Tony Awards 1972, Two Gentlemen of Verona

4 Apr

two gentlemen


Two Gentlemen of Verona has to be one of the most obscure Tony Award winners of all time, and that’s saying a lot.   In a year that brought us Follies, Grease, and Jesus Christ Superstar we choose this as best musical?     There’s reasons for that.

Not many people know that Jesus Christ Superstar didn’t start its life as a musical at all, but as a concept album.   The original Broadway show came more than a year after the album, and neither Broadway nor Andrew Lloyd Weber liked it.    On top of that it was controversial both from Conservative Christian crowd (Judas was too relatable, and Jesus had some notable weaknesses if not flaws.)    The concept album had already done quite well (hitting number one) and something about this show seemed anticlimactic.

Follies was a good show, but so ludicrously expensive that it ended up losing money.   Also Sondheim had just won the year previous for Company.

Grease is a fine show and all, but compared to the other big shows this year, doesn’t it seem a little silly?

So we’re left with Two Gentlemen–MacDermot won because 1) The Tonys shafted him a few years before with Hair 2) Shakespeare (even hippified naughty Shakespeare) is hard to fight with as something significant without being controversial, and 3) It was a moderate hit.

The problem is that Two Gentlemen wasn’t significant.  Don’t get me wrong–MacDermot writes some good songs here, but this isn’t what he’s remembered for.  In fact, the tunes here all kind of meld together into one big mishmosh.  Also, the hippie aesthetic–so very fresh in 1967 is already seeming a bit strained in 1972.

Oh well. I’m glad he did win a Tony.  I just wish it was for the right work.

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