Thank You For The Music: The 65th Annual Tony Awards

6 years ago

After the 65th Annual Tony Awards, I know this much is true: Neil Patrick Harris outgeniuses Doogie Howser, Whoopi Goldberg's right that any of her films can and will become a musical, Harry Potter is an awesome dancer, and Cole Porter just makes the world a better place.

I am totally rethinking those tap dance lessons a friend was trying to talk me into. 

For all the award shows throughout the year, the Tonys are a favorite of mine. Because I never see half a quarter a sixteenth of the theatre I wish I did. And the Tonys leave me inspired to get out there and see more. 

Let’s talk NPH. From his opening song “Broadway: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore” to his closing rap recap (Lin-Manuel Miranda worked some magic writing that one) , from Spider-man jokes to dancing with Hugh Jackman, and switching hats from host to performer as the lead in the all-star revival of COMPANY– Neil, stop. You’re making the rest of us look lazy. (But, really, please don’t stop.)

Courtesy of

After one of the biggest box office seasons in Broadway history, I’d like to believe it’s because people are really appreciating theatre, but I wonder if Hollywood star power (and Glee) has played a part here.

I find it ironic that for all the plays and musicals brought to Hollywood, this year Broadway was overflowing with film-to-stage adaptations, like Sister Act, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Catch Me If You Can.

And when Trey Parker and Matt Stone (The Book of Mormon) thanked their fans, it was fans of their TV show. South Park. A cartoon. It’s like the performing arts playing field was leveled last night. It was brilliant.

Tony acceptance speeches reveal the intensity of theatre. Eight performances a week. Live. It’s no wonder Sutton Foster burst into tears while thanking her dresser, the man at her side for nine years, six productions, eight shows a week. Live is hard, people. There's no fixing it in post when you’re on stage.

There were Tonys that went to stars of the stage who’ve made the move to screen (John Benjamin Hickey, Frances McDormand) and some unknown beyond 42nd Street (Norbert Leo Butz, Nikki M. James). But Hollywood was all over the place, from winners Ellen Barkin (Why hasn’t she been cast as Cameron Diaz’s mother yet? Just wondering.) and John Laroquette, to nominees including Joanna Lumley, Judith Light, and Al Pacino. That’s AbFab, Who’s The Boss?, and Scarface  in the same room.

There was only one thing that left me wanting – why are honorary achievement awards edited down to snippets? In the same way that the Oscars have taken these honors and reduced them to sidebars, I just can’t stand the fact that the people who’ve had such an impact on the Arts aren’t receiving our full attention.

As the American Theatre Wing chairman, Ted Chapin, said during the show, he's often told by theatre professionals that "their first exposure was through the Tony Awards.” Athol Fugard, Phillip J. Smith, Eve Ensler – I wish we’d been able to hear all you had to say last night. Who knows what young audiences you could have inspired?

(Also, given the craziness surrounding Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark, I was kind of hoping to see someone hanging from cables rather than just a ballad. Que sera.)

Until I get back east to see The Book of Mormon, Jersusalem, and War Horse (that’s the short list), I am looking forward to seeing COMPANY this week, as the show comes to theaters nationwide. Movie theaters. Check out NPH in this Sondheim revival alongside Stephen Colbert, Patti Lupone, Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks, Jon Cryer and more.

I loved watching as theatre, television, and film meshed last night. Like Paul Shaffer’s intro of Martha Wash singing “Raining Men,” (a song he wrote - who knew?), from the Oscar-winning film turned Tony-winning show Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Or Whoopi introducing Best Musical nom Sister Act (in a hat that overshadowing anything we saw at the Royal Wedding). And final presenter of the night, Chris Rock, currently onstage in The Motherf***er with the Hat, who said, “If you had told me two years ago that I would miss the best basketball game ever to hang out with Nathan Lane, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy.’” 

Hooray for Broadllywood.

Did you watch the show?   What did you think?

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