2005_06_artstonyawards.jpgThe rarified air around tippy-top Broadway shows is abuzz this week with anticipation of the Tony Awards. Clicking through the official website, Gothamist couldn’t help but snort at some of the pomposity going on for a ceremony that no one outside theater could care less about, but it’s probably to be expected. With celebrity presenters ranging from Julia Stiles and Allison Janney to James Earl Jones and Alan Alda, the Tonys have to keep up appearances and satisfy the big Hollywood tastes these folks have developed. This is particularly obvious in the huge number of gifts presenters receive, as Playbill reports; the goodies aren’t quite Oscar-caliber, but there are several nice bits of bling (Gothamist’s eye lingered on the Swarovski crystal-studded earphones) but apparently the award organizers want to help these poor deprived folks get total makeovers, with gift certificates for Lasik and teeth bleaching as well as “Life Coaching” sessions and language-learning software. Because, you know, now that these people are at the top of their game, they really need some extra assistance. Sheesh.

One good thing about the Tonys, at least, is that for those who can’t afford tickets to the actual shows, a lot of the best numbers from the nominees are performed. Unlike the lame Oscar musical interludes, these promise to be pretty cool. 2005_05_arts_ramirez.JPG The title songs from La Cage aux Folles (with the gorgeous, acrobatic Cagelles) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are on the slate, and of course there will be plenty of Spam(alot) to go around, with the spotlight on Sara Ramirez for the hilarious “Find Your Grail” (oh yeah, Tim Curry and the rest of the company perform it too…but their voices are just so much background noise compared to Ramirez’s incredible pipes). Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will put Norbert Leo Butz, John Lithgow, Gregory Jbara and the ensemble on stage, and Christina Applegate will show some of her Sweet Charity. So between those and the celebrity-ogling that is what so much of mainstream Broadway amounts to these days, you can have a pretty good personal night at the Theatre District this Sunday, at least if you aren’t too tired of Oz-boy Hugh Jackman, who’s the MC for the third time.

2005_05_arts_work.JPGBut in case you’d rather steer clear of all that, Gothamist has a couple of recommendations for shows that are about as far from Broadway as possible. At the Blue Heron Theatre, John DuFresne’s new play Trailerville begins its run this week. It’s about a trailer park in Louisiana, where one couple is dealing with the onset of the husband’s Alzheimer’s, while a nearby trailer is crowded with too many people and passions, one of which is the single dad’s love for the wife of the man with Alzheimer’s. The play is set on Labor Day weekend when things come to a boil. Or you could check out Charlotte Meehan’s play Work at the Flea Theatre; it’s a farce (or, as the subtitle would have it, a “madcap tragic-parody”) about, well, work – all the stupid, annoying stuff you have to deal with in the corporate world, like (for starters) sex scandals and other people’s BO. It might hit a little too close to home for some of us, but at least it’s a far cry from anything the folks at the Tonys have probably ever had on their minds, and that alone may recommend it on this weekend of Broadway self-congratulation.

Details: The Tonys are on this Sunday at 8 on CBS. The red carpet stuff, as well as the first part of the ceremony, which isn’t on TV, will be webcast on the official site.
Trailerville has previews Friday and Saturday at 8 at the Blue Heron Theatre, 123 E. 24th St, and it opens on Sunday at 3. The run goes through June 26.
Work is at the Flea, 41 White St., until June 23. This Thursday through Saturday and next Wednesday and Thursday it’s at 9pm Thursday-Saturday; see the website for more dates.