Nominators may overlook work no longer on the boards

NEW YORK — Like the Oscars, the Tonys can have have a short memory. Shuttered shows tend to get shut out.

Michele Pawk’s win last year for “Hollywood Arms” was the sort of exception that proves the rule.

The 2003-04 Broadway season saw much fine work from artists whose shows are no longer on the boards. Herewith, a short, by no means all-inclusive list of well-regarded perfs and contributions that might easily be overlooked by Tony nominators:

Among actors, Eileen Atkins (“The Retreat From Moscow”), Raul Esparza and Euan Morton (“Taboo”), Aidan Gillen (“The Caretaker”), Margo Martindale and Ned Beatty (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), Jan Maxwell (“Sixteen Wounded”) and Tyrone Giordano (“Big River”) all deserve consideration.

Two plays of merit — “The Violet Hour” by Richard Greenberg and “Anna in the Tropics” by Nilo Cruz — were mired in flawed productions.

The same could be said of Boy George’s score for “Taboo” and Jerry Mitchell’s choreography for “Never Gonna Dance.”

Director Jack O’Brien is sure to be remembered for “Henry IV,” but his design team made significant contributions to the success of his production (sets, Ralph Funicello; costumes, Jess Goldstein; lighting, Brian MacDevitt).

Perhaps the most likely to be overlooked is the late-summer revival of “Big River,” which has already gone unmentioned in many of the smaller-fry nominations lineups. And yet Jeff Calhoun’s innovative production brought new layers of meaning to the musical.

Meanwhile, most Tony speculation has focused on the possibility that “Assassins” will be considered a new musical. But after a Gotham preem 13 years ago, a high-profile London staging and dozens of regional productions, the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman tuner has clearly entered the musical repertoire. It could only be considered new by the most tortured (and insular) of Broadway logic.

But there is one upcoming Sondheim show that might meet all the criteria: A truly new old musical is “The Frogs,” not seen since the famous pool production at Yale, with new Sondheim songs and a new book by Nathan Lane.

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