Michael Coveney: Donmar plays Globe in Tony Awards; Superstar cancels US tour; theatre goes al fresco
The Tonys, announced on Sunday, feature an impressive number of Brits; while Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar has had less success Stateside
Shakespeare Globe's Twelfth Night was the one big British winner at last Sunday's Drama Desk Awards, presented by TheaterMania, parent company of WhatsOnStage, at the Town Hall in New York.
These important awards - voted for by the city's critics - are a pretty good indication of what might do well at this coming Sunday's Tony Awards at Radio City Hall, and Twelfth Night repeats its winning Drama Desk nominations - for best revival, and best director (Tim Carroll) - in the Tony list.
There are Twelfth Night nominations, too, for Samuel Barnett (best actor), Paul Chahidi, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance (best featured actor) and Jenny Tiramani (costumes). And Rylance, naturally, is nominated as best actor, too, as Richard III.
But Twelfth Night will be pushed to the wire by Michael Grandage's revival of The Cripple of Inishmaan - although there's nary a nod for Daniel Radcliffe - which also boasts six Tony noms: as best revival and for Sarah Greene (featured actress), Grandage himself (best director), Christopher Oram (best designer), Paule Constable (lighting) and - this would be a terrific one to win - Alex Baranowski (sound design), who has had a fine but unsung career so far at the National Theatre, Donmar and Sheffield Crucible.
Oram is nominated in a category dominated by Brits plus Bob Crowley (who's Irish): Crowley for John Tiffany's revival of The Glass Menagerie, Es Devlin for the Machinal revival starring Rebecca Hall; and Julian Crouch stakes a claim as best musical designer for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
We'll be rooting, too, for Ramin Karimloo as best musical actor in the new Les Misérables and Sophie Okonedo as featured actress in A Raisin in the Sun. And here's toasting, unequivocally, Joan Marcus, already announced as special Tony recipient for "excellence," the production photographer of 30 years' standing who's married to Brit-on-Broadway publicist Adrian Bryan-Brown; so we'll claim her, too.
Superstar flops belly-up before it begins
More bad luck for Andrew Lloyd Webber, alas, following the early closure of Stephen Ward. The planned 50-city rock arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar has been pulled at the last minute due to not enough tickets being sold to cover the extensive costs. The show, due to open on Monday in New Orleans, was cancelled last Friday.
Rock group promoters S2BN Entertainment - previously involved in the chaotic gestation of Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark on Broadway - were producing the show together with the Really Useful Group and planning to take in venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, with a top ticket price of $125 (about £75). Needless to say, Ben Forster, who won the role of Jesus in the London revival after winning the ITV talent contest Superstar, is feeling well gutted.
My heart is broken. My beautiful talented cast and company I adore. This wonderful show & opportunity is over. I'm so sorry I am devastated.— Ben Forster (@thebenforster) May 30, 2014
And not only him. John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, was hired to play Herod, but won't be inviting anyone to walk across his swimming pool anytime soon. Other stranded stars include Brandon Boyd, lead singer of the rock band Incubus, hired to play Judas Iscariot; Michele Williams of Destiny's Child, Mary Magdalene; and JC Chasez from the boy band N Sync, Pontius Pilate.
Outdoor summer shows are safer here, despite the weather
I've had some great indoor theatre experiences this week - Thebans by composer Julian Anderson and playwright Frank McGuinness at ENO was the best musical version of Greek tragedy I've seen in years, and Dmitry Krymov's Opus No 7 at the Barbican is a theatrical blast of stunning power jointly inspired by Stalin and Shostakovich - so I'm rather keen to get outside and blow through in the great British summer.
Paul Simon has a song in which he declares, "You can call me Al"; well, next week, you can call me Al Fresco, as I risk my neck on top of a car park on the South Bank for The Roof, part of the appetising LIFT programme now underway; then take my place in Regent's Park for Nadia Fall's revival of Harold Brighouse's perennial Hobson's Choice. I also plan outings to the Affordable Art Fair on Hampstead Heath and the cricket at Lord's, and am even considering enduring a hard stone seat at the little outdoor arena by Tower Bridge, the Scoop, where the redoubtable Phil Willmott is presenting a full version of The Ring, but without the music, which sounds a brilliantly perverse idea.
You notice that I include non-theatrical pleasures on my agenda. And that's because everything sort of joins up in the summer, and theatre becomes part of everything else, which this year includes the World Cup football in Brazil. And then, of course, there's the Edinburgh Festival which, for the last time, will start off with the usual stagger and stand-off between the Fringe and the International programme. Incoming EIF director Fergus Linehan has announced that, from next year, his programme will come forward a week to start with the Fringe. But I bet the Fringe will still find a way of jumping the gun and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find it starting in the middle of July next year. And that reminds me, I must book a summer holiday, too... but a holiday from what, exactly?