Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What the Academy Awards meant for Broadway

Hello internet!  I know it's been forever since I've posted but life has kept me pretty busy.  I have a few posts in the works (including a "Top 10" that I'm particularly excited about) but I'm afraid it may be a few weeks at least before I can get them out.  However, until then I have a new source of posts.  You see, I have recently taken a position as a theater columnist at my College's local Newspaper which means that the columns I write for them can double as Blog posts for you (slightly edited of course)!  So the bad news is things like "Luke's Top Ten" and my reviews will become more few and far between, but the good news is that you will be getting a small 600-900 word post about current theatrical events twice every month!  So without further ado, here's my first blog post in a while, and my first Newspaper column, ever:

With the Olympics over, every TV in America tuned in to watch different kind of athletes vie for a different kind of “gold.”  That’s right, the 86th Academy Awards were a few weeks ago and like the rest of America, I was itching to see how the star studded event would turn out.  However, unlike many of the spectators, I wasn’t watching to see what everyone was wearing or what hilarious shenanigans Ellen DeGeneres would get herself into, I was looking to see which artists would be awarded for their work and what the lasting effect might be on cinema – and theater – in future years.  Yes, Broadway and Hollywood seem like they’re often competing, but in many ways what’s good for movies is good for theater too.   So while I was very happy for all the winners of last night, I was even happier to see some magical moments that were great for theater.

                If there was one movie that everybody in the theater community rallied behind, it was without a doubt Frozen, Disney’s record breaking animated musical based loosely off of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen.  There are several reasons that theater lovers everywhere wanted to see this show succeeded, the biggest of which being that a stage version of the show is already in development.  By winning Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (Let it Go), Frozen has proven to its producers that it deserves to be put on stage and to its eventual audience that the stage version deserves to be seen.  Speaking of Frozen’s awards, the happiest moment for me during the Oscars was watching Mr. and Mrs. Lopez win for Best Original song.  Not only because I legitimately love “Let it Go”  or because they gave the cutest acceptance speech ever, but because this couple has been a force in the theatrical community for several years now.  Yes the duo who wrote the music to Frozen and Winnie the Pooh are also the songwriters behind two of Broadway’s biggest smash hits: Tony Award winning Avenue Q and Tony/Grammy Award winning The Book of Mormon.  This means that anybody who loved the frozen soundtrack and wants to hear more music from its writers will be introduced to some of Broadways best music and possibly become theater fans for life.  Robert Lopez also brought some recognition to the theatrical community by becoming the youngest man ever to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award).  Of all of these prestigious honors, The Tony award (Broadway’s Oscar equivalent) is probably the least well known, so when people Googled,  it lead to more people reading the Wikipedia entry for the Tony Awards and maybe even some of the incredible shows that have won them in the past.

                Another great part about the Oscars this year was all the Broadway talent that was present.  Not only was the entire leading cast of Frozen comprised of Broadway alums, but other stars such as Meryl Streep, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dame Judy Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tracy Letts, and Angela Lansbury are all award winning stage actors.  Even though Oscar night was devoted to their cinematic achievements, they are all advocates for the theater and many of them have expressed interest in returning to the theater soon (and bringing buses of their fans with them).

                Finally, in addition to all the nominees, the ceremony itself served as a good commercial for theater.  For one thing, it included several live performances into its broadcast.  Even the best and brightest people in the movie business realized that if you need to entertain an audience, there’s no substitute for life performances.  Some of these performances featured Broadway stars (like the singer of Let it Go who definitely was NOT named Adele Dazeem), others celebrated movies that later became Broadway shows (such as the Wizard of Oz), but all of them were live and, I think most of will agree, they also made up many of the most entertaining parts of the show.  Additionally, I believe the promotion of award shows in general help encourage people towards the theater because if you liked the witty hosting, jaw-dropping performances, and community atmosphere of the Oscars, then you will LOVE the Tony Awards.  It’s all of that and more and, in my opinion, is a far more entertaining way to honor the best and brightest stars.  And I’m not the only one to hold this opinion, when Elton John was asked about his Tony Award experience in 2009, he said “It’s a lot more enjoyable than the Oscars…you’re entertained from start to finish.” 

So while that Sunday was a great night for Hollywood and it was also a great night for Broadway, but most of all it was a great night for excellence.  People who were the best at their respective fields were honored for their hard work and talent, and it’s that hard work and talent that will keep people coming back to the stages and the movie theaters for years to come.  

  So what about you?  What were your favorite Oscar moments?  Were you dissapointed by any of the winners?  Which Broadway personality would you like to see light up the silver screen next?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

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