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Windman: 'Memphis' victory isn't a done deal at Tonys

May 9, 2010 |  7:46 am

Tonys pundit Matt Windman (amNY) is firing back at criticism of his belief that "American Idiot" might beat "Memphis" for best musical, which he expressed in our video chat. A Gold Derby reader asserts Windman is wrong because "Idiot" isn't a critics' darling. "The show got mixed reviews," says the naysayer. "No musical has ever won best musical without at least a single nomination for acting, directing or score. And 'Idiot' has none of those things.

"There's only one scenario that would allow 'American Idiot' to win best musical: if the Tony membership were to enroll a thousand Green Day fans," adds our reader, who insists that "Memphis" is the clear front-runner. He also touts the show with the most nominations (11): "If Tony voters are gonna vote for a critics' darling, shouldn't it be for the show that was the best-reviewed musical on Broadway: 'Fela!'?"

Windman shot back with this response:

Memphis Broadway-2

I still do not think that a "Memphis" win is a done deal, but it has admittedly now emerged as a strong contender — much stronger than originally anticipated. This is a show that, one week ago, some pundits thought would not even be nominated.

I think that "Memphis" now needs to take a step forward and present itself as worthy of the prize. It has announced a national tour, but it has cooled off in press coverage and overall buzz since opening in the fall.

I also wonder why "Million Dollar Quartet" isn't being seriously considered as a contender. It got very positive reviews and has incredible touring potential. It's low cost and fits nicely into the "Jersey Boys" model. Step it up!

"Fela!" actually is trying to establish itself as a front-runner, with news of a national tour and its London engagement. Clearly, "Fela!" has a smart producer and a very hands-on press agent. It's just too bad the show itself is an over-hyped political rant and artistic piece of garbage with absolutely no commercial potential. It would be a snob hit were it not for the fact that the snobs would need to sit through it — or at least its first act.

Photo: "Memphis."  Credit: Shubert Theatre

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Comments

OK, apparently Matt Windman is the only person in the world that hates Fela! I've heard nothing but great reviews from this musical. Not to be mean, if Windman was a smart, un-biased pundit, then he would admit that Fela! has a much better chance at winning best musical than American Idiot (and admit that the majority of the people who have seen the musical liked it...). At this point, it seems like the only reason he doesn't think Fela! is a front runner is because HE personally hates the musical. Real professional, Matt!

I think this is clearly a race between Memphis and Fela! (although La Cage Au Folles might dominate in other technical/acting categories)

At what point will pundits (or, more sinisterly, the voters for the big awards) recognize that "commercial potential" is an invalid variable for determining award-winners?

"Fela!" got 11 nominations and is summarily dismissed by these pundits as having no chance of winning. I haven't seen the show but am very intrigued to and hope to soon. Of course, I also am in the minority in having actually listened to some of Fela Kuti's music and learned a little about his life, but it's mostly because of the show that I reached out.

I'm not sure what will win Best Musical this year, and I could see three of the four (sorry, Million Dollar Quartet) winning it all. I just don't know why these pundits can't see that Fela! could take it, too.


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