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6/8/15

Several Delightful Aspects of the 2015 Tony Awards

In a weird turn of events, I don’t have many complaints regarding last nights Tony Awards telecast. The season overall was pretty great and it showed in most of the night’s winners. The red carpet and ceremony was flooded with a ton of gorgeous fashion and spectacle. There was laughing and crying…on their end, not just mine. Let’s hop to it, readers!

Team Cummoweth! - Was I the only one who liked our two hosts? I mean, we can only default to a big-name draw like Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman every so often, so last night’s telecast was most likely not a ratings extravaganza. Wutevs, I thought Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming were fun to watch - they had charisma, a playful rapport and a bevy of costume changes to keep the affair interesting. Additional kudos to Kristin, who still kept up her appearances in On the Twentieth Century in the lead-up to the ceremony, as well as delivering the goods in her show’s big number last night. I want to hang out, have lunch and talk fashion and non-aging with the two of them.

Welcome Home, Fun Home! - Is this real life, or did I hallucinate a Tony Awards ceremony where Fun Home won so so many of the night’s top honors, including BEST MUSICAL?! <Glances around the Internet and checks Twitter> IT REALLY DID HAPPEN! What a relief too…had Fun Home had its Broadway run expedited last winter or spring, the distinction of Best Musical would have been a virtual lock. Time and justice won out in the end because the Circle in the Square Theatre opened up, Sam Gold had a stroke of genius and made the show an enthralling, in-the-round experience, and now, the entire world knows that Fun Home is one of the most incredible, ground-breaking musicals ever to set foot on Broadway. To echo the sentiment everywhere, we have the first musical with a leading lesbian protagonist, created by women and featuring complex female portrayals, now sitting atop a pile of 5 Tonys. HOW FUCKING AMAZING IS THAT?!?! I’ll be on cloud-nine until further notice and if anyone has a plus one after winning the TodayTix lottery, I’ll be on the next train out.

Where Are All My Girls At?! - Winning Tonys everywhere and making history, that’s what! Lisa Kron won the Tony for Best Book and she and Jeanine Tesori won Best Score for Fun Home. Regarding the latter, they are the first female writing team to win that particular Tony and this is also Tesori’s first victory after being nominated four other times. Marianne Elliot won Best Direction of a Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, making her the first woman to win two Tony awards for Directing (her other Tony was for War Horse). Catherine Zuber won her sixth Tony for her costume design in The King and I and Natasha Katz won her fifth Tony for her lighting design in An American in Paris. Bunny Christie and Paule Constable won for scenic and lighting design for The Curious Incident…women on creative teams are just doing amazing work and it is lovely to see them honored, okay?!?! And the timing couldn’t be better…after a rough couple of months of sexist musicals debuting (Honeymoon in Vegas, An American in Paris), The Heidi Chronicle’s premature departure, this BULLSHIT media conversation/coverage about whether or not feminism and female empowerment should have a place on Broadway (WHAT???), casting James Barbour, a convicted child endangerer who fondled and had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl, as the Phantom…after ALL of that, it is nice to see Broadway do right and celebrate women’s ever-growing presence in the industry. If we want more seasons of theatre like this one, it is in our best interest to make them feel welcome and supported.

Sydney Lucas, SUPERSTAR! - Are you sensing a theme yet? Most of the night’s best moments (as far as I am concerned) were related to Fun Home prevailing throughout. And even with the deck stacked against them when it came to performing their Tonys number (seriously, how do you even begin to showcase Fun Home to an audience largely unfamiliar with it), Sydney Lucas was on hand to SLAY “Ring of Keys” and show the world what an astonishingly, talented little boss she is. Good for her…a lot of older, more experienced professionals have stumbled in the spotlight in the past, and the team behind Fun Home could have just as easily turned the mic over to stalwarts Michael Cerveris and/or Judy Kuhn. But no, they put their money and faith on Sydney’s shoulders and she blew the entire ceremony out of the water. Anna Kendrick was nominated for a Tony when she was a little bit older then Sydney, so her career trajectory is DEFINITELY looking more optimistic by the minute. In the meantime, Little Miss Lady deserves all of the sweets and toys headed her way.

Alex Sharp, From Julliard to Tony Winner - It’s not easy graduating college, with student loans just around the corner ready to claim your paycheck (and soul). And it must be even more difficult for performers, where the foreseeable future consists of auditioning around-the-clock, paying your dues and, if you are lucky, playing a role in a touring production or in a theatre in bumfuck nowhere. Here comes Alex Sharp, subverting allllllll of that, LOLZ! Shortly after graduating Julliard, Sharp secured the coveted lead role in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and has been churning out a physical, masterful performance eight times a week for the last eight-plus months, topped off with winning the Tony award for Lead Actor in a Play last night. The only missed opportunity? In an interview leading up to the ceremony, Sharp said he would rap his acceptance speech had he won. Tsk, tsk Alex; I would have cherished you forever had you rapped us a little number with your wicked, English accent. And now, you are a certifiable Tony winner, so I can hold you accountable for these things. Hopefully next time, good sir…and I’m sure there will be a next time.

Lovely Lisa Howard is Lovely - It Shoulda Been You is a part of the contingent of shows not nominated for Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical, but was allowed to perform anyways because the Tonys will feature anything if the right amount of money is thrown at them. While we can debate the relevance of some of the musical performances, Lisa Howard’s rendition of “Jenny’s Blues” was worth keeping. Not because the song is of any real value, but because Howard was looking fabulous and she performed the fuck out of the number. Considering It Shoulda Been You takes several jabs at Howard, claiming she is fat and unattractive (when neither description couldn’t be further from the truth), I can’t help but love that Howard took the opportunity of performing on the Tonys, turned it into a showcase of her talent and also made it an audition for her next project. Talk about a mega "FUCK YOU"…way to go, girl!

Ruthie Ann Miles Talks. And Kelli O’Hara Dances - My shock (and partial dismay) that one of the Fun Home actresses did not win in the featured category was immediately replaced with “awes” and laughter as Ruthie Ann Miles adorably stumbled through her speech, providing unintentional comedy and blunt, un-filtered phrases (please recycle!) off of her iPhone. That was, without a doubt, my favorite speech of the night…although, competition followed suit as Kelli O’Hara took the mic because she finally - FINALLY - won a Tony award for her performance as Anna in The King and I. After speaking emphatically about a former teacher, Lincoln Center, her cast, her family, blah blah blah…she proceeded to awkwardly dance off stage. LUV IT and LUV HUH. You BETTA dance, Kelli; this was a joyous moment for you ten years in the making!

The Case for More Accessible Theatre - As I pointed out last night on the Twitter, The Curious Incident… and Skylight were two productions filmed on the West End for release in cinemas worldwide as per National Theatre Live. I LOVED both productions on screen and saw both on stage several months after…lo and behold, both productions - the former is now a five-time Tony winner, including Best Play and the latter won for Best Revival of a Play - continue to be box office successes and critical darlings. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I tend to think the overseas buzz, plus the ongoing cinematic showings (you can still see Skylight in some theaters depending on where you live) in addition to the Broadway bouts themselves lend themselves to keeping the chatter around these shows at a high level…and positive word-of-mouth and publicity are always vital if one wants to win the big Tony prizes. But aside from winning awards, theatre has been pursuing initiatives to make itself more available to the masses - and that bullshit TodayTix lottery where one person out of thousands wins a pair of cheap tickets DOES NOT COUNT - and more options like cinema screenings should be considered. Millions of people saw a Broadway show this season and I’m sure millions more would love to partake in it as well…y’know, if they had the chance to do so.


Photo Credit: CBS via The Daily News

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