Monday, June 11, 2012

A Few Final Thoughts About The Tony Awards...

Despite its going over by a few minutes, I thought last night's Tony Awards were one of the best in the last few years.  The pacing was good, the entertainment value was high, and the speeches were terrific.  Mostly, though, I think they were among the better shows of late because the show managed to highlight both plays and musicals in such a way that it really showed the depth of quality of this past season overall.  I can't remember the last time there were so many categories where every nominee was worthy of getting the award.  And I can't remember the last time so many categories were genuine "nail biters."  And the surprises sprinkled throughout made it truly exciting.

Grade: A


  • Winner: Neil Patrick Harris as Host.  Every.  Year.  Please.  Charisma, cuteness and a genuine appreciation/love for the theatre.  And Neil, get your ass back in a show, soon!  OK?
  • Runner Up: Inclusiveness.  Anyone who played last season should be allowed to play on the Tonys.  Just because you aren't nominated for a lot (or anything) doesn't mean you shouldn't give the rest of America a chance to sample all of the shows.  And side-Bravo to handling the plays thing in an interesting way for a change.
  • The Downside: Inclusiveness.  OK, I understand Royal Caribbean was a major sponsor of the show.  So they should get the most ad time.  Fine.  And while I appreciate that my tropical cruise comes with a performance of Hairspray, I'm not on board with them getting a huge chunk of time just to show us a too thin Tracy, a too gay Corny Collins, and a rip off of Jerry Mitchell's choreography.  I would rather have seen scenes from Bonnie and Clyde and Lysistrata Jones, both of which would benefit by generating interest in future productions.  Or maybe a mini-documentary on Shakespeare Theatre, this year's regional Tony winner.


  • Winner (Number): "What If Life Were More Like Theatre?" The lyrics were hilarious and so true.  The staging was a riot.  And the surprise appearances by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the decidedly un-diva turn by a hilarious Patti LuPone were the icing on the cake.  Plus there was a healthy dose of Charlie Williams.  Who could ask for anything more?
  • Winner (Moment): NPH doing his Spider-Man joke, while a very game (and looking stunning) Angela Lansbury was going along with it.  Even the great ones know that annual speech is a snooze fest.

(Not the best number in the actual production, maybe, but just how well the time was used to generate interest in seeing it.)

  • Winner (Best Musical Nominee): "Gold" from Once.  This number shows you exactly what you'll get when you see the show.  It highlights the ensemble, and it proves why Steve Kazee deserved his Tony and why Cristin Milioti is brilliant without saying a word.  And it was beautifully filmed, too.
  • Winner (Musical Not Nominated): Ghost: The Musical  The flavor of the stage production, plus the audience recognition of "Unchained Melody" makes this a winner.  That, and the power vocals by Caissie Levy, Richard Fleeshman and Bryce Pinkham.  I want to see it again.
  • Loser: I hate to say it, with so much riding on it, but... Godspell was a nasty mess.  Out of tune screaming and cheesey running around the aisles... I'm guessing its days by days by days are numbered...


  • Female: Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury, Judith Light and Audra McDonald
  • Male: Steve Kazee and Harvey Fierstein (announcing Hairspray, of course)


  • Best Actor in a Musical, Steve Kazee: If you weren't crying, too, you are dead inside.
  • Best Actress in a Musical, Audra McDonald: Self-deprecating, sincere, funny and wonderfully grounded - the shout out to her daughter was exemplary.
  • Best Line in a Speech: Judy Kaye: "Chandeliers have been very good to me."
  • One thing I hope we hear less of in future years: That so many people have lost their parents.  So sad and so humbling.  My condolences to Judith Light, Judy Kaye and Steve Kazee and everyone else who suffered a loss this year. 

@jkstheatrescene (Twitter); (email); Comment below (Blogger)


  1. I know we don't publicly disagree very much, but I'd have to say that last year's ceremony was substantially better. The opening and closing songs were more memorable, and I thought the musical performances, on average, were also better last year. I do think they did a lot better covering the plays this year than they have in recent memory.

  2. I really enjoyed every nominated performance I saw this year, so I'm happy with the results.

    I did think the cruise ship promo was out of place. And I don't see how it helps Royal Caribbean. If I want to go on a cruise I want to see the ship, not a snippet of Hairspray!

    I felt sorry for Harvey having to introduce it. It's ironic considering he's just written the book for a musical about efforts to form a union. And I don't think those cruise ship performers are unionized!

    The show I haven't seen that I'd really like to is One Man, 2 Guvnors. Whenever I see James Corden, he's hilarious.

    And I agree about Steve Kazee, I was in tears, too. My mother passed away 10 years ago and I still remember how I felt when it happened.


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