Monday, June 8, 2009

The 2009 Tonys (Part II): Now with 50% More Liza

Looking for more reviews/ snark on the Tonys? Well, here is my second post (the first post can be found here) on the 2009 Tony awards broadcast, featuring the "Best New Musical" production numbers:
  • Shrek the Musical - This should be the poster-child for why a good movie does not always make a good musical. Besides not featuring the talents of Sutton Foster and Brian D'Arcy James (who were both nominated for Tonys), the entire Duloc number seemed more suited for an amusement park than Broadway. Even the little "Welcome to Duloc" song, which was hysterical in the movie, fell flat. However, I must give props to Christopher Sieber for being able to dance and do an entire show on his knees. That's impressive!
  • Rock of Ages - This show, along with Shrek, filled the "Never in a thousand years" requirement for "Best Musical." Every year, there is at least one (this year there were two) musical that most people with even a basic familiarity with Broadway knows has a snowball's chance in hell of winning "Best Musical." The production number, which included Mitchell Jarvis approaching Liza Minelli, was a hot mess. It was not helped by the fact that we didn't get an introduction to this number but were just thrown in without any notice (imagine watching a Merchant-Ivory film only to have a reel from This is Spinal Tap spliced in for good measure). Even my love for "Don't Stop Believing" couldn't save this number.
  • Next to Normal - I liked this number; it was not splashy or gimmicky (I'm looking at you Rock of Ages and Shrek), but it was very moving and translated well to television. The end of the number was a little confusing, but a quick internet search helped. The actors were great, and Alice Ripley really hit it out of the park in this number. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of my respect for her during her Tony acceptance speech, but more on that later.
  • Billy Elliot - I really, really wanted to like you. Your creative team was so delightfully articulate and British, and your three young stars were adorable. However, what the hell was up with the number you did last night? It had some very creative choreography, and the child who played Billy is an incredible dancer, but for the life of me, I really didn't get it. Furthermore, I don't think it did a good job of selling the show to the general viewing audience. Some of the short clips they showed when the show won its various awards and even the snippet in the opening number did a much better job of giving audiences a glimpse of what the musical is really like (I loved the little clip of Billy dancing in a row of tutu-wearing girls).
Do you still want more? My take on the "Best Revival of a Musical" numbers, and the ceremony's highlights and lowlights are still to come! I hope to have them posted no later than 6/10.