Now, that is what a Tony Awards telecast should look like.
Between its incredibly charming and talented host, extremely deserving winners, and funny and well-executed performance numbers, last night’s Tony Awards were easily the most entertaining in years. (The ratings supported this — according to Deadline, rating were the highest since 2009 and up 20% over last year.) Here’s what I thought were the best and worst moments of the show — and notice, there’s a lot more “best” than “worst.”
BEST: Neil Patrick Harris, Neil Patrick Harris, Neil Patrick Harris
What can’t this man do? He sang, he danced, he rapped, joked, he charmed — last night, Neil Patrick Harris was everything. Here’s hoping when How I Met Your Mother finally goes off the air he will hightail it back to New York City to star in a Broadway show.
BEST: The Opening Number
The dazzling show-opener had a little bit of everything — literally, as the casts from almost every Broadway show were accounted for. Instead of feeling cluttered and overproduced, however, it was a powerful statement about the spectacle that Broadway can be, and Neil Patrick Harris sold it with expert showmanship, jumping through hoops, executing a cheerleading lift, pulling off a magic trip, playing the guitar and more. And here’s a confession — I actually teared up during the part where he declared, “So we might reassure that kid, and do something to spur that kid, because I promise you all of us up here tonight, we were that kid.” Go, Neil, go.
BEST: The Failed TV Star Moment
Featuring Andrew Rannels, Laura Benanti, Megan Hilty and Harris, this ingenious number hysterically skewered the TV/theater conundrum with lyrics set to tunes like “America,” “What I Did for Love” and “Ladies Who Lunch”. Rannels, Benanti and Hilty’s shows may have been canceled, but in this number they reminded us how much talent (and how much of a sense of humor) they possess.
BEST: The production numbers
Usually there are a couple of moments during the Tonys that just don’t work, and you end up a little embarrassed as you watch with your hands in front of your face. It’s hard, after all, to fully represent a 2 1/2 hour musical in a 3 minute number. But last night nearly all of the production numbers represented their shows in the best light. The Matilda and Christmas Story kids performed their faces off, Pippin’ wow’ed with its acrobatics, and Jane Lynch showed off a surprisingly supple singing voice. There was no Dreamgirls-esque tour de force, and I could quibble with Kinky Boots‘ choice of song (I personally wish they’d gone with a number that showed Billy Porter in drag — perhaps “The Sex is in the Heel”), but all in all I was very impressed.
WORST: The Rascals performance
I’m pretty tuned in to what’s happening in the theater world, and I can honestly say I didn’t know this was a show. Or why they were given a performance slot on the Tonys.
BEST: The Speeches
From Judith Light’s moving gratitude about being so warmly embraced by the theater community, to Cicely Tyson’s regal acceptance of her Best Actress trophy, the heartfelt, authentic joy from the winners was infectious. There wasn’t a clunker among them. However…
WORST: The Trigger Happy Orchestra
I get it, the show was running long on time. But completely playing off Steppenwolf Theater Company’s Martha Lavey, and daring to cut off the divine Ms. Tyson were unforgivable offenses.
BEST: The deserving winners, especially Billy Porter
For once I couldn’t quibble with a single winner (10 of the 13 people I declared “should” win in my predictions post took home a prize), and actually found myself jumping for joy on four separate occasions — Cyndi Lauper’s victory for Best Score, Patina Miller’s win for Best Actress in a Musical, Kinky Boots for Best Musical and most especially Billy Porter for Best Actor in a Musical. Porter has been working his ass off for more than 20 years, and he has found the role of a lifetime in Kinky Boots. How thrilling to see him soak up his moment.
BEST: Audra McDonald dropping the mic
The gif says it all. She’s gangsta.
What did you think? Was this the best Tony Awards telecast in years? Did you love Neil Patrick Harris as much as I did? What was your favorite number?
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