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The Best Musical Tony Race: 'Addams' Vs. 'Idiot'

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The state of the musical on Broadway is a precarious one this season. According to various reports including one in the Wall Street Journal, the scores for Fela! and American Idiot will probably be considered ineligible for this year's Tonys since they were both taken from other sources. That leaves only Memphis and The Addams Family in the running for that category. The former is fairly acceptable, but the latter has received scathing reviews. The nominees for Best Musical will probably be AddamsAmerican Idiot, Fela!, and Memphis. Although it doesn't open until next week, American Idiot looks to be the winner since the buzz surrounding it is largely positive and Addams was critically lambasted. But this year, there won't be any critics or theatre journalists voting since the Tony people kicked out everyone on the first night press list. (Next season, the New York Drama Critics Circle, including myself, will be admitted back in--although I don't understand why we have to wait till then. All of us will have seen all of the shows, and it's only 19 people. But I digress.)

Without the 100 or so objective votes of the first-nighters, that leaves approximately 700 producers and industry people who might be motivated to cast their ballots for Addams since it looks to be a strong box office performer with potential for a healthy life on the road, due to its brand recognition. People who don't read reviews will want to see it because of the title alone, thanks to the popularity of the TV series and movie versions. That means Addams might very well win Best Musical and Best Score despite its negative reception from the reviewers. I attended last night's performance and the audience ate it up. I suspect there were quite a few groups from out of town since 46th Street and Eighth Avenue was crowded with buses. There was also a cheer when Nathan Lane delivered the line about Ohio.

Meanwhile the most exciting and original musical work this season was Off-Broadway--The Scottsboro Boys, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Yank!  It will be interesting to see if the award-dispensing groups which include Off-Broadway along with the Main Stem--the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle--will give these shows not only nominations, but awards. The OCC has a separate category for Off-B'way musicals, but the DD mixes both together. OCC is usually very conservative in its choices, and was the only group to honor the mediocre Young Frankenstein and Victor Victoria for Best Broadway Musical. The Drama Desk is a little more daring in its nominations, but when it comes to outstanding musical winners, they rarely venture beyond Broadway. Full disclosure: I am a voter for both groups.

(Photo: Joan Marcus)

--David Sheward

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I'm rooting for Fela! I think it has more merit than either Addams or Idiot (and I really liked the latter).

Sort of amazing that you ignore the clear likely winners in both Musical and Score categories: SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, only a revue but this seasons Best Musical by a country mile (next to it, only AMERICAN IDIOT is even worthy of nomination this season). EVERYDAY RAPTURE has a relatively minor score but *anything* would be better than the frankly inadequate scores from MEMPHIS and the usually excellent composer's work on ADDAMS FAMILY! If nominated, Green Day's score for AMERICAN IDIOT would clearly win.

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