The 2007 Tony Awards
The 2007 Tony Awards - Don't Get Me Started!
"And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul and tried...but I felt nothing." (From the song, "Nothing" from A Chorus Line) Oh the evening started out glitzy and great enough with the cast of A Chorus Line out on the street in front of Radio City but the moment the stars were revealed with their headshots (cute idea by the way) that was the end of what made a Broadway award show as dull as the season it was celebrating. The 2007 Tony Awards - Don't Get Me Started!
For those of you shocked that this blog entry didn't appear yesterday I know, and I agree with you but the Sopranos finale took precedence on Sunday night and I waited until last evening (all of last evening - now we know how the people who saw the nine hour The Coast of Utopia felt) to watch the Tonys.
I knew we were in for some trouble when Broadway Legend, Angela Lansbury came out and couldn't read the prompter to the point that it made you look like the old RCA Victor "Nipper" dog logo - head cocked and an expression of confusion on your face. But take away this karfuffle at the start of the night and you have...well, you have...um...you have what would turn out to be quite the boring show.
I would like to ask right now that the writers of award shows stop trying to be funny (this goes for winners of awards too, who quote something that their inner circle of six people they've worked with get but that the whole audience just stares blankly at and gives no response) No, imagine how much longer everyone could speak when they get an award and how we could have what they called the "Creative Arts" awards included in the telecast if people weren't trying to do shtick that some writers in a room thought was funny but the presenters can't deliver and it really has nothing to do with the show anyway? Look, every presenter is "somebody" so let's just look at them and listen to them read the nominees and the winner while we criticize their hair and the fact that they wore a dress similar to the color of tea stained teeth, washing the woman completely out along with her make up person who made the choice to just do her eyes and not her lips or vice versa in a new look that can only be described as undone - and yes, it's undone me.
The musical contributions were tepid at best. Spring Awakening, the big winner just looks and sounds like the 2007 version of Rent to me. I don't know, doesn't really make me want to see it and the creators were so unappealing that it made the show seem even less attractive to me. I'm sure it's brilliant and that it's changing the way we look at the American Musical Theatre but I've seen a lot of Broadway and I'll let the original A Chorus Line be what changed musical theatre for me, not teenage angst done to a score that seems to rely on obscenities rather than substance. While I love the source material of Grey Gardens and think both the actresses are wonderful the score seems like songs that are being made up as they go along - where's Jerry Herman when you need him? Curtains looks like a fun romp and after all if that many Broadway heavyweights (are you listening Debra Monk?) in the cast can't make a show work than we're all in trouble. Loved Audra McDonald in Ragtime but her performance from 110 In The Shade reminded me more of a high school girl in her bedroom rather than a Broadway performance. And then you have Mary Poppins which I thought would be a Technicolor throw back to the Golden Broadway musical era heyday that just fell flat giving off a dated (and not in a good way) sort of vibe. I wanted to love it...I didn't. But that can be said of the entire evening.
The plays seemed to fair better, although I'll never get over a nine hour show. I guess it's really method acting as the actors actually age as the show gets presented (and so does the audience, probably).
The performance of the evening was shockingly enough, Fantasia. She is the reason I would see The Color Purple. Another score that doesn't really "sing" to me, I had no interest in seeing it but seeing Fantasia act through that number (even in that incongruous evening gown) was the only edge of the seat moment provided all night. And you know I'm not wrong when they pan to Idina Menzel moved to tears watching the performance. This is what Broadway was and should be about, the performances.
I know that we need to support the Tonys even when it's a year that doesn't have a "Wicked" but this year's show was less than great and although I think having a less than great Broadway season was a major factor the production was off too. The whole memorandum piece delivered by Tommy Tune (who by the way, must be sleeping in formaldehyde because he looks exactly the same) seemed to take the show's director by surprise, not choosing the right camera angles to give us a good look at the screen showing the dead people or Tommy Tune. It was jerky (and not just the camera shots).
Perhaps the greatest blow to me was the fact that a show that did revolutionize the theatre was turned into a mere footnote in the proceedings. A Chorus Line meant a lot to a lot of people and I'm one of them (Read about my Chorus Line experience here... http://www.somelikeitscott.com/somelikegay.html ). The thing about A Chorus Line is that it was a new way of looking at the performers behind the magic that was Broadway and seeing them exposed was more riveting than any reality television show today. I haven't seen the revival but I've been told the edge is gone and that the entire production is a little too "acted" to give it the original bite it had when first put up on Broadway and that's a shame. But if you had told any of us back in the 70's when we first saw A Chorus Line that it would be put in an "also ran" category we would have told you that you were nuts. I guess times do change but I still want to believe that shows like A Chorus Line, Evita and more will always have a place of prominence on Broadway and not a "been there, done that" classification.
I don't think Spring Awakening is changing theatre, I think it got lucky to be in a mediocre season and be just "what the fuck is this" enough for people to call it art (something that happens in theatre, movies and other forms of art). As for me, I'll still look for the next Grand Hotel or Fiddler, hoping for the next Jule Styne, Comden and Green, or Cy Coleman to appear and bring us back to Broadway. The Broadway that we all loved and cherished before it became about putting lame celebrities in parts to keep shows open (Are you listening Tony Danza who is on his way to star as "Max" in The Producers here in Vegas after a mediocre run on Broadway). "Won't forget, can't regret, what I did for love." The 2007 Tony Awards - Don't Get Me Started!
Read more Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com