Monday, June 14, 2010

Tony Awards Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Tony Awards Monday Morning Quarter-backing

Think my title mixes two extremes of popular entertainment where never the twain shall meet?

Think again.

Since New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez appeared on last night's Tony Awards as a self-proclaimed "theatre aficionado" (when this Jet was introduced, dare I say, many in the audience likely thought he was from the cast of West Side Story), and since this fall will see the Broadway bow of Lombardi, it's entirely apropos.

(Click here for the full list of Tony Award winners).

Yes, there will be the carping about Memphis' big win as Best Musical, but let's face it -- the show has what it takes to be a huge success on tour, and lest we forget, a large number of the Tony voters represent the touring class. But it was telling that for the first time in years, the Tony-winning Best Musical earned less awards (four) than the year's Tony-winning Best Play, Red.

Red earned a total of six well-earned Tony Awards, including a first ever for estimable director Michael Grandage, who has become a master of both musicals and plays. Eddie Redmayne surprised (me) as the winner in the Best Featured Actor category, but given his astounding Broadway debut, I could not quibble with the choice of the Tony voters. I had hoped his co-star Alfred Molina would win in what was arguably the evening's most competitive category, but as I predicted, Denzel Washington won for his superb performance as Troy Maxson in Fences.

Which brings me to the photo above. In addition to also accurately predicting Fences would win Best Revival of a Play, Washington's co-star Viola Davis proved to be the most deserving winner of the evening for her bravura performance. In fact, so absolutely certain was I that Davis would win that I had made a twitter wager with @BroadwayGirlNYC that I would eat my Fences Playbill if she failed to take home the Tony. Although that Playbill looked mighty tasty on my plate, I knew all along that I never needed to worry about actually eating it.

In terms of overall predictions, I got 17 out of 26 correct or just over 65%. In the categories that were broadcast, I accurately predicted 11 out of 15 or just over 73%. Not bad, but after entering producer Ken Davenport's contest, I blew his tie-breaker question that asked how long (without going over) Marian Seldes' Lifetime Achievement Award speech would be; I thought I was being modest by predicting it would clock in at a bit over 2 minutes.

I'm sure all of us were wrong as she didn't utter a single word, opting instead to soak in the enormously deserved standing ovation before exiting the stage. Some say it was the best speech ever. And since she spoke volumes more with her eyes and sweeping gestures than most actors can say in a blue streak, I think they may be right.

Speaking of blue streaks, there were plenty to be seen in the hair of numerous cast members via the number of performances afforded American Idiot, which took home two Tony Awards in creative categories. But were all those televised numbers enough to move the needle on its struggling box office? I'm sure we'll hear soon enough. But let's just consider this. For the week of June 6, the show attracted a capacity of 52.6%, which was very anemic for a Best Musical nominee. If there isn't a box office boost for this tuner, you can expect to see closing notices posted very shortly.

Same goes for Come Fly Away, which failed to walk away with any awards. Like American Idiot, this Twyla Tharp tuner has been losing its audience and was down to 56.8% capacity for the week ending June 6. Million Dollar Quartet is in the danger zone, too (it attracted just 57.8% capacity during that same period), but at least Levi Kreis to score a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and the show didn't come off too shabbily during the broadcast.

But it's Next Fall I predict will post the first closing notice. The show grossed a paltry $116,150 for the week ending June 6 and attracted just 52.3% capacity in what is already one of Broadway's smallest houses. Perhaps they thought they could eke it out through the Tonys, but the producers may feel it's time to finally pull the plug after going home empty-handed. Expect a closing notice at any moment.

For the second year in a row, I spent my Tony Awards evening in the comfort of my own home where I tweeted the night away. Among my tweets that resonated most with my fellow Twitterers (by virtue of how frequently they were retweeted) were the following comments:

(Upon Tony Awards entrance of Angela Lansbury:) There's no legend quite like Angela Lansbury. She's not an overnight sensation ... she's a lifetime sensation! #Tonys

(As Catherine Zeta-Jones was singing "Send In The Clowns":) Catherine Zeta-Jones inexplicably became a bobble-head #Tonys

(During performance from cast of Come Fly Away:) Still think COME FLY AWAY looks like an after-after-after party where all the decent people already went home #Tonys

(As Cate Blanchett was presenting:) Could someone figure out a way to bring Cate Blanchett to Broadway? She's 1 of the best actresses of our time, stage or film. #Tonys

(At start of Lea Michele's rendition of "Don't Rain On My Parade":) Now for the biggest Broadway audition in history as Lea Michele has high hopes for FUNNY GIRL revival. #Tonys

(Just after it the winner was announced in this category:) Best Actress in a Musical: Catherine Zeta-Jones in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. All the other actresses were robbed, but I predicted this #Tonys

(When Memphis' Best Musical acceptance speech was cut-off:) It's over?! Most awkward finish to a Tony Awards show goes to Sean Hayes. What just happened?! #Tonys

Speaking of my Twitter comments, about halfway through the Tony Awards, my friend Esther at Gratuitous Violins alerted me that my Twitter feed was appearing on the New York Times' online Tony coverage (her tweets were there as well).

I was so honored, yet flabbergasted, that I couldn't help but tweet, "I feel like the folks from [title of show] in learning that my tweets are live on NYTimes' #Tonys Twitter feed. Will this go on site, too??"

And sure enough, it did.

So, what did you think of the Tony Awards? Thrilled? Disappointed? Somewhere in between? I'll be curious to know what you thought.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 14 June, 2010, Blogger Esther said...

Great recap, SOB!

I thought Sean Hayes was a great host, delivered all the laugh lines well. I loved his opening piano medly and I got a little teary hearing "Give My Regards to Broadway."

Memphis was the only one of the Best Musical nominees that I saw, and I did enjoy it. Not groundbreaking but energetic choreography and great performances by Chad Kimball and Montego Glover. (I was rooting for her.)

One thing I was thinking about is whether the Broadway League could do more promotions in regional touring houses. Jersey Boys did very well on tour in Providence and I wonder how much it would have cost to take out an ad for the Tonys in the program or stuff some promotional fliers inside.

Even though I haven't seen a lot of the shows, I enjoyed the broadcast and tweeting with everyone was so much fun. Pretty ironic that my writing finally appears in the New York Times and it's on a Twitter feed and not even using my name! But it was thrilling and I'm so happy to be in your company.

At 14 June, 2010, Blogger Jill said...

I'm livid, myself, though not entirely surprised. As a Green Day fan (albeit one over the age of 50 and should know better), I of course loved American Idiot, but for my money, the best musical perhaps EVER is FELA!, which is quite simply the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a Broadway theatre. It is an undisputed masterpiece all around.

If the Tonys are going to be solely about commerce, not art (and the song presented from Memphis did absolutely NOTHING to make me want to see it), then perhaps they should stop talking about craft and artistic merit and just give it to swill like Mamma Mia every year.

It's possible to take pre-existing music and do something wonderful with it, as we see from both AI and FELA! What the fossils in the Theatre Wing don't understand is that their crowd is going to die off. And it's the kids flocking to AI and to FELA! who are Broadway's future. And last night the Wing threw them under the bus in order to keep their trite little club going just a bit longer.

At 14 June, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Esther. I thought Sean Hayes did a terrific job overall.

At 14 June, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Jill, I much preferred Fela!, but I've become entirely used to my favorites not winning the Tony.

Having seen Memphis, I think - like Fela! - it's much better than the way it was presented on the broadcast. And it's certainly much better and more thought-provoking than Mamma Mia! could ever hope to be.

At 17 June, 2010, Blogger Sarah B. Roberts said...

I'm mixed on the broadcast. I still love watching it even though can't stand the rock bands coming on and taking up so much time. I'm still not sure why Glee, which is not even on CBS, was given so much time for something that wasn't even very good. I loved seeing my favorites looking so beautiful and having a great time even if they didn't win. I don't care too much about who wins for best musical any more becasue that is almost always a business thing these days and maybe that's okay if it helps bring in more money. However, I do think that the individual awards should be based on merit and performance, not because of who the person is or what they've done in the past or what their stature in the world of celebrity is. I will continue to watch the broadcasts and hope for better. I will also think of the old days and watch my dvds of the old days when the shows were true celebrations of theatre.


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