Washington theater folks often complain that D.C. theater doesn’t get respect in New York.
It’s true that New Yorkers tend to get culturally snooty about D.C., mainly because, you sometimes suspect, the Broadway theater tickets are astronomical (as opposed to just outrageous in D.C.), because you have to take a loan out to go to the Metropolitan Opera, because where else is a musical about Bonnie and Clyde a good idea and because there is no such thing as a free museum in New York. Mama MOMA, indeed.
But, Gothamites, beware. D.C. theater is no slouch. Look what’s up for Tonys for best drama: Bruce Norris’s comedy-drama about gentrification, “Clybourne Park,” and wonder-writer-adapter David Ives’s “Venus in Fur.” We should be so lucky to see such plays. Hmm, wait . . . we are so lucky. “Clybourne Park” was staged twice at Woolly Mammoth, no less, where Norris is a particularly favorite playwright. “Venus in Fur” was last seen at the Studio Theatre, where Ives is a favorite there.
And look what may win a Tony for best revival of a musical and best performance by an actor (Danny Burstein) and an actress (Jan Maxwell) in a musical: the Kennedy Center production of “Follies,” directed by Eric Schaeffer (Signature Theatre) and studiously ignored by the Helen Hayes Awards here. “Follies” premiered at the Kennedy Center in a dazzling and difficult production, was tinkered with and made a big impression in its Broadway debut. It is now preparing for an Los Angeles run. All in all, “Follies” was nominated for eight Tonys.
Also, “Master Class,” starring Tyne Daly, is up for a best dramatic revival Tony. It began life at the Kennedy Center.
If that’s not enough to stand up and take notice of Washington theater, there’s the fact that the Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company, headed by artistic director Michael Kahn, received this year’s special Regional Theatre Tony. The award, which Kahn will receive at the Tony Awards ceremonies in New York June 10, marks a kind of climax of his 25-year tenure as artistic director.