Monday, June 8, 2009

The Tonys (part III)

For those of you in cyber world who want even more about the Tonys, here are my thoughts on the production numbers from the "Best Revival of a Musical" shows for your reading pleasure:
  • West Side Story - WSS opted to go the classic route with "The Dance at the Gym." However, I've got mixed feelings about this. On the plus side, Jerome Robbins's choreography was still a feat to behold, the cast was very talented, and this number was a great way to incorporate the entire company in a very organic way. It also did a good job showcasing the leads (particularly Karen Olivio), and even Tony and Maria got a nice moment in the frenzy. Unfortunately, the camera work was sub par (an ongoing theme in this year's broadcast), which made the translation to television a little odd. Also, compared with the great version of the same number done at the Tonys for Jerome Robbins' Broadway, it didn't quite live up to its potential greatness. All in all, however, I thought it was one of the better numbers of the night. It was infinitely understandable and accessible, even people who aren't that familiar with the story (are there people not familiar with WSS?).
  • Guys & Dolls - Poor G&D. Not only were they critically trounced, they also had some horrible sound issues, resulting in a stage hand running onstage at the beginning of the number to give Tituss Burgess a new mic. Their offering was the perennial favorite "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," and Burgess recovered admirably to deliver the number, but the number seemed a little low-energy. What could have been an electrifying showstopper was only "meh." Another problem was the insane backdrop - it was unnecessary, and I initially thought that the Tony crew screwed up and were showing a screensaver behind the cast. Sadly, this was a G&D production choice, and it shows us just why this revival didn't work out so well. Also, why did show's producers decide to not use their leads (Lauren Graham, Oliver Platt, Craig Bierko, and Kate Jennings Grant)?
  • Hair - The highlight of the monstrous opening number was Hair's giddy "Let the Sunshine In." Sadly, since they had already used that song, they had to go with something else for their main number, and so they turned to the show's title song. On the plus side, the cast was very energetic and their enthusiasm and excitement was palpable (please take a lesson from them, touring companies - they are the real thing). I wasn't crazy about the staging - personally, I thought that they either should have stayed on the stage or had more actors start out in the audience. However, Gavin Creel managed to practically molest James Gandolfini (which seems like a double-edged affront since Gandolfini is bald) without getting a hit placed on him, so it was successful on that account. Best line regarding this goes to Dave Itzkoff on the NYT live blog: "Yeah, you go up to James Gandolfini and run your fingers through his scalp. I dare you."
Coming up in a future post: the highlights, lowlights, and WTF? moments. Stay tuned!