By Nate Bloom
The Tony Awards, for excellence in the Broadway theater, are being presented live on Sunday, June 10, at 8 p.m. on CBS. The high number of Jewish nominees prevents me from giving much bio detail. Here are the Jewish nominees and “related people” in all but the technical categories: Best Play: “Other Desert Cities” by JON ROBIN BAITZ, 50, and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” by RICK ELICE, 55; Best Musical: “Leap of Faith,” by ALAN MENKEN, 62 (music) and GLENN SLATER, 44 (lyrics); and “Newsies,” Menken (music) and JACK FELDMAN (lyrics); and “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” this show weaves a new plot around classic songs by the late IRA and GEORGE GERSHWIN. Best revival of a play: “Death of a Salesman” by the late ARTHUR MILLER. Best revival of a musical: “Follies” by (words/music) STEPHEN SONDHEIM, 82; and “Porgy and Bess,” by the Gershwin brothers; Best original score written for the theater: “Bonnie and Clyde,” by FRANK WILDHORN, 55 (music) and DON BLACK, 74 (lyrics); and “Newsies” (see above); and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” lyrics by Elice. Best book of a musical: “Newsies,” HARVEY FIERSTEIN, 59.
Best leading actress in a play: LINDA LAVIN, 74, “The Lyons,” a play about a Jewish family (penned by NICKY SILVER, 52). Best featured actress in a play: JUDITH LIGHT, 63, “Other Desert Cities.” Best featured actor in a play: ANDREW GARFIELD, 28, “Death of a Salesman” and JEREMY SHAMOS, 42, “Clybourne Park.” Best leading actor in a musical: DANNY BURSTEIN, 47, “Follies.” Best featured actress in a musical: JUDY KAYE, 63, “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Best featured actor in a musical, JOSH YOUNG, 31, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Here are just a few notes of interest: Don Black, a British landsman, has been penning hit song lyrics since the ‘60s, his tunes include the Oscar-winning “Born Free”; Andrew Garfield is also a Brit (with an American mother). Next month he’ll star in the “re-boot” of the Spider-Man movie franchise; Last year, “Playbill” asked Glenn Slater about his religious background because he wrote the lyrics for “Sister Act,” the mega-hit musical about nuns. He replied: “I’m Jewish. This is a show about nuns in which two of the book writers — and the composer [Menken], and the lyricist, and the director — were all Jewish. [Laughs.] So we bring a slightly skewed point of view.”; Phillip Seymour Hoffman is very likely to win the Tony for best actor (Willy Loman in “Salesman”). On May 18, the NY Times ran an in-depth article (“Is Willy Loman Jewish?”) that addressed this long-standing question or debate.
“Peace, Love & Misunderstanding” is a comedy/drama co-starring Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener. The plot: Diane (Keener) is a conservative NYC lawyer who needs a refuge after her husband asks for a divorce. She flees to the farmhouse of Grace (Fonda), her long estranged hippie mother. Her mother’s freethinking lifestyle hasn’t changed and that upsets Diane. Nonetheless, the reunion forces Grace, Diane, and Diane’s two children to find peace with each other. Diane’s kids are played by Elizabeth Olson and NAT WOLFF, 17. Wolff is most famous for co-starring, with his brother, ALEX, now 14, in the hit Nickelodeon TV series, “The Naked Brothers Band.” The brothers are the sons of MICHAEL WOLFF, 59, a jazz pianist, and actress Polly Draper (“thirtysomething”). (Opens Friday, June 8.)
Also opening on June 8 is the animated film, “Madagascar 3,” the third installment in the series about escaped zoo animals. Once again, the animals are trying to get back to their home in New York City — and once again, major voice roles are performed by DAVID SCHWIMMER, BEN STILLER and SACHA BARON COHEN. One change —this film is in 3-D.
The Times Are ‘Changin’
BOB DYLAN, 71, has always said that he was not a political songwriter. Nonetheless, his biographers have noted that if Dylan had one gut-level, fierce political view — it was his opposition to racism. So, even though he hardly said a word, and wore his sunglasses throughout the ceremony, Dylan was almost certainly pleased that it was Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president, who presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony held on May 29. The president said at the ceremony that “there is not a bigger giant in the history of American music” and that he remembered his world “opening up” when he listened to Dylan in college, “because he captured something about this country that was so vital.”