June 5, 2006

“History” highlights exceptional Broadway season

By Robert Osborne - Column

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - It's Tony time, and in the
theater community there seems to be more enthusiasm than in the
past several seasons.

One reason is the proliferation of hits in competition that
have acquired must-see status, i.e. "Jersey Boys," "The Color
Purple," "The Pajama Game," et al. But if you're placing bets
on the outcome of Sunday's contest, you can pretty much count
on "The History Boys" as a shoo-in to pick up the prize for
best play.

Also "The Drowsy Chaperone" (best musical), "Awake and
Sing!" (best play revival), "Sweeney Todd" (best musical
revival), with "History Boys" also picking off prizes for
Richard Griffiths (best actor in a play) and Nicholas Hytner
(best director of a play).

From there, predictions are riskier, and it's anyone's
guess. What makes it a banner year -- and especially tough when
it comes to marking ballots -- is the blessed fact there is so
much great work being done on Broadway right now, i.e. LaChanze
in "Color Purple," Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone in
"Sweeney Todd," Oliver Platt in "Shining City," the "Lieutenant
of Irishmore" group, the "Awake and Sing!" ensemble, in
addition to the work of those nominees whose shows are no
longer tripping on the boards (Chita Rivera, Lynn Redgrave,
Judy Kaye, Zeljko Ivanek, etc.).

You know it has been a worthwhile year when there isn't
room on the nomination list for work as superlative as Ben
Gazarra and Jonathan Hadary in "Awake and Sing!" Brian F.
O'Byrne in "Shining City" or Stephen Campbell Moore and Dominic
Cooper in "History Boys" -- and when it wasn't necessary to
fill the nomination slots with something as limp as "Tarzan."


Another thing Tony watchers are talking about: the good
sportsmanship of Julia Roberts, who will be a Tony presenter
despite the fact that she was bypassed when the nominations
were handed out. Sean Combs did the same thing when he was a
non-nom a couple years ago, a gesture that made Diddy a local
hero. Denzel Washington, on the other hand, didn't participate
and was nowhere to be seen when his work in the ill-fated
"Julius Caesar" failed to generate him a Tony nomination last

By the way, the raps Julia R. received for her performance
in "Three Days of Rain" are very misleading. She actually gives
a very honest and simple but truthful performance. The problem
is that it's a film performance and not nearly big enough to
fill the theater's demands. I suspect that if by some sci-fi
miracle she could sit in the audience for one act and watch
herself onstage, she would know immediately what's missing and
be able to improve it.

On Wednesday, there will be a free outdoor concert in
Shubert Alley with a full contingent of Broadway stars
celebrating the end of the 2005-06 Broadway season and
tubthumping the Tonys.


On Saturday, one night before it's all about the Tonys,
it's all about Judy Garland in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.
Saturday happens be the 84th anniversary of La Garland's birth;
on that night the U.S. Postal Service will launch the new
39-cent Judy Garland stamp in a festive way, with participants
including some of the Garland family (including daughter Lorna
Luft), Garland friends such as J.G.'s fellow MGMer Jane Powell
and people like Michael Feinstein who are among the current
keepers of the Garland flame.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter