So the Tony Awards are approaching, and thankfully, it's not my job to hand down weighty analysis of a fragile art form like theater. But I love talking about it, and because I know how personal this art is for those who make it, I'm happy when there's a chance to recognize the work.
My picks are not about who will win, or even who should win. My "wins" could just as easily be someone else's lost 2.5 hours of their life, never to be regained. My "eh" reaction might be someone else's ecstatic delight. Certainly I appreciate the "winning" for what it can do for a show in terms of nourishment; awards can be powerful fuel that allow artists to continue working and giving us more art. But awards are not the measure of your own relationship with a show, which is deeply personal, whether good, bad or "eh."
By my count, there were 35 shows (not counting the special events) that opened during the 2014-15 season, and I've seen, to date, 27 of them. I will see a 28th show on the day of the Tony Awards (The Visit), so haven't considered that one in this list, for fairness. Here are the shows I didn't see, almost all due to shortened runs: This Is Our Youth, Holler if Ya Hear Me, Disgraced, Living on Love and Doctor Zhivago, .
Like last year, I'm giving myself ten seconds to see what shows bubble to the top of my consciousness as special...those are the shows that get my "Ten-Second Tony" awards. This is my post, so (1) I decree two honorees per category (a 10-second and a 15-second choice); (2) I'm adding back the Sound Design category, and (3) I'm adding in Best Ensemble and Best Book of a Play categories. I know that the Best Play category officially recognizes the playwright, but I think of that category as referencing the entire production as a whole, and the discussions I have with friends about Best Play and Best Musical categories, we are usually talking about it holistically, not just the playwright.
With the exception of Fun Home, which I have seen in various incarnations over the past 2.5 years, I saw most of these shows just once. But if I saw a show more than once, I've gone by my reaction on my first visit. And when I look at my choices, it's interesting to me, how many of them are shows that I knew very little about, and walked in relatively free of preconceptions. There's a lesson in there, I think.
In the end, my picks are really just a reflection of what I truly enjoyed seeing on stage this past season. And just because I didn't pick a show as a top choice in my Ten-Second Tonys, doesn't mean I wouldn't have given it an official Tony nomination. For the record, the omissions that most offended me in the official nominations were Side Show and Finding Neverland, not just in the Best Show categories, but other categories as well. Luckily, I get to remedy that here.
As Helen Mirren knows, it's good to be queen.
Note: For better or worse, all photos are by me.