'STRANGE' TALK IN TONYS
My Man Reidel comments on the ongoing battle between Passing Strange and In The Heights for top honors this Sunday (that's when the Tony's are...watch them with me).
My take on the "grudge" match:
In terms of writing, Strange is clearly the better show. It's innovative, moving, and thought provoking, exploring the relationship between race, family and identity in a way that is both pointedly personable and universal. It also has a great score that is not only unique as theater music, but unlike anything else out there in the "normal people" music scene. And Stew really is fucking cool. But I can see it coming off as perhaps a bit chilly to some audience members.
Heights also has a great score, unlike anything else on Broadway, very much like what one hears on the Top 20 with lots of rap and hip hop and what not. It is tuneful and interesting with an appealing and talented cast and an infectious energy that is undeniable and invigorating. But one has a sense that the world of the play has been sanitized to cast a wider-net: an urban landscape more Plaza Sesamo than El Barrio. Not to say that In The Heights is a "sell out", or in some way untrue to itself, but it does seem quaint compared to Passing Strange's frank, uncomprimising approach. But sitting in the audience for Heights, there is no denying from the minute the house lights fade (if not before then) that you are watching an exciting hit musical, the kind of musical that will make people "go into the theater".
What will this mean on Sunday?....