Sundays are usually reserved for some type of sports game, but for the artsy folk out there, it’s when the good award shows pop up. The Tonys were on last night, and it’s the one awards show in which at least half the nominees and winners are usually Jewish.
Nothing says “Jewish” like New York and Broadway, and the winners June 18 proved it.
Two shows this year centered on Judaism.
The best play award went to “Oslo,” which is about the negotiations in the 1990s that produced the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
It beat out “Indecent,” a show about the controversy surrounding the play “God of Vengeance” by Sholem Asch, which tells the story of a Jewish brothel owner who, in an attempt to be a respectable man in the community, tries to commission a Torah scroll and marry off his daughter.
In the acting categories, Kevin Kline, whose father was Jewish but who was raised in his mother’s Catholic faith, won best performance by a leading actor in a play for “Present Laughter.” He previously won for best lead actor in a musical for “The Pirates of Penzance” and best featured actor in a musical for “On the Twentieth Century.” He was nominated for best lead actor in a play for “Henry IV.”
Ben Platt won best performance by a leading actor in a musical for “Dear Evan Hansen.” This is his first nomination and win, and he deserved it without a doubt.
Bette Midler, everyone’s favorite “Wind Beneath My Wings” singer, won best performance by a leading actress in a musical for “Hello, Dolly!” Surprisingly, despite her incredible filmography, this is her first Tony nomination and win.
Brandon Uranowitz was nominated for best performance by a featured actor in a musical for his role in “Falsettos,” his second nomination since his performance in “An American in Paris,” but he was beaten by non-Jew Gavin Creel for “Hello, Dolly!”
Rachel Bay Jones, whose mother is Jewish, is another first-time nominee and winner for best performance by a featured actress in a musical for “Dear Evan Hansen.” Again, it was much deserved.
On to the awards for background talent. Steven Levenson won best book of a musical for “Dear Evan Hansen.” This is his first time writing a Broadway show, so he was another first-time nominee. Levenson beat Danny Rubin, who wrote the book for “Groundhog Day: The Musical,” and Irene Sankoff, who wrote the book for “Come From Away.”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the two geniuses behind the music for “La La Land,” won best original score for “Dear Evan Hansen” (do you see a pattern yet?). They beat Irene Sankoff and David Hein, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Come From Away.” The duo was also nominated for “A Christmas Story: The Musical” in 2013.
Rebecca Taichman won best director of a play for “Indecent” and is also a first-time recipient of the award.
Last but not least, Jerry Zaks was nominated for best director of a musical but lost to non-Jew Christopher Ashley for “Come from Away.”
I myself am extremely happy with all of the awards that “Dear Evan Hansen” took home, and, compared with other awards shows, triple the number of Jewish people were nominated. Maybe others should follow suit.