What little drama there was at Sunday’s low-rated Tony Awards telecast centered on “Be More Chill,” Joe Iconis’ struggling musical.
When James Corden, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles sang “James in the Bathroom,” nearly everyone at Radio City Music Hall laughed. They knew it was a parody of “Michael in the Bathroom” from “Be More Chill” because they’d seen the show. But many TV viewers had no clue what was going on because they’ve never heard of the song or the show.
No one on the telecast acknowledged that “Be More Chill” inspired the parody that the musical’s team didn’t know was coming. “We were stunned,” a source involved in the show says.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when the people behind “Be More Chill” asked to perform a number on the show — and were willing to pay the production costs to stage it — the powers that be, says my source, “turned us down in five minutes.”
The Tony people did find time to broadcast a number from “The Cher Show,” even though that wasn’t nominated for Best Musical, either. But apparently the old guard doesn’t care for “Be More Chill,” so they gave it the back of their hand, then did a parody of it without telling its creator.
To their credit, both Corden and Groban acknowledged “Be More Chill” on social media. “They were mortified it got no recognition,” one source said. Their tweets gave the box office a bit of an uptick this week, but the show is still in trouble. It could have used a straightforward plug on the Tonys.
What galled those involved in the show even more was hearing Broadway League chief Charlotte St. Martin speak about the importance of bringing young people to the theater. Yet the Tonys couldn’t be bothered to put “Be More Chill,” a show that’s all about young people, on the telecast.
Reached Thursday by The Post, St. Martin said, “We regret that there wasn’t an acknowledgment for the Tony-nominated Joe Iconis and the number from the show. We are doing everything we can to rectify [the situation].” CBS’s Facebook page has since credited “Be More Chill” as the source of its parody.
But the telecast itself is in trouble. For the first time in its history, the number of viewers dipped below 6 million.
There’s a conundrum here. Broadway has never been more popular. Attendance hit a record-breaking 14.77 million this past season, with a record-breaking gross of $1.8 billion. Shows such as “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Wicked,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Chicago” and “The Lion King” are world-famous.
And yet an industry that knows how to put on a show can’t put on a telecast.
Figure it out, my friends — or it’s PBS for you.
You can hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR radio 710.