Tuning in Tony

A brief break from all things Italy and Crisis related for my take on the Tony Awards – for what it’s worth.

It's such a tiny thing...

It's such a tiny thing...

I’ve largely stopped watching all the major awards shows, and these last five years, Broadway has barely registered on my radar. I think we have seen one show during our time here in Chicago. Not surprisingly, the local theatre scene has grabbed most of my attention, though quick perusals of the Sunday Arts section of the Times has kept me slightly in the loop. I did know the names of all four works nominated for Best Play and had a vague sense of the new musicals and the revivals in both genres.

A couple of things struck me as I watched: I really wanted Neil LaBute to lose, for reasons I can’t pin down. I’d just read a good interview with him in The Dramatist and I’ve liked some of his work. Maybe just the sense that he wasn’t Tony worthy? Stupid little jealousy or pettiness? (that wouldn’t be a first…). And the musicals. The songs I heard from Billy Elliot and Next to Normal made me feel very aged. I know they were supposed to make me think, “Wow, how contemporary and energetic these scores are!” But to me they sounded like pretty mediocre mainstream ‘70s rock, and I longed for a show tune of old. Give me Rogers and Hammerstein! Give me Gershwin! Give me Sondheim! Sir Elton, stick to the mega-payday gigs with your buddy, the other Billy.

And the dance number from BE with the riot police: If that kid went “Ahh!” one more time as he bounced around, I was going to reach into the screen, grab one of those faux bricks, and attempt to smash his skull. Then there was giving the award to three teens who share the role; “No way they’re gonna get it,” I thought to myself. “Too ‘cutesy.’” Another reason why I don’t bet on the ponies…

But how will it play without the high-powered stars?

But how will it play without the high-powered stars?

Frank was kinda funny too.

Frank was kinda funny too.

Anything positive you can say? Well, there was some OK pro-LGBT humor courtesy of Neil Patrick Harris, which I guess is playing to one demographic. (As the commercials for rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure and other old-folk maladies were playing to another.)  I thought I would like to see God of Carnage and Norman Conquests, if I could actually afford a ticket. Probably have to wait for a regional-theatre version of the former.

And I realized again, as hard as it can be when just tiny moments of plays are shown on TV, how much I love live theatre. It doesn’t have to be Broadway. Tonight I’m going to see five short plays written by local playwrights, rehearsed and produced less than 24 hours after the writers finished them (I’ll be one of the writers in another edition next week). Gimmicky? Yeah, but it gets actors on a stage and audiences into a theatre. I’m for anything that does that. So if the Tonys stoke some kid’s desire to act or write or direct, or at least see a Broadway show, that makes up for any of last night’s lapses.

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~ by mburgan on June 8, 2009.

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