The Playgoer: Tonys 2011: The Playgoer Blogcast

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tonys 2011: The Playgoer Blogcast

11:05 Another great closing number from NPH like last time he hosted...but will the Tony producers ever tell CBS they're showing slides???

11:02 Who would have thunk it: South Park's Trey Parker was the classiest act of them all. (Shout out to The Prophet Joseph Smith extra credit.)

10:59 How does it make sense to waste so much time during the broadcast so that the really "important" awards (Best Actor/Actress, Best Musical, etc.) have to be so rushed...... And, Chris Rock: a dig at Nathan Lane? Really?... Funny to describe waiting to give the Best Musical award to Book of Mormon as like "taking a prostitute to dinner"... but, man, that would have been awkward if it went another way, wouldn't it?

10:56 Notice how they're saving time by having one presenter present for Best Actor/Actress in both play and musical.

10:53 Wow, a surprise!  Mark Rylance upsets Joe Mantello. Both were truly great. But this does give away B'way's Brit Bias.... But at least we get to hear another wacky Rylance speech.

Oh, during commercial Lighting went to Mormon (musical) and War Horse (play)

10:50 Does anyone know what Paul Schaeffer is doing? Oh, introducing Priscilla. He wrote "It's Raining Men"? That and being on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman will get you on the Tonys.

10:44 Does that jean jacket mean you're in character, Frances McDormand?

10:35 Yay for Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company (home to Mary Zimmerman among others), winner of the Regional Tony.

For a moment, after's James Earl & Vanessa R.'s stately intro, I thought, Ahh Here Are the Plays.... But then we got a ragtag montage (with awful music) of "plays" including, inexplicably Colin Quinn and Pee-wee Herman. What was that?

And now, Broadway's idea of a star: washed up super-model and Billy Joel ex-wife Christie Brinkley? (Just because she's in Chicago right now. Who isn't.)

Now, ok: I balked at the Spider-Man promo. I mocked the Memphis reprise. But what possible justification is there for showcasing the New York Philharmonic concert-presentation of Company? Not only is it not running anymore--it barely ran. And it wasn't even a fully staged production. (And, needless to say, it wasn't in any sense "On Broadway.") Yes, the video of the concert will air in select cinemas next week, but....huh? And they made all those actors--including the under-used Patti LuPone--rehearse again, months later, for this?

You know, CBS, this doesn't have to be a three-hour show.

10:15 During commercial, in the In Case You Care department...War Horse  and Book of Mormon won Best Set Design... (Actually I thought Mormon's set was the least impressive thing about it , but it served the show, I guess..)

10:07 Most compelling political comment of the night: Google buying commercial time on the Tonys for their ad featuring Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project.

You know, having just reflected on Larry Kramer's speech, I realize now how depressing it is that "shocking" statements advocating gay rights on the Tonys go back to Harvey Firestein in the early 80s (if not earlier). The fact that this is still pushing the envelope is pretty sad.

Unlrelated: A Memphis number? Reallly??? I thought the Spider-Man preview was pushing it (and thank you Commenter Tom Shea for indeed elucidating precedent) but here's a show that already won a Best Musical Tony getting yet another chance--and they use some random school-kids visit to justify it? Weird.

10:00 Omigod: They are pretending the Gurgis play really is called "The Mother with the Hat"--even Cannivale has to say it and that's what CBS shows the title as on screen. (No, not "Mother (Blank)," just "Mother"!).

Big boost to War Horse for NPH to ride "Joey" onto the stage himself. To compete with that, the competitor should at least be able to say "Motherfucker" on the air...

Normal Heart wind Best Play Revival. It truly is electric, see it. (Daryl Roth is even saying thanks to Joel Grey but "now under the leadership of George C. Wolfe.") Larry Kramer impressively concise!  "Our Day Will Come" a nice political jab to complement the more self-effacing opening number.

9:48 Joke of the night does go to the pro: "The only beard in this room is mine"--Robin Williams. (Too bad CBS sounds failed on his Spider-Man joke. Is it just my cheap cable service or is CBS sounds going out all over the place?!?)

Thank you, Whoopi Goldberg for reminding us that Sister Act is only one musical adapted from your movies. (And that Ghost is coming.  Brr.....)

And about those Best Play spots... Is it really more telegenic to watch actors (even actors as entertaining as Mark Rylance) read cue-cards summarizing their plays than to actually watch them perform 30 seconds of the play???

9:35 In case you care(!) they handed out Best Costumes (Musical) to Priscilla and Best Costumes (Play) to Earnest and Best Set (play) to War Horse ... all were handed out during commercial.

9:30 So. 6 minutes devoted to Spider-Man. (Bono & Edge plus number.) A show not only not-nominated, but hasn't even opened yet. Any precedent for this on the Tonys? Also interesting: is this the Broadway Establishment's way of kissing & making up with Spider-Man, and acknowledging that after all the mishigas, it's still the only Broadway show most of the country's hear of? They're clearly investing now on this being The Great White Hit!

9:23 re: the NPH-Hugh Jackman duet... Thank God the Tonys are having fun this year! That's why the tone set by the opening number was so fresh. An improvement... and I credit Neil Patrick Harris.

John La Roquette is very, very good in How to Succeed. A natural stage actor, who knew? Well deserved.

Brooke Shields is going into The Addams Family?...And she just cursed but the sound was out anyway! (or was that preemptive bleeping?)

9:10 Colbert!  Is he introducing Book of Mormon because he's on Comedy Central, or because he's so white.

First, Nikki James' Tony, then Andrew Rannells ' song... you see how what makes The Book of Mormon is not just its hilarious writing, but fantastic, top-of-of-their game performing talent.

By the way, with all the Mormons out there watching this for the first time, this number ("I Believe!") will either stir huge controversy or become completely viral!

Interesting gossip, btw, on how the Mormon folk didn't know what number they could get away with on the broadcast. "Turn it Off" (the tribute to life in the closet) would have been my choice, but I guess Neil Patrick Harris already pushed the gay envelope for the evening....

8:52 Wow, that Scottsboro Boys seems like such an upbeat musical! Why or why didn't it succeed.... Seriously I was just glad they didn't only do the Minstrel number--because whatever side of that controversy you took, you gotta admit, out of context, that doesn't look good... That Joshua Henry is great, though, isn't he?

Mormon directors. Trey Parker finally gets on tv! (and thanks South Park fans?) And I can't believe Casey Nicholaw is a first-time winner. Between Spamalot choreography and the Encores Follies he is the musical comedy director of the moment as far as I'm concerned.

War Horse directors: First, both musical and play have co-directors? a trend? (not to mention Normal Heart). Second, it's true that War Horse is a better production that a play, per se (i.e. to read). But, hey, that's theatre, right? Yay, Royal National Theatre! (It's quite theatrical, believe me.)

8:36 It's official: The Tony-Approved name for Stephen Adly Guirgis's play is "The Mother with the Hat." Yep, those moms love to wear hats!

Catch Me number: Butz is the best, isn't he? Too bad the sound went out for 10 seconds. Is that show any good? Haven't seen it... With this and How to Succeed back to back, though, you realize how male-heavy this season indeed was!  And Priscilla is still to come. We'll get all-women with Sister Act...but they're nuns!  They could have had a number with average, sensual women with Women on the Verge, but no.
8:26 An Equus joke? Man, NPH is out there tonight.... Why is John Leguizamo doing excerpts from his closed stand-up show? Especially if no one told CBS that he's showing slides upstage...I guess he's the warm up comedian. But the show already started!... Oh, I see it's a "Broadway Moment." Ugh, will there be more?

By the way, for those of you outside of NYC, do note that the proceedings tonight may technically be happening on Broadway & 74th st, it's not really happening "On Broadway" (i.e. the theatre district) as NPH claimed.

8:20 "Brotherhood of Man" was indeed the highlight of that show. Was so great in the theatre that I can't help thinking it disappointed on tv, but maybe not. Harry Potter looking pretty good! He's not so terrible on stage--sure he can't really sing, but he gets by on charm. (And tweeny cheers in the audience.)

(BTW: Playgoer's Twitter feed will probably not update each time I post here tonight. But for those Twits out there, I will try to toss out some extras.)

8:12 Dynamite speech by Ellen Barkin. First of probably many shout-outs to Larry Kramer for the night....But notice she only mentioned George Wolfe and not the "co-director" Joel Grey. They've all fessed up now that Wolfe took over after Grey went into Anything Goes. But still, bit awkward...

8:06 Yes, Neil Patrick Harris just said "Sodomy" on the Tony Awards...

They went the Billy Crystal/Oscars route with a parody song--but it was brilliant. Probably written by the same team who wrote Crystal's numbers: Mark Shaiman & Scott Wittman.

Thank god they're embracing their marginalization ("It's not just for gays anymore"). Good for Harris & co. for outing the tension.....But bad idea, maybe to risk audience-stars singing on demand (Brooke Shields)

8:00 And they're off...

Welcome to the 65th Annual Tony Awards. Or, as it's known at CBS: not sweeps week.

The story so far: "Mormon" sweep is underway with not only Book & Score, but Orchestration. Anything Goes' Kathleen Marshall, though, did best Mormon's Casey Nickolaw for choreography.

I think there were others, too, but they haven't been tweeted yet.

By the way, CBS, ATW and Broadway League... you do know that Mormon is written by the South Park guys, right? Well they're famous and they just won a bunch of award, and you didn't put it on television.

7:49 Welcome to the blogcast.  The CBS broadcast of the awards show doesn't start for another 20 minutes. But the awarding is already underway.

For the last decade or so, the Tony peeps have had to hand out a bunch of awards off-air to keep the broadcast at three hours. These minor mentions--oh, you know, musical score, costumes, sets, etc.--have now been patronizingly called "The Creative Arts Awards!"  As if there's nothing creative about the rest of what we'll see.

So right now, in the Beacon Theatre, while there's still time before they're On the Air, Laura Benanti and Katie Finneran are hosting "the Creative Arts Tony Awards, presented by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts." Sponsorship? Bra-Vo, American Theatre Wing & Broadway League.

So, Athol Fugard's acceptance speech for Lifetime Achievement? Not gonna be on tv.

And unlike last year, is not video streaming this. And their twitter feed is far behind. Excuse me for being such a 21st century ADD blogger, but... what is going ON in there???


Tom Shea said...

To your Spider-Man comment, back in 1994, they showed footage form Show Boat up in Toronto (ahh,Livent, you bitch.) before it came to Broadway. Three years previous, they showed a numbeer from the Bye Bye Birdie (from Seattle) tour which never came in to NYC. They showed it probably because they wanted an extra number since 91 was a mediocre year for musicals, but mainly because Tommy Tune was in it (with Anne Reinking) and he was double-nominated that night for Will Rogers Follies. ANNNND, in 1995 they showed like 30 seconds of footage each from Busker Alley and Master Class which were both previewing on the road and had not come in yet.

Tom Shea said...

I forgot: In 1985 they paid tribute to Cy Coleman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jule Styne with, among other things, teaser songs from forthcoming projects. George Hearn sang "Rainbow's End" from Styne's Treasure Island musical ("Pieces of Eight," I think) and Maureen McGovern sang Tell Me On a Sunday from what became "Song and Dance" over here. I forget what the Coleman piece was, since he was kind of inactive in the middle of the decade.

RLewis said...

As someone who flipped back and forth between the show and the ball game, I felt for Chris Rock. I'm sure he was betting there'd be a game 7, but No. Ha.