The Playgoer: Tonys a "Success"

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tonys a "Success"

Okay so maybe they won't be canceled. 'Twas only a modest proposal anyway.

CBS is boasting the ratings for Sunday's Tony broadcast were up nearly 20% from last year. (For an estimated total of 7.45 million viewers. Small for network TV audiences. Big for theatre.)

I will gladly admit Neil Patrick Harris was a fine host, despite my earlier carping. Actually I never doubted his talent for the job, just his celebrity factor. Unfortunately his best bit was at the very very end, after most DVR's & TIVO's stopped taping since the program ran a few minutes over. Since the hilarious parody song he commissioned from March Shaiman & Scott Whitman was cut off, here are the complete lyrics (set to West Side Story's "Tonight"). The verse he was luckiest to get on the air was, in reference to the nominated supporting performance of Shrek's comically diminutive monarch:

Chris Sieber, please
Performing on your knees?
Dude, that only works to win
Golden Globes
Meanwhile, did you know Isherwood blogged the Tonys? (Now I know who sabotaged my DSL this weekend...) Way to go, NYT, getting into the internet age. Unfortunately, the experiment--more of a running "interview" with Isherwood, who apparently would not commit to typing his own thoughts--is not very readable and a good example of how not to blog an event. Maybe if they read some...

While on the television front, the broadcast seems to have exceeded historically low expectations, back at the Broadway box office, the awards themselves are not emerging as much of a game changer. Patrick Healy's story in tomorrow's Times, following on the heels of announced closings for Reasons to be Pretty and Guys and Dolls, begins:
With last Sunday’s Tony Awards unlikely to provide a serious boost at Broadway box offices because the big winners are already hits, producers are counting on word of mouth and discounts to prevent closings and dark theaters this summer.
And by "dark theatres," Healy estimates it could be as many as 10 by late July. (Psst: there are only 39 houses, total. So that's 25%.)

So all in all, I hope the League and the Wing are happy with the show. My dismissive response was due less to individual quality of this year's broadcast over last year's (which was indeed worse). It's just more and more apparent to me that the whole enterprise of putting on one nationally broadcast show a year celebrating only productions (mostly musicals at that) that played in 500-seat-or-more houses between the blocks of West 40th st and West 55th with the occasional exception of Lincoln so out of touch with the art form as currently practiced. By those who consider it an artform, that is.

And did I mention that the opening "medley" attempting to mix & match completely irreconcilable shows and numbers resembled something between Forbidden Broadway and a Wayans Brothers "Scary Movie" installment? (I'm thinking specifically of that weird Stockard Channing/Pal Joey & kid from Next to Normal duet, especially.) I mean, I just kept imagining: if I were just a mild theatre enthusiast from the hustings, without too much knowledge of the current season, and saw Jets & Sharks morphing into "Poison" (who aren't actually in Rock of Ages are they?)morphing into Liza, then over to the theme-park crew from Shrek, then Dolly Parton (who ain't in 9 to 5 either)... I'd wonder what either I or the television set was smoking.

Oh, and not that you need me to make this clip any more viral, but here it is. (Do note the deadly sign does say "Broadway!")

Rocco has the full Brett Michael coverage, btw. Apparently that's the only takeaway the real media got out of whole event.

And rightly so. Damn funny.


Monica said...

I didn't know that the number from "Next to Normal" was from "Next to Normal" in the opening medley until a former editor of mine told me so.

I think everyone can agree that the opening number was...terrible.

I didn't know Isherwood blogged the Tony's until after the Tonys aired (and on the NYT mobile version, on the main page for ArtsBeat, it had him as Christopher Isherwood). I don't think the Times mentioned anything about it in the print edition.

I missed your liveblogging this year. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I* must be dumb becasue I thought the opening number was the most entertaining one all night . . . with a few obvious technical issues.

Unknown said...

Ha! I watched the broadcast and totally missed the Brett Michaels moment. That's fantastic, thank you so much for linking.

I agree that the opening number was a mess on all counts; technically inept, haphazardly arranged, poorly directed. If I said it once that evening I said it a dozen times: "They're not selling a whole lot of tickets here tonight."

Closing number, though, was brilliant. Do we know whether they had prepared every conceivable permutation of winners beforehand to arrange over the night, or did they write on the spot?