Monday, June 22, 2015

The 2015 Tony Awards: The Host & Best Musical Nominees

The 2015 Tony Awards were earlier this month, and while I came in knowing very little about the shows, I found it to be a mostly entertaining night. While there were some egregious missteps (flat jokes, problematic musical numbers, the deeply awful "In Memorium" presentation), overall, it was an entertaining and enjoyable night celebrating theater. While there are some great play-by-plays and reviews online (The New York Times always has a great Tonys section), I wanted to add my thoughts to the ones already out there. So, let's rewind to earlier in the month and relive the great and not-so-great moments.

The Hosts - I have to admit that I'm torn about Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming. On one hand, they brought a lively sense of irreverence to the proceedings. At their best, it was a little like watching the Tonys with your two snarky, opinionated theatre friends who mock everything but in a loving and joyous way (as opposed to a bitter and angry way). For instance, watching Alan Cumming plug Josh Groban's performance for 90 minutes or so was funny because it was obvious that Cumming thought the constant reminders were obnoxious. I also enjoyed the little musical interludes that the hosts did before the commercial breaks.

However, there were times when the hosts (or the writers or both) went too far and the jokes landed with a thud or failed to launch at all. Case in point: After an amazing performance from Fun Home (more on this in a moment), the audience was treated to a lame E.T. joke. As Dave Itzkoff at the Times put it:

Let this be a lesson that sometimes less is more and that, if you are going to do a lame joke, then at least plan to do it after a crappy performance.

The Best Musical Nominee  Numbers
Fun Home - For most people, this was THE number of the night. Sydney Lucas, who plays the youngest version of Allison, showed some major acting and singing chops in "Ring of Keys." While this number doesn't seem like an obvious one for a Tonys telecast (most shows went for big, splashy, and fun production numbers), it was perfect.

Something Rotten! - While it was very meta (the song is all about musicals and the sometimes preposterous tropes and conventions they contain), it was a nice way to kick off the night. Also, anything that mocks Les Miserables gets a pass in my book.

The Visit - It is always nice to see Chita Rivera performing, especially when she is performing Kander and Ebb. Sure, it was befuddling (Chita is dancing with a younger version of herself, and according to those who have seen the show, the men in masks are supposed to be eunuchs), but it's Chita and Kander & Ebb.

An American in Paris - I don't know why, but I have an unexplainable animosity towards this show. I think that part of it stems from the fact that it (according to all accounts, rightfully) bested On the Town in the choreography category, but the Tony number it selected didn't endear it to me either. It was the perfect example of why medleys don't usually fare well in this venue. It was overstuffed and rather confusing (if you didn't know anything about the show, this probably wouldn't help you).