The Playgoer: Bloggin' the Tonys 2007

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bloggin' the Tonys 2007

'nuff said. But results (predictable as they are) are here.

Wow. CBS has really kept everyone on schedule this time. "Spring Awakening" awarded at 10:57pm for, in the words of its producer "a musical that rocks" for "audiences [i.e. ticketbuyers] of every age" and "raising the roof" [I kid you not].

Well, good night everyone! The orchestra is playing, Angela is saying "Come to Broadway,
so it must be over.

The real winner: CBS. I mean, it's only 10:59!

I gotta hand it to Michael Riedel (I think?) for predicting David Hyde Pierce's upset for Best Actor/Musical as a shout-out to Kander & Ebb. (Sorry, Raul) And, sure enough, CBS is cutting him off...

And now Ben Vereen & his "godson" Usher. Aww...

We are running way over, folks... We're only up to Bets Actress/Musical..

And that's Christine Ebersole, btw. There is some justice

So they let "Spring Awakening" do "Bitch of Living" despite FCC concerns. Good for them. And whoever's directing the CBS cutting/camera angles was "totally" into it.

BTW--in case you're wondering about the absence of Paris Hilton jokes at the Tony's... official sponsor: Hilton!

So wait: Legally Blonde doesn't get a spot, but the year-old "Color Purple" does, thanks to American Idol-crowned Fantasia? Oh, and , as they say, in honor of Alliance Theatre, Atlanta. Right.

She's not even singing in character. (In character wig & makeup, at least)

At the end of the day, "Lord" Tom Stoppard (he may not be yet, but he will) did well, by taking us back 40 yrs to his first trip here for "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern" (remember when Stoppard was cool?): Back then, he says, "There were ashtrays on the back of the seats and the author got 10% of the gross."

And so, Lincoln Center Theatre's gamble pays off...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, an accomplished actor-director, Zach Braff"???

Less than 30 minutes to go...

Mistake for Grey Gardens not to pick Ebersole's "Around the World" as their number instead of "Revolutionary Costume"--which, with the laughs of the Tony audience, only hightens the problems of the show I foreground in my review here...Still, if you haven't seen the show, I hope you can see just a bit of why Ebersole is so great.

Hey, if anyone's reading this and not watching Sopranos... please comment! It's lonely out here.

Then again, that's what all theatre lovers say at one point or another...

Okay, enough with this Rosé crap. I've switched to Johnnie Walker Black for the last hour.

Justice, at last! "Company" beats "110" for Revival Musical. Even if 3rd producer got least gracious orchestral cut-off for his speech.

I know it was a while ago, but just wanted to praise whoever's responsible for not pushing Bebe Neuworth and David Hyde Pierce to make Frasier jokes during their co-presenting.

Julie White wins! Tony voters' memory longer than 4 months!

What the hell did they just do with Best Play??? Teasing us with the "And the Nominees are before 10pm??? Should play-lovers be flattered that CBS thinks a Best Play-tease would even help?--and over to Best Play revival!

Not good TV, just downright confusing, I say.

And now "Journey's End" reaches its inevitable...well, end. (It finally closed, by mercy-killing, this afternoon.) A billion producers on stage (including one in tartan pants, I believe), more than the audience on most nights....Producer Bill Haber's first line, appropriately: "Contrary to rumors, I did not bankrupt myself in this show."

Hey, for Tommy Tune's tribute to "those we have lost" very classy for CBS not to let us see the names of any of the departed on the screen above him. Pathetic television.

Maybe Michael Mayer can relax now. He finally got his Tony..... It's clear that he's craved this ever since getting snubbed over for Millie and countless other musicals. He's known to really love musicals, while instead he's been more acclaimed for plays... So don't be surprised if his speech seems very well rehearsed.... I couldn't help noticing when I saw Spring Awakening at the Atlantic last summer, how struck I was that Mayer and Steven Sater were still watching from the back of the house (several weeks into the run) laughing and trying to whoop up applause. My sense was there were "people" in the house who could help with the move to B'way..... Congrats, Michael. It all paid off.

So Mayer beat John Doyle for director/musical. But will Doyle's "Company" finally get the nod over "110 in the Shade" in compensation for last year's "Sweeney" snub? As much as I liked "Company" and like Doyle, I predict he will be snubbed again. It opened too long ago, and people just don't like "Company." Stay tuned...

Interesting, the "Company" number is Raul Esparza's solo in "Being Alive." In the context of this production it's kind of a "spoiler." But this is all about Esparza's career. And, as you can see from this number, Esparze is pretty damn good.

Quick theory about why CBS continues to indulge the Tonys. To give them guilt-free license to hog free air time to air 2-minute promo spots for shows like Vegas rip-off "Viva Laughlin."

Hmm, I believe John Mahonney's scripted "Goddamned" was awkwardly, and too late, bleeped by CBS during the lame attempt to spoof the American Theatre Wing obligatory sermon before the soup. (Ok, at least they tried to do something with it.)

Aha! "A Look Back in the Year in Musicals"--so it's all a compromise to give "Legally Blonde" something! (But then, they also have to include "Pirate Queen," "High Fidelity" and "Times They Are A Changing"!--I believe the over-dubbed different music for "Fidelity")

Don't expect them to do anything more for the Best Plays, other than some garbled video excerpts when announcing the nominees.

My god, "A Look Back in the Year in Plays!" Plays! What are those?...A whole 1 minute. (I kid you not, was looking at the clock) And they gave the intro to CBS Early Show's Harry Smith!

Response to Mary Poppins excerpt: prediction--Poppins will win the "Tony bounce" contest for b.o. sales tomorrow morning. It's family entertainment, it's Disney, it's Mary Poppins! (With chimney sweepers!)

Seeing Jack O'Brien get his inevitable (and, let's say it, well deserved) Best Director award, I realize something: "Coram Boy" was written and directed by women! Something that went unmentioned in the wildly divergent reception of the show. But worth mentioning. Espeically since it was effectively an import, and not many other Broadway musical/plays with an all- female creative pedigree.

Interesting that O'Brien piggybacks on Ehle's's remarks about "Coast of U" hoping to inspire a massive call (yet again) for A US National Theatre! Says O'Brien, "Let no one question any more the State of the American Theatre." Or words to that effect.... Good point, Jack. Your production was beautiful. But your playwright was British, your subject Russian, and your lead Irish. What does that say?

My god, as pathetic as it was that Best Special Theatrical Event only had two nominees, the ventriloquist dummy one wins over Kiki & Herb? Uptown will always defeat downtown in the end. (I say Uptown because it looks like the dummy guy had some bonafide producers.)

Eddie Izzard is (thankfully) drunk.

Some highlights: cool to see Bill T. Jones jump the stage and maul his presenters. Way to show them some downtown style, Bill T.

Also, I believe I saw Duncan Sheik stop to give a manly hug to Michael Cerveris on his way down the aisle. Cerveris is a known rocker in his spare time. And, as Mr. Sheik tells us, "Musical Theatre Rocks!" Take it from him.

And, yes, the Tony voters are officially starfuckers. Jennifer Ehle, best featured actress. Even though no one honestly admits she gives good performances in any of the three parts of "Coast." AND...she's not even a star!

But hush--it's "Mary Poppins" time. And we can see if Matthew Bourne really did give fellow highbrow modern-dance man Bill T Jones a run for his money.

(And we're only 1/3rd through...)

Note the Oscar-esque voice-over now covering after every winner is announced. "Mary Louise Wilson is a veteran of blah blah years," and then: "This is her first Tony award for her superb performance in Grey Gardens." So I assume they have equally "superb" copy prepared for each nominee? ("The superb Orfeh's superb performance in Legally Blonde!")

For the record, the official Playgoer drink of the night is a 2005 Rosé from Bastianich. Not bad. Actually not a Rosé drinker, but it was a gift. So I'm just saying up front, if the blogging's off--blame the Rosé.

Just one comment on the "Curtains" number: it's amazing, isn't it, how composers and choreographers just know that magical, pavlovian callibration of music and steps to automatically generate applause with a kickline. No matter how lame the song or the context, if you get the ritardendo right, and have just enough legs kicking--it gets them (ok, us) every time. It's the only "sure thing" in show biz.

Note the new "coming attractions" approach to keep people from switching over to "Sopranos." Like, just now, having McDonald and Cullum give a 5-line "preview" of "110 in the Shade". (A preview of the excerpt, that is.) Seems to just fall flat and take up yet more valuable time.

1st commercial break: note the hard-sell Lion King ad. "10 years and counting!" Disney's in this one for the long haul, you can bet the farm. Somewhere in a board meeting in Mouseland, someone at Disney Theatricals (or higher) as said "We will bury Phantom!"

Spring Awakening sweep, Part 2. Best Book. Glad Stephen Sater thanked Wedekind. A recent inexplicable piece in NYT talked about the show as some new crazy openness about sexuality. Man!

Hey--question has been circulating as to whether CBS would let them sing "Bitch of Living" in prime time.

Best Featured Actor, Musical--the big-hair kid from "Spring Awakening." Again, signs of sweep are early for the faves.

I was starting to get persuaded by pre-show predictions of upsets by such underdogs as "Frost/Nixon" or "Mary Poppins" But no. They had opportunities in both categories so far to toss bones to "Radio Golf," "Legally Blonde" or even "LoveMusik" and "110 in the Shade." I'm willing to commit to the conventional wisdom. The voters like these shows. Really, really like them!

Billy Crudup! Or, as he reminds us, Crude(as in Dude!)-up.

Yup, it's a "Coast of U" sweep.

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Playgoer Live Tony Blogcast!

In case you haven't been glued to the live feed on of the pre-show "creative" awards, let me catch you up on those little categories already handed out and not deemed ready for prime time on CBS. (And that's saying a lot).

(The official site is posting winners as they go here.)

ORCHESTRATIONS: Duncan Sheik, "Spring Awakening"
SET (PLAY): Bob Crowley & Scott Pask "Coast of Utopia"
SET (MUSICAL): Bob Crowley, "Mary Poppins"
COSTUMES (PLAY): Catherine Zuber, "Coast of Utopia"
COSTUMES (MUSICAL): Wiliam Ivey Long, "Grey Gardens"
LIGHTING (PLAY):Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner, and Natasha Katz , "The Coast of Utopia"
LIGHTING (MUSICAL): Kevin Adams, "Spring Awakening"

and the big suspense...

the Pre-Announced Regional Theatre Award to Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

Excellent, excellent points in Comments recently about the total disregard of Sound Design, which long ago came into its own even above 14th St.

Oh god, it's starting. With "Chorus Line," of course, Hamlisch at the piano. And they're getting cute with "places please" with all the other musicals, revival and non....Oh, it's even worse. They've adopted the whole Chorus Line casting call motif to introduce everyone. Unfair edge to Chorus Line!

Note on the "headshot" bits announcing the presenters... since some are revealing their real faces, you know the others didn't show up for the pre-taping.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work - someone is watching this crap (and Tivoing Sopranos

Anonymous said...

So two total BS awards so far - how does Sater win Best Book for doing a cut and paste over Doug Wright who at least created a first act out whole cloth?

And how that sublime force of life Martha Plimpton not get the big prize - she was riveting.

Playgoer said...

I totally agree about Martha Pimpton. For my money, she, Ethan Hawke, and (yes) Tony -winner Crudup were the only actors that poured their hearts into the behemoth endeavor.

Good point anout Doug Wright's effort's in Grey Gardens. While I question the whole ethics of taking on the project in my review, I agree that the musical "Spring Awkanening" if anything, only watered down Wedekind.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! This is the most predictable Tony Awards ever. But at least its nice to have a blog play-by-play commentary.

Anonymous said...

Spring Awakening number came off well, even cleaned up - but who would have thought that the runner up for entertaining musical number would be Curtains?

Anonymous said...

"an accomplished actor-director, Zach Braff"???

So you hated Garden State so much???

Playgoer said...

No, I'll admit I never saw Garden State. But has Braff ever even appeared on stage???

Anonymous said...

" but the year-old "Color Purple" does"

Don't forget the number form Jersey Boys. I guess Laura Bell Bundy gets to perform NEXT year.

Anonymous said...

Braff has been talking to producers all over town - he will, he will.

Playgoer said...

Yes, I meant to mention the weird "Jersey Boys" clip/nonclip, too. Same thing. Broadway rules!

Anonymous said...

Braff was in Twelfth Night in the Park a couple of years ago.

Also, no need for the scare quotes--Vereen actually is Usher's godfather.

Anonymous said...

For the obit section, we saw all the names, on a big hi-def screen.

Why was the sound so crappy, and so little time devoted to the summaries of the year in plays and musicals? They had advance notice to do this, right? The live sound was echoy and haphazard.

And, with all the corporate money put into the system, why is there the need for a National Theatre? When Broadway's made the most money in a season ever, why a National Theatre? And when Broadway is more dependent than ever on regional theatre content and development, why a national theatre?

parabasis said...

When Ebersold won and said all that malarky about the innate goodness of human beings, I turned to anne and said

"is that what that musical was about? I thought it was about making fun of crazy people"

to which she said
"me too"

right one with your review of that one, garrett.

Freeman said...

Braff was in Twelfth Night with Julia Stiles. Apparently he was pretty darn good too.

Anonymous said...

Fifty years from now, Jennifer Ehle will continue to be celebrated for her rare art. You are utterly wrong with your thoughtless appraisal of her performance in CoU. Google reviews, and you'll find how wrong. Perhaps you don't understand theater.