Monday, June 16, 2008

The Tony Awards: The Terrifying Lows, the Dizzying Highs, and the Creamy Middles (part III)

So we've come to this: my take on the highs and lows of this year's freakishly long Tony Awards Ceremony.

The Highlights:
  • The number from Gypsy was incredible (even if Boyd Gaines and Laura Benanti weren't given that much to do). Patti LuPone is a force to be reckoned with, and I have little doubt that she would have stalked Kelli O'Hara under cover of darkness if O'Hara had won Best Actress in a Musical.
  • Speaking of Benanti, I thought that she was charmingly flustered during her speech. Too many times, winners for any awards come off as being so cocky and self-assured that they are going to win that I just want to take their Oscar/ Tony/ Golden Bucket of Popcorn and clock them with it. Benanti was obviously happy and excited and I will take that any day over a planned, pretentious speech or a nonsensical one (see the lowlights for some examples - I'm talking to you Mark Rylance).
  • I also liked Lin-Manuel Miranda's acceptance speech for Best Score. How many times do you get to combine rap, Broadway, and the Tonys? Special props to him for mentioning Sondheim. "Mr. Sondheim, look I made a hat.Where there never was a hat. It's a Latin hat at that."
  • The entire vibe from the In the Heights crew was infectious and didn't reek of the "we are reinventing/ saving a dying art" vibe that I got from Passing Strange (and got last year from Spring Awakening).
The Lowlights:
  • In the past, in order to give a performance at the Tonys, a musical had to be nominated for "Best New Musical" or "Best Revival of a Musical" (and typically had to still be running on Broadway). They changed things a bit this year in an attempt (I guess) to boost ratings and ticket sales. As a result, we were subjected to "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, a song from A Catered Affair (I honestly don't remember what it was), and "Deep Love" from The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein. Great, we have a singing mermaid and a penis joke.
  • They presented a frightful number of awards before the televised portion of the ceremony. I think I would rather watch someone accept the "Best Book" awards more than hearing Megan Mullally sing about a monster's little friend...
  • There were some really bad speeches this year. I've already mentioned Mark Rylance, but his was so odd that he deserves yet another mention. I don't care that he was referencing something else. Also, Patti LuPone's speech was just a tad too bitter for my tastes. Yes, she hasn't won a Tony since 1980 (for Evita). Yes, she probably deserved to win for Sweeney Todd. Yes, the Tonys can be a fickle lot. Get over it, take a cue from that Sondheim number, and move on.
  • Although I vastly prefer to watch the Tonys than the Oscars (I'm strange like that), the Tonys could take a pointer or two from the Oscars in terms of giving out a Lifetime Achievement Award. Last year's presentation (for Hal Prince) was anemic. This year's presentation for Stephen Sondheim was even more anti-climatic (Sondheim wasn't there, so Mandy Pantinkin read a very gracious speech penned by Sondheim). Tony producers, please watch the 1998 Oscars, see the presentation for Stanley Donen's Honorary Oscar, and adjust accordingly.
  • Trotting out the original cast of Rent only illustrated that none of them have any business doing the show anymore (Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp are supposedly doing a national tour of the show in 2009). Since I'm not a Rent fan (for reasons too numerous to list in this post), I wasn't thrilled about the entire "Seasons of Love" sing-a-long, but Marissa Tomei's reaction clearly shows that I'm in the minority on this one.