Thursday, May 14, 2009

next to normal

The best thing I did in my three week New York experience was go see next to normal at the Booth Theatre on Broadway. It's an excellent new musical and if you're in the Big Apple, you owe it to yourself not to miss this one. It'll probably be tough to get tickets now that it's been nominated for 11 Tonys (should have been 12, condolences to the terrific Aaron Tveit, though I'm sure this is only the beginning for someone as talented as he is). Michael Greif's production of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's original musical is truly phenomenal.

I've heard great things about Billy Elliot as well but I have to climb on my soapbox for next to normal. The Tony Awards are an American theatre award. Billy Elliot already had a successful run in London and won 4 Olivier Awards (the British equivalent to the Tony for those that don't speak thespian). I honestly believe that imports should not be eligible for or at least should be unable to win Tonys or Oliviers. I hate to sound like a nationalist here, but the Tonys should be reserved for new American plays and musicals. It goes both ways; I wouldn't have wanted August: Osage County to win the Olivier for best new play. That honor belongs to a production native to the UK (and this year, Black Watch by Gregory Burke from the Royal Theatre of Scotland won). Unfortunately, Jersey Boys won the Olivier for Best New Musical (guess the Brits aren't cooking up any songs right now) and my guess is that Billy Elliot will rob next to normal of the Best New Musical award (among many others) it so rightfully deserves. It is bold and brilliant and quintessentially American and human. It deserves any and all accolades it receives.
One thing is for sure: If Alice Ripley (pictured above, with Tveit and J. Robert Spencer) doesn't win the Tony for her beyond-brave portrayal of Diana, someone up there is perpetrating a fraud.