Big shows remain so on big night for Broadway

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NEW YORK — ‘‘The Coast of Utopia,’’ Tom Stoppard’s sprawling tale of 19th-century Russian intellectuals, and ‘‘Spring Awakening,’’ a pounding post-rock musical of teenage sexual anxiety, dominated the recently concluded Broadway season. And there’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same tonight at the 2007 Tony Awards when Broadway honors the best of what has been a surprisingly eclectic year, particularly for musicals. ...

Competing against ‘‘Spring Awakening’’ for the top musical prize are ‘‘Grey Gardens,’’ the story of an eccentric mother and daughter; ‘‘Curtains,’’ a jaunty musical whodunit; and ‘‘Mary Poppins,’’ a lavish look at a certain English nanny made famous in the Disney movie.

For best play, ‘‘Utopia’’ will face ‘‘Frost/Nixon,’’ Peter Morgan’s docudrama based on interviews between David Frost and Richard M. Nixon; ‘‘Radio Golf,’’ August Wilson’s final chapter in his epic look at the black experience in 20th-century America; and ‘‘The Little Dog Laughed,’’ Douglas Carter Beane’s satiric examination of Hollywood hypocrisy.

Business was robust on Broadway during the 2006-2007 season as both grosses ($939 million) and attendance rose, with the number of theatergoers topping the 12-million mark for the second year in a row. Thirty-five productions opened during the year, including 12 new musicals and 11 new plays, according to the League of American Theatres and Producers.

‘‘We are fortunate that this season was marked by sensational new musicals and plays, offering audiences a diversity of shows to enjoy,’’ said Charlotte St. Martin, the league’s executive director. ‘‘We believe that this diversity is one of the strongest reasons why Broadway has had such a record year with attendance.’’

Even so, the 2006-07 season did not include any box-office bonanzas such as ‘‘Wicked’’ or ‘‘Jersey Boys,’’ megahits from previous seasons that even today remain hot tickets. Yet ‘‘Spring Awakening’’ has done steady, if not sellout business, while ‘‘The Coast of Utopia’’ (now closed) was a sturdy seller during its limited engagement at the nonprofit Lincoln Center Theater. And such different productions as ‘‘Mary Poppins,’’ ‘‘A Chorus Line,’’ ‘‘Frost/Nixon,’’ ‘‘Inherit the Wind’’ and ‘‘The Year of Magical Thinking’’ have managed to pull in respectable numbers of theatergoers.

The 2007 Tonys, broadcast by CBS from Radio City Music Hall, include 25 competitive categories and were voted on by 785 members of the theatrical community. The awards were founded in 1947 by the American Theatre Wing which now produces the show with the League of American Theatres and Producers.


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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on June 10, 2007 1:53 PM.

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