The Tribe Goes to the Tonys: 2019 Edition
The Tony Awards, for excellence in the Broadway theater, will be presented on Sunday, June 9, at 8 p.m. (CBS). Here are the confirmed Jewish nominees in all but the technical categories. This is atypical year in that no Jewish playwrights were nominated for best (new) play.
ELAINE MAY, 87, is a leading actress in a play nominee. She co-stars in a revival of the 2001 play “The Waverly Gallery” by Oscar-winner KENNETH LONERGAN, 56 (whose mother was Jewish). May plays the Jewish owner of a Manhattan art gallery who is gradually declining due to Alzheimer’s. May became famous in the late 1950s as the partner of the late MIKE NICHOLS in the brilliant comedy team of Nichols and May. Later, she wrote and directed the hit film “The New Leaf” and she directed “The Heartbreak Kid.” Her life partner of 20 years, the great director/choreographer STANLEY DONEN (”Singin’ in the Rain”; “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”) died in February, age 94.
BRANDON URANOWITZ, 32, is a best featured (supporting) actor in a play nominee (”Burn This” It’s a 1987 play with many gay themes). This is the third Tony nomination for Uranowitz who grew up in New Jersey and had a bar mitzvah.
Nominated in the same category is GIDEON GLICK, 30, who plays the child character “Dill” in the new stage version of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” His parents are both professors and they met at the Hebrew University in Israel. He, too, was bar mitzvah.
Best director, musical: RACHEL CHAVKIN, 38, “Hadestown.” The play grabbed the most Tony nominations of any show this year. It’s a re-telling of a Greek myth, re-set in the 1930s. Chavkin won best director of a musical Tony in 2015; and SAM MENDES, 53, best director of a play, “Ferryman.” Mendes is British and his mother is Jewish. He won an Oscar for directing “American Beauty” and he directed the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre.”
DAVID YAZBEK, 58, is nominated for writing the original score for the stage musical version of the hit film “Tootsie.” Last year, the musical “The Band’s Visit,” about the interaction of Egyptians and Israelis, swept the musical categories and Yazbek won the Tony for his score (music & lyrics). Yazbek’s mother is Jewish. He competes in this category with his old friend ADAM GUETTEL, 54, who wrote the score for “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In the 1990s, Guettel and Yazbek played in a band together. In 2000, Guettel declined an offer to write the score for “The Full Monty” and gave Yazbek his big career break when Yazbek got the job because Guettel recommended him. Guettel is the grandson of the late, great composer RICHARD RODGERS. Adam’s mother, the late MARY RODGERS, also composed (”Once upon a Mattress”) and wrote (the original “Freaky Friday” movie.) Guettel won the best score Tony in 2005 for “The Light in the Piazza.” Yaszbek and Guettel compete with MATTHEW SKLAR, 45, who wrote the music for “The Prom,” a show about a lesbian teen going to a prom in a conservative Midwest town.
“Oklahoma!,” a 1943 musical co-written by Richard Rodgers, is Tony-nominated this year in the best musical (revival) category. “Oklahoma!” vies with “Kiss Me Kate” for this Tony. LARRY HOCHMAN, 65, is nominated for his “Kiss Me, Kate” orchestration. He has won four Emmys for his compositions and a Tony for orchestration (”Book of Mormon”). His works include the orchestration of a Chanukah album and composing the song poem “In Memoriam” in commemoration of the Holocaust.
The Tony nominees for best play (revival) include “Waverly Place,” “All My Sons” by the late ARTHUR MILLER, and “Torch Song Trilogy” by HARVEY FIERSTEIN, 64.
Rolling Thunder Rolls Again
In 1974-75, BOB DYLAN, now 78, toured the country with many other musicians. The Rolling Thunder Revue, as it was called, was heavily filmed because Dylan intended to use the footage in an upcoming fictional move called “Renaldo and Clara.” “Renaldo” (1978) got pretty bad reviews. However, the footage was invaluable to Martin Scorsese, who is the director of a new documentary (”Rolling Thunder”: A Bob Dylan Story”) that premieres on Netflix on Wednesday, June 12. Footnote: RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT, now 87, played the whole tour. Born Elliott Adnopoz in Brooklyn, he headed out West as a young man and became Woody Guthrie’s long-time sidekick. Guthrie and Elliott were big early Dylan influences.