a theatre, film & pop culture review
Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winner will be in orange.
Much like the Oscars rules for Best Original Score, I do not understand the arbitrary rules of eligibility for a Tony Award nomination in this category. When I complained back in 2007 that Mary Poppins‘s score was snubbed, I was informed by a multitude of folks that it was because the percentage of original music was not high enough. But the Tonys state no rules for this specific category — you can find the fairly vague set nomination laws here — and so it seems to me that the no-brainer standard should be that the score be an original written for the stage.
So what is Newsies doing here?
Obviously, Alan Menken’s jubilant, toe-tapping, anthem-heavy score performs the highest level of storytelling of all the nominees, but it only includes a couple numbers that didn’t originate with the 1992 film, so what gives? (No, seriously: if anyone out there has Tony nomination eligibility insight, I really do want to know how this works.)
It doesn’t really matter since Menken’s going to win, regardless of whether or not I understand/approve the rules. The man is ubiquitous these days, and voters will want to reward him (despite his misstep with Leap of Faith), especially in a category that consists of only one other musical — and a Wildhorn musical at that. Sorry, Frank, I know I shouldn’t heckle; I (sadly) missed seeing Bonnie & Clyde, after all, and this actually sounds kind of fun (color me surprised).
Which leaves two “plays with music” as the category’s potential spoilers. Peter and the Starcatcher‘s score, chockfull of mer-diddies and pirate shanties, is delightfully charming and entirely befitting its youthful, daydreaming cast of characters, but I’m still a bit bigh off the hilarity of seeing One Man, Two Guvnors the other day, and so kudos must be given to composer Grant Olding, whose skiffle — a popular form of music in 1950s UK — is infused throughout the show, making the play a charmingly-true music hall piece. A quartet called The Craze — alternately boasting bass, guitar, washboard, drums, etc. — entertains pre- and post-show and covers scene changes with their fetching amalgamation of bluegrass, rock and folk that keeps the comic hijinks moving at a catchy clip and allows the cooky cast to show off a musical talent or two in variety-show fashion. If Newsies isn’t to be rewarded here, let’s show the Brit import some love, shall we? (But voters won’t. If Newsies doesn’t take it — that’s a HUGE if — it’ll go to Peter.)