Arts News

Seattle’s Broadway Babies

Tony nominations include several local names, shows

By Steve Wiecking May 5, 2009

“Next to Normal” scores 11 nominations. (photo courtesy Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Seattle has done well on Broadway—think of award-winning exports The Light in the Piazza and Hairspray. If you’ve been reading this space, you already know that Seattle’s having a good year in New York again. Things just got better today with the announcement of the Tony Award nominations.

Next to Normal, a musical about a bipolar woman that features local stage vet Louis Hobson in a dual role as both of her doctors, scored 11 nominations (second in number only to the 12 noms that greeted Elton John’s musical adaptation of the film Billy Elliot). Hobson isn’t Normal‘s only Northwest connection: The show was workshopped in Village Theatre’s Village Originals program in Issaquah under the title Feeling Electric. It’s Tony-nominated book writer and lyricist Brian Yorkey is an Issaquah High School grad and Village Theatre’s former associate artistic director.

Meanwhile, Intiman Theatre artistic director Bartlett Sher has a chance to win another Tony, this time for Best Direction of Play for his acclaimed but controversial revival of late, great Seattleite August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone for Lincoln Center (Sher won for Best Direction of a Musical last year for his gorgeous South Pacific revival, which is still running at Lincoln Center and will be here at the 5th Avenue Theatre next year). Interestingly, while Sher took understandable knocks for tackling a play that Wilson wanted black men to direct, The New York Times today reviewed Yale Rep’s all-black production of Death of a Salesman, the notion of which quite famously gave Mr. Wilson hives while he was still alive.

And, believe it or not, the eh musical adaptation of Shrekeh being the best description of its mediocre-but-not-embarrasing artistic merits—managed eight nominations, including one for Best Musical. It premiered at the 5th Avenue last year.

Sometimes, obviously, eh is enough. Find out who wins what on Sunday, June 7 at 8 on CBS.

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