The Playgoer: TONYS 2005: THE BLOGCAST

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Sunday, June 05, 2005


And we're off...

I will try not to harp too much on the evils of this conspiracy of producers known as the American Theatre Wing Antoinette Perry Awards. What's most significant about tonight is hardly any honest sense of rewarding excellence in the American (or imported British) theatre. All that remains important is--it is pretty much the only 3 hours you'll see devoted to theatre on nationwide commercial television all year! So, to me, it really matters how "we" come off to the rest of the country, and that 's what I'll be looking for.

So let the deconstruction begin...

The nice way to explain what's happening so far with the musicals is: spreading the wealth. The catty way would be: Spamalot shut out. Rumors among the critics this week of a Spamalot backlash are proving true. As if Tony voters suddenly had a conscience and chose to stiff the ultra-slick Spamalot on the "quality" awards of score and book, even though probably still giving it Best Good Time (otherwise known as Best Musical)

By the way, watching Hugh Jackman's 10-minute solo at the top made me wonder: is the Broadway establishment (inasfar as they are even responsible for this show) investing the entire future of theatre in the person of this gangly Aussie?

The worthy Doug Hughes just won Director of a Play. Good. He's one of the most serious hardest working real directors on the circuit, yet to be tainted as a commercial property (as I'm afraid Montello is).

And if you just missed Christina Applegate in her big Sweet Charity number... well, you realize how kind these critics have really been. I think it was Isherwood who saw fit to remind us all this was a show created by Bob Fosse for Gwen Verdon. So in other words.. dance is kinda important in this show.

I know we should all be appreciative to CBS for sticking with the whole 3 hours... but to relegate to the "taped earlier this evening" segments Edward Albee's Lifetime Achievement Award? Well what could we expect.

Remember when they actually used to show scenes from the nominated plays? Or at least told us what they were about? Ok, that was 20 years ago, but tonight's option of still photos and voice overs takes the cake for grudging inclusion. Plays are at the kiddie table of this party

As we await Best Musical, I'd like to offer special kudos to Playgoer friend Dan Fogler, the Spelling Bee funnyman. Always a thrill to see an unknown young actor be recognized. TONY can do some good some times.

Looks like the new idea to split/double the design awards for drama & musical ended a mixed blessing, since CBS had no intention of broadcasting those awards life. The winners were lucky to have their faces shown. Producers should be more gracious for all those times people applaud the scenery, don't you think. What an insult to some of the most essential contributors to these shows's success. (I half expected them to have to stand in the aisles, a la this year's Oscar "techies")

And the winner is...... Spamalot, of course. Voters had their conscience and ate it, too...

Good night!

MorningAfterthoughts (6/6):
It's about time we relieved CBS the burden of carrying all three hours of this poorly produced informercial. I for one would be happy with a solid 90 minutes of just awards, speeches, and scenes. And no Radio City--an intimate Rainbow Room cocktail party, like Tonys of old...

I must tip my hat to Jeffrey Eric Jenkins (see "Predictions" below) for scooping us all on Bill Irwin's surprise win. I will promptly eat my hat, Jeffrey, as soon as I wipe the egg off my face.

Didn't the Spamalot scenes look lame on tv??? I have a feeling the rest of the country must be wondering what the hell we all find so funny. What was missing, I think , was context. It revealed the importance of the momentum of silliness Mike Nichols constructs. (Again, Casey Nicholaw's choreographer remains an unsung component. Sure the La Cage kicks & flips are impressive. But Nicholaw's work in Spamalot serves its show with a sublety and wit rarely seen, a true director-choreographer collaboration.)

As for the 10-minute Hugh Jackman-Aretha Stehpen Sondheim "tribute"... hard to know what to say. Shall I start with, first, the music was by Leonard Bernstein? Maybe I'll leave more scathing cutting up to the fanzines and the chatrooms. All I know is that airtime could've gone to the rest of Edward Albee's acceptance speech.

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