(Note: I’m calling this post Part 1 because there will likely be another post on the topic once the Tonys come around!)
I’ve got to say it, I LOVE theatre awards shows! Really, the Tonys are the only awards show (broadcast on Canadian television) that I really care about. That is unless there is a musical theatre connection on another awards sh0w. I’m thinking Hamilton on the Grammys and the Les Mis movie cast performing on the Oscars (Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit were the best part of that performance!). As far as I can remember the first time I watched the Tony awards was in 2008. I can remember working on a final history assignment while watching the red carpet.
I was working a draft of this post while watching the YouTube stream of the Olivier Awards and loving it! I’m less familiar with the London theatre scene, though I do try to keep up with it to an extent. (Thank you Twitter and YouTube!)
Something I noticed with the Oliviers was the variety of awards. Beyond just recognizing the standard plays and musicals that we get with the Tonys (which is really the only thing I have to compare it to) there were categories for “entertainment & family,” opera, and dance. I did notice that the Oliviers still give out an award for Sound Design, something I am still extremely disappointed that the Tonys cut. Maybe I’m missing something in the reason for cutting that particular award but I also know that sound design is extremely important in the theatre and I strongly feel that it deserves to be recognized. It’s because of this that I’m not entirely on board the recent addition of the Tony award for teaching. What bugs me is the teachers themselves are not working on Broadway directly and an award has been added for them but the award recognizing the sound designers, who are on working Broadway, no longer exists. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and agree that teachers are very important in the theatre world and it’s a good thing to recognize that, on this or any level. Something about it just seems a little off to me…
What I really love about watching these awards shows is getting to cheer on the shows and performers love; watching the performances (probably my favourite part); getting introduced to shows you might not know about or experience otherwise, especially when your don’t live in New York City, or London in the case of the Oliviers (the Tonys are what introduced me to In The Heights and Lin Manuel Miranda, for which I will be forever grateful); and watching the winners and seeing their excitement as they accept their awards, whether it’s someone who’s won before, someone who’s been nominated but never won, or someone winning on their first nomination!
One thing I thought was really cool with the Oliviers was that there was a sort of pre-show before the ceremony, that was also streamed on YouTube! There were performances from the shows nominated for the Audience Choice award, including Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Matilda (Jersey Boys was also nominated and I think they performed later on but I did not see that performance), among other performances. It was certainly a good way to get you in a theatre-y mood for watching the awards themselves, even with the few hour’s gap between the streams of the pre-show and the awards.
Michael Ball hosted the Oliviers this year and I thought he did quite a good job. He was no Neil Patirck Harris hosting the Tonys, but no one is, besides Neil Patick Harris, so it seems unfair to make any sort of comparison there! I was happy to see In the Heights and Kinky Boots pick up awards! And if we just change the “O” in EGOT to Olivier instead of Oscar Lin Manuel Miranda would now qualify! (Side not for future reference: where would a “P”- Pulitzer- fit in EGOT? PEGOT? EPGOT? EGOPT?) After hearing about the London revival of Gypsy I wasn’t surprised to see it pick up it’s share of awards as well* and seeing Judi Dench get her record-breaking 8th Olivier was quite cool!
When it comes down to it, I really do love these awards shows! They leave me feeling happy and excited about the theatre. I can’t wait for the Tonys this year! I would like to see the Tonys take a page out of the Oliviers’ book and offer some sort of streaming option, whether on YouTube or some other site- available internationally of course!- so those without cable can still watch!! Bring on June 12th!!
(*After watching the Oliviers I watched the recording of that production of Gypsy on BroadwayHD and I can see why it won! Imelda Staunton is great in it!)