By BERNICE FOX
Opening night for Billy Crystal’s new musical was only two weeks ago, following a few weeks of preview performances. But “Mr. Saturday Night” already has made an impact because it just got five Tony nominations. They were announced earlier this week.
Along with “Mr. Saturday Night” receiving a coveted Tony nomination for best musical, former Pacific Palisades honorary mayor Crystal is up for best actor in a musical.
Crystal says, “I am so grateful for the five nominations ‘Mr. Saturday Night’ received and for the amazing people who have made our show such a joy to experience.”
Some of those people also have new Tony nominations, including Crystal’s frequent collaborators, Marc “Babaloo” Mandel and Lowell Ganz, up together with Crystal for best book, which means script. By these reactions, it’s easy to tell Mandel and Ganz are comedy writers.
Mandel: “It’s a shame that all the teachers that failed me (and there were a lot!) are deceased.”
Ganz: “It took me 50 years to get to Broadway. Worth every second.”
Also nominated for “Mr. Saturday Night” is Shoshana Bean for her featured role in this musical. She says “as far as ‘Mr. Saturday Night,’ they’ve been working on this show for many, many years. I count myself so lucky Billy and company brought me along for the ride.”
And “Mr. Saturday Night’s” composer and lyricist, Jason Robert Brown and Amanda Green have Tony nominations.
“Mr. Saturday Night” came out of Crystal’s sometimes bittersweet 1992 movie of the same name about a now-older stand-up comedian who’s his own worst enemy.
Other Palisadians who are up for Tony awards include Don Cheadle and his wife, Bridget Coulter Cheadle. They are among a number of producers of “A Strange Loop,” about one person’s quest to discover where he fits in the world.
A May 6 Wall Street Journal story reviewed “Mr. Saturday Night” and “A Strange Loop” in a story “Broadway Opposites Attract: Two musicals – a daring Pulitzer winner and a frothy Billy Crystal comedy – both hit their marks.”
About Crystal’s show they wrote: “it is as delightfully funny as just about any musical of recent vintage. The jokes come flying across the footlights with near-dizzying speed, and virtually all of them land in our laps like perfectly pitched baseballs . . . ]Mr. Saturday Night’ is prime material. Schmaltz and shtick are a familiar combination since time immemorial, or at least the glory days of Neil Simon. They go together like bagels and lox – who doesn’t like bagels and lox?”
And the WSJ story loved “Loop,” calling it “extraordinary in just about every way . . . it represents theater at its most daring and unexpected.”
“A Strange Loop” has 11 nominations – the most of any Broadway show this season.
The Tony Awards, which always are filled with musical performances, will air Sunday, June 12 on CBS. The host is Ariana DeBose, who recently won the Oscar for best supporting actress for “West Side Story.”