the category of lead actor in a play, which was won by James Corden, the exhilarating clown of “One Man, Two Guvnors.”

In the tight race for best actress in a play, Nina Arianda, as the goofy seductress of Ives’s “Venus in Fur,” won in a strong field that included Tracie Bennett, giving a spookily authentic impression of Judy Garland in “End of the Rainbow,” Stockard Channing (“Other Desert Cities”), Linda Lavin (“The Lyons”) and Cynthia Nixon (“Wit”).

Hugh Jackman was presented with a special award for his contribution to the Broadway community, though he didn’t sing at all while on stage, to the dismay of many fans, says Celebritology’s Sarah Anne Hughes:

“I feel it’s my privilege ... just to appear on stage every night on Broadway. To get something like this is an embarrassment of riches,” Jackman said, after being given the award by his wife Deborra-Lee Furness. “I can’t thank you enough.”

“I will never forget my time with you, this theater community. It is something that I treasure almost as much as anything,” he continued.

The “X-Men” actor also singled out his wife to thank her for supporting him and for overcoming her fear of public speaking to give him the award: “This is probably the greatest thing you’ve ever done for me.”

More on the 2012 Tony Awards:

2012 Tony Award Winner full list: 'Once' rules the night

Memorable quotes from the 66th annual Tony Awards

Hugh Jackman accepts special Tony

Tony Awards 2012: 'Once' wins best musical; 'Clybourne Park' best play

The Washington Tony night that wasn’t

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