So the Tony Awards were last night. And they were…fine? It’s much harder to have a strong opinion on the outcome of an award show when you’ve barely seen any of the things that were nominated. As much as I love Broadway and theatre, it is incredibly frustrating that the best of the best is so expensive and so unattainable for the average viewer. I’m lucky that I’m able to see as much Broadway as I do and I barely scratch the surface of every theatre season. So with that in mind, here’s what I thought of last night.
The hosts were recent Broadway vets Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles. No shade to either Groban or Bareilles, who are lovely and very talented, but I expected them to be a little hokey and niche for the broader audience, kind of like when Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenowith hosted a few years ago. (To be fair though, anything would have been better than who hosted last year.) While they were definitely a bit quieter than a James Corden or a Neil Patrick Harris (who found a way to wriggle himself into the night’s events, although not in a positive way), overall they did a great job. Their musical numbers were largely pleasant and not overly cheesy, their banter felt natural and funny and nobody came out dressed as E.T. It’s a low bar to reach but hey, they reached it! Good for them.
The performances from the various shows were a nice glimpse into all of the things I haven’t seen, although I am partial to “Mean Girls,” the one musical I actually saw this season. I do wish they would bring back doing live scenes from the nominated straight plays though. It might be harder now to convince the big names in those shows to take the time out for rehearsal and whatnot, but it would be nice way to give that side of things a spotlight as well. Bruce Springsteen, who got a special Tony tonight for his basically sold-out series of shows on Broadway, did like 5 minutes of spoken word poetry followed by about a minute of singing, but was kind of outshone by Robert De Niro, who in his intro to Springsteen’s performance said something you can’t say on TV but I say in my daily life on basically an hourly basis.
As for the winners, again, I don’t know if I can really have much of an opinion. On the play side, I was happy to see “Angels in America” get a lot of love, since I kinda sorta saw it and thought it was fantastic. Laurie Metcalf won for her work in “Three Tall Women,” but I like to think it was also for “Lady Bird,” as every award she wins from now on will be since she was rudely snubbed at the Oscars. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” won a whole bunch of awards, which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. On the musical side, “Once On This Island” won Best Revival, but really won Best Show that Has a Live Goat in It, and “The Band’s Visit” nearly swept every category it was nominated in, including Best Musical. While I was hoping to see Tina Fey and the “Mean Girls” team get some trophies, I was kind of happy to see something a bit quieter get the love. So much of Broadway is so commercialized now, with “Mean Girls” and “Frozen” and “The Spongebob Squarepants Musical,” it’s hopeful to see that the stuff that isn’t based on some huge pre-existing entity (although “The Band’s Visit” is based on a 2007 Israeli film) is still shining through.
So that was the Tony Awards. Nothing too revelatory, but overall perfectly fine. Here’s hoping we all get to see more theatre in the year to come.
What do you think? Did you watch the Tony Awards last night? Were you too busy watching the season premiere of “Claws“? I haven’t gotten to watch it yet, no spoilers! And, as always…