This year’s musical winners were very predictable. The biggest surprise? David Hyde Pierce for Curtains. While he is the main reason to see this rather tepid Kander-Ebb-Holmes show I thought Raul Esparza deserved the award for Best Actor in a Musical for his intense portrayal of Bobby in the revival of Company. My only other surprise was Bill T. Jones for Best Choreography for Spring Awakening. While adding to the edginess of this rock-infused musical, I thought Jerry Mitchell would win out for his highly energetic production numbers for Legally Blonde—The Musical.
So, what about the musical selections from this year’s Best Musical and Best Musical Revival nominated shows? First, I think it’s important to ask what is the point of these five minutes of national exposure? Is it to showcase one of the stars from the show? To make sure the entire cast is seen frolicking on stage whether it’s coherently structured or not? Or is it to choose that singular sensation of a production number that will generate huge ticket sales to all those visitors coming to New York this summer? For me, it’s a no-brainer—give the TV audience the razzle dazzle! So…which shows succeeded? Which musicals blew it? A critique:
“Chim Chim Cher-ee” was a great choice—recognizable song, spotlighting the stars—Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee--and great dancing…until the end of the number when the segment producer decided to add the rest of the cast members (including the statue guy) to prance around the stage, spoiling the enchanting moment.
What do you do when a show has no splashy musical number to choose from? In this case, showcase the star. So having Christine Ebersole sing “The Revolutionary Costume For Today” was appropriate even though it only gave the viewer a taste of her tour de force performance. Partially successful.
The best production of the night—“Show People” was a solid song from the musical, that featured the whole cast cavorting on stage, David Hyde Pierce in his likeable best, and spirited dancing. For a show that received lukewarm reviews at best, Curtains dazzled and left viewers wanting more.
At first I was disappointed when Lea Michele began the song, “Mama Who Bore Me,” but was extremely pleased when the first bars of “The Bitch of Living” (my favorite song from the show) started up soon after. But the number soon degenerated into a pogo-ing mess. I couldn’t help but think people in the hinterlands wondering what all the fuss is about.
Best Revival of a Musical
While Raul Esparza’s performance was riveting they should have chosen a number that played to the show’s strength—namely how the actors and actresses play their own instruments. A perfect song would have been “You Could Drive A Person Crazy”—a more tuneful and playful song.
A Chorus Line
The show had the advantage of opening the night with a fanciful version of “I Hope I Get It” outside Radio City Music Hall that morphed into the finale, “One,” indoors on the gargantuan Radio City stage. Great production number. Great way to start off the night.
110 in the Shade
Any song with Audra McDonald singing is pure joy. But 110 has so many better Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt tunes than the one showcased, “Raunchy.” What about “Love, Don’t Turn Away?” Or “Simple Little Things?” Or “Wonderful Music?” Missed opportunity.
What do you think?