I had not intended to blog the Tonys this year, but of course I watched. In fact, I shut down Facebook to prevent me from accidentally finding out who won the awards, since they were being broadcast here three hours after they took place.
My friend John Fitzgerald (who used to perform with the Davis Comic Opera Company) calls them "The Gay High Holidays." I didn't really know any of the shows and the only actor I had any interest in winning was Neil Patrick Harris, but I couldnt help myself. My "Today at Logos" vibes kicked in and I ended up taking notes after all. When the show ended, I had too many notes NOT to blog the Tonys, so here goes. I only made notes on my favorite parts.
With NPH up for a Tony, it made more sense to have someone else host, and what better choice than to bring back Hugh Jackman, who also does a great job hosting the show. The opening number was weird, but pretty amazing. Jackman hopped for 4 minutes, from the street, down the steps of Radio City Music Hall onto the stage, then all through backstage, stopping to hop with actors from nominated shows, then back onto the stage again. I'm not sure whether he was celebrating kangaroos, or the musical, "Rocky." Could have been either!
Following the bouncing Jackman came the bouncing boobs of Pattie LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia in a number from After Midnight. One of those ladies looked like she could suffer a wardrobe malfunction at any moment, though it doesn't really show in this photo.
Jackman followed them with his opening (sung) monologue, in which I learned that WTF (Neil Patrick Harris' comment on learning that Jackman was going to host) actually means "Wow-that's fantastic."
The first number from the 3 nominated musical revivals was Les Mis, proving that it is still a wonderful, moving show. I've seen it many times now and I'm still moved, though it seemed strange to start the Tony show with the first act finale of Les Mis.
First award to "featured actress" Lena Hall from Hedwig and the Angry Inch" who was excited in a cute way, and whose closing comment got me: "Friendship is Magic."
Presenter Lucy Liu wore the only dress that I did a double take on and thought "Wow--that's fantastic"
I have to admit that though I like Idina Menzel, and though I hear the song she sang is popular, I didn't like it much, and the closeups of her face accentuated her "plastic mouth" (meaning that it distorts in ways that make it look like melting plastic sometimes).
The number from Aladdin, the first nominated new musical was fun--and the guy playing the genie (James Monroe Iglehart) is larger than life, literally and figuratively. That big guy can move!
Second nomination for new musical was A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and the number they showed was a real patter song in the best possible way, complete with doors. I remember the composer of this show doing this number on Theater Talk a couple of weeks ago and I liked it then too.
Audra McDonald made Tony history accepting her sixth award (Angela Lansbury only has 5) for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. I remember the critics on Theater Talk were surprised this was nominated in the drama category, since McDonald sings so many songs, but I guess somebody knew what they were doing. They showed her daughter in the audience as she was accepting the award and she was positively glowing for her Mom.
Bryan Cranston's win for playing LBJ in All the Way was no surprise. It was pretty much expected by everyone (except maybe the other nominees). I haven't quite gotten over Walter White, though, so it's strange to see him with hair.
Rue Paul came on to introduce the number from Hedwig. I'd never seen Paul out of drag, though it might be argued that his shocking pink jacket was coming close. Still, who knew he was bald?
NPH as Hedwig was NPH as I'd never seen him before. I knew he could sing, dance and act, but this was over the top and he nails it.
It was fun watching the stars taking selfies at a big machine backstage (kind of like the old machines at carnivals, without the curtains)
Alan Cummin came on briefly to explain something about the history of the Tonys and the American Theater Wing. I only mention it because his suit looked like a Rhorschach test (or an audio line standing vertically)
Best play Tony went to All the Way, the LBJ show. The producer who accepted it looked like he was wearing a bright red Christmas bow.
Best play revival went to Raisin in the Sun. When they were on Theater Talk, the critics almost unanimously predicted a win for Twelfth Night.
Nice tribute to Wicked, now in its 10th season on Broadway. I was glad they did the duet I like ("For Good")
Hugh Jackman came out to talk about his start in theater, in a high school production of Music Man. He said he was so gung ho he memorized everybody's parts in the opening scene of the traveling salesmen on a train. He sang a bit of it and then said that, really, it was a rap song before rap was invented. Then he invited LL Cool Jay and TI to join him on stage and re-do the original Meredith Wilson version and turn it into a modern day rap. It was great and the youngsters in the audience loved it. The Music Man gets new life on the Tonys! I got a little teary, wishing I could talk with Paul about it.
Award announced for best actor in revival of a musical, and it is, indeed, Neil Patrick Harris. Lovely speech, and nice acknowledgement of his husband and their twins. I worry about him, though. He looks drawn and somehow older than he should. Or maybe I'm just watching too many reruns of How I Met Your Mother from several years ago. And he is doing a grueling schedule these days. (UPDATE: I heard someone today say he had lost 15 lbs to do this role, so that must be it)
The musical Beauty is about Carol King and her music. Jessie Mueller, who plays King, did a nice song and then finished it in a duet with Carol King herself. Nice moment and a highlight of the evening. Got the longest applause. Mueller also won the award for actress in a musical. (It was cute Jackman singing and dancing the nominations with each nominee...he sang the nominations for the men, too, but didn't dance with them)
Nice bit, presenting a number from an upcoming musical, Neverland, which tells the story of the writing of Peter Pan. It was sung by Jennifer Hudson and I couldn't help but think how far she has come, professionally, physically, and every way since her loss on American Idol!
Rosie O'Donnell presented the award for best new musical to Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder and then Jackman got all the award winners on stage, got the audience to stand up, and the show ended with everyone jumping as he did during the opening.
Another satisfying Tony award broadcast. All these great shows make me wish I lived in New York, if I didn't dislike being in New York so much!