The Tribe at the Tonys: 2018 Edition
The Tony Awards, for excellence in the Broadway theater, will be presented on Sunday, June 10. It will be shown live on CBS, starting at 8PM. The Tonys are being hosted by Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles. BETTE MIDLER, 72, is among the scheduled guest stars.
The number of nominated plays and musicals was expanded this year. All the Jewish Tony nominees are associated with a nominated work, so I’ll mention the nominated directors, actors, writers, and composers in the context of the nominated shows they are associated with. I also highlight one performer who wasn’t nominated. Omitted are the technical category nominees.
None of the nominated original plays have a Jewish playwright. The original best musical category includes “The Band’s Visit,” which is based on the hit 2007 Israeli film of the same name directed and written by Israeli ERAN KOLIRIN, 45. It’s a charming tale of how an Egyptian ceremonial police band gets accidentally stranded overnight in a small Israeli village in the Negev desert. “Band” composer DAVID YAZBEK, 57, is nominated for best score (lyrics and music) of a musical. His most famous works include the scores for “The Full Monty” (2000) and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2005).
ARI’EL STACHEL, 27, is nominated for best featured actor in a musical (playing Haled, an Egyptian band member in “Band”). Stachel’s father was born in Israel, the son of Yemeni Jewish immigrants. His father met his Ashkenazi American mother on an Israeli kibbutz. “Band” is a great breakthrough role for Satchel. The musical’s Tony-nominated book (script) writer is ITAMAR MOSES. The son of Israeli immigrants, Moses was inspired to go into playwriting after seeing TONY KUSHNER’s “Angels in America”. Moses, 41, has written a number of dramatic plays, some of which have been staged by leading regional repertory companies.
“Frozen”, another best musical nominee, co-stars CAISSIE LEVY, 37, as Elsa, the role created by IDINA MENZEL, 45, in the original “Frozen” film (2013). This is an important breakthrough role for Levy, even though she is not a Tony nominee. Levy is a Canadian who went to Camp Ramah (the summer camps of Conservative Judaism).
Another Camp Ramah (New England) veteran, ETHAN SLATER, 25, is nominated for best leading actor in a musical (“SpongeBob SquarePants”). “SquareBob” is nominated in the best original musical category. Nice to note: Slater recently said he met his fiancée at Camp Ramah. The director of “SquareBob,” TINA LANDAU, 56, is Tony-nominated for best director of a musical.
“Prince of Broadway” is also nominated for best original musical. It showcases the career of legendary Broadway director/producer HAROLD PRINCE, 90. Prince, himself, directed the show. Prince’s many hits include “Fiddler on the Roof.” He produced the original 1964 production.
“Angels in America”, written by Kushner, 61, is nominated for best play revival. “Angels” co-star ANDREW GARFIELD, 34, is nominated for a best actor in a play Tony. (He plays the non-Jewish “Angels” character Prior Walter, while a non-Jewish actor plays Walter’s Jewish lover, Louis Ironstone.) Garfield, you may recall, was nominated for the 2017 best actor Oscar for his performance in “Hacksaw Ridge.”
Other plays nominated for best revival are “Children of a Lesser God”, by MARK MEDOFF, 78; “Lobby Hero” by KENNETH LONERGAN, 55; and “Travesties” by TOM STOPPARD, 80. “Children” won the best play Tony in 1980 and Lonergan won the best original screenplay Oscar last year for “Manchester by the Sea” (2016). As I’ve noted before, Longeran’s mother was Jewish and he was raised by his mother and his Jewish stepfather.
PATRICK MARBER, 53, a Brit like Tom Stoppard, is nominated for best director of a play (“Travesties”). He is better known as a writer and as a writer, he is almost a household name in Britain. He was Oscar-nominated for his script for “Notes on a Scandal” (2006). His play, “Closer,” was turned into a hit MIKE NICHOLS’ film in 2004 (which Marber also wrote). In a 2015 interview with the “Jewish Chronicle,” a UK paper, he said: “My whole life has a Jewish flavor. I’m a Jew. I think of myself as a Jew first and an Englishman second.”
All three nominees for the Tony for best musical, revival, were written or co-written by tribe members: “Carousel,” by RICHARD RODGERS and Oscar Hammerstein II; “My Fair Lady,” by ALAN LERNER and FREDERICK LOEWE: and “Once on This Island,” by Stephen Flaherty and LYNN AHRENS, 69. JONATHAN TUNICK, 80, the director of “Carousel,” is nominated for best director of a musical.