Highs And Lows: The 2014 Tony Awards

As we discovered last year, even hardcore theater lovers have to admit that not every Tony Awards moment can be the best. The 2014 awards were no exception. There were some great moments, some so-so ones, and that weird period where Hugh Jackman hopped around tracked by a steadicam. Whether you watched as a theater nerd or as a confused CBS viewer who just wanted The Good Wife, I think you’ll agree that the awards were a mixed bag. On to the highs and lows!

Low, like literally vacillating between 0 and 5 inches off the ground: Hugh Jackman, hopping for the entire opening sequence

At first I thought this was a reference to something … theatre-y, or Australian, or pop cultural that I didn’t know about. But according to Twitter, if there was a reference, nobody got it. Is hopping something that’s happening? The new parkour?

Middle, like a food that is neither sweet nor sour nor delicious nor necessarily awful (eg, Musical Soylent): The Les Mis number

Man, we do like Les Mis (I mean, we liveblogged the movie), but this was just dull. I spent the whole of the number contemplating whether to eat this mini Twix bar I found outside earlier today. I didn’t, because while my standards are low enough to bring garbage candy inside from the ground, they are higher than eating candy that, I reasoned, could have been peed on. Like, that life decision was more interesting to me than watching Les Mis.

Lower, like I guess my expectations should have been: Aladdin: The Musical

I love Disney, musicals, and – I’ll admit it – musicals based on Disney films. So why did that Aladdin number do absolutely nothing for me? One of my earliest theater memories is going to Cats with my family and my dad, during intermission, asking with incredulity: “I don’t get it, is this supposed to mean something?” Exactly, dad. Exactly.

[Evidently my dad thought that Cats was so stupid that he assumed that it must have been existing at a deeper level for so many people to like it. Like, We are all Cats. Or something.]

Higher than most people can sustain for a comfortable amount of time, like that high note at the end: Idina Menzel singing Always Starting Over

This lady is always a pro. Also, it feels like a true honor and privilege to hear her singing something –  anything – other than Let It Go.

Seems like it should be super high but actually isn’t, like when you get up close to Cinderella’s Castle at Disney: Rocky: The Musical

Movies can make great musicals, and over-the-top technological feats can spice up a show – part of me is still the 9-year-old who was blown away by the crashing chandelier in Phantom Of The Opera and the helicopter in Miss Saigon. Yet, the high-tech snippet of Rocky left me a little cold.

Way, way up high, like when I was watching this and my heart felt like it was being elevated by the fluttering wings of butterflies: Pinkham Bryce’s performance in A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder

I think I get frustrated with some shows that seem like they’re catering to the least common denominator. That’s why it’s so refreshing when a show is actually clever. And Pinkham Bryce, well … he’s sort of easy on the eyes, isn’t he?

Soaring high, like an eagle: Audra McDonald’s historic Tony win

Who needs to EGOT when you can just collect ALLLL the Tonys instead? Audra McDonald is a true living legend and a class act, and it doesn’t even get old seeing her win. Although, I’m sure there’s a reason this wasn’t classified as a ‘musical’ but I’m not positive of what it is.

Soaring high, like a bird that flies in a more fun way than an eagle does, maybe a pelican or something: The Hedwig And The Angry Inch performance

Okay, while I love smart musicals, there’s something awesome about shows that are just a lot of FUN. The actors and crowd alike were having an absolute blast during this number, and ultimately that’s what theater is all about. I mean it’s also about expressing the human experience, but sometimes the human experience is fun, okay? Also, bonus cameo by NPH’s adorable husband David Burtka.

Just sort of flitting along, like a bird that doesn’t really go up quite that high – perhaps a baby sparrow or a hummingbird: The Commercials

CBS really out-CBS-ed itself. Is it just me or was ad for Old People Medicines, insurance, and cat food?

High, like a person on meth, I guess?: Bryan Cranston’s win

We ragged on Cranston’s sub-par headshot on the Tony website = not exactly “Faces Of Meth” level, but just not trying. But clearly, he didn’t need to try too hard. The Tony was already in the bag.

 Higher than I would have thought, like my cholesterol even though I’m a vegetarian who works out, I mean what the hell: Violet

If the wedding episode of Full House taught us one thing, it’s that incorporating a robed gospel choir can only make things more spectacular. And Sutton Foster – Jo March of my heart – is always a great fit for those “small town girl makes good” roles.

Lower than I would have thought, like the depressed spirits of so many Irishmen: Sting

He looked and sounded completely like someone that my uncles would hang out with at the Ancient Order Of Hibernians. Not sure if he’s playing an Irish character or just, you know, a sad guy.

Mid-range, like the kind of blah clothes that end up in the ‘donate’ pile when you pare down your wardrobe : For Good

The only thing that a 10 year anniversary of Wicked accomplishes is reminding me that 10 years passed in the blink of an eye. I would not have the mental fortitude to sing Elphaba in front of Idina Menzel herself, and frankly, I don’t think the actress last night did, either. The blending was so-so, both vocally and on Galinda’s wig cap, which covered half of her forehead. Does she have a giant, weird hairline? A facial tattoo? WHY?

Low, like the droopy flopped arms of a white person standing around not knowing how to dance: LL Cool J and TI doing that Music Man thing

They rapped about the Music Man. They told the crowd to get on their feet. The crowd obeyed. Then they all stood there, self-consciously unsure of what to do with their arms. I know the feeling.

High, like the pitch of the audible gasp I let out: Carole King’s appearance during the Beautiful performance

I knew King was there, obviously. I knew Beautiful was performing, of course. But it somehow never occurred to me that Carole King would sing with them. If this made Jessie Mueller nervous as hell, as it would for most humans, she didn’t let on.

Low, like the pit deep in my stomach: Bullets Over Broadway and the reawakening of latent Woody Allen feelings

You know, when all this Woody Allen stuff came back up, I thought “man, it would make it easier if someone would just tell me the proper way to react to this.” Then everyone DID tell everyone else the proper way to react. And it didn’t particularly help. Anyway. Catchy song, right?

Low, like something that just draaaags on and on, like maybe something hanging from the fender of a car: Hugh Jackman’s song before the Best Actress In A Musical award

It was 10:50 pm. Yet, an 11 o’clock number, it was not.

Low, like my glasses would be, on the bridge of my nose, in disapproval, like a librarian from yesteryear: Finding Neverland

I liked Finding Neverland The Movie. I already hate Finding Neverland The Musical That Doesn’t Exist Yet But Is Somehow Performing At The Tony’s. The former was charming, the latter involved Jennifer Hudson in a modern, sequined dress wailing about Neverland as small Edwardian boys jump on a bed and a female, Ginnifer Goodwin-y Peter Pan flitted around.

Advertisements

Ugly Cry & CGI Waists: Live Blogging Les Miserables

We saw Les Mis and took notes during the movie, because we’ll do anything to become internet famous. Obvi there are spoilers ahead, but in our defense, this musical’s been out for 25 years.

T: The Overture is playing and I’m already fighting the urge to sing along.

M: Just me, or do the first chords of the overture sound like the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, another beloved musical set in 19th century France? I am now composing a mental mash up: “Little town, it’s a quiet village (At the end of the day you’re another day older), Every day like the one before (And that’s all you can say in the life of the poor).” Works pretty well.

T: A straggler walks up the stairs next to us wearing an ugly Christmas sweater (non-ironically); reminds me I’m in the suburbs where people actually do that.

M: Okay, SO funny Traci should mention that, because I made a mental note to ask her whether she’s missed Western NY fashions and coiffure. [My physical note, however, simply read “THIS SWEATER.”]

T: Wondering if Hugh Jackman’s gnarly beard is real. It looks like a grey Brillo pad.

M: Why does Valjean have an accent out of a 1950s western? This shit is getting rhotic

T: Note to self: Look up the ginge Foreman in the factory where Fantine works, looks famil.

T: Alright. I had my doubts about Princess Diaries when I saw the first trailer, but seeing her in I Dreamed a Dream is basically why she deserves all the awards. This also marks the first time I teared up.

M: Anne Hathaway is one of the most phenomenal ugly criers I’ve seen. I hope that is taken as the compliment that it is. Her crying deserves its own blog post. (T note: Don’t worry guys, it’s coming)

“If I don’t get an Oscar for this, I swear to God…”

T: Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are on point as Madame and Monsieur Thenardier. Except Cohen’s accent is questionable, pretty sure I heard Borat sneaking in there.

M: I am just confused. Why is Sacha Baron Cohen being allowed to do what I assume is supposed to be a French accent? See, this is why most movies set in non-anglophone countries just make everyone sound vaguely British: consistency. And so accents like this don’t happen.

T: So here’s the thing with going into a movie-musical adaptation with knowledge of the music so well: you can’t help but go in comparing the new version to the original. In this case I’d say everyone made it their own… Except Russell Crowe. This was especially evident during Stars. His performance was mediocre at most, and felt flat the entire time. It was like a high school student singing in his chorus concert. This number is supposed to be the first breakout song for Javert, a song that expresses his desire to hunt down JVJ, but it felt like Russell was just trying to focus on hitting the notes. And everyone knows he’s a good actor, but it just did not show at all in the movie. If you want to see a real version of Stars, watch Phillip Quast.

M: I am getting so much secondhand vertigo from Javert walking on this ledge. I feel like I’m going to sympathy puke like I’m in third grade and the teacher has just brought out that vomit-muffling sawdust. Also I see what you’re doing here, Les Mis.

T: Fun fact: Nick Jonas of Selena Gomez’s ex-bf played Gavroche on Broadway when he was a little kid. He went on to play Marius in the west end production in 2011, where Samantha Barks, who plays Eponine in the movie, also played Eponine to Nicky’s Marius. They both were in the 25th anniversary concert production which I remember watching and felt second hand embarrassment for Nick J, even though I love him (no shame).

M: No wait. Just wait. The kids are all so Cockney that I think Cosette’s going to tell Thenardier “please sir, I want some more” and call JVJ “gov’nah.” What sort of Parisian United Nations is this supposed to take place in? Let’s make it easy: BBC accents for rich people, chav-speak for poor people.

T: AARON TVEIT!!!! I seriously forget every time that Aaron is in Les Mis as rev leader Enjorlas. To theater nerds, you know who he is. To everyone else, you may recognize him as Trip Archibald, Nate’s politician cousin that seduced Serena in Gossip Girl. Or as I know him, a smokeshow Broadway singer that I’m in love with.

M: This anachronistic hair is killing me! Who would have cut Eponine’s side bangs for her? That’s pretty high maintenance for someone who likely would have bathed about as often as she celebrated Christmas.

T: Can someone explain to me why Samantha Barks is so so tiny?! Corset probably? Or like that ancient Chinese foot banding thing but for her waist?

M: God Christ Jesus, Samantha Barks’s waist was achieved with CGI… Right? Mother of God there is no hope for the rest of us.

CGI, yes?

T: Can someone also explain to me why I found Hugh Jackman attractive while he was wearing his Seinfeld puffy shirt and lederhosen??

M: I have grown so old that I can’t sit one way for 20 minutes without my knees hurting. I bet this is super distracting to the people behind me. I mean I hope it is, this girl has kicked my seat back at least once a musical number.

M: My notes during On My Own read “Joey Potter.” I meant this. Holmes killed it. She made that song die.

T: Oh hey, remember that time when my favorite (least favorite) Taylor Swift was almost cast as Eponine? Really dodged a bullet with that one.

M: New blog post: Les Mis songs as written by Taylor Swift? “She wears hoop skirts, I wear corsets, She’s petit bourgeois, I’m just a street kid…”.

M: Are these ridiculously attractive young men representative of what Frenchmen look like? I don’t remember seeing so many handsome gents when I went there, but if someone can confirm I may have to go back.

M: I was cringing the second Gavroche began singing Little People. Don’t even start, lil buddy! It’s not going to go great.

T: Pretty sure I heard somebody snoring during Empty Chairs.

T: Eddie Redmayne tho. WTG.

T: Something I’ve never thought about before: why was it so easy for Cossette and Marius to fall in love after making googly eyes at each other and signing a duet through a cast iron fence? I’m available to do that with a suitor at any time.

M: Why is only Eponine’s face wet? Little fall of rain, indeed.

M: Alright, there it goes on Marius.

M: Dude, no. Javert, no. Get off the ledge. I’m getting a headache.

T: JVJ’s death scene (kind of) verbatim:

JVJ : I can die now. I’m over this.

Fantine: Yes, come hang out with me and all these boys from the rev.

Cossette : No, don’t die. You can’t die.

JVJ: Yes I can.

Cossette: No you can’t!

JVJ: Yes I can, woman! Watch me. PS: Here’s a letter I wrote about my life because I couldn’t tell you when I had the chance.

JVJ dies.

T: Total times I cried: 4. Sounds about right.

M: Cried less than I thought! Like twice-ish. Little tears. I thought I was going to go full-Hathaway.

T: In case you were wondering: ginge foreman was no one. I’m not always right about these things.

M: Just so you know, a lot of people have been googling “Samantha Barks waist” and now I’m oddly concerned that she’ll find out and get self-conscious. Girl, ya look good. I mean she’s probably doing fine, right? Yeah.