The best (and worst) things about this year's awards.
By Michael Kras (Actor/Playwright/Director)
I make sure to fit the Tony Awards into my schedule every year. If I have a shift at work, I book it off. If anyone wants to chill, I say No. Tony Sunday is a big deal... it's my Super Bowl. So of course, each year, the telecast generates passionate feelings all over the place. And below, I want to share what worked for me this year... and what didn't.
BEST/WORST: Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth
Tony hosts of the post-NPH era have been smart enough to know that his past hosting jobs are impossible to top... to that, it makes sense that Alan and Kristin didn't even try. Nothing was done that could even somewhat be considered an attempt to match the great Neil Patrick Harris. The pair made a fun, energetic set of hosts, to be sure, and they had a couple of hits on their hands. But soon, the constant singing became more than a little obnoxious (which is saying a lot considering the universal appeal of both voices), and some of the jokes were just straight up duds. Sure, Alan appearing in a full 'Anna' gown and singing 'Getting to Know You' was damn funny, but the joke was killed dead when Kristin crawled from under the dress in full yellowface as the King of Siam. Yikes. And the running joke of Alan fangirling over Josh Groban's upcoming performance was rendered rather tasteless when Groban ended up being the performer for the touching In Memoriam section of the show. Still, both performers are adored in the Broadway community, and anybody that has the guts to host any award show deserves major respect.
WORST: Finding Neverland. Just... Finding Neverland.
Hoo boy, was this performance ever bad. After 'Finding Neverland' received a disappointing zero nominations this year, Harvey Weinstein still paid for a spot for the show to perform a number... which ultimately gave us conclusive proof of WHY the show didn't receive a single nod. To think that this performance took up time that could have been used to televise certain award wins (more on that in a moment) is the ultimate tragedy. It made this already weak number even worse.
BEST: Ruthie Ann Miles' acceptance speech
Full disclosure: I wanted Sydney Lucas to win. So badly. For an 11 year old actor to be giving that caliber of performance in a show as emotionally complex as 'Fun Home' is remarkable, and the best part is that it would have been equally remarkable for someone of ANY age. You can imagine my initial disappointment when Sydney didn't win. But after seeing Ruthie during The King and I's performance earlier on in the evening, that was all I needed to know that she was just as deserving. And then, I was completely won over by her hilarious, messy speech. Reading her notes off of her iPhone ("Please recycle") was the first of many endearing moments that made this speech extra memorable and sweet.
WORST: Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical were not televised
I'm enraged at how many awards are not televised each year. Every. Single. Award. Winner. Is. Equally. Important. The productions that are being honoured would not exist without the work of every team member. So why are awards like Best Book, Best Score, and all of the awards for design announced during commercial breaks? Look, the average viewer has no idea who most of the winners are anyway, so don't give me some bullshit about 'the awards people care about seeing'. I care about EVERY award. This disgusting Tony trend was rendered even worse this year, when Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron won for their work on Fun Home, making them the first team of exclusively female writers to win. And we didn't get to see it. This monumentally historic moment was given ten second after a commercial break. For future telecasts, trim the fat, cut the shit, and let everyone get their deserved time.
BEST: Everything Fun Home
When Sydney Lucas performed so transparently on the Tonys, a beautiful was made. Not only was Lucas herself incredible, but a song so bravely about discovering identity, and finding out you're not alone no matter how different you feel, was given the spotlight on television. I'm moved thinking of how many heard 'Ring of Key's sung for the first time that night, and how many people were able to identify with it in a way they've never been able to with a musical before. THAT is transcendent.
Fun Home was a shocking surprise win for Best Musical... all Tony predictions assumed the big prize would go to something bigger and with more commercial appeal. So, for Best Musical to go to a show so personal, so moving, so human, so socially progressive is nothing short of affirming. A show about a butch lesbian women, written exclusively by women, made Tony history. I screamed at my TV. I cried with them. I felt better about theatre.
Question of the day: What were YOUR favourite and least favourite Tony Award moments? Drop a comment!