Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hope on the Horizon: The Tonys Column

“We’re going to watch the Tonys tonight,” a friend told me last year. “I don’t know how long we’ll last, but we’re going to try.”

When I saw him a few days later, I asked him about the show.

“We watched the first award presentation, and we couldn’t bear it any further. I had to turn it.”

If you remember last year’s show, the first award was given to Billy Crudup, whose aimless and energyless, um- and and-filled acceptance speech was allowed to go on for an ungodly 1 minute and 48 seconds, to the point where he seemed to be searching for people to thank after running out. No doubt, had he not been cut off, he’d be thanking the citizens of Nebraska by name to this very day.

In all the years that people have been complaining about the Tonys needing fixing, this actually seems to be the first year since the days of Rosie that there’s hope on the horizon.

Getting Whoppi Goldberg to host is more of a coup than Elle Woods knowing the pope. Goldberg was always my favorite Oscars host, and if anything, she knows how to keep a show going and to get people talking. Whoopi will get viewers just for being Whoopi.

Getting performances from The Lion King and Rent are also brilliant because those are shows with which people are familiar. It’ll all depends on how the productions are presented, but there’s hope for something exciting that could catch some media attention, particularly with the uniting of the two casts of Rent. The Tonys, despite all the creativity abundant on Broadway, have been a vacuum of creativity in recent years, typified by the “Huh?” tableau celebrating the achievements of Hall Prince in one of the recent Tonys telecasts.

As I wrote last year, there’s no reason why the Tonys need to be so stiff. Every year they should have celebrations of something that lead to the creation of exciting montages, dance numbers, something . . . a celebration of the Best New Musical Tony winners of the past ten years, a celebration of Best New Scores from the past ten years, a celebration of the choreography of Susan Stroman . . . Something that is presented in a manner that is energetic and exciting, not simply getting some famous singer to perform a Broadway song and then randomly inserting it somewhere in the broadcast.

Only Sunday, June 15 will tell, but here’s to hoping for a great Tonys telecast.

the Broadway Mouth
June 10, 2008

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