The British Are Coming

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I’m a huge theater geek. Every time I visit New York, I stay as close to Broadway as possible and have been known to see a show a night for the entire trip. It’s not exactly a cheap hobby, but you do see some terrific stuff. Last night, I swapped Game of Thrones for the Tony’s and settled in for the usual cavalcade of “luvvy” fun watching a rich whitey award talented young things. By the way, what on earth prompted them to put Kristin Chenoweth in charge of anything? Let alone half the hosting duties. Fortunately, the writing was strong and she was there mostly as a punch line. But really, that was the best we could do?

It started with Helen Mirren and got progressively more and more British as the evening wore on. It’s tough to get more British than Helen Mirren, but somehow they succeeded. In category after category, the large glossy American shows and plays were aced out by edgy Brit fare. It was almost weird to watch. Plays like Fun Home and The Curious Case of The Dog in the Night pretty much swept the board. The Brits also won the categories they don’t typically feature on the show, like design and staging.

The stuff that did the best was by no means typical Broadway. It was dark, edgy, disturbing and, in most cases, pretty low budget. It was as if the powers that be just had enough of the glittery stuff. Speaking of glitter, I was delighted to see that John Cameron Mitchel — the creator of the show I have seen more than any other, Hedwig and the Angry Inch — was given his own special award. Having won a bunch of Tonys (including best revival of a musical last year), it didn’t seem like he was missing one. But perhaps it was special recognition for soldiering on with a knee brace, having broken his ACL on stage in the current run. A theatrical Purple Heart maybe.

There is some very cool looking large-scale and edgy US material currently burning up Broadway. If I was a gambling man, I’d have $50 on the hip hop musical about our founding fathers, Hamilton, sweeping next year’s crop. I was trying to get tickets last night, and there was nothing available until late July. Either way, last night it was cool to be a theater-mad Brit. Now, if we could only make more great movies.

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