Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Tony Awards (Part V: Other Tony Moments)

So, it's no secret that the best part of the Tony Awards are the shows.  Whether it's through performances, or interviews, or the final award tally of the night, the shows are the reason we watch the Tony's.  But that doesn't mean that there are some wonderful moments in the ceremony that really doesn't have much of anything to do with one specific show.  Some of them were the planned performances by guest stars, some of them were touching acceptance Speeches, and most of them involved Neil being awesome!  So, without further Ado, the "other" great parts of the 2013 Tony Awards!

Other Performances

They made it bigger!
The Tony's have some geniuses working on their show.  Like, seriously, this is probably my favorite opening number yet, largely because they made some really smart decisions.  Since injecting Neil into Book of Mormon (the 2011 Winner) worked so well last year, they did the same thing to Once (the 2012 Winner).  Then they incorporated performers from all of the major nominated musicals to show the community of Broadway and remind the audiences who the major characters of the night will be.  They added in some clever jokes about the Shia LaBeouf Scandal, all the kids on Broadway this year, and, yes, even the Les Miserables Movie.  Then they had Neil bust out all of his best stunts including hopping through that Pippin hoop and making himself disappear.  And then they had my favorite line of the night: "There's a kid in the middle of nowhere sitting there, living for Tony performances singin' and flippin' along with the Pippins and Wickeds and Kinkys, Matildas and Mormonses. So we might reassure that kid and do something to spur that kid. Cause I promise you all of us up here tonight.  We were that kid!"  AT LEAST NEIL PATRICK HARRIS GETS US!!!  As soon as that line was said, my whole Party pretty much applauded through the next 30 seconds of the song!  SOMEBODY MAKE THIS A T-SHIRT OR SOMETHING!!

Swingin' in Hitsville U.S.A.
So, as you'll know from my previous posts, I'm not a huge fan of Motown, but they actually did have a really good Tony Performance (better than some of the nominated shows in fact).  They did a good job of highlighting so much of their talented supporting cast, they did memorable songs that everybody would recognize, and they never let the energy die for a moment.  Despite the fact that I didn't like the show, I think they should be proud of their performance.

"Whatever Happened to my Part"?
No, the Lady of the Lake did not appear in this year's Tony Awards, but she may as well have, because we did have some guest appearances from some big Broadway/TV stars that shared her lamentations.  In the middle of the telecast, Andrew Rannells [Broadway: Book of Mormon, TV: The New Normal], Megan Hilty [Broadway: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Tv: Smash], and Laura Benanti [Broadway:Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, TV: Go On] came on with a parody medley of some of our favorite Broadway tunes.  It was a great way to appeal to the audiences who came to see the Tony Awards because of TV and it gave Neil a chance to gloat.  In my opinion, it was one of the more enjoyable portions of the evening.  Take a look:

Aren't you a little old to be performing rock songs on the Tony Awards?
If you're talking about Angela Lansbury, then heck no!  If you're talking about "The Rascals" then yes.  Most definitely.  I don't know whose idea it was to let these guys play at the Tony's, but it wasn't a good idea.  At first it looked like it was going to be a tribute the the plays of the year (which was tragically left out of this year's telecast), but after a minute or two, it was just a video of old guys who didn't seem to know they were old singing songs that weren't show tunes.  And, let's be honest, does anybody really want to see/hear that?
He's There!  The Phantom of the Opera!!!!
That's right, amid the slew of new musicals, the oldest show on Broadway managed to squeeze in a performance and remind the world why it's been running for over 10,000 performances!  In what I think was a recreation of the performance the Phantom cast did all those years ago at their own Tony Awards, the current Broadway cast performed Andrew Lloyd Webber's hauntingly beautiful song for the world to hear.  I loved it!  It was so beautiful and I am so glad that old shows like this get a chance to make it onto the Tony's.  However, I had forgotten how many people had never heard the Broadway version of the show's title song.  I would hope that all of my readers have, but in case you have only heard the movie soundtrack, it's important that you know that they had to lower the Phantom's part A TON for Gerrard Butler to be able to sing it.  Micheal Crawford (and, to my knowledge, all subsequent Broadway Phantoms) have to sing his songs significantly higher than poor Mr. Butler could manage.  I think this higher key makes the character more haunting and beautiful, but if you hadn't heard it sung that way, it can be a shock.  That being said, I am disappointed that a large portion of the attenders at my party accidentally made "ewww" noises instead of saying "Oh my goodness, this guy sings beautifully"!  I even heard one misinformed attendee speak the blasphemous words "Gerrard Butler was better".  Needless to say, I was about to whip our my "magical Lasso" on her, but I showed restraint.  Needless to say, this is the GOOD version of the song, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Try to Remember
I was glad to see that, after it was tragically forgotten last year, they included an "in Memoriam" song at this years Tony Awards.  I didn't particularly care for Cyndi Lauper's song, but I still enjoyed the moment (which was occasionally spoiled a bit by people applauding when someone they recognized appeared on the screen.  Which made me wonder, is that ok?  To clap for someone's death?  What's the etiquette there?).  As usual, I didn't recognize most of the people featured in the video, but there were a few, most notably Marvin Hamlisch.  His death was truly a tragic event for the Broadway community, and I hope that he's resting in peace secure in the knowledge that he has left a legendary legacy!

Whovians watch the Tony's for ONCE.
Yes, it's true, two groups of "superfans" collide as Arthur Darvill, most well known for playing Rory Williams on the BBC Fantasy show Doctor Who has made his Broadway debut as Steve Kazee's replacement in Once.  Not one to shy away from star power, the Producers decided to feature this new casting on the Tony Awards this year by performing of Guy's songs.  Unfortunately....I didn't like "Rory" as much as "the other Guy".  I mean, not to sound mean, but Arthur just kind of screamed incomprehensibly into a Microphone.  And since there was almost no lyrics and absolutely no dancing, there was nothing to do but sit there and listen to him wail gibberish.  To be honest, I was more entertained by the squealing Whovians we had present than the performance itself (and by the sudden interruption of the performance, which I'll get to later).

NPH and Audra McD "rap" things up
So, it seems that Lin Manuel Miranda has been working overtime to fit a rap into as many Tony Awards as he can!  And, contrary to what I learned from Commentary the Musical, Neil can really rap!  Since they already did a straight rap (2 years ago) this year they spiced up the closing number by parodying an actual (non-Broadway) song called "Empire State of Mind."  This meant they needed a female vocalist to back Neil up and they couldn't have picked anyone better than the youngest 5-time Tony Award Winning Actress Audra MacDonald.  Her voice was beautiful and I felt like the two of them meshed pretty well.  However, that being said, I didn't think this was one of the better closing numbers (in my opinion, none have compared to the first one I saw Neil do back in 2009).  Never the less, it's cool that Neil got to sing again, and it was a great way to end the show.  If nothing else, it's worth watching the video to see Neil hitting a low harmony (possibly the first time in his life), Lin Manuel Miranda playing Piano in the background,  and Audra "out-gangster" Neil in the last second.

I know that, generally speaking, the speeches are the most boring part of the telecast, and, with the exception of the Rascals' performance, that is still true.  However, there are always a few that stand out, and this year was no exception.  Whether it was something really funny like the annual American Theater Wing commercial (which I unfortunately can't find a video for), or really touching like Cicely Tyson's heartwarming speech, these are the ones that I think are worth seeing.

Mr. Microphone guy...YOU HAD ONE JOB!!!

From Dreamgirls to Dreams coming true

Cicely Tyson gives the classiest response to "Wrap it up" in the history of the Tony Awards!


Lions and Spiders and Newsies, Oh My!
For some reason, something snapped in the Tony Award committee and they started making an effort to involve long running shows into the Tony Awards more this year.  The biggest way they did this was by having characters (not actors) from other Broadway shows introduce the performances.  Velma Kelly, Simba, Sandy the Dog, Jack Kelly, and Peter Parker were just a few of the characters that made an appearance at this years awards.  To be honest, I thought it was pretty cheesy, but it was cool to see the old shows getting to do something.  Here's some clips of the Chicago cast making introductions (I think something was amok with the teleprompter on the second one).

Everyone loves a good Playsical in the summer!
NPH does these "suggestions to producers" every year (part of me thinks he writes them himself).  I'd recommend you looking up some of the ones he's done in the past (I'm too lazy to track down links), some of my favorite of his suggestions have included "presidential musicals", and "scratch and sniff playbills"!  But this year I think was one of his finest!  Playsicals!!!!  Enjoy:

Neil gets some puppy love
I don't know why, but this really freaked out everyone at my Tony Party.  Personally, I think it's just one more thing that proves Neil will do anything for the sake of the show.  So here he is "bonding" with Broadway's favorite pooch (sorry the video quality isn't better):

We interrupt this broadcast because...WE HAVE NO SOUL!!!!
Ok, so this only applies to my fellow Georgians.  CBS Atlanta made a MASSIVE mistake and almost caused a riot at my house!  Right in the middle of Once's performance (told you I'd get back to it) and before the Best Musical was announced, the show just stopped.  Out of nowhere everything cuts to a news room and away from our precious TONY Awards!!!!!  We found out later that some human error was made and, for one reason or another, they thought the show was done.  After I, and I'm assuming several hundred others, wrote Emails of complaint to the station, they released a formal apology and said that they would run the final 7 minutes of the Tony's to kick off the news every night that week.  While it was a meager offering, at least they recognized their mistake and tried to fix it.  But I must say, there was a few hours of scrambling where plenty of mistakes were made, like this reporter who obviously knew absolutely nothing about the awards:

And that does it for this years Tony Awards!  It was a phenomenal year and culminated in an equally phenomenal night!  If you've stuck it out and read all five of these posts then I congratulate you!  Feel free to to leave a comment in the box below with any questions or comments you have about my posts or the awards themselves.  And be on the look out for my next post (I have a few "Luke's Top 10's" in the works). Thanks so much for reading!  In the words of the legendary Neil Patrick Harris, "Go see a Broadway show!"

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