Broadway raked in $1.8 billion at the box office this past year — and some of us want our money back.
Overhyped performances, silly plots and sheer, WTF awfulness made us groan into our overpriced, sippy-cup cocktails. Which is why, ahead of Broadway’s annual salute to itself — Sunday night’s Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, broadcast live at 8 p.m. on CBS — we give you . . . the Groany Awards.
Most misguided mashup
“Our Lips Our Sealed”! “We Got the Beat”! “Cool Jerk”! What ideal ditties for a big, fat summer Broadway hit, you’d think. Well, the bizarre, money-draining Go-Go’s musical “Head Over Heels” pairs the beloved songs with a 16th-century story by Sir Philip Sidney that no tourist has ever heard of — and audiences didn’t go-go.
Biggest bait and switch
Walk down 50th Street and you’ll see the marquee at the Circle in the Square Theatre: “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!” You sit waiting to find out if the farmer and the cowman will be friends, but instead you’re tortured by director Daniel Fish’s version of that beloved musical — one featuring a blood-soaked wedding dress, neon green lights and a nightmarish dream ballet.
Most regrettable encore
One year after her Tony-winning turn in “Three Tall Woman,” Glenda Jackson returned in a gender-bending “King Lear.” The problem lies not in that she plays the king, but how: disconnected and shrill, barking her lines as if each were a soliloquy. Dear Ms. Jackson, you’re not in Parliament anymore.
Worst example of a parallel universe
From Lucas Hnath, writer of the infinitely superior “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” came the head-scratcher “Hillary and Clinton.” Question: If Hill and Bill look and sound nothing like their real-life counterparts, why bring in a ringer for Barack?
Musical least ready for prime time
Not since Suzanne Somers appalled us with “The Blonde in the Thunderbird” has anything as inept as “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” played Broadway. Tacky, derivative and jammed with Jersey jokes, it opened with its producer trying to rally the crowd like a bad bar mitzvah DJ.
Grossest sound effect
No contest: the farts issuing from the flatulent corpses in “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.” Nathan Lane, giving his customary 150 percent, seems amused, but many theatergoers looked queasy. No intermission, no escape.
Most pointless foreplay
It’s only 20 minutes or so before Adam Driver explodes into “Burn This.” Until then, a meandering story about a funeral and a tedious discussion of writing make time stand still. Even a playwright as wonderful as Lanford Wilson could have used an editor. Or a delete key.
Blandest PC rewrite . . .
Shakespeare was a genius. Amanda Green? Not so much. To make this season’s “Kiss Me, Kate!” more post-#MeToo friendly, she neutered some of the Bard’s barbs and has Kate slapping around Petruchio. Equality? We say spousal abuse.
. . . and a reason to get the hook!
“Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” Cole Porter’s classic name check of all the Bard’s plays, usually leaves the audience wanting more. Not in this “Kiss Me, Kate!”: Each time the singing goons barge back onstage, you want to kick ’em right in the Coriolanus.
Worst musical by Eddie Perfect
This is a tough one. The unfortunately named Australian composer Eddie Perfect made his Broadway debut this season — twice — with a pair of duds: “King Kong” and “Beetlejuice.” But while the monkey musical slipped on a banana peel in nearly every regard, it’s the foul-mouthed, coke-sniffing “Beetlejuice” that’s least perfect.
Most ear-splitting sound design
The cult-y teen show “Be More Chill” brought out the cranky old person in every theatergoer over the age of 16, with its ludicrously high decibel levels. It’s hard to care about any characters when you’re at a Twisted Sister concert.
A few insensitive old stories need to be updated for changing times, sure. But those needed fixes shouldn’t get laughs, like the “King Kong” character Ann Darrow does when she refuses to scream like a victim on her film set. Really, guys? Heck, if a 2-ton gorilla ran at Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’d squeal too.