Monday, June 14, 2010

The Tony Awards — Hair Bands, Punk Rock, and Angela Lansbury

We've been fans of Broadway since the first time our dad brought home a cast recording of Walking Happy. We were hooked. We grew up on Fiddler on the Roof, Pippin, La Cage aux Folles, Oliver, Annie, Godspell, and the like.

So, while we still prefer a good-old fashioned musical, we're glad the New York stage and the Tony Awards have become more inclusive these days. It used to be Broadway was an exclusive club that only the Sondheim and Lloyd Weber inner circle could penetrate. But in recent years Hollywood stars have risen to prominence on the Great White Way and even rock and rollers have moved onto 42nd Street. And now, thanks to Glee, Broadway stars are TV household names.

While we still love the shows of yesterday, we're excited that by opening up the genre to more familiar faces, theater has gained new fans and bigger audiences.

This year's Best Musical was a battle between rock stars. Green Day's American Idiot versus Memphis, written by Bon Jovi's own keyboard player, David Bryan. And in the shocking final moments the hair band won over the punks.

Even though the stage has welcomed in some of Hollywood's elite, it still holds them to the same high standards. Sure, 15 Hollywood stars were nominated, but only three won (Catherine Zeta-Jones for A Little Night Music, Denzel Washington for Fences, and Scarlett Johansson for A View from the Bridge). New York still holds onto the lead in the battle of the thespians.

So without further adieu, here are our random observations about the Tony Awards.

1) Who knew Sean Hayes could play piano so well? Very impressive. And his Billy Elliot and Spiderman bits were genius. We thought he did an inspired job hosting.

2) Green Day rocked the Tonys. The opening number showed exactly why their theatrical style of music holds up so well on the Broadway stage. Plus did you catch the stuffy New York theater types trying to properly clap along? Hysterical.

3) The five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury was named the first Honorary Chairman of the American Theatre Wing. A true living legend. She never ceases to amaze. See an interview of her talking about being in Mame here.

4) While we were a little bit surprised that the number from La Cage Aux Folles did not feature Kelsey Grammer, we were thrilled to see him take the stage with former Frasier co-star David Hyde Pierce. And even more touched to see Grammer get choked up over Pierce's special humanitarian award received earlier in the evening.

5) We can't even begin to explain how happy we are that one of our favorite rock bands, Green Day, and two of our favorite Broadway shows ever, Ragtime and La Cage Aux Folles, shared one stage for an evening. The best of both worlds colliding.

6) Matthew Morrison actually can dance. Guess he tries to look goofy on Glee on purpose.

7) Lea doing Barbra at Radio City. Does it get much better?

8) While we had our hearts set on Green Day taking home the top honor, we were glad to see Bon Jovi's David Bryan get his dues with his wins for Memphis, and nice to have Jon send his support from afar.

9) How the hell does Rachel Welch look so good? She must have that Dorian Grey photo tucked away in a closet somewhere. It's just not human.

10) We vote for Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the best dressed of the evening. And although we typically prefer full length gowns for major award shows, we do give honorable mention to Kristin Chenoweth's ultra mini, shimmering party dress. Only she can pull that off.

For a complete rundown of winners, see the official American Theatre Wing website.

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