- Last Updated: 11:37 AM, March 8, 2013
- Posted: 10:12 PM, March 7, 2013
We’re on the cusp of what’s shaping up to be a busy spring on Broadway — 19 productions are on the way — and producers are already playing the Tony sweepstakes.
As they survey the competition, producers and their trusted advisers — press agents! — are trying to figure out how to position their shows so they can scoop up as many Tony nominations as possible.
Tony rulings are made by the administrative committee, but producers can petition, cajole, argue, even beg about eligibility.
“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is a case in point. The $13 million musical opened Sunday to mixed reviews. It has a pretty good shot at overcoming them because its famous title should appeal to the kiddie crowd, which begins to descend on Broadway in the late spring. It opened with a multimillion-dollar advance and took in a respectable $250,000 on Monday.
Tony nominations will help, as will a snappy production number on the telecast.
But here’s the question: Is “Cinderella” new or old?
Does it, in other words, qualify as a new musical or a revival?
Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote it in 1957, but it was on television, never onstage. Douglas Carter Beane has written what amounts to a new script, and the score has been filled out by R&H trunk songs.
“Cinderella” producers will try to get it labeled a revival because the competition among new musicals is much stiffer than it is among the old ones.
“Matilda,” “Kinky Boots” and “Hands on a Hardbody” — all of which are now in previews — are sure to be nominated for Best Musical. “A Christmas Story” received strong reviews and will be remembered, fondly I think, by the nominators. It could easily leave “Cinderella” stranded on the steps of the palace.
As for revivals, the sure things are “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” (which I think will win), “Annie” and “Pippin.” The only other possibility is “Jekyll & Hyde,” but since it’s a Frank Wildhorn show, a Tony isn’t remotely within reach.
“Cinderella” would snag the fourth slot with ease — provided the eligibility committee buys its old-wine-in-new-bottles argument.
We shall see.
Meanwhile, “Matilda” is trying to figure out what to do with the four girls — Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro — who alternate in the title role.
(I’m not quite sure why it takes four girls to play Matilda and only one to play Annie, but then, I’m old-school and think everybody on Broadway should play eight performances a week.)
The rule of thumb is that whoever’s in the role on opening night is Tony-eligible. But “Billy Elliot” managed to have all three of its Billys considered as one unit. That, I’m told, would be the ideal result for “Matilda” — the producers are likely to push for it — but I’m not sure the Tony committee is entirely comfortable with clumps of performers in one role.
The fate of the world doesn’t hang on such decisions. But Broadway does — and it’s getting to be that time of year!
I call your attention to:
* The Fred Barton Orchestra is saluting the music of the great Jule Styne tomorrow night at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts. Swing the night away to songs from “Gypsy,” “Peter Pan,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “Funny Girl.”
* Robert Wuhl, creator of the funny HBO series “Arli$$,” has written a sharp satire about the literary world called “Hit Lit.” It’s running through March 17 at the Queens Theatre in Flushing.
* The mighty Marilyn Maye is at 54 Below until March 16. I never miss her when she’s in town, so I’ll be there singing along with my favorite song of hers, “Golden Rainbow.”
Come up shining, baby!