Another opening, another show. Another chance to joke about the Oscars mix-up.
The 2017 Tony Awards, our annual Super Bowl, were last night and proved to be a journey of excitement and disappointment all at the same time. While I don’t think anything will beat the excitement from last year’s #HamilTonys, this ceremony did have its good bits, but for every good bit there was a bad Kevin Spacey one. Here are some of our highs and lows from this year’s Tony Awards.
Lows: The Opening Number
I know Kevin Spacey is a respected actor/human etc. etc. but…. I was just not left that impressed with his Groundhog Day-inspired montage, highlighting all the nominated shows (although 10 points for Griffyndor for the tap dance break). Is it because we’ve been blessed with James Corden and Neil Patrick Harris in the past few years? Yeah, probably. I just expect to be left in tears by the end of the opening number. I don’t want it to end with a pun including “Your host is found”, no matter how many Dear Evan Hansen refs I long for.
High: It’s Been A Long Time Coming For Gavin Creel
Longtime Broadway and stage star Gavin Creel FINALLY won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! He was previously nominated for Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie (which made his win even more special because Sutton Foster handed him his trophy) but he’s one of those actors that has been around for so long (he’s only 41) that he’s got a strong fan base (and support from fellow actors) even without the Tony. I saw him in the national tour of The Book of Mormon a few years ago and couldn’t stop raving about him. Did you watch him last year in She Loves Me? Come on. His speech was perfect and awkward (1:45 THAT IS ME) and admirable (SUPPORT ARTS EDUCATION!). I love when well-deserving actors who’ve been in it a while finally get recognition. Also goes for Dear Evan Hansen’s Rachel Bay Jones!
High: Performances to Give You The Chills
The Tonys are the only major award show that is site specific. You can easily go to your local cinema and watch an Oscar-nominated film. Turn on the TV and tune-in to an Emmy-nominated show. Pop in a cassette tape and listen to a Grammy-nominated album. But with the Tonys, you have to physically be in New York City to see these Broadway shows. So when the casts take the stage to perform, they’re performing for everyone around the world watching the show, who can’t necessarily get to the Big Apple. It gives a visual to fans who have only listened to the soundtrack, or maybe have never even heard the show at all. Which is why I always look forward to the actors getting a chance to show their talents off for the millions watching at home. Some standout performances this year were legend-in-the-making Eva Noblezada and the cast of Miss Saigon, Josh Groban and the cast of The Great Comet throwing the best Russian party, and cast of Bandstand, making me want to take swing dance classes.
Low: Random Celebs
Former pro hockey player and Canadian Ron Duguay was the first rando to introduce the performance by the cast of Come From Away, because it takes place in New Foundland. And he is Canadian, you see. It makes sense. I was also confused because it kinda sounded like he went off script, and winged the intro… but what do I know, I’m American. And for some reason, Keegan Michael Key introduced the Great Comet cast, and I’m still trying to figure that one out. I love the guy but, if anyone has any insight, that would be supes helpful.
High: Playwrights in the Spotlight
As I previously mentioned, the Tonys are a chance for casts to give viewers a small sliver of what they do 8 times a week. But what about all the plays? It’s hard to just recreate a scene from a play just to show that they’re nominated for Best Play/Best Revival of a play. But this year, they did it right (or wright?) and had the playwrights take the stage and describe the show they wrote in their own words. More of this please.
High: Rachel Bloom, Future Tonys Host
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star and renowned Broadway geek Rachel Bloom served as a backstage correspondent and to quote someone on Twitter, “Rachel Bloom is actually hosting this year’s Tonys, briefly interrupted by a man doing dated impressions.” Rachel was basically representing all of us nerds watching at home, with no chill for how exciting it is to be at the Tonys. Please host next year. CW is in the CBS brotherhood.
High: Oh, Hello!
This particular part of the show was quite the rollercoaster. First, the Oh Hello dudes came on stage to bring some actual humor to the show. If you watched John Mulaney and Nick Kroll host the Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year, you already know how hilarious and entertaining they are as a co-hosting duo. So when they came on stage to introduce the Radio City Rockettes, it brought the show back up, and quite frankly much better than Kevin Spacey’s opening number ever was.
Andddd then the Rockettes did a few high kicks – like I get it, they’re at Radio City – but why. Why? Oh, because it gave Leslie and Cynthia a reason to sing.
High: Leslie Odom Jr. & Cynthia Erivo Saving the Rockettes
Except it lasted approx 1 minute, which was way too short. They could’ve stayed on stage and sang all the winners and it would’ve been totally fine. Get these two in a show or on tour together, SOMETHING. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MONIES.
High: Dr. Biden and Joe
Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to introduce a performance by the cast of Bandstand, which centers on a group of veterans coming home after World War II. With Dr. Biden’s long support of the military and their family, it was a no-brainer that she was there. But what I loved is that she got a standing ovation, clearly in appreciation for her service, as well as the service of her hubs and the entire Obama administration, and it made me long for the days of pre-Election 2016 Tonys. But the best part? Seeing Uncle Joe in the audience proudly watching his wife on stage, just as her date and nothing else. God bless.
Low: Kevin Spacey’s Impressions
If you didn’t know that Kevin Spacey does a real good impression of Johnny Carson, well know you know (if you watched the Tonys). And because he needed material, of course he pulled out the wig, since a Carson impression is relevant to the interests of all the people watching the Tonys. It was then that I texted Molly and mentioned that Carson is one of the party tricks Spacey’s got in his bag, and as you’ll see in the message below, I totally called the next impression.
During his Clinton impression, he called out Ben Platt and made a few Hillary jokes because THAT’S STILL FUNNY. Us, and most of the people watching the bit:
And because third time’s the charm, he had to come out as fake U.S. President Frank Underwood (along with Robin Wright & Michael Kelly, for some reason – the bit didn’t need them tbh it still sucked) to hand LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA THE ENVELOPE FOR THE WINNER OF BEST MUSICAL. We had already been Lin-less for the entire show, I didn’t need Spacey to ruin this too. But alas, he did.
High: Bette Midler Refuses To Be Played Off
The Divine Miss M won her first Tony (she’s an O away from EGOT) for Hello, Dolly! and because she’s Bette Midler, she didn’t give a crap about playoff music. There are few people in the world that can get away with telling an orchestra to stop, and she is one of them. It was everything I expected and more.
Sidenote: The Tony producers are S A V A G E for getting Glenn Close to present the category, since there was a possibility that Patti LuPone (rumored rival) could’ve won. It might have been an epic face-to-face that us drama-loving nerds died over.
High: Words Fail for Dear Evan Hansen
Dear reader, it’s gonna be a good day, and this is why – Dear Evan Hansen won six Tonys and all is right with the world.
First off, the production went into the ceremony with 9 noms – 3 less than top show Great Comet, making me think DEH could be beat out by Josh Groban. But the show all about social anxiety and connection clearly connected with Tony voters, and won not only Best Musical, but Best Book of a Musical, Best Score (by our boys and La La Land’s Pasek & Paul), Best Orchestrations (BACK TO BACK WINS FOR HAMFAM ALEX LACAMOIRE), and acting prizes for Rachel Bay Jones (MOM) and dreamy angel of an actor Ben Platt. He was the favorite going into the show, but seeing this 23 year old win and give his speech was everything I wanted in a Tonys acceptance speech, including an inspiring quote that teens will be inking on folders today – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste time being anyone but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”
And thennn earlier in the show, Ben, who was out of DEH for a few performances and put on vocal rest – made a triumphant return by singing signature song Waving Through a Window.
If you don’t have your tickets now, guess you’ll be waiting along with us until the tour (or when more Broadway seats become avail) and playing the soundtrack on repeat.
Low: Go Home Bobby Darin
Does Kevin Spacey think hosting the Tonys is going to help his Emmy For Your Consideration campaign? I feel like he treated the entire ceremony like a talent show. Between the impressions (did I mention he also did James Earl Jones in front of James Earl Jones – who won a lifetime achievement award? AND MORE AIR TIME WAS GIVEN TO SPACEY RATHER THAN JAMES EARL JONES??), mediocre bits and underwhelming opening number, it was all just a bit… trying too hard that it made me not like Kevin Spacey. And I LIKE Kevin Spacey!
But the thing that sealed the deal for me was the closing number, in which Kevin returned to his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of 1950s singer Bobby Darin and invited Patti LuPone and all the winners to sing The Curtain Falls – a ballad, a FRIGGIN BALLAD. I don’t want to end Broadway’s biggest night with a ballad! Give me an uptempo! Give me a rap that was written minutes before by Lin-Manuel and included things that happened in the show! This isn’t a funeral. This is a celebration of all things theater!!!! In what I’m assuming was meant to be a lovely, community inspiring final song, it just came across as awkward since no one knew the song or even knew what was happening.
Spacey hosting proved that a host steers the ship to success. If he fails, then it kind of brings the entire show down. Sure, there were bright spots like Dear Evan Hansen and Bette Midler. But the best well-rounded award shows included hilarious and fun bits from the host – WE MISS YOU JAMES CORDEN – not just chuckle-worthy jokes and impressions you’ve been doing for years. Give me dance numbers, give me more singing, give me DRAMAAAAA – it IS gay pride month after all. Something Kevin probably should know about, right?