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HomeOpinions'Cornball' musical 'Shucked' should be a shoo-in at the Tonys

‘Cornball’ musical ‘Shucked’ should be a shoo-in at the Tonys

Cream of the crop: ‘Shucked’

Sunday. The Tony awards.

Today, Wednesday, four days in advance, me — a previous Tony voter — will spill to you the big winner.

In days of yore New Yorkers attended our internationally famous theater in black tie. They’d see “Hamlet,” “King Lear,” even if they didn’t always know a whither thee from a wherefore art thou.

Shove it. Now “the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.” It’s an era where ladies are hanging out with their boobs hanging out. Also, as a guy’s crotch sweeps the street, high-minded — but lowly paid — experts will now crown hee-haw cornball musical “Shucked” the big winner.

Its lead producer’s Mike Bosner. Bosner is from wherever’s St. Louis. I have bras older than Bosner. Born 1988, he’s the theatrical semi-genius who schlepped this howdy rowdy hee-haw — where the laughs reach as high as a producer’s eye — right into SRO and an Antoinette Perry Award.

“We started in Salt Lake City,” he told me. “This is a long going thing. Started years ago. We had plans for this show. We had an actress in the role Alex Newell now has. She was OK only she wouldn’t travel. She just wanted to stay home with her baby.

Alex Newell is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
Alex Newell is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
Mathew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

“Our music supervisor was musical director for the cabaret act of somebody none of us knew named Alex Newell. I fought that idea. I said, ‘We are not going to do this. Nobody’s ever heard of him. Who is she? What have they done? Besides odd for the role. Alex’s gender nonspecific [uses she/he/they pronouns]. We need heart in this.’

“Finally we said, ‘OK, bring them in. Let him audition.’ Well . . . our faces melted. She sang his big number ‘Independently Owned’ COLD. Never saw the song before. Never heard the song before. Sang in the bathroom. He just stood there and sang that song so enormously great that our faces melted.”

“Shucked” is cornball. Corny. One-liner crappy jokes. But great. And it will win statuettes as high as an elephant’s eye — as will chunky, clunky nonbinary supersensational Alex Newell.

So, Alex. Wearing a black fitted dressy chiffon-y cocktail dress, said: “I can hardly breathe it’s so exciting. I never won a Tony before. I never won anything before. I mean me becoming a star? I wanted that more in my whole life than I ever wanted anything else.

“I have my fingers crossed. I’m praying that I actually win. I’m Baptist. I have a silver statue in my room and I’m praying to it.”

Meanwhile, get to the important things, Mr. Alex. Whose dress you wearing?

According to lead producer Mike Bosner, "Shucked" started in Salt Lake City.
According to lead producer Mike Bosner, “Shucked” started in Salt Lake City.
Mathew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

“Christian Siriano. He personally fitted it for me. I’m keeping it.”

Yeah, naturally. What did it cost?

“I don’t know. He didn’t charge me.”

Right. A star is a star is a Sunday night Tony winner.

As I left the showbiz party at Orso, Kevin Cahoon, up for a Tony for his own role in “Shucked,” grabbed me. I started to say, “Please . . . who are you?” when he said: “You don’t even remember me? A lifetime ago we were together on Broadway in ‘Rocky Horror Show.’ ”

For sure only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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