"And Then To Get The Tchotchke!": 5 Stinky Thoughts on The 2007 Tony Awards

Thought #1: Maybe They Can Call Them The Angelas.
The Tony bug burrowed into StinkyLulu's soul during the big bad 80s, the decade abutting one of the best Tony broadcasts ever (1984) against one of the absolute worst (1985) and during which Angela Lansbury (at the crest of her Murder, She Wrote fame) became the first of a series of hosts brought in to "save" the Tonys' always beleaguered ratings (just like Rosie O'Donnell did a decade later, and Hugh Jackman did a few years after that). Indeed, LaLansbury will, in some ways, forever be the true host of The Tonys in StinkyLulu's Tony-lovin' heart. So, at the outset of Sunday's broadcast, 'twas truly a thrill to hear Miss Angela's resonant proclamation: "Welcome to the 61st Annual Tony Awards!" 'Tis a blend of old-school Broadway verve and my own particular nostalgia, & 'twill likely ever be one of Lu's favorite line-readings ever.

Thought #2: Audra McDonald Can Do Anything.
This woman.
So sweet.
So accessible.
So versatile.
So talented.
Betcha she could even make Starlight Express emotionally compelling...

Thought #3: Yo, Tony Voters! Sometimes...
...I Just Hate You ...For Not Only Were Kiki & Herb Robbed... But So Were We! What oh what would it have been to witness Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman give an acceptance speech on national broadcast television? While David Hyde Pierce's coming out was sweet and elegantly accomplished, I would've must preferred the freaktastic queerness that would have inevitably snuck into the proceedings with Justin Bond on that stage. Ah well. At least you know that the devastating humiliation will provide Kiki excellent fodder for banter and repartee for, oh, forever. (Losing to a wooden puppet? Puh-leez.) But still. StinkyLulu officially registers hate for the Tony voters' insipid predisposition to convention on this one.

Thought #4: What?! I want to see The Color Purple?! How'd that happen?!
Ya gotta hand it to whoever it was who thought to cast American Idol's Fantasia in The Color Purple. LaChanze's "upset" win last year seemed an important reminder that, as sprawling a piece as it is, the story is really all about Celie and, as such, the musical provides an extraordinary star showcase for a youngish black woman with good pipes and lots of charisma. Fantasia's reviews have been solidly complimentary and her performance last night (somehow "in character" even though she was wearing a gothic wedding cake of a dress) gave an exciting enticement to see the show (even more than last year's LaChanze charmfest). Hey, put Melinda Doolittle in the touring production, why dontcha!

Thought #5: Spring Awakening's Rent Impression: False Advertising?
For perhaps the very first time ever, StinkyLulu actually had seen one of the best musical nominees prior to the broadcast. (Not only did StinkyLulu see Spring Awakening on a late January trip to NYC, but Lu subsequently rearranged a lecture course this past semester to incorporate a full day's attention to the new musical and the Wedekind original.) In the intervening months, StinkyLu's been rooting for Spring Awakening's success, while committing the original cast recording to memory. All of which made the medley/montage performed at Sunday's broadcast all the more treatsy. 'Twas excellent to see the female ensemble featured, as much of the media has been fascinated by the boys. 'Twas also nifty to be given a glimpse of three separate (and totally different) numbers, melded into a crowd-rousing commercial for Spring Awakening as RENT-redux. (Though 'tis false advertising of sorts. Because, while there is much leaping and some dancing on tables, Spring Awakening has no "La Vie Boheme" -- indeed, there's not a clearly celebratory song in the show. Indeed, while the show matches RENT's power of ensemble feeling, Spring Awakening's intelligence, complexity and emotional sophistication really stomps new circles in the "rock" musical as a form.) But the niftiest aspect of the curiously frankensteined number? The way they "adapted" the profanities to CBS standards and practices -- with some lyrics adapted, with other deleted lyrics created some of the night's most interesting theatre. The startling but evocative "gaps" in "Totally F*****" were amplified by additional choreography -- arms crossing in an "x" before the performer's mouth, index finger raised and shushing the lips, hands clasped across mouths -- gestures that both acknowledged the censorious nature of the adjustments while also elaborating upon them in ways totally in tune with the musical's style, tone and message. 'Twas one of those rare occasions in which a performance adapted cruelly for television adeptly communicated the original spirit of the piece, adding surprising elements rather than merely removing the offensive bits...

1 comment:

criticlasm said...

I was so upset about Kiki & Herb. Robbed. They were robbed.

And Audra--what's most amazing is that right before this she played the sexy siren in nothing but a corset in Mahagonny at LA Opera and was the best thing in the show. To switch gears and do that is truly incredible. Marin Mazzie did it out here a couple of years ago, and I thought it was surprising she didn't do it, but after seeing Audra do one number, I see why--talk about elevating the material.....