Hot Stove (Relatively) Short – Broadway and the Tony Awards

Warning: Very little baseball here. So it won’t even have a Hot Stove number.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Yankees came to Kansas City. Rita I went to New York. We had very nice weather. KC was not so lucky. The Friday game was postponed because of rain, documented in this stunning shot by Royals staff photographer Jason Hanna (makes me think of Prince’s “Purple Rain”):

Three days earlier, the Royals had also been rained out in St. Louis. In each case, the postponed game was made up the following day with a day-night double-header. The Royals finally got in a game as scheduled on Sunday. The rain followed them to Chicago for Memorial Day when they played in the mud into the fifth inning amidst long rain delays. The game was suspended and carried over for completion before yesterday’s scheduled game. The Royals went 2-5 in the seven games.

That sounds like a lot of water, but not as much as earlier this month in Davenport, Iowa. Modern Woodman Park, home of the Quad City River Bandits, became an emerald island surrounded by Mississippi River flood waters.


Before the Royals and White Sox started last night’s second game, there was a memorable ceremonial first pitch. In the photo below, please note the position of the photographer. As it turns out, he should have had a glove instead of a camera. Click here to see what happened.

Image result for white sox first pitch hits photographer

On Broadway: For several years, Rita and I have gone to New York for the Memorial Day weekend to binge on Broadway shows. The timing is perfect – the Tony nominations are out and so there is a lot of buzz about who will win the awards at the ceremony in June. We saw six shows in the four days. Rita calls it our Telluride experience in New York, but with more walking required as theaters ranged from 46th Street to 52nd Street.

We doubled down this Broadway season by also going to New York in November, primarily to take in To Kill a Mockingbird (as written for the stage by Aaron Sorkin) and Network (starring Bryan Cranston who won a Tony five years ago for his portrayal of LBJ). We also did six shows in four days on that trip. The others were The Play That Goes Wrong (funny British farce), The New One (hilarious standup one-man show by Mike Birbiglia), Waverly Gallery (starring 86-year-old Elaine May), and Dear Evan Hansen (Tony winner for best musical two years ago).

For our Memorial Day weekend, there was no way to cover all the Tony nominees, so we had to do a form of triage. Our no-brainer selection was to see the jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. It was a blast – terrific voices and dance steps intertwined with the story of the Motown group. Our other nominated musical choice was Hadestown, the apparent leader in the race for the Tony. We thought it was good, but based on our small sample size, our vote would go to Ain’t Too Proud.




We saw only one of the nominated plays – Ink, the story of publisher Rupert Murdoch expanding his newspaper publishing business in London in 1969, a few years before he started his acquisitions in the U.S. We liked the play a lot, but our vote for best play would go To Kill a Mockingbird. Alas, although Mockingbird has nine nominations, best play is not one of them. It looks like the favorites among those nominated are What the Constitution Means to Me and The Ferryman.


We caught up to a Tony nominee from last year, Mean Girls, the musical based on the movie of the same name. It was as funny as we thought it would be – after all, Tina Fey is the writer.

On our last day, we took in a couple of personal choices. For the Sunday matinee, we saw Toni Stone, a play about the first female to play professional baseball – including stints with the Indianapolis Clowns (1953) and Kansas City Monarchs (1954). To get a feel for the times, the cast came to Kansas City on April 29 to meet with President Bob Kendrick of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He gave them a tour and was joined by Frank White who, like Stone, played second base. The second baseman for Indianapolis the year before Stone was Hank Aaron. Actress April Matthis plays the title character and is shown below at the Toni Stone exhibit at the museum

The play opened in New York on May 23 at the Off-Broadway Roundabout Theatre. We enjoyed the play, especially the performance of April Matthis. And you have to like a play where you hear the names Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil.

Most Broadway theaters are dark on Sunday night, but the long-running Chicago is one of the exceptions. We were drawn to this because we have been watching the 8-episode TV miniseries Fosse/Verdon (saw the final episode last night). A major story arc is about dancer/singer Gwen Verdon pushing her husband, choreographer Bob Fosse, to do the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago. It opened in 1975 to mixed reviews, but the 1996 Broadway revival is still running. We can see why. Our Sunday night show looked like it was sold out, and the audience response was ecstatic. A great finish to our Broadway binge.

Our trips to New York also allow us to see the continuing skyline additions made by my long-time client Gary Barnett. In 2004, I represented Gary on the purchase of a building on 57th that once housed the Hard Rock Café. Over the years, the work expanded to include other parts of the block plus development rights. Today, some 15 years later, that assemblage is the site of the construction of the 131-floor Central Park Tower. When completed, it will be the tallest residential building in the city. Click here for some perspective. As Rita and I were walking down Broadway, a photo op presented itself – the juxtaposition of Gary’s growing tower and the marquee for the Broadway musical King Kong. Maybe that gorilla will someday shift his climb of the Empire State Building (1,454’) to Central Park Tower (1,550’).


We had one non-Broadway mission for our long weekend. On Friday, we walked from our hotel on 54th Street, through Central Park to 92nd, arriving at the Jewish Museum for the exhibit “Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything.” As many Hot Stove readers know, Leonard Cohen played a major role in Rita’s outlook while going through her breast cancer treatment in 2012/2013. The words of Cohen’s song “Anthem” were inspiring:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

The multi-media exhibit kept us engaged for almost three hours. It was like visiting an old friend, especially the concert videos that reminded us of seeing Leonard at Radio City Music Hall in 2013.


Lonnie’s Jukebox: An eclectic mix from our trip.

From Chicago – click here for clips of the opening number, “All That Jazz”


The Temptations – click here for the original members singing “Ain’t Too Proud” and here for clips from the Broadway show.


Last, Leonard Cohen singing “Closing Time” (click here).

See you at the Tony Awards (via CBS) on Sunday night, June 9.