Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TONY AWARDS!!!!! (Part I: Original Musicals)

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!!!! The other night was my the most anticipated TV program all year (for me at least).  THE TONY AWARDS.  For those of you who don't know.  The Tony Awards is like the the Academy Awards except for Broadway plays and musicals.  It should be noted that people (such as Elton John) who appeared in both the Tony's and the Oscars, said that the Tony's were far superior. (IN YOUR FACE MOVIE LOVERS!) Sunday night was the 65th Annual Tony Awards, and it was a blast!

  (I need to warn you, this post will be REALLY REALLY LONG!  I'm gonna try to break it up into pieces to make it easier to read. But this will likely be the longest)

As always, the highlights were the musicals.  The four shows that are nominated for best musical get to perform a song/medley from their show.  So I will start with the four shows nominated for best original musical.



This show was based off the 2002 movie with the same title.  Unfortunately the soundtrack hasn't hit any of my favorite music sites yet, so I've heard very little of the soundtrack (only two or three songs), but it looks really good.  This show (like many shows this year) has a stellar cast!  It stars the fantastic Aaron Tveit (Gabe [Next to Normal]), the always entertaining Norbert Leo Butz (best known for his roles as Fiyero [Wicked], Jamie [The Last Five Years], Freddy [Dirty Rotten Scoundrels] and many more), and the talented Kerry Butler (Peggy [Hairspray] & Audrey [Little Shop of Horrors (revival)] ).  It's a show I don't know much about but would like to know more.  I really want to see this show!  I would love to hear Tveit's mesmerizing smooth voice mixed with Butz's wild one.  May I point out that the writers are the same people who wrote Hairspray, so you know that this show is something special.  Their Tony performance wasn't the best, but it was really good:

Catch me if you can was nominated for four awards and won one.

  • Best Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Sound Design - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - nominated

I was glad that Butz won, because, although I couldn't actually see him in the role, I know he is amazing!  For the second time, I'm shocked and disappointed that Aaron Tveit wasn't even nominated for anything.  As far as I'm concerned both his role in this and in Next to Normal deserved AT LEAST a nomination.  I was kind of pulling for it in best musical, but (as the presenter said) we all really knew who was going to win that.

This is the show I knew the least about going into things.  A friend of mine had posted a Facebook status about it or something, but other than that it never even entered my radar until I saw the nominations.  It's based off of the many trials of nine negro boys who were accused of raping two young women.   We now know that they were completely innocent, but they didn't then.  So this is a great tale of racial injustice.  The writers decided to write it in the format of a "minstrel show".  This surprised me (and, I have learned many others) because a minstrel show is generally thought to be degrading to African American people.  In fact, in November, there were actually protesters parked outside of the theater who were offended by this unusual style.  But when the writers were interviewed, they made it clear that the purpose of the shows unorthodox setting was to inflate the injustice and show the story's truly evil nature.  It was later realized that of those protesters, the vast majority of them hadn't actually seen the show...so they might have been a bit premature.  Their performance at the Tony awards wasn't that great to me.  Of course the actors and songs were really good, and it's definitely a great show worth watching, but compared to the Tony presentations I've seen....it was just kind of boring.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and I hoped it would win more than it did, but I just thought it could have been better if they maybe chose a different song.
The Scottsboro Boys was nominated for a whopping 12 awards, but unfortunately didn't win any.
  • Best Musical - nominated
  • Best Book of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Original Score - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Joshua Henry) - nominated
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Forrest McClendon) - nominated
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Coleman Domingo) - nominated
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Choreographer - nominated
  • Best Director of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - nominated
Although it wasn't my favorite show, I did really want it to win something, I think it's a good show and I will be quick to listen to the entire soundtrack as soon as it become available online.  It's really sad to see a good, down to earth show beaten out by the flashy other shows, as I think happened to "The Scottsboro Boys".

The Book of Mormon
I had heard about the show but didn't really want to know much about it (because I highly doubted that I would like a show from the makers of Avenue Q and Southpark good friend of mine did some research and showed me a few songs, and I began to warm up to the show.  Granted, I wasn't thrilled by the concept, but I liked the music.  I was almost ready to give the show a chance when I heard another song.  This song basically spit in the face of anyone who believed in God at all.  It is possibly the most offensive song I've heard in my life (Of course, I am fairly sheltered so that might not be saying much).  So I had officially decided that I hated the show and hoped that it would lose as many Tony awards as possible.  Of course: it didn't.  It actually did very well (as I kind of expected).  When it came time for it's performance, I was ready to fast forward if it looked like it was going to go south, but it ended up being really good.  I'm a bit ashamed to say it, but it was a really good performance.  As I was listening to it I found that I could connect with it, and it was really well written.  Sure they made a few crude jokes, but it was one of the best performances of the night actually.
What I did find, is that (on it's surface) Mormonism appears to be similar to Christianity.  I think I'll look into it in the future to figure out what exactly they believe because I'm not actually sure.  But It certainly appears that they follow the same God, which means every time they insult the God of the Mormons they insult the Christian God (my God) at the same time.  What urks me the most about this show is that they take every opportunity to insult everyone they possibly can.  They poke fun at ALL religions and all sects and groups that they can possibly find.  Not surprisingly, my dislike of the show is not shared by the rest of the world.  It seems that The Book of Mormon was the best selling album in itunes history.  And of course out of all the original shows nominated it's one of the only ones with the entire soundtrack available to listen to online.  Now, I do agree that this show has the right to go on, I'm just disappointed that shows like this and Avenue Q remain so popular largely because of their offensive nature while other shows (such as Wonderland and Aida which were never nominated for much of anything) have to go unnoticed.  There are shows that I really like (such as RENT and Next to Normal) who also have bad language and some "adult themes" but these are merely vehicles for the plot and weren't added for the specific purpose of shocking people (as is the case with Avenue Q and Book of Mormon).
The Book of Mormon was nominated for 14 awards (the most of the year) and won 9:

  • Best Musical - WINNER
  • Best Book of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Original Score - WINNER
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Josh Gad) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Andrew Rannells) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Rory O'Malley) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Nikki M James) - WINNER
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Direction of a Musical - WINNER
  • Best Choreography - nominated
  • Best Orchestrations - WINNER
All in all (as I expected), The Book of Mormon cleaned up at the awards.  But surprisingly, the part that I was actually really impressed with, the leading actors, did not win.  The production team did much better than the cast as far as awards are concerned.

I had heard about this show while it was still in London, but never looked into.  The movie was OK and I expected that they could make a good show out of it, but I didn't know if they were going to or not, so I waited.  In case you don't know, it's based off of the movie with the same title starring Whoopi Goldberg.  The premise is: a Vegas showgirl witnesses a murder and is put in a convent by the witness protection program.  She ends up teaching the nuns to sing "Vegas style" and her street skills end up advancing the convent and drawing attention to herself (she apparently doesn't understand the concept of the witness protection program).  The show ended up being one of the better performances of the evening and an all around cool show.  But we didn't hear from it much. It was only nominated for a few awards and it too didn't win any.  Honestly, except for it's performance and the nomination for best actress (which I believe they would've won had it not been for Sutton Foster), we kind of forgot that it existed.  It would probably be a good show, but it's appearance at the Tony Awards didn't really command my attention enough to look into it very much.
It was nominated for five Tony Awards but didn't win any:

  • Best Musical - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patina Miller) - nominated
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Victoria Clark) - nominated
  • Best Book of a Musical - nominated
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater - nominated
I'm glad Allen Menken is still doing shows, but this one seemed kind of drowned out by the rest of the shows (even the plays) that seemed more interesting.

And that is all the original shows.  Personally I thought that this was a very good year for original musicals.  Certainly better than last year.  It wasn't quite as good as the year before that (because it's hard to compete with Next to Normal, Billy Elliot, and Shrek at the same time), but it was still a really fun year.  All of these shows (except Book of Mormon) I would suggest to anyone (Book of Mormon is only for those not easily offended). 

If you have any thoughts on the Tony Awards that I left out be sure to let me know about it and we can chat about it. And remember to be on the look out for the other installments of my Tony Award rant.

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