Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And speaking of Tony...

Congratulations to FOBB&B Steve Traxler, whose production of August: Osage County won five Tony Awards including Best Play during Sunday's ceremony at Radio City Music Hall.

August: Osage County has taken Broadway by storm, joining Long Day's Journey Into Night and A Streetcar Named Desire in the theatrical pantheon of American family meltdowns.

Steve is one of several heavyweight producers who brought August to the Big Apple from Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, but it was his vision and clout as much as anyone's that transferred the show to Broadway with the Chicago cast intact.

That's unusual these days. With Broadway shows more expensive to mount than ever, producers have increasingly hedged their bets in recent years by casting movie stars in leading roles and rotating celebrities through casts to help sell tickets.

In his Tony acceptance speech, Pulitzer-winning August playwright Tracy Letts acknowledged the rarity of the wholesale transfer of Steppenwolf's Chicago production:
I want to thank the Tony committee for including our play with the other nominees. You know you are in pretty stout company when Mark Twain doesn’t get a nomination. Particularly Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler, Jerry Frankel. They did an amazing thing – they decided to produce an American play on Broadway with theater actors. I see some of you are theater actors too.
I admire Steve's commitment to producing serious theater on Broadway. He's won Tonys for huge mainstream hits (Monty Python's Spamalot) and all-star revivals (Glengarry Glen Ross), but also produced such ambitious fare this season as August, Tom Stoppard's Rock 'N' Roll, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Conor McPherson's The Seafarer, for which Jim Norton won an acting Tony.

Way to go, Steve.

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