Monday, June 12, 2017

Dear Tonys

The Tony Awards were last night and Kevin Spacey hosted with Rachel Bloom backstage.  Kevin Spacey came with an enthusiasm for theater, and an excellent ability for mimcry. I'm well aware that hosting is a thankless job, and often the great jobs are a synergy between the person out front and nameless folks backstage but much like quarterbacks get more of the glory when things go well, hosts are the targets when things don't. And it wasn't awful.  There were closet jokes and references to Carnac the magnificent, and I just became very aware that this was a show on CBS where the expectation is that viewers are a bit old.  
But the opening number with references and rifs of all the nominated musicals was fun, even if I think the use of "You Will Be Found" as a tap number was not my favorite.  
I felt like a larger than previous number of awards were awarded ahead, and that made it more inexplicable when the thing ran over.  I realize time is a fuzzy thing anytime you let people walk to a stage and then speak because they will never all take the same amount of time, or listen when your orchestra tries to play them off, or not stop to hug six people on their way.  
But, here's how I think that can be accounted for.  One imagines there's a schedule somewhere.  If you are behind, then you skip something the host is doing.  Have them do it as a video you release later.  Have them do it backstage on their cell phone.  Whatever.  But, for example, when you are already past time, having Lin Manual Miranda interrupted so that five extra people can walk out on stage in character to make a joke that really wasn't worth the extra minute that all took, don't do it.  
And hey, I'm thrilled for the folks in "Dear Evan Hanson" and "Hello Dolly".  Well aware that the casts of all the nominated shows this year were a bit whiter than the dynamo last year.  I was really pulling for Denee Benton.  It's cool.  Losing to Bette Midler is nothing to sniffle at.  
I discovered I and my little corner of the Twitter had real differences of opinion on the numbers.  I have been reading about Broadway Musicals, and often the opening number, much like the opening chapter of a book establishes the who, what, and where.  So, "Come From Away" doing "Welcome to the Rock" made sense.  I know that they are generally given a set time, and sometimes only one number fits well into that time, so sometimes that factors in to the choice.  (I do remember the one year "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" did "Brotherhood of Man" in double time to hit that time limit.)  I really like the "Groundhog Day" choice of "Everything About You", but certainly thought the folks who pointed out the show is funny and charming and this number is kind of not, were not wrong. 
I thought the "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" number did an awesome job of saying this show is a fun party (about, well, why spoil that).  "Waving Through A Window" is actually the second song in "Dear Evan Hansen" but it's the first one sung by Evan, so it's a great choice as far as telling you this is a show about a lonely kid.  
The thing that can be hard to remember is many people live far away from New York, and don't know if they will ever see this show unless it tours near them.  This is often their only chance to sample it outside the cast album. So, picking a number near the end doesn't matter as a spoiler, people who watch the Tonys and have access to Broadway, have likely already seen it.  And the people who haven't, often don't have any expectation that they will.  They just want to see a great number. For "Fun Home", the choice of "Ring of Keys" grabbed me and made me want to see it in a way that "It All Comes Back" - while a great song that does it's job - might not have.