Theatre Awards Shows: Tony Awards 2017

It’s been a few weeks since the Tony Awards, but I thought I’d make a quick post about this year’s ceremony.

I did enjoy the ceremony this year. I wasn’t sure about Kevin Spacey hosting going in to it but I was pleasantly surprised. I particularly enjoyed the opening number. I liked how it embraced the fact that Kevin wasn’t necessarily the obvious choice for host and that he’s not a big “musical theatre person” like Neil Patrick Harris or James Corden but he still did a big, entertaining production number with all of the references to the shows of the season. I particularly liked when they moved the Evan Hansen cast to Kevin’s leg for the Groundhog Day part. I also thought it was good that they focused on Kevin Spacey’s strengths (ie impersonations) and that they worked to embrace what they had, which I think was a good way to go about it.

One thing that had me really excited about this year’s awards was that there was some real competition, as opposed to last year when I don’t think anyone was surprised by a Hamilton sweep. (Not that it was bad that Hamilton won so many awards, but it is also fun to have more unsurety this year.) There were a couple of categories I was fairly certain about (Best Leading Actor being one of them) but there were also a lot that seemed up in the air to me. It was also exciting for me because I had actually seen a few of the nominated productions and performances this year and ones that actually stood a chance of winning! That also meant that I had my own favourites to win in certain categories, even if it wasn’t likely that they would actually win. Of the wins I was hoping for, I was really happy to see Great Comet win for both Set and Lighting Design (both incredibly deserved, in my opinion), and I was so happy that Andy Blankenbeuhler won for Choreography for Bandstand (1 of its only 2 nominations).

Those two winning shows also had two of my favourite performances during the ceremony (Great Comet with a medley of “Dust and Ashes” and “The Abduction,” and Bandstand with “Nobody”), both of which I have watched multiple times since the broadcast. Ben Platt’s performance of “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen was (not surprisingly) beautiful and it was nice that he was well enough to perform. I can only imagine what was going through his head leading up to Tony Day, which I’m sure would have been stressful anyway! (If you weren’t aware Ben had to miss a few shows of Dear Evan Hansen on June 9th and 10th as he was put on vocal rest, but he was able to perform on the Tonys on the 11th). Come From Away also had an excellent performance which, again, just made me want to see it more and regret missing it in Toronto. I think one of the funniest moments in a performance was the fact that Christian Borle was wearing a wig for the Falsettos performance, one that did look like his hair before he shaved his head.

I liked the way they had the playwrights of the Best Play nominees introduce their own plays. To me, it made sense as a way to get a good summary of/introduction to the plays, since they clearly know what they’re talking about when it comes to their own shows! Speaking of the plays, another highlight occurred during the acceptance speech for the Best Play winner, Oslo, when there was a shoutout to the front of house staff at the theatre! (As someone who works in front of house, it’s always great to see that side of things get some recognition!)

What can I say, I love Tony night! And this year I was able to actually watch the broadcast live (hooray for friends with cable!) and had a small Tony party with a couple friends, complete with Tony ballots and Tony bingo. I think my final count for accurate predictions on my ballot was 14.

I said this last year too  but I do still think there needs to be another alternative for watching the Tonys (live). As I said, this year I was able to watch it on TV at a friend’s house but if I had been at home (where I do not have cable) I wouldn’t have been able to. In Canada, CTV was airing the awards and they do offer a streaming service on their website, BUT in order to access that streaming service, you have to sign in with your TV service provider information. If I had a TV service provider I wouldn’t be needing to stream it online! (Thankfully I was able to rewatch clips from the awards online on the CTV site afterwards without singing in!)

With the Tonys and the end of the Broadway season, it also gets me thinking about the upcoming season and I can’t wait to see what it has in store! From everything I’ve seen and heard so far, it’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting one!

(And thank goodness they’re bringing the Sound Design Tony Award back next year!!!)

Theatre Awards Shows (Part 3): Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Let’s talk Tony Awards!

My Tony Awards experience was a little different this year. I ended up not being home for the actual broadcast so, while I did find out the winners that night, I decided to have my own alternative viewing party the following (Monday) morning. I found the full broadcast on the CTV website, picked myself up some breakfast at Tim Horton’s and settled in to watch the awards!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the Tony Awards! I find the whole thing so exciting and this time was no different (even with knowing the winners ahead of time)!

I can’t say I’m surprised that they really embraced the popularity of Hamilton, using it in both the (pre?)opening and closing of the ceremony. I loved both of these performances but I do feel sort of bad for all the other shows that, while having the opportunity to show their stuff during their own performances, didn’t really have much of a chance to get out of Hamilton‘s shadow. At the same time though, I do think Hamilton deserves all of the accolades and recognition it’s getting.

I liked James Corden as the host. One thing I noticed in the Hamilton opening parody was that he looked so happy to be there. You could see it when he was looking around after singing “James Corden” the first time. It was really fun to watch. The opening number was also a lot of fun an great for anyone (like me, and really probably anyone watching the Tonys). The part at the end of the song with the children onstage who were then replaced with the nominees from the musical acting categories was beautiful.

I am happy with (and not surprised by) all the Hamilton wins! I did think it might have been a close race for Leading Actor (aside from the Hamilton nominees)- from what I’ve heard I definitely thought Danny Burstein would be in the running, actually that whole category was full of great actors! But I am happy with Leslie Odom Jr.’s win! It didn’t come as a surprise to me to see Cynthia Erivo take Leading Actress as she’s been getting a lot of hype, and her performance on the Tonys was stunning! And it was kind of nice to Hamilton not win everything. Like the Leading Actor category, the Leading Actress category was also full of excellent performers!

Even before I saw the winners listed I knew Hamilton was going to take home Best Musical. There was no question in my mind that was going to happen. Best Revival on the other hand, I really wasn’t sure which show would take home the prize. From everything I’ve seen and heard though, The Color Purple looks like a beautiful show!

Figuring that Lin-Manuel Miranda would win at least one award I was looking forward to his speech. He had freestyled his In the Heights Tony and his recent Grammy acceptance speeches so I figured he would do something (probably freestyle) this time too. Then when he said he wasn’t going to freestyle but had written a sonnet instead, my reaction was, “of course he did.” And of course it was wonderful.

The performances are always one of my favourite parts of the Tony broadcast, and this year was no exception! All of the Best Musical and Best Revival nominees put on excellent performances. Though that didn’t really come as a surprise as this 2015/2016 Broadway season seems to be exceptionally good with so many talented actors/actresses gracing the stage! Fiddler on the Roof and The Color Purple are two well-known, popular shows with which I myself am not actually very familiar, but watching their performances on the Tonys has given me more incentive to look into them further!

I was really looking forward to the School of Rock performance and it didn’t disappoint! It was really exciting for me since it was a show and cast I had actually seen before they were nominated for a Tony, which is definitely not a common occurrence for me (I think it’s happened once before with Bring It On). I was interested to see which song they would perform and wasn’t surprised that it was “You’re in the Band.” I was also very interested to see which song Hamilton would perform and “Yorktown” hadn’t really crossed my mind as a possibility but I do really like that song and I loved the performance!

I was really happy when Spring Awakening was nominated for Best Revival because a) I wanted them to be nominated and b) I really wanted to see them perform on the Tonys! And their performance was beautiful! I really wish I could have seen that production. I had seen that Andy Mientus had tweeted about them having to change some of the signs in their performance for TV. What I found interesting was that, even knowing that about the signs, I noticed that the lyrics of the song (“The Bitch of Living”) were not censored as they had been when the original company performed on the Tonys. It makes me wonder what they had to change in term of the signs.I do feel bad for Michael Arden since the camera showed Christopher Fitzgerald instead of him during the Director category announcement. It’s one of those situations that’s kind of funny and elicits entertaining social media reactions (including from Michael Arden himself) but I feel like they should have attempted to at least somewhat rectify the situation and show him at some point in the broadcast even if they couldn’t move the cameras around enough right then to show him with his category.

The Waitress performance was wonderful and stunning. “She Used to Be Mine” is one of my favourite, if not my favourite, songs from the cast album. Then there was She Loves MeShuffle Along, and Bright Star (also On Your Feet). They were all so good! And I have since spent time rewatching many of these performances!

I will admit the “In Memoriam” this year did make me cry. When Chita Rivera called it a “final curtain call” and then they played “Seasons of Love.” It’s like they asked, how can we ensure that people will cry? Pull on their theatre heartstrings and play Rent.

Overall I thought it was a good year for the Tony Awards and though my experience watching it was a little different this year, I still got to watch and enjoy it and it’s made me just as excited as ever about Broadway (even though so many shows have already closed or announced their closing)!

My only real complaints about the Tony Awards are the following (and this is more about the Tony Awards in general as opposed to this particular broadcast):

  • There should be a better way or international audiences who do not have cable to watch the Broadcast live. When I was still planning to be home to watch it I was having a very difficult time figuring out how I was going to do so because I do not have cable, the CBS live stream doesn’t work here, and while CTV was showing the awards this year, to access their live stream online, you need to have a TV service provider and you have to log in. If I had a TV service provider I wouldn’t have had the issue in the first place! (I will say that CTV did come through for watching the awards when I did the next day and I am very happy and grateful that they offered an easily accessible, good quality, legitimate option for watching- if only it would have been that easy to watch the live stream!) (Unfortunately I was just looking at the CTV site again and you now have to log in to watch the full awards show, but you can watch clips without logging in.)
  • They need to bring back the Sound Design Tony.
  • I wish they would show more of the creative awards. I want to hear those acceptance speeches as much as those of the directors, actors, etc. who are shown on the main broadcast. The short clips they show aren’t enough. As someone who is very much interested in that side of the theatre I would love to see those winners get the recognition they deserve and see them celebrated like the rest of the winners! And I get there are issues with timing, etc. that limit how much can be shown in the broadcast, but I can still hope.
  • Sound Design.

Theatre Awards Shows (Part 2): Let’s Talk Tony Nominations

Yes, I did get up to watch the stream of the Tony Awards nominations this morning. This is the second year I’ve watched the nominations live. I find Tony season really exciting (this blog has clearly already established that I’m a theatre nerd, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise) and seeing the nominations is part of that!

I don’t feel I can really comment too much when it comes to the specific shows because I’ve only actually seen one of them (School of Rock), though it does make me really excited knowing that I have actually seen one of the shows before it was Tony nominated! I have watched clips and listened to cast recordings but I’m still not familiar with all of the shows. So I’m not really going to pass judgement on what should/shouldn’t be nominated.  I will also say, I know a lot less about the plays than the musicals, so I won’t really be commenting on them. I mainly just want to take a moment to talk about what I’m excited about this Tony season!

I have some mixed feelings this season because, from what I’ve seen in clips and heard talk about, there seem to be so many good shows. It definitely seems, though, like it’s going to be Hamilton‘s year, something made all the more clear with its 16 NOMINATIONS (and of course it broke another record)! That leads to my “problem” because I want Hamilton to win. I love the cast recording, I think Lin is incredibly talented and it just seems like an amazing production. BUT that leaves all the other amazing shows this season, that I would love to see win, and probably would win if they weren’t against Hamilton. So really, the problem is that there are just too many good options!

Looking back through the lists of nominees after the announcement I did notice that Hamilton is nominated in every musical category except revival, which pretty cool. I do think it will be a tight race in some of the categories and even if it’s a Hamilton sweep I think there’s still a chance for the other shows to hold their own. There is so much talent in this Broadway season, as there is every season, but there just seems to be something about this season! It’s all very exciting!

I am really excited for School of Rock and Spring Awakening. Prior to the announcement I had really wanted Alex Brightman, who plays Dewey Finn in School of Rock  to be nominated, and I’m SO GLAD he was. He gives an incredible performance as Dewey and it makes me so happy to see him recognized for it! From everything I heard and saw, the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening looked stunning, and I really wanted them to get to perform on the Tonys because for one thing I wanted to see them perform, but I also wanted it for them. Now I’m so excited that they’ve been nominated for Best Revival and that Michael Arden is nominated for Best Director!

Some of the other actors/actresses I’m really happy to see nominated (though this has more to do with the performers themselves, rather these specific performances with which I am less familiar) include Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me), Megan Hilty (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play- Noises Off, Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical-Shuffle Along) and Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me). I’m also excited for all of the Waitress nominations and of course Hamilton.

I am kind of surprised that Tuck Everlasting didn’t get more nominations, aside from Best Costume Design, as I’ve only been hearing good things about it.

(And I still think they should  bring back the Sound Design Tony.)

I will say, now, after hearing the nominations, I’m even more looking forward to all of the performances that will be part of the Tony broadcast this year and can’t wait to see which songs will be performed!! I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time over the next little while watching a lot of show clips and listening to cast recordings getting ready for the big day! (not that that’s really any different from how I usually spend my time!)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! I can’t wait for June 12th to see who’s going to win (besides Hamilton)!

 

Theatre Awards Shows (Part 1)

(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!)