Sunday, June 19, 2011

The 2011 Tonys: Just Because You Try Doesn't mean You Succeed

Since there were only two musicals nominated for "Best Revival of a Musical," I'm going to analyze/snark on the numbers from both the revival musicals and the new musicals in one post. Besides being more expedient (I'm feeling a little guilty for neglecting the Tonys last week), I've found that I didn't have a lot to say about many of the numbers.

The "Best Revival of a Musical" Production Numbers

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Daniel Radcliffe certainly gave it the old college try when leading the cast in a rendition of "The Brotherhood of Man." Even though I'm not a big Harry Potter fan, I was rooting for Radcliffe to do a good job, and I wasn't disappointed. Although he isn't the best singer, I thought that his performance overall was very charming. He has a nice stage presence and is a surprisingly good dancer. The overall staging of the number was good, even though I'm not the biggest fan of  Rob Ashford (seriously, sometimes less is more), and the entire ensemble had good energy. The exception to this was John Larroquette. I'm not certain if he decided to play his character as being preternaturally bored, but he really didn't seem to be enjoying himself at all. My favorite part is, in the last 30 seconds or so of the number, Larroquette is hidden in the back of the formation to disguise the fact that he isn't a dancer and that he isn't really dancing. This, obviously, does not work.

Anything Goes - The show's title song was performed by the lovely and talented Sutton Foster and ensemble. While there wasn't anything wrong with it per se, it managed to be perfectly adequate without being all that memorable or special. I wonder if my ennui with the number in general stems from its overexposure. I feel like I had seen Foster sing and perform "Anything Goes" numerous times (in rehearsal footage, on the show's site, and on various talk shows). Perhaps Foster was feeling the same, since she was missing her trademark spark.

Best Musical Production Numbers

Catch Me if You Can - After a brief appearance and intro by Aaron Tveit, Norbert Leo Butz led the ensemble in "Don't Break the Rules," which many have cited as the high point of the show. Unfortunately, this doesn't speak that well to the show's merits, since my co-bloggers and I found the number very "meh." Unlike "Anything Goes," I don't fault the performers, since Butz and company are giving it their all. Instead, I think that the song in and of itself is flawed, and no amount of showmanship could have saved it. My favorite thought regarding this number comes from The Craptacular's Twitter feed: "Don't Break the Rules" plays a lot less compelling/exciting when its not preceded by like, 40 minutes of boring sh*t."

Sister Act - I have a soft spot for Sister Act (the movie). While Petina Miller has a nice voice and a great stage presence, she and the rest of the sisters weren't enough to make me forget the excellent ensemble in the movie. That said, "Raise Your Voice" wasn't bad, but I don't know if it would convince people to buy tickets. For me, it made me want to get the movie from Netflix rather than go to New York to catch the show.

The Scottsboro Boys - This number presents a conundrum. On one hand, it was well-written, well staged, and well performed by the actors. However, I have a problem with the fact that the number really, REALLY wasn't all that representative of the show as a whole. I don't know if the producers and the director (Susan Stroman) thought that doing a representative number was less important than showcasing the talents of the cast, but it did come off as very strange. Based on the number, you would think that this would be a lighthearted musical about friendship (trust me, it is not).

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon broke with the trend of the evening (and the trend of most musical numbers performed at any given Tony Awards) by not doing a big ensemble number. In fact, "I Believe" is essentially a solo performed by Elder Price, with some unwitting (and very reluctant) assistance from the Ugandans at the end of the number. While I would have liked to have seen Josh Gads be featured in some way (not only was he not in this number, the camera didn't even cut to him when they were announcing the nominees for "Best Actor in a Musical"), I appreciated the break from big production numbers. Andrew Rannells did a wonderful job being believably sincere and appropriately earnest, and he has a great voice. I also thought that, unlike the Scottsboro number, this song perfectly encapsulates The Book of Mormon. After hearing this quasi-power ballad, you would definitely know what you were getting into if you decided to see this show.