By Gordon Cox
The real king of the hill of the Tony nominations isn’t “Once,” which led the pack with 11 noms. It’s New York Theater Workshop.
The 29-year-old troupe was the pre-Broadway home not only for “Once” but “Peter and the Starcatcher” (above), which topped the list of play contenders with nine nods. NYTW is credited as a producer of both – which means it’s sitting on a whopping 20 noms.
It’s certainly common for Tony contenders to spring from Off Broadway bows. Competish for “Peter” includes “Other Desert Cities” and “Clybourne Park,” both of which preemed Off Broadway (at Lincoln Center Theater and at Playwrights Horizons, respectively) prior to landing on the Main Stem. But it’s exceedingly rare for two of the season’s major nom-magnets to come from the same place.
Sure, the bounty for NYTW is attributable as much to the vagaries of timing as it is to savvy programming. The last 15 years of the company’s programming has percolated along without making a Broadway dent.
But the downtown theater, housed in one of more comfortable and desirable spaces on the Off Broadway scene, can at least enjoy it while it lasts. And it’s not a complete stranger to Rialto accolades: In 1996 NYTW took a risk and produced a little musical from an unknown composer. That show was called “Rent.”