Monday, June 12, 2006

TONY AWARDS In Review

[EDITED TO ADD VIDEO CLIP*]

I've talked plenty about this year's TONY Awards already... I know this is a film blog but June is a special theatrical time. I can't help it. So herewith a brief review and then we return you to your normally scheduled film programming.

The Great
The performance from The Drowsy Chaperone made me grin from ear to ear and also had the partygoers at my apartment laughing heartily (most hadn't seen the show). Here it is.



The Good
I liked Julia Roberts gracious compliments to the theatrical community. As to other film and television personalities that dip in the theater and were there... Anna Paquin, Lauren Ambrose, Paul Rudd, and Alfre Woodard all looked particularly good last night. Beautiful. I liked most of the other performances from nominated musicals too, even if some of them were truncated to the point where you couldn't quite get what was special about them. Nevertheless, this is always the best part of the show. And the main reason for watching since their actual choices for the winners...

The Bad
...are pretty damn frustrating. The TONYs are, if it's possible, even more frustrating than the Oscars in this way. There can be general consensus that a show will be regarded as a classic and they'll still ignore it for a touristy moneymaker. It's the reason they gave the big prize to Spamalot! over Light in the Piazza last year and the reason Jersey Boys took the big prize from Drowsy Chaperone this year and Pajama Game beat Sweeney Todd, too. In all of those cases, it's a crying shame. The really puzzling thing about this voting trend is that you'll always hear that this happens due to the touring company voting block. They want the ability to advertise the blockbusters on the road as being "Best Musical" winners. That would make perfect sense if they needed that title. The truth is these blockbuster shows that they vote for don't need awards. They usually come ready made for mass public appeal. You can't tell me that a show about a beloved cult film and a jukebox musical about the Four Seasons can't be marketed without that Tony-winning hook. It's the real deal new musicals like Piazza and Chaperone that need this boost. Arrrggh.

Basically I'm always left with the feeling that TONY voters are showbiz whores. And dumb ones at that. If they gave the prizes to the work that deserves it they could make even more money. The shows that sell themselves will keep selling themselves. Duh! The shows that are tougher sells and more deserving and crucial to the survival of the artform they're supposed to be celebrating will be easier to sell if they are given the recognition they deserve.

Click here for a complete list of winners Yes Miranda from Sex and the City and Emperor Palpatine are now TONY winners... and The Color Purple did not suffer the same fate that it suffered at the Oscars.

7 comments:

John T. said...

So, now Cynthia Nixon has a Tony & an Emmy-what do you think are her chances of completing that Triple Crown of acting with an Oscar?

NATHANIEL R said...

i've added a video clip to this post for you early birds who've already read it.

susannah said...

I was wondering if anyone here can remember when the Tonys used to present scenes from nominated plays. I can't remember if they did this *in addition* to numbers from musicals or if they would alternate every year. Still, I am remembering seeing a scene from an August Wilson play with Charles Dutton, which makes me think that the Tonys used to showcase the plays a bit more than they do now. Anyone? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i only remember seeing that done once --I remember a scene from the Beauty Queen of Lenane in the 90s I think? But i the 90s I didn't watch regularly so I don't know if that was annual

StinkyLulu said...

They started doing scenes from nominated plays in the later 1980s -- Fences, M.Butterfly, Broadway Bound era. That was the first time the plays received any presentation emphasis at all.

The musical numbers have always been thought to be the main attraction of the Tony award broadcast. (All the more so, I suspect, with the success of the "Lost Broadway Treasures" dvd series.)

The play excerpts suffered a blow when they split the "Best Revival" category in the mid1990s, giving one for best revived play & best revived musical. The broadcast then had the option of 7 nominated musicals from which they might potentially present numbers. Since then, the plays have been pushed once again from the Tony broadcast spotlight.

That said, I actually sorta liked the way they handled it this year -- the quick clips from most/all the plays on Broadway this year...

Arkaan said...

I didn't care for the Drowsy Chaperone number, but Sweeney Todd, The Threepenny Opera and Jersey Boys came off really well. As did James Earl Jones (he is such a force) and Cynthia Nixon in their brief snippets from Fences and The Heidi Chronicles, two great plays.

yellojkt said...

I thought Julia Roberts tried to be humble (and deservedly so) but came off a little arrogant. Like "I never realized live theater was hard work."

I'm having Show Tunes Week over at my blog. No real tunes until Friday, just wall to wall theater coverage until I get it out of my system.