2005_05_arts_tonyceremony.JPGSo since the whole country united around the television set on Sunday night to watch the awards and then every conceivable media outlet chewed over the results for the whole day Monday, Gothamist can skip right to previewing what’s coming up this week, yes? Oh…heh…we’re talking about the Tonys. Even with a 2% increase in viewership the audience was still only 6.6 million, so maybe there does need to be a little explanation, although there weren’t really any huge surprises. The main news, probably, was how little Spamalot got; top musical honors were in the bag ever since Ben Brantley declared, a bit sniffily, in his Times review that it was “the best new musical to open on Broadway this season…but that's not saying much.”

Other than that, though, it just took Best Featured Actress (another given, since Sara Ramirez makes jaws drop; besides, if she hadn’t won she probably would’ve gotten into her superdiva character, the Lady of the Lake, and swiped the trophy from whomever did); and Best Direction for Mike Nichols (his 6th time). Even though Gothamist loved Spamalot, it’s also nice to see the awards getting spread around a little: the scrappy surprise hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee took first place in Best Book and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler); Norbert Leo Butz from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels made off with Best Leading Actor in a Musical; and The Light in the Piazza dominated with 6 wins, though four of them were in the kind of boring lighting/scene/costume categories.

As for plays, Doubt and its two main actresses got top honors; John Patrick Shanley’s alternately tough and tender parable undoubtedly (sorry) deserved it, even though Gothamist really kind of wanted The Pillowman to get it, especially since all The Pillowman got were Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting, and Doubt already won the Pulitzer (c’mon, we’re spreading around!). Gothamist was a bit snooty about the Tonys a few weeks ago when looking through the nominations and presenters and seeing so many Hollywood actors, but the American Theatre Wing, which does the awarding, redeemed itself somewhat in the actual event, as it gave trophies to performers who are more based on Broadway -- Bill Irwin, Cherry Jones, Norbert Leo Butz and Victoria Clark took the leading actor/actress prizes for plays and musicals, beating out the likes of James Earl Jones, Billy Crudup, Tim Curry and Hank Azaria. We’ll see whether the ATW can hold out against Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in their revival of The Odd Couple this fall.

While some Tony winners may never have to wash dishes again, regular actors in the city are still having to go to ridiculous lengths just to find and keep places to perform. Rockshow, which originated in the 2003 Fringe Festival, has been keeping a tenuous hold on its contract at Club El Flamingo, but thanks to its inventive concept and consistent quality it keeps extending. Although it has a central story – the internal struggles of a band in NYC -- it’s sort of reality theater in that it changes every week, bringing in guest rockers like Rhett Miller and Surrey Lane. Right now it’s only confirmed for this week and next, so you should check it out while you can. Another musical offering on hand this Thursday is Jodi Brinkman’s cabaret debut, “I Couldn’t Decide on a Title.” The story (worked in with songs from the likes of Ani DiFranco, Sondheim, and various country and jazz artists) is one that will feel relevant to many of us – a lighthearted look at the vast field of options open to talented young people in the city, and the indecisiveness that can cause.

2005_05_arts_disposable.JPGFinally, in another less-traditional format but in a considerably darker vein is Disposable Men, which started previews last night at HERE, where it has been in development for a couple years, and opens officially on Sunday. James Scruggs performs in a multimedia production about the shamefully persistent attitude in much of the media that black men are expendable commodities. It began as a video installation and is now a multimedia affair, with Scruggs ultimately demonstrating his view that Hollywood treats black men about the same as it does its monster creations (King Kong, Frankenstein). If you need a purge from the excess glitz of the Tonys, Gothamist thinks any of these shows would do nicely.

Details: Rockshow is at 8pm at Club El Flamingo, June 9 and 16 (and maybe longer; stay up to date on the website; 547 W. 21st.
Jodi Brinkman performs June 9 at 9:15pm at Danny's Skylight Room, 346 W. 46th.
Disposable Men runs through July 2 at HERE, 145 6th Ave. Performances are Thurs.-Sun. at 8:30pm and Sun. also at 5pm.

Photo from the Tonys by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage.