Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Trouble with Tony

The minute the Tony Awards started on Sunday night, I knew we were in trouble. Elton John’s microphone wasn’t turned on, so the first few notes of his song were sung into a black hole. This was only the beginning of what I felt was a poorly executed television program, with so many sound issues throughout, you’d think you were watching Amateur Night at the local Rotary Club. Especially when you constantly heard people talking offstage, or into microphones that shouldn’t have been turned on yet. But the worst moment came during the “Guys and Dolls” number when you could hear a technician talking offstage louder than you could hear the singer onstage. That was quickly corrected, thankfully, when the aforementioned tech ran onto the stage with the live microphone he had just been speaking into. INEXCUSABLE.

And then there were the endless musical numbers from shows that are out on tour, that we’ve already seen a million times. I mean, did the “Dancing Queen” number inspire anyone to get up off their butts and boogie? No.

I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a great job of holding it all together. His personality is very likeable, although I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff going on under that perfectly honed façade that’s probably pretty scary. No one is THAT nice.

The most disappointing moment for me was the choice of number from the musical “Billy Elliot.” This number DOES NOT do the show justice. Not that it isn’t impressive to watch someone that young take such command of the stage. But out of context, I don’t think Middle America will really make much of that number. In fact, the people who were initially turned off by the idea of a musical about a boy who wants to dance will probably not be swayed by what they saw on Sunday night. It was so poorly edited and presented that it didn’t make me want to spend the money to go see it. And that’s from someone who has already seen the show three times. (And believe me, it is well worth the investment and it rightfully deserved the title of "Best Musical." So don’t let the Tony number influence you negatively against this show---if it did. It is possibly one of the most grounded and emotionally charged musicals I’ve ever seen.)

Which brings me to the musical number from “Next to Normal,” which actually made me want to go see the show. I’d already heard good things about the show from friends, but was never really motivated yet to plunk down the money to get a ticket. I mean, a show about an emotionally disturbed woman and the toll it takes on her family is not exactly fodder for a fun evening out. But then I heard their voices, and I saw the commitment coming from the actors, and all of a sudden I was excited see this show. Finally, something that doesn’t run around in a costume or come pre-packaged from a movie or TV show. And that’s what the Tonys are supposed to do. Get you excited about going to see a live show, an experience unlike anything else in the world.

So, before I close, let’s not forget Liza Minelli, whose overzealous and perpetually bubbly personality makes me nervous every time I see her. In her heydey, she was spunky and funny and had a quirky personality that made her the life of the party. But now the party has run its course, and the band has gone home, and she’s still out there plugging away. I say retire from singing, because the voice just ain’t what it used to be. As for acting, there will always be roles for over-the-top people with bizarre affectations, so her career prospects are good. But come on, there’s only so many songs I want to hear that are sung with that many strained and missed notes. Even Stockard Channing sounded more on point, and I heard she was horrible in “Pal Joey.”

So though I’m glad they put a lot of money and effort into the production, I think they maybe strived to do too much with what they had. And yet, the show pulled in it’s best ratings since 2006, so who am I to judge? I’m just glad the Tonys are televised at all.

But that’s just me. What did you think of the Tony Awards?

4 comments:

Amy Lilley Designs said...

I watched the playoffs...the Tonys lost out to Kobe...just saw a couple of moments during the commercials, but heard about all the audio issues...

Henson Ray said...

Amy--That's what DVRs are for...I didn't watch it LIVE...too many commercials...heh, heh...

Grace said...

DVR - oh, yeah the ONLY way to watch tv. Didn't watch the Tony's or record them, don't care. I do know the movie "Billy Elliot" was super terrific.

Dwacon® said...

what happens on stage should stay on stage. ;~)