Monday, June 14, 2010

REVIEW: The 2010 Tony Awards

If what you read below sounds a little "on the fly", it's because I thought I might offer my thoughts as they happen during the Tony Awards ceremony this year.  Starting with the untelevised awards at 7PM, right through to the chaotic last seconds when the Best Musical is announced and the producers scramble to say "thank yous" before Sean Hayes is forced to sign us off.  Then, after some time to reflect, but not too much (that could be another blog or not), I'll add my thoughts.

For the untelevised portion, I'll be following Tony's webcast.  For the rest, good old CBS...

Here we go!  (I have a knot in my stomach!  You'd think I had something at stake tonight!)

7:00 PM: The Technical Tonys
  • First of all, Gregory Jbara and Karen Olivo, last year's Tony winners in the Featured Actor/Actress (Musical) categories were great.  I love them both!  Karen did especially well, considering she is on crutches and in a long gown.  Her joke about having "the boot" as a result of not taking a note from Arthur Laurents was spot on.
  • All of the Special Awards were given out, and as expected, David Hyde Pierce's speech for the Isabel Stevenson Volunteer Awards was moving and emotionally delivered.  But Marian Seldes gets the award for best Tony speech ever!  She soaked in her deserved standing ovation, looked stunned, then walked off the stage saying not a single word!  BRAVA!

Best Orchestrations
My pick: Daryl Waters and David Bryan, Memphis
The winner: Daryl Waters and David Bryan, Memphis
Comments: David Bryan gave a nice speech.

Best Score
My pick: David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, Memphis
The winner: David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, Memphis
Comments:  I love natural excitement at these things, like DiPietro leaping into Bryan's arms.  Loved Bryan's crack "what is a musical?"

Best Book of a Musical
My pick: Joe DiPietro, Memphis
The winner: Joe DiPietro, Memphis
Comments: Loved the "Sally Field" comment, which can now be officially closed as an option.  But LOVED the jab at The New York Times.

Best Costume Design (Play)
The winner: Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family
Comments:  How hilarious is it that costume designer looks like she can't dress herself?  A dress that fits, jewelry that goes with it and a hairbrush works best for an awards show, Cathy.  Eccentric doesn't play well past your passionate friends.

Best Costume Design  (Musical)
My pick: Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles
The winner: Marina Draghici, Fela!
Comments: Did she and Ms. Zuber dress together in the dark backstage?  And how many ways will they pronounce the title of her show tonight?  So far, it's 2 different ways.

Best Lighting Design (Play)
The winner: Neil Austin, Red
Comments: Gracious speech, and not a bad looking man, either. 

Best Lighting Design (Musical)
My pick: Kevin Adams, American Idiot
The winner: Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Comments: Man, he isn't joking about the strobes, either!  Glad he won, though he REALLY deserved it last year.

Best Scenic Design (Play)
The winner: Christopher Oram, Red
Comments: He was obviously moved.  Nice to see.

  • Let me interject here.  You gotta love the Broadway overtures they play while the winners are coming up.  I literally laughed out loud when they played the overture to Applause at such a great volume.

Best Scenic Design (Musical)
My pick: Christine Jones, American Idiot
The winner: Christine Jones, American Idiot
Comments: She had the best prepared, thematic speech of the night, 2 fathers, many children.  Good for you!  If all speeches were like that... and her Rapture reference ("Jesus and Judy") was even fitting.

Best Sound Design (Play)
The winner: Adam Cork, Red
Comments:  So young, so well-spoken, and so nice on the eyes!

Best Sound Design (Musical)
My pick: Dan Moses Schrier, Sondheim on Sondheim
The winner: Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Comments: Make that 3 ways to say the title.  And the "bling" joke.  Really? 

  • The "creative awards" done, Karen and Greg take us hilariously through the rules for appearing on television.  TOO FUNNY!

8:00 PM:  The Tony Telecast Begins!!
  • One of the smoothest, best openings in years.  Last year's might have had more energy, but this moved like a well-oiled machine and made every show look so good.  Loved Sean Hayes showing off his pianist skills, and how he and Levi Kreis played so well together on "Blue Suede Shoes" with the MDQ cast.  Great use of Chad Kimball's Memphis character.  Kristin Chenoweth singing "I Say a Little Prayer" accompanied by Sean Hayes was an inspired choice.  And girl can sing!  Come Fly Away looked really great, and even though you couldn't understand a word of it (sound issues always ruin the Tonys EVERY YEAR - fix it, please!) I think Everyday Rapture came off very well.  I hope Fela! comes off better in its solo number.  Was it pre-recorded?  Were they supposed to scream and be off-key.  It looked like a unrehearsed mess.  La Cage had a cute entrance by the Cagelles, then showed off the very thing that is wrong...they are not good drag queens.  Talk about tired shtick.  John Gallagher, Jr. was great with "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and Green Day's mini-concert was exciting and fun.  (That show will have 4 complete songs before the night is over.  And they couldn't squeeze in The Addams Family, the only running show not on the Tonys?)
  • Sean Hayes gets major points for taking jabs at everyone, including himself in the opening monologue.  And the kiss with Kristin was funny as hell.  They really need to do a TV series together.

  • Daniel Radcliffe looks like a midget next to Katie Holmes...

Best Featured Actress (Play)
The winner: Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
Comments: A sweet, heartfelt speech.  Way over the minute and a half, but she's good...

  • Ricky Martin looks caliente as he introduces Million Dollar Quartet
  • Sound issues destroyed a decent looking bunch of songs from the show.  The rapport between the actors really showed despite the fact that you couldn't hear most of it.  The irony that they are singing into fake microphones is laughable if it weren't so unnecessary.

  • Lucy Liu looks marvelous in her gown.

Best Featured Actor (Play)
The winner: Eddie Redmayne, Red
Comments: Another emotional and very gracious speech by a Brit.  We need lessons on this in the United States.

  • The La Cage aux Folles number would have worked better without Kelsey narrating it himself.  And though it took way too long, the in the audience bit with Matthew Morrison and the "I'm not gay" desperation on Will Smith's face is worth it.

  • Sean's bit with Billy Elliot garb is an obvious, but well performed joke.  He's doing a decent job so far, I think.

Best Direction (Play)
The winner: Michael Grandage, Red
An emotional speech, but why won't he look at the camera?  And he looked, literally, like he was having a heart attack.

Best Direction (Musical)
My pick: Bill T. Jones, Fela!
The winner: Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Is this the first of a few surprises?  His emotional speech about the birth of the show does not excuse the mess he made of the first act.

  • Chris Noth introduces the montage about this season's Best play nominees.  It goes smoothly, with all four plays looking like I want to see them.  The nifty computer generated scenery is also very cool.  Great to see the pairings of actors.

Best Featured Actress (Musical)
My pick: (tie) Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises and Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
The winner: Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Comments: She steals the show every night, and is gracious about that.  Here she is even more gracious.  Would have loved to have been the salt shaker on their table at Joe Allen's when Angela took Katie out for lunch!  Great appeal to young aspiring artists.

  • A very good looking Mark Sanchez outs himself on national television as a lover of Broadway musicals!  Very cool.  The sound issues still haven't been fixed, so Memphis looks fabulous, but sounds dreadful... when you can hear it, it is way out of balance.  What? No Charlie Williams wardrobe malfunction?

Best Featured Actor (Musical)
My pick: Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
The winner: Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Comments: I can't believe it!  I was right!!!!  Sorry.  A genuinely surprised Kreis was best in the aisle when he almost started crying.  He recovered nicely.  He will be the one in the press room lamenting that he forgot to thank everyone.  Consider this your "come back anytime you want to" invitation from the community, Levi!

  • Barbara Cook, looking less than thrilled, introduces A Little Night Music.  Catherine Zeta-Jones does a marvelous, if slightly quirky version of "Send in the Clowns."
  • A recap of some of the tech awards plays.
  • Inexplicably, Idina Menzel introduces RagtimeChristianne Noll sounds great, but am I the only one who thinks she is as bland as oatmeal?
  • Sean comes out in Annie drag, but calls himself Bernadette Peters (who he does resemble) than makes the requisite BP joke...

  • The Revival of a Play montage doesn't work quite as well as the Play one did.  First, I love Rosemary Harris, but even the best need to rehearse, honey.  It all can't be the teleprompters fault, and second, you simply cannot explain farce in a funny way.  Duh.  Denzel Washington and Viola Davis save its dignity.
  • Helen Mirren, the epitome of class looks great and is a splendid presenter.

Best Actress (Play)
The winner: Viola Davis, Fences
Comments: Sweet, heartfelt speech.  The requiste God speech delivered, but with more than the usual sincerity about it.  He will be pleased, Viola.

Best Actor (Play)
The winner: Denzel Washington, Fences
Comments: He is an excellent actor, but why is he so arrogant?  And the God thing doesn't play well o arrogant lips.  Oh, and they retired the "kids go to bed now" bit two years ago at the Oscars, Zel.

  • Sean's Spiderman bit is funny.  I'm glad they picked this guy to host.
  • Will and Jada Pinkett Smith look like the sophisticated, awesome people they are.  And they look so proud as they announce their baby, Fela!  (Consensus over the evening is that it is pronounced like "fella".  Too bad the number they do looks and sounds as bad as the other one.  Even the wondrous Lillias White comes off looking like she can't sing.

  • Michael Douglas apparently pre-read his speech about The Eugene O'Neill Center, because even though he was reading it, it came off very well said.  The rest of the tech awards get their prime-time minute.
  • An understandably nervous (this is important, after all) Paula Abdul looks and sounds great, and appropriately reverential when speaking of Robbins, deMille and Fosse.  Girl knows where her history is...  she should be choreographing musicals...her videos were pretty good back in the day.  Come Fly Away  picked a winner with "That's Life," showcasing the Tharp style with the danger element in full view.  Promises, Promises picked the great overture to showcase its dancing, but the jerky and multiple camera changes kinda ruined the flow.  It plays much better in the theatre.

Best Choreography
My pick: Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
The winner: Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Comments:  Really?  Why?  He, like a few others, always makes me wonder why they get work, let alone awards.  I hope we haven't seen the last of Twyla.  She sure stirs things up.

  • Is it me or does Cate Blanchett always look like she just got done sucking a lemon?

Play Revival
The winner: Fences
Comments: An overcome (who knows why, she's won several times before) Carole Shorenstein Hayes gets the first big cut off of the night.  Apparently gasps for breath and "Oh my Gods" don't play as well as Scarlett Johansson.

The winner: Red
Comments: It shocked me to hear that playwright John Logan is American, given everyone else associated with the London transfer; that is, until I heard the lead producer speak!  It must be some play.  I hope it extends.

  • A beautiful Laura Bell Bundy introduces her buddies and makes her plea for a role on GleeMatthew Morrison, sings and dances his heart out with "All I Need is the Girl", though he loses his breath, and Lea Michele just either nailed her audition for Funny Girl or ruined the girl who gets the part.  Maybe now people will shut up about whether or not the stars of Glee actually sing.  They do.  And though it was an unnecessary inclusion, who can blame the producers for cashing in on Glee?
  • Someone needs to tell Raquel Welch that the dumb sex kitten thing doesn't work anymore.  And wear those damned Foster Grants.  You clearly need them.

Musical Revival
My pick: La Cage aux Folles
The winner: La Cage aux Folles
Comments: The second abrupt cut off of the night.  La Cage got enough airtime already.

  • Billy Joe Armstrong lost any clout he earned with his embarrassing showing as a presenter for his own show.  What a douche bag.  I would not have picked "American Idiot" to represent American Idiot.  First, we know they can do loud from the opening.  Second, it looks like a chaotic mess and not in the "that's what the show's about" kind of way.  Some contrast, and class would have been better.  "21 Guns" anyone?  The only show that comes off worse all night is Fela!  And how fair is it that they get 4 whole songs, and The Addams Family completely got shafted?  I hope the Addams producers were offered a spot and told them to kiss off.  They don't need it anyway!

  • As if they were reading my mind, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth offer a master class in how to be a bitch while being completely in control.  Their razor sharp jokes about not being nominated are spot on and carry extra zing because everyone in the room knows they got the shaft.

Best Actress (Musical)
My pick: Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
The winner: Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
Comments: If she wasn't really surprised, she is a brilliant actress.  Her speech was funny, sincere and gracious.  Please come back soon, Catherine.  You are class from head to toe, and you get to sleep with a movie star!

Best Actor (Musical)
My pick: Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
The winner: Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Comments: The British invasion complete, they are unanimous in gracious speeches.  Hodge pays nice tribute to his visibly delighted co-star, Kelsey Grammer.

  • The always stunning Bernadette Peters should have practiced a bit more.

My pick: Memphis
The winner: Memphis
Comments: Hated the shot of all four casts waiting breathlessly backstage.  Hated even more that Memphis did a reprise.  Don't let next year's winner do that.  It is like a victory lap.  Ick.

  • I was right 11 out of 14 times in my predictions.  That's 78.5%!  I'm especially proud of my Levi Kreis pick.
  • I loved that there was more from each musical.  But if you don't invite everyone to the party, it is rude. 
  • And they must stop allowing everyone to crowd the stage when a Best Production Award is given.  It makes everyone onstage look awful, and it always causes a cut off on screen. 

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