June 14, 2011

Broadway, Baby!

Filed under: TV — DB @ 4:04 pm

I think one of the reasons I love the Oscars – and movie awards in general – is that because I see so many movies, I know the pickings pretty well, and feel I can speak about what is and isn’t getting attention with a fair amount of confidence. I love the Emmys too, but as I’ve lamented before, it’s just not possible to watch all the great television out there, and so it’s not possible to fully evaluate the nominees and appreciate the celebration. And if you don’t live in New York City, that’s even more true of the Tony Awards. I’m pop culture savvy enough that I’m usually aware of the biggest, most acclaimed productions on Broadway, but I’ve never been to a Broadway show. The closest I got was when Jersey Boys came to San Francisco with the original cast. But we’re not usually so lucky, and I get a chip on my shoulder about not wanting to see traveling productions if they don’t have the original cast. I mean, when you know that Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick headlined The Producers, do you really want to see it with anyone else?

But I do miss the stage. Growing up, I participated in my fair share of youth theater, and I’ve seen a lot of community and college performances, but I seldom find myself at splashy, professional productions anymore. I’m always jealous of my friends who live in New York City and have Broadway in their backyard. All of this is to say that I rarely watch the Tony Awards because outside of a general awareness, I don’t know the plays and therefore have no stake in what happens. But Sunday night, I watched the whole shebang, and goddamn if that wasn’t a hell of a show. As a three hour block of televised entertainment, it danced circles around this year’s Oscars. Alright, it’s unfair to even compare the two, since the Tony show literally features dancing in circles. At the Oscars, while we hope for entertaining speeches and some funny comedy sprinkled throughout, the modus operandi is definitely more dry. But the Tonys are as much about the glitz and glitter as the shows they celebrate, with musical numbers from the nominated productions in plentiful supply. So forget the comparison. Just taken on its own, the Tony Awards show was tip-top. Neil Patrick Harris hosted, and he was sensational. For starters, there was his terrific and hilarious opening number, with lyrics by former Daily Show head writer David Javerbaum.

He also shared a good bit with previous Tony host Hugh Jackman.

I don’t watch How I Met Your Mother, but I know Harris consistently earns raves for his performance on the show. His hosting duties were ample evidence of his great comic timing and delivery, both in and out of musical numbers. He did a great bit on the troubled Spider-Man musical (as did the show’s own songwriters Bono and The Edge, also featured in this clip).

As Harris reappeared on stage throughout the evening, he continued to fire off great jokes (credit to the show’s writers, of course). Two of my favorites concerned the night’s winner for Best Play, War Horse. After riding one of the show’s amazing puppet horses onstage, Harris dismounted and quipped, “Ironically, that entire horse is held together by glue.” Then at some point after Daniel Radcliffe performed a number along with his castmates from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Harris emerged from the wings and said, “Backstage is madness. I just had to stop Daniel Radcliffe from pokin’ out the war horse’s eyes.” (A little Equus joke, for those unfamiliar with the recent history of the Great White Way.)

Speaking of Radcliffe, the boy wizard is definitely doing all he can to prove he’s more than Harry Potter, and I was impressed with the song and dance chops he displayed in the number from his show (introduced by the two actors who previously played the same role on Broadway: Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick).

Other highlights of the night were Chris Rock’s introduction of Best Musical….

…and James Earl Jones’ appearance with his Driving Miss Daisy co-star Vanessa Redgrave, mainly because he spoke about theater with the same force (no pun intended) and eloquence that he used to describe baseball in Field of Dreams.

Another thing that I enjoyed about the Tony Awards? Throughout the entire show, the audience was alive and enthusiastic. You know all those movie stars at the Oscars are bored throughout most of the show and don’t really care about any awards except the big ones. Sometimes they can’t even be bothered to clap for a winner in a “lesser” category. But at the Tony’s, there was a real sense of community. Although the audience was comprised of competitors for this award or that, their reactions to moments throughout the night showed that they are, first and foremost, lovers of theater, rooting for each other and enjoying every performance that unspooled on stage. Those in attendance were clearly having a great time, and that was nice to see.

Harris wrapped it all up with a great closing bit recapping the night’s highlights, and I’ll be pretty surprised if his hosting duties don’t win him another Emmy Award.

Damn! I mean, he was referencing stuff in that rap that happened ten minutes earlier!

So kudos to everyone involved with this great production. It made me want to see more theater, and I think it’s safe to say that from here on I’ll be a regular viewer of the Tonys.

Watch…next year’s show will totally suck.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What Say You?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: