Morning, ladies. Congrats on your Tony nominations.
Chicago theater was, of course, put on the map by its tough guys: Sinise, Malkovich and potty-mouthed dramatist David Mamet. But this morning the 2008 Antoinette Perry nominations were announced, and though Mamet opened his first new Broadway play in a decade this season, his name wasn't among the nominees.
On the other hand, a few other Chicago names were: Anna, Deanna, Amy, Rondi, Martha, Laurie, Ann and Barbara. Respectively, that's August: Osage County director Shapiro, August best actress nominees Morton and Dunnagan, August featured actress nominee Reed, Steppenwolf ensemble member and best featured actress nominee Plimpton (who appears in Top Girls) ensemble member Metcalf (nominated in the same category as Reed and Plimpton as the only mention for Mamet's November), August's lighting designer Wrightson and—the biggest surprise—Chicago Shakespeare artistic director Barbara Gaines.
Chicago Shakes is this year's winner of the regional Tony, making the Navy Pier nonprofit the fourth in Chicago to collect the honor. (The others, of course, are Steppenwolf, Goodman and Victory Gardens.)
As expected, August scribe Tracy Letts and Todd Rosenthal, designer of that play's towering, gothic three-story Oklahoma-home set, were also showered with nominations, making it a total of seven for the play about the Westons.
I love the fact that, in what's surely the most nationally celebrated year for Chicago theater in its history (Tony nominations for Chicago actors in three different productions, a Pulitzer for Letts, a U-Haul full of off-Broadway awards for Next Theatre's Adding Machine and a number of Chicago-born productions, from the Hypocrites, Writers Theatre and 500 Clown, playing to packed houses in New York City), it's the women who are nabbing the highest profile prizes.
As recently as a decade ago, young artists who came to the city to practice their craft still had an image of macho Chicago burned into their consciousness. And as the "Where's Waldo?" hunt for the next Steppenwolf commenced, the potential successors singled out from Generation-X-and-younger tended to be men. (Collaboraction's Anthony Moseley, the Hypocrites' Sean Graney and the House's Nathan Allen were all pounced on by journalists as their creative careers began to emerge.)
But the current fleet of role models, many of whom have been justly singled out this year for their outstanding contributions to the form, allows Chicago's next emerging artists to envision a completely different kind of city for themselves.
A high five to all of Chicago's 2008 Tony nominees. Way to show them how it's done.