I’ve never placed too much stock in Broadway’s Tony Awards. They may not be as bad as the Grammys, but it’s still easy to confuse a non-buff walking by the theaters in midtown Manhattan trying to determine if their Tony-boasting marquees represent quality or just another marketing ploy. I usually end up tuning the awards out unless I happen across the odd spectacle of the TV broadcast (we’ll see how its Whoopifying plays this year).
But the hilarious web series Cubby Bernstein, Tony Campaign Manager rekindled my interest in the fusty awards. I may be playing right into the hands of the viral marketers who created Cubby to build buzz for the musical Xanadu (which actually is up for Best Musical and other Tonys this year), but I don’t care. How can you not love the premise of a veteran, no-nonsense, Yiddish-peppering Broadway promoter who happens to be an ageless little boy?
The show features some great writing and a solid performance from Adam Riegler as Cubby (who’s now moving on to the role of Young Shrek in its upcoming production…yes, they’re making a musical out of that, too). It’s great to see the character draw laughs out of various situations, including an Obama-esque rally at ‘The Cub-Cake Event’ outside of Xanadu’s NYC theater.
###Cubby’s often upstaged, however, by the true Broadway vets who are impressively marched out to give their testimonials of his greatness. Things get even more meta (those marketers might say ‘synergistic’) when the actual producers of Xanadu show up in episode two and Cubby ends up promoting the play during the remainder of the series (which is promoting the play to begin with, mind you). But, my favorite cameo has to be Duncan Sheik barely breathing (or is that spring awakening?) over Cubby and then Mrs. Bernstein herself.
We’re admittedly coming to this one a little late, as the finale of the series arrived to great acclaim yesterday after seven episodes, and the amazing penultimate episode featuring Nathan Lane has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube in the past five days.
But the other episodes range from 5-50K views, so it’s unclear how many outside of the theater community have delved into the entire show. It’s definitely worth the half hour or so commitment, because this bit of Broadway absurdity will make you laugh whether you’ve paid thousands for headshots or not. And be sure to tune in on Sunday (or at least read the Times on Monday) to see if Cubby’s worked his magic in real life!