The Tony Awards, for excellence in the Broadway theater, will be presented on Sunday, June 10. In the Bay Area, you can watch it tape-delayed (8 p.m., CBS), but if you want to see it live go to the CBS website at 5 p.m. Hosts are Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles. Bette Midler, 72, is among the scheduled guest stars.
This year, I’ll cite the nominated directors and actors (and one non-nominated performer) in the context of their shows.
The original best musical category includes “The Band’s Visit,” based on the 2007 hit Israeli film of the same name directed and written by Eran Kolirin, 45. It’s a charming tale of an Egyptian ceremonial police band that becomes accidentally stranded overnight in a small Israeli village in the Negev Desert. “Band” composer David Yazbek, 57, is nominated for best score (lyrics and music) of a musical. His most known works include the scores for “The Full Monty” (2000) and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2005).
Berkeley native and Berkeley High grad Ari’el Stachel, 27, is nominated for best featured actor in a musical (playing Haled, an Egyptian band member). As described in a December 2017 profile in J., Stachel’s father was born in Israel, the son of Yemeni Jewish immigrants. His father met his Ashkenazi American mother on a kibbutz. The musical’s Tony-nominated book (script) writer, Itamar Moses, 41, was profiled in the same article. The son of Israeli immigrants, Moses was also born in Berkeley and is also a Berkeley High grad. He was inspired to go into playwriting after seeing Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.” He wrote “Yellowjackets,” about racial and other tensions at Berkeley High, that was staged by Berkeley Rep in 2008.
“Frozen,” another best musical nominee, co-stars Caissie Levy, 37, as Elsa, the role created by Idina Menzel, 45, in the original 2013 film. This is a great breakthrough role for Levy, even though she is not a Tony nominee. Levy is a Canadian who went to Camp Ramah. Another Camp Ramah (New England) veteran, Ethan Slater, 26, is nominated for best leading actor in a musical (“SpongeBob SquarePants”). The show is nominated in the best original musical category. Nice to note: Slater recently said he met his fiancée at Ramah. “SpongeBob” director Tina Landau, 56, is nominated for best director of a musical.
“Prince of Broadway” is also nominated for best original musical. It showcases the career of legendary Broadway director-producer Harold Prince, 90. Prince directed the show. He produced the original 1964 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
More Tony nominees: “Angels in America,” written by Kushner, 61, for best play revival. “Angels” co-star Andrew Garfield, 34, for best actor in a play. (He plays the non-Jewish “Angels” character Prior Walter, while a non-Jewish actor plays Walter’s Jewish lover, Louis Ironstone.) Other best-revival nominees: “Children of a Lesser God” by Mark Medoff, 78; “Lobby Hero” by Kenneth Lonergan, 55; and “Travesties” by Tom Stoppard, 80. “Children” won the best play Tony in 1980 and Lonergan won the best screenplay Oscar this year for “Manchester by the Sea” (2017).
Patrick Marber, 53, a Brit like Stoppard, is nominated for best director of a play (“Travesties”). He was Oscar-nominated for his script for “Notes of a Scandal” (2006). His play “Closer” was turned into a hit Mike Nichols’ film in 2004 (which Marber also wrote). In a 2015 interview with London’s Jewish Chronicle, he said: “My whole life has a Jewish flavor. I’m a Jew. I think of myself as a Jew first and an Englishman second.”
All three nominees for the Tony for best musical revival were written or co-written by tribe members: “Carousel,” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; “My Fair Lady,” by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe; and “Once on This Island,” by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, 69. Jonathan Tunick, 80, the director of “Carousel,” is nominated for best director of a musical.