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Last Sunday was the 66th Annual Tony Awards and as always, they did not fail to provide entertainment to us faithful Broadway supporters. It was a night full of tearful acceptance speeches, aging divas, celebrities who have very little to do with Broadway, and Neil Patrick Harris just being brilliant. In years past, I have watched the Tony Awards like I watch any of those talent competition shows: record it and fast forward to the musical numbers, but this time, I watched every minute. And I have a lot to say about it!
This year, Neil Patrick Harris was back for his third stint as Tony host, which was undoubtedly the best decision of the evening. Honestly, I have no idea how anyone else could even attempt to host the Tony Awards after Neil has graced the stage. I’d like to suggest that NPH hosts it from now until the end of time. Thanks. He opened the show with a rousing musical number, complete with costume changes, complicated choreography, witty lyrics, and Patti LuPone pushing a lawn mower. Although he had a slip up here and there, Neil was the epitome of talent and class. And he’s incredibly handsome, which only makes me love him more!
Although there were guest appearances made by a few questionably involved Hollywood actors (Paul Rudd and James Mardsen – I love you, but what were you doing at the Tonys?), the presenters were Broadway legends. Angela Lansbury looked incredible, especially for being 120 years old, and my desire to be Christopher Plummer’s granddaughter was only encouraged by his adorable smile and brown velvet tuxedo. Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone also made appearances, being the divas they are and awkwardly belting out a few lines before presenting their award. Bernadette Peters was a presenter too, looking fabulous, if not a bit stiff, and I was surprised not to see more of her. And Hugh Jackman, who unfortunately did not perform (man, can that fellow sing!), received a Special Tony Award, which was given to him by his wife, who looks remarkably like a Jennifer Coolidge character.
It was a big night for performances, with numbers from all of the nominees for Best Musical and Best Revival, as well as a song from Ghost, Godspell, and Hairspray, live from a cruise ship. There were some huge successes (Porgy and Bess and Once gave absolutely breathtaking performances), even more flops (Jesus Christ Superstar, Ghost, Leap of Faith, and especially Corbin Bleu in Godspell did not impress me), and a few oddballs (Why did they cast a skinny Tracy Turnblad? How does Matthew Broderick’s face never age? Why is Ricky Martin in a musical?). Undoubtedly, the best performances of the night were those from Neil Patrick Harris himself, especially his tongue-twisting combination of lyrics from all 65 winners of Best Musical in Tony history. That is a talented man.
Despite the average performances and unnecessary celebrity appearances, I’d say the 66th Tony Awards were a success, having chosen all the right winners (or at least the ones for which I was rooting!). I was thrilled by the upset of Best Revival of a Musical, with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess beating out the favored Follies. With a cast that includes Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, and David Alan Grier, how could it not win? I believe Best Actress in a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical were spot on as well. It is no secret that I am a huge Audra fan and I loved how proud her daughter looked as she watched her mom accept the award. Additionally, although I went into the Tonys rooting for Norm Lewis to take home Best Actor, seeing the performance of Once and hearing Steve Kazee’s heartbreaking acceptance speech absolutely convinced me that the right actor won. I haven’t seen Once yet, but after Sunday’s show, it is at the top of my list! I am most thrilled that it upset Newsies and took home the Best Musical award, because it seems like an incredibly beautiful and honest production. Good choices all around.
Sure, the Tony Awards could have been a bit more selective with their on-air performances, but for the most part, I’d say the show went well. It was a nice balance of emotional and silly, of serious, experienced actors and new fresh faces. Patti LuPone was a diva, Ricky Martin did a somersault, and Neil Patrick Harris convinced everyone in the world to fall in love with him. Just an average day on Broadway, but an entertaining one for all of us admirers.