Tony 2014 Reflections

Another Broadway season done, and another great awards show.

Even though the telecast is never perfect, never fits exactly what I want it to be, it’s still one of my most top TV watching experiences of the year. So I only guessed 14 categories correctly out of 26 and Aladdin only took home one award (woo-hoo James Monroe Iglehart!) but, most importantly, the Tony Awards made me excited for shows I haven’t seen and made me remember some of the best moments I experienced ON stage this year.

It’s impossible to figure out where to start so how about that Aladdin performance?

It’s obvious that “Friend Like Me” best showcases the magnificent and Tony-nominated, James Monroe Iglehart. He sells it, completely. I know that the number was modified from the show but I wish Aladdin (Adam Jacobs) could do a little bit more than look totally wide-eyed. Part of me wonders if a mash-up of this song + “A Whole New World” would have translated to TV better. “Friend Like Me” starts to feel a little too long at a certain point BUT I was so glad to see some of the awesome choreography!

Iglehart has always been the reason I want to see the show anyway so the number in no way changed my urgency to see it.

(Did anyone else wonder why Lucy Liu introduced Aladdin?)

This leads me to the rest of the performances. It’s a great opportunity for shows to see a bump in sales, and I was disappointed in the scene from Rocky the Musical. We just saw this last week, and believe me, I made fun of the idea when I knew it was coming to the stage but it was really, really good. Sure, the set was amazing and the end scene was fantastic but it was the music and Andy Karl as Rocky that really sold me. It’s a shame they didn’t focus on a song instead of spectacle.

(Standout performances for me were from Beautiful: the Carole King Musical and Violet.)

Isn’t he adorable? I loved his speech (the dance!) and his shout-out to Howard Ashman. But Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) were the most genuine and memorable for me. How do you feel about nominees making a list of people to acknowledge before they get up there? I think it’s all about delivery. Some people need the notes just to remember but if you are reading and act like you expected to win, well, that’s just not as fun to watch. It’s not heartfelt! The emotions were so real in both Lena and Audra’s speeches.

Definitely one of those years where there wasn’t a clear winner in any category: a smorgasbord of talent and tastes, that is for sure. Was I psyched Gentlemen’s Guide won Best Musical? Not totally. I haven’t seen it, and I’m still not sure it’s my thing. I thought any of the nominees had a really great chance. Even Best Actress in a Musical, totally tough with so many outstanding talents in one category. I wouldn’t have been upset with any of them being chosen as the winner.

(Here’s a full list of winners if you missed anything.)

Hugh Jackman — as always — was a total delight. I love his enthusiasm for Broadway, and it’s always so wonderful to have him for a three-hour block on TV. Sure, that opening was a little weird and the whole show could have been more efficiently time-managed (the In Memoriam segment should have been on TV — Philip Seymour Hoffman!!) but Hugh is so talented; it makes me want him back in NYC ASAP. (He’ll be back in a play in this fall. Why not a musical???)

My biggest disappointment was the lack of a performance from The Bridges of Madison County. This musical may not have been perfect but the two leads had the best chemistry I’ve ever seen, and the music was so so unbelievably beautiful. Yes, it closed prematurely but it ended up winning Best Score and Best Orchestrations! It should have had some kind of recognition on the telecast. (Those two awards were not even shown live.)

(The cast recording is on Spotify + you must listen to it.)

I have to say… I’m a little sad that Disney won’t have anything releasing in time for next year’s Tonys. The excitement can’t happen every year, I know. But I’ll be curious to see how the box office fares this week. The tickets for Aladdin are on the pricey side and still selling well, but will the show be able to keep up the momentum?

In the meantime, if you find yourself in NYC this summer, do check out a show. (My current recommendations are Fly by Night, which is playing off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, Rocky [yep I’m serious], Violet, and if you enjoy some awesome tunes and dancing then After Midnight is the place for you!)

Here’s to another great year at the theatre! (I already can’t wait for next year’s award season!)

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