Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts on Tony Telecast and Awards

Here are some random thoughts about the Tony telecast and the winners in the musical theatre category…

  • Was anyone else mystified with the opening of the ceremony? Why the prolonged opening from “The Lion King?” I know it is the ten year anniversary, but wasn't it a bit of overkill? Great commercial for the show. If I was one of the production’s producers I would have been salivating! I was also a bit underwhelmed with the parade of beasts which is interesting since, when I saw the musical, when it first opened I thought it was one of the most magical moments in theatre history. Note to Tony producers about the opening of the program—how about something a bit more imaginative for next year? What about some great musical production numbers from year’s past?

  • I was not happy when Whoopi Goldberg was announced as host of the Tony telecast. I don’t find her funny or very good as a master-of-ceremonies. But, I will admit, I found her innocuous as emcee, staying out of the way of the proceedings. Good for her.

  • Musical excerpts from Best Musical nominated shows—
    “In the Heights” – vibrant, exciting, showing off the energy of the musical. Great choice.
    “Passing Strange” – well, I don’t know what Mr. and Mrs. Midwest thought of Stew prancing around the stage. Good choice, but will it translate into increased box office bucks?
    “Xanadu” – poor choice for a show that prides itself on its zaniness. The musical's opening number, “I’m Alive,” would have been a better showcase for the show since it beautifully captures the inspired silliness of the production.
    “Cry Baby” – insipid, loud, unimaginative number. I can’t believe the show hasn’t closed by now.

  • Musical excerpts from Best Musical Revivals—
    “Grease” – my problem is I actually saw the original with Barry Botswick as Danny Zucco and it was one of the funniest, most entertaining shows I have ever seen. Every revival since has been dreadful. Starting this production number with a song from the movie version turned me off immediately. It was bland and vapid and a good excuse for a snack break.
    “Sunday in the Park with George” – not a great fan of the show, but a fine performance two superb actors.
    “South Pacific” – nicely done incorporating three memorable songs from the show. They beautifully showcased three of the nominees. Good job.
    “Gypsy”– also a fine choice that included, what ended up to be three Tony winners, but also served as a national showcase for the raw power Patti Lupone brings to the role of Mama Rose. A tour de force triumph!

  • Speaking of Ms. Lupone, GREAT acceptance speech. Over the top, but entertaining at the same time.

  • Reunion of the original cast of “Rent” was nostalgic, but a bit humdrum. There could have been a better way to send off one of the longest running shows in Broadway history.

  • Other musical numbers from current musicals were lackluster and dull--
    “A Catered Affair” -- It won't have the bridge and tunnel crowd racing to the box office after their stodgy selection.
    “Young Frankenstein!” -- What a lifeless number. I’m not a big fan of the musical, but “Transylvania Mania” would have been more rollicking, roll in the hay, fun.

  • Thank you for no insipid bantering among presenters.

  • My track record on picks…not too bad. I correctly chose all the winners except for Best Book—how “Passing Strange” could win the award while “In the Heights” wins all the other major honors is a mystery (I picked “In the Heights”). I also thought Christopher Fitzgerald should have won for Best Supporting Actor over Boyd Gaines. Not to say Gaines was unworthy, but Fitzgerald’s Igor was one of the saving graces of “Young Frankenstein.” He made the part his own, almost making you forget about Marty Feldman’s inspired lunacy from the movie.

  • Overall, the telecast receives a C+. Suggestions for next year—a more lively host (do I hear Billy Crystal?) and some big prodution numbers. Show people what Broadway is all about!!