Tonys 2009; Or, hello? Is my mic working?

I’m back from vactation! Getting ready to hop in the shower for my first day back at work! Sigh…

But before all that — The 2009 Tony Awards!

Yes, we left Central Lake, MI superearly yesterday morning to ensure I had ample time to get prepared for my people’s Super Bowl. And now…I’m kinda thinking I would have been fine watching it on DVR.

What a technical, horrid mess that was. Easily, one of the worst Tony telecasts I’ve ever seen since I really started watching in 1993.

ripleyYes, Angela Lansbury won a record-setting (tying with Julie Harris) five Tony awards. That was very touching, and she looked lovely, providing one of the few classy moments of the show. And yes, the lovely (and blue!) Alice Ripley took home the Best Actress in a Musical award, giving a speech that echoed previous Best Actress winners Ebersole and LuPone. Is this some sort of new tradition that Leading Musical Actress winners have to be LARGER THAN LIFE in their acceptance speeches? If that’s the case, I’m totally ready for my Award in 2010.

Also, did anyone notice that Ripley is starting to sound like Betty Buckley in some of her power notes? Interesting.

At any rate, what a giant technical snafu that evening was. Microphones dropping, cameras panning on the wrong winners, the wrong microphones turned up at the wrong times. From my surround sound living room, these sound errors were even more apparent and distracting.

Furthermore, the lack of respect for nominated plays was so disheartening. Five second clips from B-rolls? It’s like they were going out of their way to show us how much they didn’t care.

As Kari said, CBS outsucked itself.

As always, the performance numbers from musicals tried desperately to liven things up. However, this doesn’t really work when you pick horrid numbers to represent your show. I’m talking to you, Billy Elliot. Congratulations. That performance alone made me never want to see the show, which I don’t think was the goal.

Even sure-fire production numbers like “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat” didn’t work. Perhaps that was due to the over-tinkering of this revival’s treatment of the number. (Mary Testa’s “Hit me daddy!!” makes me want to scream!)

Oh, and this number was already done, and done much better, in 1992:

Even Legally Blonde’s number made me sad. Gulsvig seemed to turn up the nasal a few 10 notches.

Since the Tony’s goal this year, more than ever, was to appeal to a general audience, I’m going to make some quick observations as a typical midwesterner with casual interest in musical theatre.

Shrek looked creepy, but I’ll take my kids to it. Maybe? Oh, wait, the cost of four tickets equals two months of mortgage payments. Let’s just watch the movie. Again.

Rock of Ages seems like a blast. However, what’s with all the focus on the mincing gay mullet guy? I don’t understand that.

That was a lot of screaming and throwing of cutlery in the Next to Normal number.

Hair looks fun! However, actors running amuck in the audience is nervous-making.

And Billy Elliot. As my friend Kathe noted on my facebook comment regarding that performance, “I haven’t heard that much male onstage grunting since I saw Puppetry of the Penis.”

The only saving grace? NPH. Mainly, his final production number, where he recapped the winners and evening’s events. Which means he, and some other theatre insiders who wrote the number, were privy to insider information. And we know how well theatre people can keep a secret. Ooh conspiracy!

Why can’t PBS present the awards? They did such a good job ten years ago with the technical and creative awards pre-show. Please.

11 thoughts on “Tonys 2009; Or, hello? Is my mic working?

  1. On the upside, Janet McTeer could have committed a lot of sins in the city last night and blamed them all on Harriet Walter. Although that “in memoriam” sequence alone was enough to get somebody fired. I think they forgot people might actually be watching their TVs.

  2. Oh my – the horrid tribute segment! They cut off the names when zooming in on the faces. Fail.

    Also did you get a load of that male cast member behind the “Hair” producer when giving his acceptance speech for best revival? Total “The Soup” moment.

  3. I was so angry with the tribute segment. How dare you not show the full names of people who passed away this year. Asshattery. Stop the stupid camera for two seconds.

    I was watching last night imagining myself to be a non-theatre lover randomly watching the show. Based on those selected production numbers, I would think the only show on Broadway with any energy was Hair. Maybe Rock of Ages.

    I was so disappointed by the Billy Elliot number. WTF was that?

    And Greg Jbara’s winning made me clap. Ditto to Karen Olivo and Ripley. Who knew Ripley was batshit crazy, huh?

    Neil Patrick Harris, though, for the win!

  4. It was so terribly disappointing. After that ridiculous mess of an opening number, we should have all just turned off our televisions.

  5. We were listening to Next to Normal yesterday before the broadcast and commented on Ripley’s vocal resemblance to Betty Buckley. Also we thought that the show resembled Tesori’s “Violet” in places.

  6. Jamie: I miss our banterings during the broadcast, but I feel I knew exactly what you were thinking. I was watching it as a midwesterner with little to no insight to this year’s season, and I got the impression that Broadway is a) loud; b) angry; and c) overtly eager to please. It made me sad.

    Dan: That opening number was a study in “excess.” Bigger sure ain’t better! Whatta cacophony of sound and movement and….ugh!

    Brent: We all thought the same thing. In HD, she looks even more mannish. Also: Elton John (and his piece) look like a 60 year old lesbian named Pat.

    Diane: I’ve never seen or heard of “Violet”, which is unfortunate for me, being that it’s so highly regarded by many. Doesn’t Sondheim cite that show as one of his faves? I gotta check it out.

  7. I honestly have very little to say about the Tonys because I was having so much fun at my first Tony party.

    Somehow, when you’re with friends and you have champagne and Rice Krispy bars, the quality of the telecast doesn’t matter as much!

    But I think the show that came across best was the one I’ve already seen and loved – Hair. So maybe the Tonys only confirm opinions you already hold.

    Anyway, hope you can make it next year!

  8. I would also assume that Broadway is full of technical glitches. It was like when AHS did Oklahoma and mics were left on all over the place so you could hear Will asking “Where’s Sarah? Where’s Sarah?” while trying to find Ado Annie in time for their dance in the title song. Geez.

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