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My Top 5 Favorite Moments of the 2014 Tony Awards

forkWell, that’s it.  Put a fork in the 2013-14 season, because she is done.  Now that the 2014 Tony Awards have been dished out, it’s time for everyone in the industry to dish out their thoughts on the telecast, the snubs, the speeches and more.

As is customary on this Broadway blog, I’m going to list just five of my top Tony Award telecast moments.  And you know what’s fun?  Ever since I started doing this blog, it’s been getting harder and harder to narrow it down to just a handful.  The telecasts have come a long way, baby, and it is now officially great television.

Here are my Top 5 Moments of the 2014 Tony Awards:

1.  That time it felt like the MTV Music Awards

I could write a 100 page paper with the thesis that Meredith Willson wrote one of the very first raps with his 1957 musical, The Music Man.  But it would never have been as interesting as turning Radio City into a hip-hop show by having LL Cool J and T.I. saddle up next to Hugh to fire some gangsta musical rhymes.

Now look, I’m not going to fool myself and think that LL Cool J fans tuned into the Tonys to see their hero (although his tweet about the “First hip hop performance on the #TonyAwards . . . ” was favorited almost three times more than his usual tweets), having him raise the roof also sent a message to the Producers and Investors and Theater Audiences everywhere.  The next wave of musical stylings to be heard on Broadway is knocking at their door.  I, for one, can’t wait.

2.  That time it felt like the 90s.

Maybe this was one of my favorite moments because I’m now a man of a certain age and have seen many original productions that are now being revived, but there was something special about the performances of Hedwig, Violet, Les Miz and Cabaret.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that it’s because we’re better at revivals now than we ever have been.  Original authors and their estates are more open to reinterpretation and tinkering, technological achievements allow us to do more with less (since revivals have limited shelf lives, their budgets usually have to be smaller than new shows), and the attitudes of audiences have changed so much that we’ve got more liberties with the types of material revived.  In fact, I think it’s important to recognize that not one of the Best Revival Tony Nominees opened prior to 1987.  This was the youngest group of nominees for this award ever.

3.  That time they let the Authors say what their stories were about.

I always imagine that at the Tony Awards post-mortem the first question on the “What We Can Do Better” list is, “What the @%#$ are we gonna do about the plays?”  Well, ladies and gentlemen of the telecast team, I thought you nailed it.  Letting the authors describe their plays got across what the shows were about to the millions of viewers watching, and then you cherry-on-topped it off by giving the shows a Captain Andy few second “sample” just to tease ‘em enough.  The short scenes of years past are never enough to fully get what the heck is happening (and I have a feeling that’s where a lot of folks used to reach for the chips), but these 2-3 line exchanges were terrific.

4.  That time history was made.

I predicted Audra McDonald would win because I thought . . .

  1. She deserved it and . . .
  2. All the voters were dying to see what would happen when she waltzed up to that stage and picked up her record-breaking 6th Tony Award.

And we got our wish, and as usual, Audra didn’t disappoint.  The audience leapt to their feet, and Audra McDonald wept like it was her first nomination and she had just been discovered a few months ago at a Friendly’s where she was working as a hostess and hoping to get a promotion to waitress.  The girl’s passion and love and authenticity is just . . . well . . . it’s just why she’s so good, and also why she’s so successful.  She loves it almost as much as she loves her family (“Mommy’s nothing without you, got it?”) and that love comes through in everything she does.  Six.  Can you believe it?  Six!  How hard is that?  Now add to the fact that she’s a woman, and a woman of color and the degree of difficulty just went up about eight times (not like those roles come into town on trucks, you know).  We won’t ever see someone break that record.  Ever.  That’s my prediction.  It’ll stand, and some day, they may even name an award after Audra.

5.  That time they did previews of the upcoming season.

If I was doing a “Top 5 Controversies at This Year’s Tony Awards” Blog,  the preview numbers from upcoming shows would definitely be on it according to the feedback I got during my Tony Awards live tweet last night.  I’ll agree, I’m not sure the numbers came off as well as they hopefully will in future years, but I do like the concept of giving the audience around the world a taste of what we’ve got simmering on the stove.  More of this actually happens than you may realize from just watching at home.  During the commercial breaks, there are mini commercials shown at the telecast on the big screens of upcoming shows (It’s Only A Play had one, actually, even though we couldn’t even announce all of our stars yet).   So this year, that idea was stretched out to the telecast, partially because, well, one of them was performed by monster rock God, Sting.  This is going to be a hard nut to crack because

  1. The shows haven’t been built yet so actors and such may not even be hired and . . .
  2. The lobbying that is going to start happening will be worse than a new health care law (Michael Riedel reported some behind the scenes stuff already for one of this year’s numbers).

I do think this will be a continuing trend, and I’m happy about it.  Now we have to figure out how to deal with it as well as we’ve figured out how to deal with the new plays.

Oh, here’s a bonus Favorite Moment . . .

6.  That time Neil Patrick Harris’s understudy went on . . .

It was great having you back, Hugh.  We missed you.  It’s so obvious you love Broadway and love hosting, and we’re thankful that we get to see you once in awhile.  Just please come back and do a musical.  I know it’s a big commitment.  I know X-Men pays a lot of money.  But you can’t see the smilin’ faces you put on audiences when you’re in a movie.

 

And there you have it!  My Top 5 Favorite Moments from this year’s Tony Awards.  But more importantly, what were yours???  And that was not a rhetorical question.  There are two ways you can tell me what you thought of the show:

  1. Comment your Favorite Moments below for everyone to see.
  2. Fill out our Tony Telecast Satisfaction Survey!

Yep, every year we take a survey to see what you, the diehard theater fans, thought of the show.  Take the survey now by clicking the link below and I’ll announce the results next week!

Take The Tony Telecast Survey Today!

For a complete list of the 2014 Tony Winners, click here.

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
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