Glitter-covered gloves are removed.
Voting began last week for the 2022 Tony Awards, honoring the best of Broadway on June 12 on CBS.
The race – capping a bizarre year – is closer and meaner than it looks.
The Battle That’s Dramatically Closer is the best musical, and right now, it’s the late Michael Jackson vs. composer Michael R. Jackson.
“A Strange Loop,” R. Jackson’s meta-musical about a young, black, gay musical theater writer who creates the very show audiences watch, has topped the charts for weeks — buoyed by strong reviews in late April.
But sources said the race is now neck and neck between ‘Loop’ and ‘MJ’, the musical about the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Some voters The Post spoke to aren’t as enamored with “Loop” as the critics. One said: “I think ‘MJ’ is a better musical than ‘Strange Loop’ which is so talented, but small.”
‘Six: The Musical’, Britain’s royal pop concert, can’t be counted either, though, as the same voter observed, ‘It could be this year’s ‘Wicked’ [a famous Best Musical Tony loser] and earn the most money.
Participation is the dilemma of the day. The still-thin pool of around 846 voters — including everyone from theater owners to actors, directors, producers and critics — has been decimated due to an unwillingness to return to theaters, especially during the push to autumn and winter from Omicron.
Because each person must prove they’ve seen all of a category’s nominees to vote, one source estimated there were only 500 people eligible to decide the musical winners (perhaps even fewer for the revival ) and a measly 200 for parts. It’s two-thirds of a dinner service at Sardi’s.
“This year, every vote counts,” the source said.
And the same goes for the tactics to get them.
The productions, which until a few moments ago had been reluctant to hold traditional opening nights, threw a boozy party this month when the 100 so-called “road voters” from outside the city came to New York to see the nominees and be celebrated.
“Six” hosted them for a party at Sony Hall; “A Strange Loop” brought the fun to Margaritaville in Times Square; “Company” premiered a documentary about its creation at the SVA Theater and hosted a party at a nearby art gallery, where nominees Patti LuPone and Matt Doyle held court. “MJ,” meanwhile, secured Tavern on the Green and tapped Andrew Lloyd Webber to DJ. (Although I’d rather hear him sing “Smooth Criminal.”)
“If there are only 500 voters for musicals, does that make road votes more important? I bet so,” said a producer. “That doesn’t bode well for ‘A Strange Loop.’ Good for ‘MJ.’ “As another source put it: ”A Strange Loop’ makes ‘Fun Home’ sound like ‘The Sound of Music’.
Not everyone is convinced of the power of “MJ”. “The show could take it if it weren’t for its terrified producer and cautious estate,” a source said, adding that they were on tiptoe due to the Jackson controversies.
Best Actor in a Musical is another fun fight. Myles Frost, the charismatic 22-year-old actor who played Jackson, won’t stop until he gets a Tony, a source says. “He’s incredibly ambitious.”
Frost is battling another famous newcomer, Jaquel Spivey, 23, the excellent lead in “A Strange Loop,” who has been sick for the past few days, forcing producers to beg voters to postpone. (The deadline for submitting ballots is June 10.) And, of course, there’s Hugh Jackman, whose “The Music Man” is the only musical hit of the season, and who opened the road conference with a charming speech. A passed out visitor said Jackson and co-star Sutton Foster were “delightful” speakers.
While LuPone was once a shoo-in for Best Featured Actress in “Company,” there’s now momentum around “A Strange Loop’s” L Morgan Lee. LuPone, the sources say, won’t drink to this.
The actress, who wants to bring a third Tony home to Connecticut, has been everywhere, including singing “The Ladies Who Lunch” on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday night. She doesn’t kiss babies though — she demands adults wear their f––king masks.
“Company” will take home the award for Best Musical Revival, as Stephen Sondheim passed away just a few months ago. And if anyone has forgotten that sad fact, the late composer’s face is currently on all of their free commemorative Playbills.
The rare point of stability is Best Play – a lock for “The Lehman Trilogy”. But that does not prevent its competitors from expressing their grievances.
Jeffrey Richards, producer of Best Play nominee ‘The Minutes,’ sent an email to voters on Wednesday ripping the New York Times for his limited coverage of Tracy Letts’ comedy-drama – and bragging that his show was successful in open despite the Armie Hammer sex scandal.
“We were surprised (but not surprised) that in the all-important Tony issue of the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, we were the only Tony nominee in the Best Play category not to receive a single mention in all three articles. majors involving (1) a review of the season (2) a look at the main sets of the season and (3) a discussion of major critics on the year’s significant works,” said Richards.
Honestly, the omissions aren’t that important. Last year’s Best Play winner, “The Inheritance,” wasn’t even a Times critic’s pick. A Broadway pundit agreed. “A Tony number that is only read on Ninth Avenue and 45th Street,” they said.
On Hammer, whose role was reprized by Noah Reid of “Schitt’s Creek”: “We overcame the obstacles of . . . [having] to replace a major artist who had been embroiled in a scandal that led to his decision to leave the production.
Sorry for Arts & Hobbies, Jeffrey. But you are always welcome to complain to the Post!