Monday, June 09, 2014

Tony Tone

The Tonys are the best awards show with the least interest.  Broadway used to be the nation's entertainment, and its musicals were where pop songs came from. Now, even with billion-dollar hits that tour around the world, it seems more rarefied.  Still, this is one night for the Great White Way to put its best foot forward.

Which it did.  It started with host Hugh Jackman bouncing in (based on Bobby Van in the "Jumping Song" from Small Town Girl) and past numerous characters from various shows.  Neil Patrick Harris hosted the last few years, and he was great, but Hugh--who's hosted before as well--is a bigger name (and a musical star) so it makes sense. (And maybe in a show with such a high gay quotient, the producers are happy to be represented by Wolverine.)

In fact, the show regularly goes out of its way to get marquee names, with Hollywood presenters showing up--like, say, Clint Eastwood or Samuel L. Jackson--because even if Broadway loves Mark Rylance (who won his third Tony last night), he means less than nothing to most Americans.

It's a well run show, even if it did run a few minutes over.  The speeches don't go on too long and every second moves along.  (If Broadway can't get a live show on a stage right, no one can.) It has to move well to fit in a production number from every major musical.  These numbers are fun, and no one's complaining about free advertising, but it's still hard to get a feeling for the magic of a live show on your TV set--and a number from a show doesn't work as well taken out of context. On top of all that, we're used to watching movies with much higher production values on our screens, so even the grandest theatrical pieces don't seem that big. While we're at it, maybe it would fun to see scenes from straight plays, rather than a quick montage, but it's all about musicals, who already suck up most of the oxygen on Broadway.  I mean, they're still putting on numbers from Wicked, which doesn't need any help.

As far as the awards, there weren't that many surprises.  A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder was best musical and All The Way was best play.  Bryan Cranston was best actor in a play and Neil Patrick Harris best actor in a musical. Audra McDonald was named best actress in a play.  She's won so many Tonys--six!--she must be using them as doorstops by now.

Jessie Mueller as the lead in the Carole King musical wasn't exactly a surprise, but she beat out stalwarts Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel and poor Kelli O'Hara--always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

The winners were spread pretty wide.  Few major titles went home empty. Though no show dominated, A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder and Hedwig And The Angry Inch got the most Tonys, each receiving four.  But Guide didn't get best score--The Bridges Of Madison County, which already closed, did.  Makes you wonder.

web page hit counter