I’ve saved one of my more tasteful blog headlines to discuss the mess that was last night’s 2010 Tony Awards broadcast — starting with Catherine Zeta Jones’ inelegant, mannered, and lip-sweaty performance of “Send in the Clowns.” If that is what she does 8x a week at the Walter Kerr, then I’m completely baffled. And the fact that she got awarded for it with a Best Actress in a Musical Tony? Wow.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Sean Hayes was our host, and actually fared the best of all last night. He started out charming, calm and in control. However, the moment his co-host Kristin Chenoweth (I’m only assuming she was sharing hosting duties, as she was onstage as much as he was) came on the screen with her mugging, winking and pratfalls, the running theme of the evening came into focus: desperation.
There was such an over-eagerness about the proceedings, with everyone pushing too hard and making bitter jokes about not being nominated, it was almost embarrassing to watch.
And when Lea Michele stomped down the aisle to inform us, in her overworked pop-belt, no one was gonna rain on her parade, it was like the definition of desperation marching out before the baffled Radio City audience. I guess there was one good thing about that utterly charmless performance: it guaranteed that no director with a brain would consider her for the 2012 revival of Funny Girl.
As for the Tony performances, which are always the highlight of the show, not a single one captured my attention or interest. (And I’m someone who loves theatre!) The hard part about these segments is you have four minutes to bring us into your world and perform a number in some sort of context. Yet none of them really succeed at doing that — they tried to accomplish too much. Fela and Memphis oversold it — it was just chaos to me. And did no one tell Rob Ashford that cameras actually have to film the Tony production numbers, so maybe choosing a segment from Promises, Promises that involves the cast running around in a circle while twirling around on office chairs isn’t the best choice for selling your show to a TV audience? It was just dizzy making.
(Strangely enough, Christiane Noll, who I hear was wonderful as Mother in Ragtime, had the opposite problem from the rest of the spazzy performances: she undersold her song. Oh, she sounded great, but that was one of the most snoozy performances of “Back to Before” I’ve ever heard.)
I’m not even going to discuss Green Day having TWO songs in the opening production number.
Fortunately, Angela Lansbury, looking smashing in red, came out to talk about the Theatre Wing while radiating class and grace — but even her too-brief appearance couldn’t counter-balance all that unfocused energy.
Also, as was the case with last year’s telecast, technical issues were a-plenty, with dead microphones and camera snafus. (In fact, some common themes seem to emerge when reading my thoughts on last year’s Tonys.)
Comon Tonys: get it together.
*For those three of you who don’t know, this is my lame joke on that Sondheim lyric from his brilliant “Send in the Clowns,” which CZJ crapped all over last night:
Don’t you love farce?
My fault I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother, they’re here.