Last night were the 2004 Tony Awards, the world's best award show with no viewers. I hadn't seen them in a few years and had pretty much forgotton exactly how much better they are than the Oscars. I think the most noticable thing was that the stage actors are far more articulate and poised than their film counterparts. Sure, some of the acceptance speeches involved some babbling and crying, but for the most part, the stage actors seem to think on their feet better. The other beautiful thing about the Tonys is how extremely live they are. This was well demonstrated when Hugh Jackman, our host, best actor nominee, and eye candy was performing as the flamboyant Peter Allen and took a break to embarrass Sarah Jessica Parker (who knew it was possible?) by offering her the sound marital advice that she should consider giving Matthew a lapdance, and trying to get her to dance the lambada with him. The problem was that she was wearing an extremely low-cut push-up dress that was threatening a wardrobe malfunction at any moment. In any case, it was definitely live TV. The other great moment of that was when Billy Joel was presenting and his cue line wasn't in the tele-prompter and then when it was it was lame and he commented on it, which was pretty amusing. What was also nice was that first thing he did was thank his dad and the other men who were part of the D-Day invasion.
I'll spare you the play-by-play of the whole show, but here are the highlights, with pictures. Lots of Hugh Jackman-y goodness.
So the show started out with Hugh singing a song about how this was "One Night Only." Not my favorite song. He did, however, sing it while dancing with three sets of three back-up singers from assorted shows and also while dancing with the Rockettes.
And then he had to talk. He was a bit winded by that point, but still highly decorative.
Early on, Audra McDonald won Best Featured Actress in a Play (what the Oscars call Supporting Actress, but this sounds more glamourous and less like an undergarment) which she deserved, making it her fourth Tony at the ripe old age of 33. Incidentally, she was also instrumental in my decision to write for the musical theatre, so I was rooting for her.
Kristin Chenowith did a fly-by in her Wicked
bubble, singing a version of her opening number but with the words changed to be about Hugh Jackman. She then spent the rest of her time floating offstage trying to get Hugh Jackman to commit to call her. As she finally disappeared, he said, "Well, I hate to blow her off like that..." (rim shot)
In one of the more disconserting moments, LL Cool J and Carol Channing presented an award together. Oddly, LL Cool J was not the disconserting part. Carol Channing trying to be ghetto was scary. LL did a cute rap version of "Hello, Dolly," and CC lifted up her skirt, which was even scarier. Fortunately, they eventually got her offstage. After that award, Hugh Jackman commented, "This just in, Carol Channing has been picked up in a drive-by shooting."
We saw scenes from all of the Best Musical nominees, both for the Best New Musical and Best Revival catagories. Fiddler on the Roof
performed "Tradition," starting with a fiddler on the roof of Radio City Music Hall. We heard the pivotal aria from Caroline, or Change
but I didn't like that. Same for the excerpt from Wonderful Town.
It was theoretically swing, but it was more people with funny postures in flapper outfits. They showed a clip from the revival of Big River
which was conceptually interesting because they did it both sung and in American Sign Language. We also got to see a bit of the revival of Assassins
, an incredibly dark show about all of the people who have at some point or other tried to kill an American president. Thankfully, Assassins
won Best Revival, keeping it from Fiddler
which need to stop being revived.
As the excerpt from Wicked
, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenowith and some chorus types performed "Defying Gravity" which was impressive on TV but is infinitely more so in person. Idina Menzel won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for playing Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, although they'd gotten her white again by the time she had to go accept it.
The cast and puppets of Avenue Q
did a rousing performance of "It Sucks to Be Me," one of the anthems of this R-rated version of Sesame Street (with full puppet nudity!) Avenue Q
beat out everyone's pick of Wicked
for Best New Musical, and even though I really liked Wicked
I agree with that decision, because Wicked
is fairly standard in a lot of ways (which is also why it's doing very well) but Avenue Q
is far fresher and edgier.
And then Hugh Jackman did his number from Boy from Oz
, which was also up for Best New Musical. Boy from Oz
is about the late songwriter Peter Allen, who was bisexual, married to Liza Minelli at one point, and very flamboyant. People who go to this show expecting to see Wolverine tend to be rather surprised. First of, he can sing and boy, can he ever dance. The number he performed last night was "I'm Not the Boy Next Door" and he performed it wearing a tight, sheer, leopard-sequined shirt, shiny gold pants, and leopard print shoes.
And then he did the aforementioned lambada with Sarah Jessica Parker, or at least tried.
Unsurprisingly, he got a standing ovation from the crowd when he won for Best Actor in a Musical.
All in all, good times. My goal: Win a Tony by the time I'm 30. 9 years to go...