Theater Thursdays: Tony Awards Recap

If you’re a theater aficionado, a musical theatre nerd, or perhaps a faithful Broadway patron, it’s extremely likely that you watch the Tony Awards every year. If you’re like me, you plan your schedule around it, order a pizza, and cry at every beautiful and inspiring performance, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and bad host jokes. This year, as you all know, I was so fortunate to be in NYC only a few weeks ago and I got to see a few of the shows that were nominated and won awards. It was a brilliant season on Broadway, and so many of the shows I wish I had seen will hopefully be around for a while.

I was not impressed with the Opening number this year. For some reason, the producers decided to combine the opener, a strange montage of Hugh Jackman bouncing around the theater, crossing paths with all the performers set to take the stage that night, with After Midnight’s Best Musical Nominee performance. Of course, After Midnight was absolutely spectacular, with incredible tap and jazz and some soulful songs from the 20’s. But compared to last year’s opening, where Neil Patrick Harris led cast members of every current musical on Broadway in a number written specifically for the Opener about celebrating Broadway…well, this year fell short.

For reference, here’s last year’s mind-blowing opening:

And here’s the 2014 Opener (sans After Midnight):

Weird, right? I was sort of like, wait…that’s it? Did you see last year’s opener???

Anyway, this year’s Tony’s were PACKED with performances, including numbers from Aladdin, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, After Midnight, Wicked, Bullets Over Broadway, Rocky, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Violet, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, as well as preview performances of upcoming shows Finding Neverland and The Last Ship.
My favorite performance was tied between my favorite Broadway Show Les Miserables, and the Best Musical Winner, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Les Miserables has such a phenomenal cast, and while I’m certain that Hedwig is a great show, I was very disappointed that Les Mis didn’t win some well deserved awards. Here’s their breathtaking performance of “One Day More”, headed by Tony Nominee Ramin Karimloo:

I will be reviewing this spectacular production later this summer. It probably doesn’t help that this is my absolute dream show. If I could choose to be in one show on Broadway, even just to be in the ensemble, it would be Les Miz.

My other favorite performance of the night was from Best Musical Winner A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Tony Nominee Jefferson Mays (who plays the entirety of the D’Ysquith clan, and dies eight times during the show because of it) introduces the performance, showing the audience how quickly he changes costumes backstage (a question I was curious about myself, having seen the show and marveled at his speed of changing characters). Check out this performance of my favorite song from the show: “I’ve Decided to Marry You”.

For those of you who don’t know, Jefferson Mayes plays eight different characters throughout the show, all who are murdered by the main character in the hopes of becoming the next Earl of Highhurst. It is massively hysterical.

The other performances were wildly entertaining, from awe-inspiring Tap numbers from After Midnight and Bullets Over Broadway, to intricate boxing choreography in Rocky, to a gorgeous and nostalgic performance of “For Good” from another of my favorite musicals, the incomparable Wicked. Idina Menzel proved that she is still the queen of the power ballad by belting out a number from If/Then, and the cast of Violet performed a rousing medley from the nominated revival, headed by the brilliant Sutton Foster. James Monroe Igelhart, who took home the well-deserved award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the Genie in Aladdin, wowed the audience alongside Adam Jacobs and the cast of Aladdin in my favorite number from that show, “A Friend Like Me”. ( you can find my review of Aladdin HERE)

Audra McDonald made history by winning a sixth Tony (Best Actress in a Play).

Lorraine Hansberry’s beautiful play, led by Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun, took home the Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

Radio City was filled with not only Broadway Masters but Hollywood Stars as well. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame took the Tony for Best Actor in a Play (All the Way), and Neil Patrick Harris received the award for Best Actor in a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Film and TV stars filled out the presenters roster, including Zachary Quinto, Kenneth Branagh, Zach Braff, Zachary Levi, Leighton Meester, Samuel L. Jackson, Tina Fey, Lucy Liu, Clint Eastwood, among many others.

Jessie Mueller took the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Her powerful and inspiring performance included sharing the stage with Carole King herself, and the two, joined by the rest of the cast, belted out “I Feel the Earth Move”.

Hugh Jackman hosted the show, and while I actually probably prefer his hosting rival Neil Patrick Harris, Jackman does a great job, singing and dancing his way through the show with ease (he does have his own Tony Award after all). Some of the jokes were a little pointed, though Broadway knows how to laugh at itself far better than Hollywood does, and you see the difference in tone at the end of the ceremony where the entire audience is on it’s feet dancing and singing together, something you would never see at the Oscars.

This doesn’t  cover everything that happened in the packed three hours that were televised (and not everything that happened during the ceremony was broadcast). The Tony Awards are always a special treat for musical theater dreamers like myself, and because I saw some of the shows that were nominated and won, it was even closer to my heart than usual.

Can’t wait till next year!

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