Monday, June 16, 2008

The Tonys (part II)

So you came back for more? Well, here's part II with my take on the "Best Revival" numbers. Never fear - my highlights, lowlights, and everything in between is coming in a third (and final) Tony post!

"Best Revival of a Musical"
- These numbers were better or perhaps I just understood them more since I knew how they worked within each show's context. There were actually some great revivals this year, even though you wouldn't know it from listening to the hype, which pitted Patti LuPone and Gypsy against Kelli O'Hara and South Pacific (now there's a cage match that would be short but very frightening!). Sunday in the Park with George got lost in the shuffle (which is really a shame), and Grease didn't get a lot of attention except that the leads came from a reality television show no one watched (You're the One That I Want).
  • Gypsy's number was "Everything's Coming Up Roses," which (when taken in context) is one of the scariest songs in musical theatre. No one writes a good breakdown in verse form like Sondheim (with help Jule Styne's intense music). The LuPone acts the hell out of it, and I back slowly away from my television set. Boyd Gaines (Herbie) and Laura Benanti (Louise aka Gypsy) don't have much to do but look frightened (Patti gives them plenty to be frightened about). It gets a well-deserved standing ovation, Arthur Laurents (the director and author) looks like he's going to cry, and Mandy Patinkin looks awfully happy.
  • South Pacific opts to go the medley route; this is usually a tough sell, but since everyone who watches the Tonys probably knows the story and the songs, this is probably safe. A few random thoughts regarding this medley:
    • Is it just me, or is a bunch of sailors singing "There is Nothing Like a Dame" just wrong, particularly given what we know about musical theatre? I believe that musical theatre in general and La Cage Aux Folles in particular have disproved this theory.
    • I hate (with the fire of a thousand suns) "Some Enchanted Evening." I don't care how good the singer is, it just sets me on edge.
    • On the other hand, I love "A Wonderful Guy" and Kelli O'Hara did a nice job with it (even if I dislike the choreography she's given).
  • Grease does a strange combo of "Grease" (the theme song used in the movie) and "We Go Together." The end result is decidedly "meh." Incidentally, I've always been freaked out by Grease's moral (dress like a skank and get [or keep] the man of your dreams!) and this number is not redeeming the show at all.
  • Sunday in the Park with George's contribution is "Move On." As much as I love Sondheim, even I have to admit that his work tends not to translate well into an isolated number. However, after seeing Sondheim characters play instruments (thanks John Doyle), it is nice to see a relatively straightforward interpretation.