Watching the 64th Annual Tony Awards last night, I felt my usual sense of longing, since I used to dream of accepting my own Tony Award. One of these days, I need to sit down and write a brilliant play that will take Broadway by storm. In the meantime, here are my impressions of this year’s broadcast. Please note: I avoided reading any other press about the Awards before writing this, so I wouldn’t be influenced by other opinions. I’m really taking this blog thing seriously!
Overall, I found the Tony Awards too Hollywoodized. Just because the broadcast has never had the popularity or the ratings of the Academy Awards, there is an ongoing practice of padding the presenters and audience with “movie stars.” It’s so sad to see all the talented Broadway actors shoved in the back rows so more recognizable movie stars can hog all the reaction shots. Granted, this year saw an especially large number of movie actors appearing in Broadway roles. I was suspicious of the number of movie stars who ended up being nominated for Tonys and then dismayed at how many ended up winning.
I thought Sean Hayes made a good host, and I particularly liked his Billy Elliot costume. His knees in the Annie costume, on the other hand, were downright scary.
I didn’t see Scarlett Johansson in her Broadway debut, but her acceptance speech was pretty terrible. It can’t be easy going first, and she could have learned a valuable lesson from Viola Davis, whose acceptance speech was moving and inspiring. I liked how both Viola Davis and Denzel Washington weren’t afraid to mention God in their speeches.
The weirdest team of presenters was Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Holmes. How tall is that woman?? Radcliffe looked so tiny next to her. ( Imdb.com lists Radcliffe as 5’8″ and Holmes as 5’9″) I was very surprised to learn that Radcliffe will be playing the lead in the upcoming revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The role will really be a stretch, since the character of Finch is brash, hyper-confident, charismatic and quintessentially American. Oh, and it’s a musical. I’m not saying Radcliffe can’t pull it off, and I have to admire him for taking risks.
Eddie Redmayne won the Tony for featured actor in a play, for his performance in Red, which went on to win best director and best new play. Redmayne was very sweet accepting his award and also strangely sweaty. His director Michael Grandage gave his speech directly to the award in his hand, barely glancing at the audience. Perhaps he’s shy! Anyway, I was very pleased that women were nominated in both directing categories, for best play and for best musical.
Technical difficulties marred the acceptance speech of Katie Finneran for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, when the caption across the screen named the wrong actress. Eventually they flashed the correct name.
The award for most stunning has to go to Helen Mirren. I thought she looked marvelous. Angela Lansbury was lovely too, and I’m so pleased about her new honorary position with American Theatre Wing. Jada Pinkett Smith gets my award for shiniest skin. She looked positively oiled.
Catherine Zeta-Jones performed Send in the Clowns from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and it was distinctly odd. I’m no judge of singing, so I can’t comment on that aspect of the performance. What I found strange was all her snappy head swings during the song. The entire song was delivered sitting on a bed, and I was seriously distracted by her head twisting left and right. Her acceptance speech later, when she won Best Actress in a Musical for the performance, was also odd but kind of endearing, though I can’t help wondering if her “shock” at winning wasn’t also a performance.
The “In Memoriam” section of Awards shows always make me cry, and this time was no exception. I was particularly moved by Lena Horne and the last Ziegfeld Follies girl.
During every single commercial break, for two and a half hours, the announcer promised Glee‘s Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele were coming up next. It was such an obvious ploy to get young viewers to stay tuned in. Then when they finally appeared, it was pointless filler which belonged earlier on in the program.
I live on the west coast, so by the time I watch the Tonys, they’ve been recorded from an earlier broadcast. This would explain, I suppose, how they were able to bleep out the four-letter words in the American Idiot musical number. It was after 10:30pm by then, but I guess they have to protect those young people who make up most of American Idiot‘s target audience. Or maybe it was the old folks they were trying not to offend. Anyway, I was pleased that Memphis won for best musical, even though I haven’t even seen it yet. As the night progressed, it seemed like the obvious popular choice. Of the nominated musicals, I’ve only seen American Idiot, and it wasn’t strong enough to deserve the Tony.
So now I have a new list of plays and musicals to see, and I hold out hope that next year I will see more Broadway faces in the front rows of the Tony Awards, favorites like Sutton Foster and her brother Hunter, Christian Hoff, and Casey Nicholaw.
I woke up to the sad news that Jimmy Dean passed away. As a huge fan of the Daniel Boone TV series, I was deeply affected by Fess Parker’s death only a few months ago, and now we’ve lost another cast member. Jimmy Dean became Boone’s sidekick on the TV show after Ed Ames left to pursue his singing career. In the memorable final episode of the series, Jimmy Dean adopts feisty little Jodie Foster. My condolences to Mr Dean’s family.