‘The Band’s Visit’ bucks trend by sweeping Tony Awards

Broadway thumbed its nose at Tina Fey and touristy musicals Sunday night by showering “The Band’s Visit,” a lovely, human show, with 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Its sweep of the Tonys is a sharp rebuke to the family-friendly franchise shows that are gobbling up Broadway.

Broadway is in danger of becoming a theme park, but Tony voters staged a revolution Sunday night, saying, in effect: No more shows based on famous movies or cartoons. Bring back smart, sophisticated shows for New Yorkers, not Iowans.

Budgeted at less than $10 million, “The Band’s Visit” flattened “Mean Girls,” Disney’s “Frozen” and Viacom’s “SpongeBob Square Pants,” all of which cost tens of millions of dollars to bring to Broadway.

“The Band’s Visit,” based on a tiny movie that maybe two people saw, tells the story of an Egyptian military band that, through a travel mix-up, winds up for a night in a small, dusty, forsaken village in northern Israel. Nothing much happens, except that some lonely people come together for one night and life, for a tender but fleeting moment, begins.

The tip-off that “The Band’s Visit” was going to win big came with the award for Best Book of a Musical. Tina Fey is a superstar and she wrote a snappy, smart script for “Mean Girls,” a musical based on her popular 2004 movie.

She charmed Broadway by appearing at all the events leading up to the Tonys and by being a good sport about posing for selfies with Tony voters. The smart bet was that Broadway would give her a Tony for her script.

CBS was so sure she’d win that it broadcast the award on the live telecast rather than relegating it, as it has done for years, to the pre-telecast hour, where they give all the awards to people nobody has ever heard of.

But when Itamar Moses, one of those little-known people, beat Tina Fey for his book for “The Band’s Visit,” you knew something was up.

The sweep gained momentum when the award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical went to Ari’el Stachel, who plays the tall and handsome trumpet player in the show. Stachel looked stunned as he accepted his award, saying that for years, he hid his Middle Eastern background but was now proud to embrace it.

“The Band’s Visit” became unstoppable when David Cromer, who staged the show, won for Best Director. He beat out Bartlett Sher, who was expected to win for his revival of “My Fair Lady.”

David Yazbek picked up Best Score for “The Band’s Visit,” and Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub, both magnificent in the show, won Best Actress and Best Actor.

Tony voters delivered another surprise by giving the award for Best Revival of a Musical to “Once on This Island.”

This charming show beat back stiff challenges from two revivals of American musical-theater classics: “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady.”

Glenda Jackson, whose performance in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” should not be missed, won the Tony for Best Actress in a Play.

Nathan Lane, Broadway’s No. 1 musical-comedy actor for years, can now make the claim that he’s Broadway’s No. 1 dramatic actor, too, picking up the Tony for his chilling and brilliant performance as Roy Cohn, Donald Trump’s lawyer, in “Angels in America.”

“Angels,” Tony Kushner’s epic about AIDS during the Reagan years, also won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

Radio City Music Hall was awash in tears when the drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Fla., sang “Seasons of Love” from “Rent,” a show written by Jonathan Larson, who, like the kids caught up in the February massacre at the school, died far too young.

Meanwhile, Robert De Niro thumbed his nose at President Trump when, before introducing his friend Bruce Springsteen, he said, “I just want to say one thing. F–k Trump.’’

The theater people at Radio City stood and cheered.

The “deplorables” who voted for Trump probably were not watching the Tony Awards.

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