The Tonys are even more important to me than the Oscars. I know. It’s just so loving and wonderful aaand, while everything is still political (like dislike of Harvey Weinstein causing his show ‘Finding Neverland’ to be snubbed entirely), it’s not as disgustingly political, and most winners and nominees are still very deserving. Also, musical numbers happen throughout the Tonys, not like the Oscars where it’s just one at the beginning if Hugh or Neil are hosting. And people cry more. And it’s so good. And they shout about gay rights and womens rights and everyone’s progressive and awesome. And everything is beautiful at the ballet. I mean Tonys.
I hate those stupid mainstream publications' recaps that focus on the '10 Best and Worst Moments' or some such brief and crappy stuff like that so I am sharing lots of moments that are worth discussing. 50 Odd Foot of Grunt as Russell Crowe would say. Without Hugh or Neil hosting this year, we didn’t get a great big musical opening, but hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming were adorable and pleasant. Despite their larger-than-life personalities, they presented a really low-key, almost casual ceremony this year, in a nice way. Let’s talk about what was good, bad, ugly, awesome, horrendous, and more. I’m doing this in chronological order because ‘Interstellar’ made me understand time on such a deeper level you guys.
The Best Camerawork:
When Alan Cumming began the show by singing ‘Willkommen’, his famous song from his famous role as the Emcee in ‘Cabaret’, a very wise cameraman cut to Joel Grey in the audience, who was the original Emcee on Broadway and in the movie. Best thing the crew did all night, maybe ever.
Second Best Harvey Weinstein Moment:
Kristin and Alan singing “Smile (though your heart is breaking)” to Harvey about how he shouldn’t be too upset his show got ridiculously snubbed because he can count his $1 million-plus weekly box office receipts was pretty funny. But ugh that whole political scene is nauseating. Harvey made some pretty terrible decisions on his first foray into Broadway and he made a lot of enemies in the community, but don’t take it out on the show, halfwits. The same thing happened with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s handling of the ‘Matilda’ transfer a few years ago, and people widely recognize that it was the RSC’s snootiness and terribleness that led to a slightly less deserving ‘Kinky Boots’ to win Best Musical. But, wait, for some reason I don’t feel that it was as wrong to take personal dislike for the RSC out on their show even though ‘Matilda’ is much better than ‘Finding Neverland’. Hm. Maybe it’s because Harvey Weinstein was nice to me when we met and the RSC has never even said hi to me.
Best Joke About Chenoweth’s Size:
When Kristin said that “acceptance speeches are endless…like my legs!” That was funny because she is so small. Do you get it? This was also the only necessary joke about her size.
Most Hilarious Performance:
How fantastic does ‘Something Rotten’ look? That’s #1 on my to-see list (from this season at least) for when I return to NYC. I am overjoyed at such an original musical being so successful and so wonderfully funny. I loved how their big number ‘A Musical’ alludes to so many classic musicals, like when they scrub floors for one split second and sing ‘it’s a mu-si-cal’ to the tune of ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’. So fun! I can't wait.
Worst Missed Opportunity for Unrelated Banter:
Debra Messing and Anna Chlumsky presented together and were wearing almost the exact same dress: same shade of purple, same crisscross neckline. Erma P! But aside from looking at each other and like faux smiling as they walked to the mic, they didn’t even acknowledge it! What the hell, guys! That could have been good! And Anna Wintour was sitting front and center (more on that later) and they didn’t even cut to her skin burning off in fashion-charged anger.
Good Job Doing A Shitty Thing:
I am not a fan of musical nominees performing medleys – it makes it seem like they don’t have one good song or one good production number to show off. They are always disjointed, and instead of sharing a few good songs, as they intend to do, the truncated versions of those songs aren’t good enough to convey what they want. But ‘The King and I’ did a good job with theirs, probably because you can’t screw up that music. So good job. I’m also glad that it allowed for the brilliant Ruthie Ann Miles, whom I love mostly because she took a funny selfie with me, to share some of her amazing solo “Something Wonderful”. She sounded nervous, but that’s understandable, given that it was her first Tonys performance in a big dramatic solo, it was a newfangled medley arrangement, and she was nominated for her first award. But the best part was when the kids were jumping up and down screaming backstage as Kristin and Alan sent to commercial. Now that was adorable.
Best Host Sight Gag:
When they returned from commercial after ‘The King and I’ performance, Alan was dressed as Anna in her big purple evening gown, singing ‘Getting to Know You’, and Kristin in a bald cap dressed as the King crawled out from under his skirt. So freaking funny.
Best Presenting Team:
Bobby Cannavale and real-life love Rose Byrne presented some category I don’t even care what it was I just love them to bits even though the last time I remember him being at the Tonys Sutton Foster was thanking him because they were together. Oops. Anyway I still love them. Hate her dress though.
Kind of Disappointing But Still Great Win:
I like spreading the love around, so I’m kind of upset Christian Borle won his second Tony in a relatively short time frame last night. I really wanted would-be first-timers Brad Oscar or Andy Karl (who was predicted) to win, and either adoraboy from ‘An American in Paris’ would have been deserving as well. I haven’t seen ‘Something Rotten’ yet (cannot wait), but I’ve heard that Borle as Shakespeare is amazing and it was really deserved; I’m sure it was. I just wanted someone to cry. He didn’t even seem surprised, like not at all, totally hey what’s up I’m here she’s here we made it, nothing special. Even if you are Melen Mirren and you are totally a lock, I want you to act surprised when you win a Tony.
Second Most Emotional Win for a Blonde:
I screamed in delight when Annaleigh Ashford won for her ridiculously hilarious turn in ‘You Can’t Take It With You’. She really did win for the worst dancing ever seen on any stage. I am so happy for her! She is such a wonderful talent and I can't wait to see what she does next. I hope it's another comedic role because she is probably the funniest comedian on Broadway right now. She really deserved to win for ‘Kinky Boots’, so I’m so glad she won for another very deserving performance. Also, her natural comedic power led to a pretty great speech: “Thank you to every friend I’ve ever had, to every teacher I’ve ever had, and everybody I’ve ever met!” She was so happy and adorable I almost don’t even care that she had notes.
Most Wooden Presenter:
Misty Copeland should not be the next dancer to move to Broadway.
Most Jaw-Dropping Historic Achievement:
TONY YAZBECK MADE ANNA WINTOUR SMILE.
As usual on the Tonys (so sad that they haven’t learned yet), the cameras had really weird angles during dances and were wayyyy too close during singing solos. Camera person! Move back during dance numbers! Let us see the whole stage at once! It’s okay if you stay still for more than 3 seconds! We won't think you stopped working or something! And stop taking cues from Tom Hooper during solos! Move the crap back! The audience is never 2 inches out and 1 inch down from a performer’s chin during actual performances so why do you think that’s a good idea for the Tonys?
It’s nice they did a short little dance tribute to Tommy Tune in honor of his Lifetime Achievement Award, but it would have been a helluva lot better if they let him dance. Or sing. Or accept onstage!
Um Okay #2:
Why is Ashley Tisdale on stage? Just because she was introducing her BFF Vanessa Hudgens? I really loved that she did indeed say ‘my best friend Vanessa Hudgens’ lolol like high school I did love that. But I’m best friends with Ken Watanabe and I didn’t introduce him. Also what you wearing girl. The performance by the cast of ‘Gigi’ would have been halfway decent but Tisdale’s BFF had too many loud awkward shrieks that weren’t in a high enough register so it just sounded kind of creepy. Too many pervy oh’s and ee’s. So awkward. It’s just an overall shame for ‘Gigi’ that it came out the same season as another adaptation of a classic movie set in Paris, written by Alan Jay Lerner, and directed by Vincente Minnelli, and the other one (‘American in Paris’) just happened to be 100x better.
Best Moment for Womankind Since Hillary Became President:
Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron not only wrote the best score and book of this year, and of many years actually, but they also made history as the first all-female writing team to win best score. That is HUGE. Depressing for our past, but uplifting for our future. Their work on 'Fun Home' is astounding, heart-breaking, beautiful, and so intelligent and layered that I’m still realizing deeper meanings for certain lyrics or lines. That is impressive work. Their speeches were so necessary too, with Jeanine saying that “girls need to see it to be it”, meaning that you can’t just pay lip service and tell young girls they can be anything they want; you have to show them that it’s possible by giving all women the chance.
I also almost wept when the most adorable Joel Grey called it ‘the new American classic’. It is.
Worst Moment for the Art Form:
The continued brush-off of the Best Score and Best Book categories as they are presented during commercial breaks. That is bullshit. Those two pieces are literally the only two components of a musical, yet they aren’t important enough to make the broadcast? What is that about?
Young Sydney Lucas, a Tony nominee for ‘Fun Home’ at the age of 11 and my choice if I were a voter, performed her big solo ‘Ring of Keys’, which is a genius look into the mind of a young girl as she realizes what is possible in terms of gender and its presentation and how all her jumbled thoughts can be reconciled as she discovers herself. The words sound exactly like something a 10 or so year old kid would say, yet they are still conveying an incredibly mature message and a brilliant look into what’s going on in her mind. And Sydney shows all of that when she sings this song. She is the best child musical actor probably ever and will win someday, I’m sure.
The camera is too close to her face, of course, because the camera people are drunk with power and don’t know how to channel it.
I thought the small bit with Kristin Chenoweth in an E.T. costume and Alan saying “I said FUN Home!” (get it, not ‘phone home’) was really funny, but terribly timed to almost coincide with the applause from Sydney’s performance. Just ain’t right.
Worst Timing (Serious):
When Marianne Elliott (yay female director!) was accepting the Best Direction for a Play award for ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ (a show I feel like I saw a decade ago in London and ya know it was just a’ight dawg, just a’ight), she mentioned that her agent died on their Broadway opening night. Shit.
Best Green Moment:
Ruthie Ann Miles was as shocked as everyone else when she won, and I am so so happy for her. Everyone expected one of the ‘Fun Home’ ladies to win, as I did, but I am super happy for Ruthie, whom I adore. She broke out just recently as Imelda Marcos in ‘Here Lies Love’ and is already such a force on Broadway, so yay Ruthie! Anyway, she took out her phone to read her speech - which you know I hate, I don’t want anyone to ever prepare anything or have notes – but she deadpanned “Please recycle” to the camera when acknowledging that she wrote her notes on her phone. Love it! I also love that she went on so long that she was actually tap-danced off by the ‘On the Twentieth Century’ porters, as the hosts said would happen in the beginning if the speeches went on too long. Ruthie’s face when she realized the source of that sound was priceless.
The tappers from ‘On the Twentieth Century’ reminded me that they were the best part of that terrible show and that Kristin deserved such a better vehicle for her talents. But again that’s a post for another time.
Most Exciting Commercial Break:
What is this movie, “Bridge of Spies”, and why have I never heard of it! It is total Oscar bait and I am so excited. It stars Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, like the best people ever, and I am really excited for Mark Rylance to win an Oscar and accept with a random poem and birds and have Hollywood be like, ‘am I hallucinating? What is happening up there?’ like he does when he wins Tonys. J’adore.
Grossest Misuse of a Celebrity:
Sting appeared only to thank the American Theatre Wing. Which is necessary and important, because the ATW makes all of this possible, but STING? Anyone could have read a few lines. Why didn’t they have Sting sing something? Or, better yet, feature ‘The Last Ship’, a very underrated show with hauntingly beautiful music?
Most British Moment:
The lead producer of ‘Curious Incident’, Tom Levy, accepted his award like someone just handed him a list of his duties for that work day. Like, I live in London now, I get that Britons aren’t allowed to smile or show emotion, but you just won a Tony, man! Get the stick out.
Most Adorable Fanboying:
Alan Cumming grasping his face every time he mentioned Josh Groban. I get it, man.
Funniest Host Bit:
I loved Kristin and Alan’s discussion of upcoming movie remakes of recent plays, especially when Kristin announced that she got the call for the animated version of ‘Skylight’ (oh dear) and was ‘playing the spaghetti bolognese’ that Carey Mulligan makes every night. Amazing.
Amanda Seyfried does not seem like a hoot.
Randomest Presenting Team:
Jennifer Lopez, Nick Jonas, and Kiesza. I mean. What? They introduced ‘Finding Neverland’ because they are all on the pop version of the album? What is THAT? J-Lo couldn’t stop laughing, Nick Jonas couldn’t even remember who he was so I doubt the audience knew. And that other girl, Kiesza? Is that the new Czech persona of Ke$ha??
Lamest Result of Overvoting:
Overvoting is when voters get so excited about a show that they just vote for it mindlessly, leading to it winning in categories it doesn’t really deserve. It gets swept up in the hype. The worst casualty in my book this year was for set design. ‘An American in Paris’ won, okay, cool. But did you even SEE ‘The King and I’? I have seen most Broadway productions for at least the past decade. A set piece has NEVER, EVER, EVER gotten show-stopping applause during a show, until I saw ‘The King and I’ and that boat that opens the show just leaves everyone spellbound. It is a miraculous piece of theatre magic and should have won. Fo shame.
Best Random Interaction:
Joe Manganiello, talking about Carnegie Mellon for some reason, asks fellow CMU alum Darren Criss who his inspiration was. A truly game Darren responds without a beat: “I’ve seen ‘Magic Mike’ so I have to say I learned a lot from you!” Now that actually makes me like Darren Criss a little.
Best Repeat Winner:
I am so, so thrilled that Michael Cerveris won for his devastating portrayal of the late Bruce Bechdel in ‘Fun Home’. While newcomer Robert Fairchild (whom Cerveris called Fitzgerald, suchhh a bad brain fart, Cerveza) would have been equally deserving, the role of Bruce is such an important one for Cerveris and for theatre. It’s just wonderful and heartbreaking and I don’t care at all about spreading the wealth here. (Also he won more than a decade ago.)
NPH’s Best Oscars Moment:
Neil Patrick Harris’s best moment as Oscars host actually happened at the Tonys. Before announcing Best Leading Actress in a Musical, NPH said he had made some predictions that were locked in a box the whole show, before he was stopped. Ha ha. You were not a great Oscars host, that’s the joke, tee hee. “That’s a drag, because it went so well last time!” Aw, NPH, we love you.
I can’t believe they didn’t televise the awarding of John Cameron Mitchell’s Special Tony for returning to the role of Hedwig. I love him and he probably said some wonderful things but I don’t know because stupid producers put him during the commercials. JCM DESERVES BETTER.
Worst Audience Reaction:
Stupid people who get to go to the Tonys/Oscars/Grammys/any awards that honors the deceased, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, woo and cheer for the person singing the In Memoriam. I don’t care that it’s Josh Groban, you make it seem like you are excited for the dead people. Then, once you get over the singer, DO NOT woo or cheer for the actual dead people FFS!!!!!! Who lets these people into the Tonys? Don’t applaud for the dead people you liked best you halfwits! Be silent and remember and honor all of these people. Don’t make everything a popularity contest you moronic shitbags I f-ing hate all of you who have applauded during an In Memoriam segment. I tweeted earlier that I hope anyone who cheers during an In Memoriam never gets to be a part of one, and while I think they would be really good punishment for most offenders, it's not enough. Just shut up, not everything is about how you feel about something.
KELLI MY QUEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kelli O’Hara, six-time nominee and the most deserving at least twice in the past (cough 2005 and 2014 cough), finally FINALLY won a Tony. And it was not out of sympathy, because I really think she gave the best actress performance this year. Kristin Chenoweth, the slightly more expected winner, gave a spectacular performance but in a terrible show, and Kelli added so much depth and roundedness to a character we thought we knew everything about, and stunned everyone with her never-ending wealth of talents. Also, she danced off the stage in glee. Now that was adorable!
Best Audience Reaction:
The standing ovation they gave the much-deserving, always deserving, completely patient Kelli O’Hara, the queen of everything.
Best Presenter Banter, Probably Ever:
Larry David and Jason Alexander, different versions of the same guy I guess, presented the award for Best Musical, but first they went on and on with each other about how Larry’s show wasn’t nominated but he’s the bigger man for showing up or is a loser and yada yada yada it was hysterical. Jason first said that tomorrow he will be replacing Larry in ‘Fish in the Dark’, to which Larry said, “Well…you’re not really replacing, you’re just stepping in.” To which Jason mentioned his 7 Emmy nominations. To which Larry mentioned that the true measure of a man is NOT being nominated but still coming to read a list of people who are nominated. On it went. It’s too bad Larry’s play is already sold out because I’m sure they would have sold a lot of tickets with that bit. “Laughing until their faces are contorted into an anguished mask, that can best be described as a sort of…Bells Palsy.” Then Larry said it was anti-Semitism that caused the lack of nominations for him and for Harvey Weinstein, who clearly loved that line. Amazing.
WTF (that's why not what) does Anna Wintour have a prime aisle seat?
So Who Won?
The point of the Tonys, at least for producers of current productions, is to get viewers to want to see their shows. So What do I want to see more than anything after this telecast? ‘Something Rotten’, which gave a fantastic performance, and ‘Hand to God’, funnily enough, which showed a really intriguing clip. And the beyond brilliant, beyond integral, totally flawless ‘Fun Home’ again. What do you want to see?