Monday, June 11, 2012

My 2012 Tony Awards Recap

Last night was the biggest night in professional theatre. The 2012 Tony Awards were held in New York City and broadcast on CBS. I know most people who are writing about the Tony Awards today are probably listing winners and categories and statistics and the like. But I'm not. Instead, I'm going to list my favorite moments of the Tony Awards last night, in order of appearance and with videos, so you can share the wonderfulness with me.

First up was Neil Patrick Harris' opening number as host of the awards. The title of the song was "What if Life Were Like Theatre" and includes some hilarious cameos from people like Amanda Seyfried, Patti LuPone, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Part of my love for this song is the fact that I've had a button I've carried around for the last couple of years that says "Wouldn't it be great if life were a giant musical?" and I felt like this song was that button, brought to life.

Next was the performance from the cast of Newsies. I've been dying to see this show and the dancing is so beautiful, you can't help but be in awe of the talent that graces that stage.

Probably my favorite performance of the night (Newsies was a very close second) was the cast of Once. Most people who know me know that I have an insane amount of love for this show that I've never even seen. The cast recording is oft played on my mp3 player and it is at the TOP of my "must see" list for my next trip to New York. Another great thing about this performance is that it wasn't the performance that they've been doing on their morning TV and talk show rounds. Seeing them perform "Gold" was amazing, different, and nearly had me in tears with the emotional intensity onstage.

When Clybourne Park won for Best Play, you expect the typical acceptance speeches from the people in charge. Always beautiful and heartfelt, sometimes there are things that are added that touch hearts. I won't get into the insane admiration I have for Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters. But I will say he is a fantastic public speaker and his part of the acceptance speech for the Best Play award will be something I remember for many, many years to come.

In case you don't want to take time to watch the full video, below is his speech:

There are those rare people who can look at the world and see things the rest of us don’t see until they show us; these are the writers. There are the special few who can take that vision and turn it back into a world; these are the directors, the designers. There are fearless beings who can live in that world and show us who we are; these are our actors. There are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much: crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, “Show me this world. Open me. Change me.” These are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say, “Yes,” there is theater.                                                           

Audra McDonald won Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Porgy and Bess. This was her 5th Tony award, ranking her with the likes of Angela Lansbury. I have great admiration for her, but honestly, she wasn't my choice for this category. That being said, her beautiful acceptance speech was truly beautiful and memorable.

Probably the biggest tear-jerker of a speech for the night was by Steve Kazee, who won for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Guy in Once. Again, I have insane love for this musical, but it wasn't just me who felt like this was one of the best speeches of the night. Mr. Kazee had everyone in tears as he spoke of his fellow castmates and their willingness to keep him going in these months since his mother passed away from cancer (she died on Easter Sunday, shortly after Once officially opened on Broadway). I ugly cried. I won't lie.

Was this year's Tony Awards perfect? No. I don't think it ever is. But if felt more like theatre should be. People who are little known to pop culture and fans of TMZ, and more known to what I like to call "theatre purists." I enjoyed most of last night's show (though there were things I thought were ridiculous....and ridiculously horrible), but I felt like I should celebrate the beautiful and the best parts of the show.

Another year is before us. More shows will open, more shows will close, and another Broadway season begins.

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