Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tony Love--Tuesday Journal

I loved, loved, loved Sunday's Tony Awards broadcast.

Jillian joined Mark and me as we gathered in our living room, surrounded by veggie pizza, shrimp, salads, chips and hummus, and Jillian's homemade cupcakes, for our Third Annual Tony Award party.

As Neil Patrick Harris launched into his opening number about how Broadway is "Not Just For Gays Anymore", our spirits were high and remained there for the whole evening.

I enjoy the Tony Awards more than any other award show. Even though I feel more personal stake in the Oscars, for pure enjoyment and creative inspiration nothing beats the Tony telecast.  I love to learn about the newest plays in New York, and my anticipation of their eventual arrival in Chicago increases my interest.  Sure, I make mental picks and predictions; this year I was especially fascinated by what I read about "The War Horse". 

But since I have never seen any Broadway production before the Tony's were presented, I don't have the same anxiety as I do for the Academy Awards.  So I relax and simply enjoy whatever happens.  I have the same giddy feeling I had when I started watching the Oscars as a kid, before I became fiercely protective of the movies I hoped would win.

And the Tonys are beautifully focused on the shows and performers. It's great to see old masters like the graceful Vanessa Redgrave as well as young talents like the agile Daniel Radcliffe.  The "clips", or live scenes from the nominated shows, draw me in and make me feel like I'm part of the theatrical effort, part of this theatrical community.  The feeling of being included is inspiring, empowering.  I almost believe that I can still make it in this arena someday.

Harris was as witty and refreshing as a host could possibly be. Actually, if the Tony producers next year decided to have two co-hosts, Harris and Hugh Jackman proved that they would be absolute dynamite sharing the hosting duties.  Are you listening, Oscar?

Along with his mischievous and hilarious opening number, Harris stole the show again with his "rap" wrap, delivering an amazing summary (written during the show by Lin-Manuel Miranda, one of the writers of "In The Heights") with aplomb.  He just might be my new hero.

Other moments I loved:

--The exciting choreography in the segments from "Anything Goes" and "How to Succeed in Business...".
--The resurrection and triumph of "The Normal Heart" as Revival of the Year.  I read this play years ago, along with other work by Larry Kramer (and I adored his screenplay for the 1970 film "Women in Love").  I know he is a sort of controversial figure, but his acceptance speech was gracious and moving.
--Ditto Ellen Barkin, another winner for "...Heart", an actress I first loved in "Tender Mercies" and "Diner". 
--Joey, the "horse" from "War Horse", almost made me cry, as the puppetry so perfectly captured the heart of this animal.
--The number from Stephen Sondheim's "Company", a special musical production with Jon Cryer, Patti LuPone, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Martha Plimpton and others, slated to open in movie theaters for a limited run starting this weekend in select cities.  Great fun, excellent music, performed and filmed live with the New York Philharmonic.

--Frances McDormand, seemingly dressed in character in her win for Best Actress in "Good People".  For some reason her casual garb seemed appropriate.
--The South Park guys lauded for "Book of Mormon"..although I hoped the number performed from the show would be more uproarious.  Maybe there were censorship issues.
--The announcement that "Spiderman" would open after---what? six months of previews? And of course, the question on everyone's mind....will it figure in the Tony Awards of 2012?

Here's a clip showing the creation and rehearsal of the closing rap number that summarized the whole show. Enjoy!


  1. "Maybe there were censorship issues."

    I'll say! My favorite number, one that is quite uproarious and showstopping, starts out like a rendition of "Hakuna Matata" and winds up crude, offensive...and absolutely hilarious and honest!

    I watched only some of the Tony awards this year. I had already missed most of the performances I was looking forward to (Mormon, How to Succeed...) when I came home from work, and I saw War Horse win Best Play...so I figured I could just go to bed and catch up the next day. I did see the Normal Heart winning Best Revival, and it piqued my interest. I've been hearing a lot about it lately, of course, so now I want to read it.

  2. Walter, have you seen Book of Mormon yet? Listened to the cast recording?

    So much good theater to look forward to!

  3. I thought it was the best Tony Awards ever.