Rent the Non-PC West Side Story, and the LSD-iest Hair (instead of the Tony-nominees)
The Tony Awards broadcast isn’t really a must-TiVo event. Watching TV about theater might not be exactly like dancing about architecture but its pretty off-the-mark too. After all, the theater may be not dead yet, but it ain't as popular as Netflix.
While there are some worthy original plays and musicals (Next to Normal was nominated for 11 Awards) and high profile movicals (previously discussed here), the musical revivals on Broadway are where the tourists are flocking this year (if anyone is flocking to theater.)
Yes, the new bilingual version of West Side Story is the hardest to find ticket in town, but really, can anything beat the original film (winner of 10 Academy Awards)?
The Broadway revival redresses many of the complaints lodged against the original: Arthur Laurents wanted to update it, and “selectively weave Spanish throughout both the book and songs." Yes we know that the choice of casting gringa Natalie Wood’s as Maria (she doesn’t even sing, she lip-syncs!) was woefully politically incorrect and yes, it’s terrific that Broadway is finally seeing an appropriately Latino-saturated production. But once you’ve seen Rita Moreno sing "I like to be in America,” from a sound stage that looks like a delightful tenement roof top, there’s no need to look further.
A revival of Hair has earned 8 nominations and offers the originally non-plot driven Tribal Love Rock (wtf?) cabaret that debuted in 1976. But the Milos Forman film version -- made just two years later -- is great stuff, with trippy LSD hallucinations and a true draft-dodger vs. proud soldier through story.
Factoid: it was choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Other little known factoid, I was an extra in Central Park hippie-fest scene. But don’t look for me. I’m on the cutting room floor.