Monday, June 11, 2007

The TONY Awards

Another year, another TONY Awards. The most memorable part of the evening for me was that it felt like Hugh Jackman was actually hosting even though he turned the gig down this year because there he was during every commercial break... striking curious poses in commercials for the Vegas set musical (?) TV series Viva Laughlin. How does he find the time? I'm assuming his is a recurring guest role rather than a lead... though the commercials lean heavily on his star magnetism.

Anyway, some thoughts on the night

Swoosie Kurtz (yay!), Harvey Fierstein (it aint televisions gayest night of the year w/out Harvey), Audra McDonald (a TONY goddess), Billy Crudup and Christine Ebersole (happy winners)

Wins: Best Musical Spring Awakening won just about everything it was up for except costumes (Grey Gardens) and sets (Mary Poppins) and acting. The nine hour Tom Stoppard trilogy The Coast of Utopia was even stronger in the Best Play categories. What didn't it win? The most deserving acting prizes went to the Beales of Grey Gardens. And I hear that Billy Crudup was sensational in Utopia as a Russian intellectual so good on him.

Most Skeletal: Where has Claire Danes gone? I'm glad her copresenter didn't slice himself open on her protuding bones. Can't find a suitably scary picture but I'm sure you'll see one soon.

Best Dressed: Angela Lansbury looked so classy.

Worst Dressed: Marcia Gay Harden, Christine Ebersole, and Melina whatshername from TV (pictured right with Jane Krakowski whom she is entirely unworthy to touch -- begone Melina!) The latter looked like she had a massive coke can tab hanging around her neck. Ewwww

Best Speeches: Mary Louise Wilson (Grey Gardens) and Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed) gave great acceptance speech. Funny and aware that it's a television show and not all about them. You still have to think about the audience when you're having your moment.

Worst Speech: Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens) was a deserving winner and I realize she's had the trophy in the bag for the whole theater season but this was the very definition of over rehearsed. I felt like I was in her bathroom staring into her mirror.

Best Performance: Audra McDonald's warm and spirited performance of "Raunchy" did the trick. I wanted to buy tickets to 110 in the Shade immediately. I'm also surprised to say that Fantasia's Color Purple number was surprisingly well acted. Why surprisingly? Well she was pretty terrible as herself in that Lifetime movie --not that I watched the whole thing.

Most Hilariously Appropriate Co-Presenter Pairing: Kevin Spacey with Jane Krakowski. That's a whole heap o' self love & smug right there. (I luv ya Jane! Don't be mad)

The Bad: They dissed Raul Esparza (pictured, left) yet again for the musical actor prize? Awful. He was so good in Company and he so obviously and desperately wanted to win. But the TONY voters are true starf***ers and David Hyde Pierce used to be on TV. It's maddening. When will Raul ever get the trophies he keeps on deserving ?

Best Speech in Worst Circumstances: David Hyde Pierce. It's nice that he's finally out of the closet --though it woulda been nicer while he was on Frasier for all those years --and it's nice that it was a truly sincere and modest nod to the other nominees (particularly Raul) but it still makes me crazy that Raul lost, damnit.

The Ugly: Shunning the utterly brilliant duo Kiki & Herb (pictured, right) for ventriloquism? That is just truly square. Like the Emmys and the Oscars, The TONY voters often have embarrassing blind spots and a lack of sophistication about their own artform.

The Curious: I haven't yet seen Spring Awakening and I've heard people say it's the new Rent. But I gotta tell you: I thought they meant that it was the new Rent in the rock musical way. I didn't realize it was the new Rent in the whole sense. A centerpiece number where horny young boys and girls dance on furniture and sing about masturbation? I've seen this before: VIVA LA VIE BOHEME!

22 comments:

StinkyLulu said...

Your impression of Spring Awakening as RENT-redux reflects more, I think, on the way they did the montage/medley on the broadcast. (Sorta like the way the trailers to Year of the Dog made it look like a romcom...)

The three songs they blended into the crowd-rouser tonight operate as tent-poles, the explosive numbers that mark the dramatic action. But none are a centerpiece (save perhaps "Totally F*****" which is hardly a celebration in narrative context).

adam k. said...

Sure, the Beales were deserving winners, but weren't you in love with Julie White? Isn't she your most deserving winner? I haven't seen her show, but boy, her speech made me laugh out loud. A lot.

Spring Awakening is really good. I had standing room in the back (can't afford real seats, of course) and I still enjoyed myself. I imagine it must really be something if you're close up and sitting. The music is really fabulous and the show's quite daring. The only real criticism I've heard is that a lot of the intimacy was lost when it was transferred to Broadway, and I agree that it seemed a bit too glammed up and impersonal, but it was still a great show. Definitely buying the soundtrack sometime soon.

How have you still not seen it?

rural juror said...

I HOPE it's nothing like Rent b/c...well, ugh

Steven said...

Actually, Adam K., I thought Spring Awakening only improved with the Broadway transfer. The direction is much tighter, the acting more specific, better lyrics and vocal arrangements, and even more beautiful lighting (not to mention better actors in the adult roles). I never thought the show would work in a Broadway house, but magically, it does. In fact, it works even better.

I thought Spring Awakening was definitely the best of the four nominees, so I'm glad it won. In regards to David Hyde Pierce winning, it's a truly wonderful performance and I'm not too upset with his upset. Of course, it seems impossible to ignore a performance like Raul's in Company, but David Hyde Pierce is also giving a flawless performance, just in a different genre. It makes up for his snub for Spamalot and I hear that he's much more liked in the theatre community than Raul. Eh, it's all politics, isn't it? David's a bit older anyway. Raul will have his day.

~Steven

Anonymous said...

David Hyde Pierce was never in the closet. He just wasn't talking about his sex life wherever he went. More people could follow his example.

Julia said...

I thoroughly enjoyed "Spring Awakening"...I suppose it's like RENT in the fact that it's young people, rock music, talking about sex, etc. However, I do think that "Spring Awakening" is more sophisticated than RENT is - in terms of music and performance.

I love Raul Espranza, and while he was good in "Company", David Hyde Pierce deserved the win for "Curtains." I found "Curtains" rather boring, but just about every time Pierce was on stage, he completely captivated my attention. I loved him in "Spamalot" two years ago, and it was wonderful to see him improve. And he (and the lovely Julie White) gave my favorite acceptance speeches.

NATHANIEL R said...

stinky --i assumed there was more to it given the praise but still that particular number is very Rent

adam k --yeah, i forgot while writing that. Julie White's performance was actually my favorite last year. 'how have i still not seen it' in regards to Awakening? my access to Broadway shows is not like my access to movies. it's that simple.
$$$

steven --yeah. i'm sure the "liked" factor has a lot to do with it. and yes, Raul comes across as self absorbed, pretentious, what have you in interviews and such but really --it tends to be embarassing for any awards show when they ignore really important talent because of their offscreen/stage/tv lack of popularity. it just makes awards communities seem not all that serious about their work.

anonymous --when you're famous and you won't answer questions about it when people ask, you are in the closet. Even if your personal life is quite open. I mean his famous quote about it 'my life is an open book, i just don't intend to read it to anyone' is funny but it's also a sidestep. What straight celebrity ever refuses to admit their straightness?

Julia --yes those speeches were quite good. I just am so sad for Raul. *sniffle* you know that just like Ebersole he'd been practicing his speech.

NATHANIEL R said...

stinky --i assumed there was more to it given the praise but still that particular number is very Rent

adam k --yeah, i forgot while writing that. Julie White's performance was actually my favorite last year. 'how have i still not seen it' in regards to Awakening? my access to Broadway shows is not like my access to movies. it's that simple.
$$$

steven --yeah. i'm sure the "liked" factor has a lot to do with it. and yes, Raul comes across as self absorbed, pretentious, what have you in interviews and such but really --it tends to be embarassing for any awards show when they ignore really important talent because of their offscreen/stage/tv lack of popularity. it just makes awards communities seem not all that serious about their work.

anonymous --when you're famous and you won't answer questions about it when people ask, you are in the closet. Even if your personal life is quite open. I mean his famous quote about it 'my life is an open book, i just don't intend to read it to anyone' is funny but it's also a sidestep. What straight celebrity ever refuses to admit their straightness?

Julia --yes those speeches were quite good. I just am so sad for Raul. *sniffle* you know that just like Ebersole he'd been practicing his speech.

Damselfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damselfly said...

I have to say while I enjoy Spring Awakening's music..I really feel like they just went one step furthure than Rent because they had to to be shocking...Where Rent had interesting lyrics that presented subject matter that the entire audience was not the most comfortable with...Spring goes one step beyond and just has song like "The Bitch of Living" and "Totally Fucked"...but isn't that the difference between youth now and youth ten years ago...or horror films now and horror films ten years ago. That which was shocking is now expected. Sad really...

As far as the Tony's...I love that there was some upset since as a theatre person myself it was all becoming expected. I also love that inspirationsl plays and musical had a small showing because sometime you just don't want to walk out the the theatre feeling...well....fucked!

Marius said...

Nat, I also wanted Raul to win. I was a little disappointed that he didn't. However, I like David. So, I wasn't too upset--I got over it. And it's great that he's finally out of the closet.

Steven said...

What's shocking to me about Spring Awakening is that it is shocking. The musical follows very closely to the original 1891 play. Except for all of the cursing and the rock music of course, all of the "shocking" aspects of Spring Awakening were in the play, and they still have quite an effect when seeing it today. And I'd agree with Julia, it's definitely more sophisticated than Rent. No touchy-feely ending here.

~Steven

Anonymous said...

WOW - Swoosie Kurtz had some work done! She looks great! Good for her!

Kamila said...

I totally agree with your comment. Fantasia was terrible as herself on the "Life is not a Fairytale" movie basead on her life...

Her number last night was superb!! I wish I could have seen Audra McDonald's...

daveylow said...

I found this one of the most boring Tony ceremonies in its history.

I thought David Hyde Pierce was probably the least deserving to win in his category. He's not a great dancer or singer and though he's totally charming in Curtains, it's not a great role either. Esparza deserved to win and I hope he gets nominated soon for another great role. (It's too bad Sunday in the Park is already cast for next season.) I felt even Hyde Pierce knew he shouldn't have won, and he certainly wasn't surprised since he had such detailed callouts prepared for the other actors. I would have been able to stomach Gavin Lee or Groff winning. It's a a sad state of affairs when Jay Johnson wins a Tony and Esparza goes home empty handed.

I wish the upset had been in another category entirely. Maybe Best Actor--though I liked Langella's speech--because in that category, any winner would have been satisfying.

The wins I was truly happy about--Julie White, Billy Crudup and Jennifer Ehle, Utopia for play, Journey's End and Company winning Best Revival despite all the love-hate for the concept.

Spring Awakening is overhyped, but I'm glad it won over its closest rival, the more pretentious Grey Gardens.

Lily said...

Spring Awakening is nothing like Rent in my humble opinion. I am a bit biased (I know a member of the cast) but it's more about censorship and repression rather than sex...

Ali said...

I haven't seen any of the shows in question (yet), so I can't comment on their strengths or lack thereof.

But I will say that it was terribly depressing watching Esparza's face when Hyde Pierce's name was called out.

NATHANIEL R said...

*sniffle*

I still can't get over it 24 hours later. I actually eavesdropped on a conversation on the subway today on the way home from work. two guys were talking about david hyde pierce's acceptance speech and i interrupted, told them i was eavesdropping and then complained that Raul Esparza lost AGAIN and then we totally discussed the TONYs! We all agreed that Julie White rocks.

when they left the subway they were like "keep the theater alive!"

only in New York kids...only in New York

Steven said...

Well, this is only Raul's second nomination. The only other one was for Taboo, and I don't think the voters were ready to give that show a Tony. And that was when Michael Cerveris won the Tony. Can you imagine if Raul won and Michael lost for John Wilkes Booth, Sweeney Todd, and Kurt Weill? That would be a complete disgrace to the Tonys. Raul will win, keep the faith!

~Steven

Nick Davis said...

I haven't seen any of the shows now that I'm out in Chicago, but was I the only person who hated Raul Esparza's performance of "Being Alive" on the telecast? So mannered and self-conscious; I thought he made that song (admittedly not my favorite) way more about his singing of it than about what's happening in the song.

adam k. said...

Well, I am kind of with you, Nick. Not a huge fan of his interpretation of that song. Though it was better on the telecast than on the music clip in Radio Allegro.

daveylow said...

I'm afraid Raul did not come across that well on the Tony telecast. He is wonderful in the show, really. He sings all his songs beautifully and live, his Being Alive has moved several audience members to tears. Often Bobby is a complete cipher but not in this current production of Company.