The Tony Awards are like the gay Superbowl. Sorry to be a cliché, but it’s true. Musical Theatre is the national gay pass-time. And in my little world, I am the Howard Cosell of Tony coverage and trivia.
I have had a Tony Awards party every year for as long as I can recall. In 2007, or, as I like to call it – the year of “Grey Gardens” – I served hors d’oeuvres in cat food cans. I can get carried away. This year, someone else is having the party. And I am okay with that.
You see, my life has changed and this will be the first year in more than a decade that I have not seen any of the nominated shows or performances. I miss New York. Terribly. But that’s another story for another time.
And from what I have heard of the nominated musical scores, I don’t think this really would have been my year anyway. Nothing from “Kinky Boots” nor “Matilda” – fine as some of those songs are – has the heft and emotional depth (as far as I’m concerned) as “Grey Gardens” numbers like “Will You” and “Another Winter in a Summer Town.” Or, even, songs from the late, lamented “SMASH” – like “Second Hand, White Baby Grand” and “Don’t Forget Me” and “They Just Keep Moving the Line.”
In fact, one of the reasons I loved “SMASH” so much- even with its inconsistencies and impossibilities and seeming lack of knowledge (sometimes) about the actual producing of a musical – well – it made me feel like I was in New York. It gave me a weekly dose of BROADWAY MUSICAL MAGIC. Yes, too, it had some great Broadway songs – gorgeous and powerful like “THEY JUST KEEP MOVING THE LINE” – which kicks the shit out of most Broadway ballads this year. Listen again:
Ironically, in 2007, “Grey Gardens” lost many awards to “Spring Awakening.” Ironic because – while I loved them both – “Grey Gardens” touched me to the very soul when I saw it. “Spring Awakening”, less so. Ironic because from the moment I saw “Grey Gardens” I wanted to direct it. Instead, I ended up directing the first amateur production of “Spring Awakening” in America.
Funny, that. “Grey Gardens” could have been about me: The crumbling family home, the central character who saved herself by living in a dream world and delusion; the decay and destruction of love into need and despair. These are things I have lived and known all too well.
“Spring Awakening” on the other hand dealt with the dangers of growing into a world for which one was unprepared, and the deleterious effect of over-protective and under-loving parenting. These are things I have seen others experience, but they were not a part of my life.
The world turns in strange ways, yes?
And so, what are my connections to the Tony Awards this year? Well, up for Best Musical Revival is “Pippin.” Despite my almost famous inability to pick up dance steps, I twice played the Leading Player. Both of the actors who played Pippin in those productions caused deep effects in my life off-stage. I also, years later, directed a production of “Pippin” and some of those cast members are now working actors in New York, if not yet on Broadway, well on their way.
So, I am – as always – filled with heady anticipation, eager for the show. Perhaps I should eschew my current drinks of choice, dark-unto-muddy beers and Silver Patron shots made into slushies, and return to my “Pippin” preference; Sea Breezes. But, no, that would bring back too many memories from which I’ve worked too hard to free myself.
And what will I wear? Usually, like a SuperBowl fanatic who wears a team jersey and such paraphernalia, I don the souvenir t-shirt from the show for which I am rooting. This year, I have none. And too, when I moved in October and was overtaken by the urge to downsize and simplify my life, to let go of meaningless symbols better left to memory, I rid myself of many of my past show-shirts.
Wow . . . this is a year more iconic than I thought. Not having seen the shows, not having quite the raft of baggage I’ve so long been carrying, not hosting the party . . . this second Sunday in June will be full of unspoken meanings and import. Bring it on. (Which, by the way, was also nominated for Best Musical. Perhaps it’s good I didn’t get to Broadway this year after all.)
But, Broadway, New York, Algonquin, and others who may have forgotten me this coming second Sunday of June, 2013 . . . here’s a reminder . . . Don’t Forget Me. No matter how you try, I was there and in the words of Sondheim, “I’m Still Here.”