The Tony Awards, to be announced on June 10, are considered one of the Big Four of U.S. entertainment -- along with the Oscars, the Emmies and the Grammies -- even though they just salute the best theater in one district of one city. True, it's a terrific theater scene, but when the winners are announced on theater's night of nights -- sorry, American theater's night of -- sorry, New York thea- Broadway's night of nights, lovers of musical theater around the world will be tuning in with the same breathless comment: "I can't wait for the movie!"
For those who can't visit New York -- or buy theater tickets -- often enough, movies are the closest they'll come to seeing a Broadway show. Somehow, many of the greatest Broadway musicals haven't been turned into movies yet (though I still wait in hope for a Hollywood version of George White's Scandals of 1931). Other movies based on Broadway shows didn't do justice to the stage versions. Still, a lot of shows have been turned into movies -- and with good reason.
For a start, they have a long history of box-office hits. Secondly, as I said, not everyone can make it to Broadway. Thirdly, they are Oscar bait. Every musical to win the Oscar for best film since the sixties -- West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver! and (34 years later) Chicago -- was previously a Broadway show. West Side Story, Oliver! and Chicago hadn't even won Tony Awards for Best Musical, but at the Oscars, they upstaged everything else. Lesson: There's no beating a good musical.
Though Hollywood doesn't make musicals as much as they used to, they still look to Broadway for possible hits. So what will be the next hit movie musical? Perhaps Wicked or The Book of Mormon, both due to be released in 2014 (and both based on Broadway hits). Or even Rock of Ages, out in the next month, based on Broadway show that ended its run last year. But while we wait, let's see go through this year's Tony nominees...