Tag Archives: Tony Awards

Acceptance rocks

What a wonderful coincidence that I would see the Broadway musical Kinky Boots on the same day that DOMA was overturned!

kinky boots

Cindy Lauper’s show, which won six Tony awards including Best Musical, is all about accepting people for who they, and makes drag positively mainstream.

And shoes, of course.

But I can’t emphasize enough the impact that Best Lead Actor Billy Porter and his troupe of drag queens have on this show.  Honestly, it started out slow. S-L-O-W.  The opening number or two gave me pause.  It wasn’t until Billy came on the scene that I started to have hope…and a glimpse of what was to come in the second act.

Need I say it ends with a bang?

(And I’m sure, if it wasn’t set in England, they would have slipped in a ‘no more DOMA’ reference.)

Follow the trail of awards to Kinky Boots!

Keep calm and don’t carry on

I’m watching the Tony Awards, hosted by the phenomenal Neil Patrick Harris, and as always I am blown away by his ability to do it all. Sing. Dance. Tell a joke. Perform magic. And, most importantly…

Have a sense of humor about it all.

But once the Tony winners start taking the stage, that goes right out the window.

judith lightTake the lovely Judith Light, who won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

She graciously thanked everyone in the American Theatre Wing, the voters, her cast and crew, the box office workers, her family, her manager and agent, etc, etc.

And then she started talking to the theatre community.  Got all hyper-earnest and intense.  You could see sweat start to glisten on her upper lip, and veins pop out on her forehead.

And I just wanted to say, “Judith, chill.  Let’s get some perspective here.”

I mean, I had a letter to Sports Illustrated published in the mailbag of the June 10th issue, and you don’t see me standing on a street corner making speeches about it.

(Maybe tomorrow.)


August 15th is a big day in music history.

  • 1969: The Woodstock Music Festival opens.
  • 1965: The Beatles play Shea Stadium.
  • 1935: Will Rogers and Wiley Post die when their plane crashes after take-off in Barrow, Alaska.

Now, you might not put Will Rogers in the same music sphere as the Beatles, but for a Broadway fan, The Will Rogers Follies — winner of the 1991 Tony Award for Best Musical — is a pretty big deal.

Prior to that show, Will Rogers was just a name in the history books to me.  Once a year or so in movie theatres, I did see cans passed to raise money for the Will Rogers Institute, which funds medical research in asthma, tuberculosis and pulmonary diseases….but that was the extent of my knowledge.

Keith Carradine’s portrayal brought Rogers to life — his years in vaudeville and radio, his common sense approach to life, his wife, his politics and witticisms, and his love and support for the then fledgling aviation industry.

I used to listen to the musical’s soundtrack in my car driving back and forth to work…back when I had a car and actually worked in an office.  It has amazing energy and lyrics — perfect ‘pick-me-up’ music.

Who needs a car?  I’m gonna listen to Will today.

It is August 15th.

God save the people

So, by now you’ve all heard about The Book of Mormon on Broadway.

Winner of 9 Tony awards, including Best Musical.  Recipient of nary a bad review.

Well, get ready.

Obviously, I’m not gonna trash the show.  I’ve seen it twice.  It was a religious experience…the good kind.

What I do want to complain about is the barrage of celebrity backstage visits at BOM — with accompanying pics that get tweeted out into the stratosphere ad nauseam.

Case in point:  Katie Couric went to see BOM recently.  Early the next morning, she was tweeting all about it, with a link to a photo of her with the entire cast on stage. And is she holding a rose as well?

Talk about overkill.

Even the BOM producers bragged when Oprah descended upon the show this past Saturday night.  They immediately posted pics on their Facebook page.

Show lead Andrew Rannells tweeted out a snap with the goddess herself and Gayle, saying “I have no words for this.”

Well…isn’t that special.

Now, I get as star struck as the next person, but in this instance, I have to cry FOUL.

Ever since the show was declared “the musical of the century” by The New York Times, BOM tix have been near impossible to procure by mere mortals like you and me.  Celebs are a different story altogether.

If anything, the backstage and onstage photos ops should be given to Joe and Jane Nobody — not the folks who are already breathing the rarefied air in the premium seats.

Come on, BOM — God is watching.

Latter days

There are a lot of things I expect to find in Times Square.

Tourists.  Jammed sidewalks.  Street vendors.  More tourists.  Theatres.  Traffic.  Hey look — more tourists.

But ads for the Mormons — not the musical, the church — on every surface?

That’s a bit surprising.

The ad campaign by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was launched last week in Times Square in an attempt to re-brand the Mormon faith as “normal.”

The ads feature photos of ethnically-diverse, regular people.  One guy is even riding a motorcycle.

Yep.  Looks pretty normal from here.

Why the LDS church chose now to launch their campaign can be debated.  Is it because of the upcoming presidential campaign, which includes a Mormon GOP candidate?  I don’t know; he’s run before without their intervention.

Or is the timing and location of the campaign in response to the wildly successful Broadway show The Book of Mormon, which won nine Tonys (including Best Musical) and will no doubt go on to do a national tour?

If so, Church Fathers, worry no more.  The Book of Mormon is one of the most positive things to happen to your religion since the golden plates.  Everyone who walks out of the theatre knows more about your faith and the commonalities it shares with their own.

The humor unites us.  The ads?

They’re just more traffic.

Here’s to love

I have discovered the next Broadway hit.

It happened last night, quite by accident, while I was still basking in the glow of Sunday’s incredibly entertaining Tony Awards.  (A lineup of stellar performances + The Book of Mormon’s awards domination + the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris = GREATNESS.)

I plopped down on the couch for an evening of sloth, and what did I find on HBO?

Down with Love

Did you see it?  This 2003 romantic comedy was an homage to the 1960’s sex comedies starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day.

In Down with Love, Renee Zellweger plays a bestselling author who advises her readers to ‘give up men,’ a credo much at odds with journalist Ewan McGregor’s playboy lifestyle.  The two get involved in a relationship that is not what it appears.  Hilarity ensues.

I love this movie.  The script is smart and funny and filled with double entendres.  (These are my people.)  In one scene, the two leads work out separately yet together via split-screen; the effect is very, very naughty.

The costumes and set design are amazing as well.  The characters live in a New York City that alternates between cotton candy pastels and race car brights, not unlike the world imagined in this year’s Broadway smash How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

I imagine Down with Love as a musical; the movie was not, although Zellweger and McGregor did sing the title song over the movie credits.  And both can sing.

Oh, to have Ewan McGregor on Broadway.  Tony-winner David Hyde Pierce was in the movie version as well.

This may be my best idea to date.  Let’s bring Down with Love to the Great White Way!

What he said

Females of the world, take note.

If you’ve ever wondered what would capture the attention of men young or old, married or single, here’s your answer:

BAZINGA t-shirt

I’ll explain.

I attended the matinee performance of the revival of The Normal Heart on Broadway yesterday.  Jim Parsons — Dr. Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory — makes his Broadway debut in the play.  That’s why I went.  That’s why I wore the tee (with a black leather jacket).  Girl’s gotta represent.

I certainly didn’t expect to get smiles and hellos from every guy I passed — some with their wives and girlfriends in tow.

I also never expected to be mesmerized by this play.

The Normal Heart takes place during the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York City, centering around the experience of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group.

Joe Mantello, who plays Ned, gives a master class in acting.  Joe normally spends his time behind the scenes, directing award-winning Broadway productions.  Assassins.  Wicked.  Take Me Out.  Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.

Yep.  Those were all Joe.

He is surrounded by an amazing ensemble cast in The Normal Heart. John Benjamin Hickey (The Big C), who plays Ned’s lover Felix,  is the heart of the play, and Ellen Barkin, as the doctor fighting this new unknown disease, is its backbone, strong and sure.  (All three are nominated for Tony Awards, deservedly so.)

The Normal Heart is shades of light and dark, funny and sad, bitter and sweet.  I learned a lot about New York City and its response — or lack there of — to the AIDS crisis.  I saw some incredible performances.  I shed a tear or two.

And I learned the power of a tee.  Not a bad afternoon.

Wild about Harry

When it comes to Broadway theatre, I’m drawn to the new, the noteworthy and often the ‘not-long-for-this world.’  Revivals of 50 year-old musicals aren’t on my radar.

Two words got me in the theatre last night for a preview performance of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying:

Daniel Radcliffe

I saw ‘Harry Potter’ make his Broadway debut two years ago in the title role of Equus. My seat was literally on the stage, which made Daniel’s 20+ minute nude scene at the end of the second act a more detailed memory than I would like.

Daniel’s entire performance was brave and brilliant, and I was furious when he wasn’t nominated for a Tony.  But he didn’t sing or dance in the play — and hasn’t in any film role to date — so I was a bit worried for him before the show began last night.

There was no need.

Daniel probably could have charmed his way through the entire show like so many film and TV stars have in Broadway shows past.  But, as in Equus, he did the work.

Harry can really sing! And director Rob Ashford has turned him into quite the dancer in numbers with jaw-dropping choreography.  Even if you don’t give two cents about Daniel Radcliffe or John Larroquette — who is a lot of fun in his Broadway debut, albeit a bit of a fast talker — the show’s clever, clever dance numbers are worth twice the cost of the ticket.

The show is beautiful to look at, too — all art deco in the bright shades of a fruit salad.  And while the outdated subject matter is pure 1961, it has some modern references to Broadway, film and television that are unexpected fun.

The show got two standing ovations during the performance and an ear-splitting one at the final curtain, all well-deserved.

Now, let’s just work on those Tonys…

Yawn Broadway

The lights on Broadway were glowing a bit brighter this week after its 2010 numbers were announced.

Bigger revenues.  Higher attendance. The Great White Way must be doing something right.

Or is it?

The top money makers have been around a long, long time.  Wicked.  The Lion King.  Jersey Boys.  The Phantom of the Holy-Crap-People-Are-Still-Going-To-See-The Opera.

It’s not to say that many of these productions aren’t wonderful.  I would see Wicked once a week if I had tickets.  (I would see Phantom if it were deemed the appropriate punishment for a truly, evil deed committed.)

But I sometimes feel like the audiences visiting New York City exhibit the same caution towards their theater ticket purchase as they do what street to walk down in Times Square.

Always taking the safe route, the tried and true, and — more and more so — Disney-approved.

So by the time the Tony Awards roll around in June, many of the shows nominated will have already closed due to low audience turnout.

Case in point:  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Bloody was a smash hit Off-Broadway and made the leap to the Great White Way earlier this year.  Critics loved it.  Audiences?  They went to Wicked and Lion King, which I saw in previews in 1994.  That’s 1994.

Come on, people.  You’ve seen the movie.  You probably own the movie.  Your kid lost their stuffed Simba before they started college.

Bloody was funny and irreverent and semi-educational.  And, yes, just edgy enough to remind you all…

You’re in New York City.

The envelope please…

Awards shows?  I’m a fan.

Even though the entertainment value is spotty at best, I still like to watch.  You never know when an overexcited, drunk celebrity is going to say or do something really embarrassing.

Television at its best!

Last night I added a new awards show to my annual must-see list  — the ESPYs, ESPN’s sports awards.  I’ve never watched them before because, well, they’ve never been hosted by Seth Meyers of SNL.  He was the draw.  I thought it would be a fun show.

And it was.  Ya know why?

The awards were almost an afterthought.  The show was all comedy and musical numbers.  When the ESPYs did focus on an award — like the Courage Award, for example — they did these amazing pieces of sports journalism that were beautifully written, photographed and edited.  You couldn’t look away.

It was an awards show, but first and foremost, it was entertainment.

And as an awards show junkie, I just want to say thank you.  And I hope the producers and directors of the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys were watching.  You could learn something.

Oh — and I’d like to highlight my favorite acceptance speech of the night…from the Best Breakthrough Athlete, Chris Johnson of Tennessee, who so clearly defined our priorities in the digital age:

“First of all, I want to thank God, most of all. Without Him it wouldn’t be possible. I want to thank all the fans who voted for me, I want to thank all my friends and family. I want to thank Ustream and I want to thank Twitter most of all. And if you got a Twitter, follow me at ChrisJohnson28.”

Long live the awards show!