Having a gay old time at the Tony Awards show
A colleague of mine at the Sun walked into the office the morning after last year’s Tony Awards saying, “Was that the gayest show ever?” He didn't exactly sound pleased, either.
I can’t imagine what the poor guy will think after Sunday’s fabulous ceremony, which started with that fabulous Broadway's-not-just-for-gays-anymore production number and went on to be peppered with many a gay reference or resonance. (I've attached a clip of that curtain-raiser below -- I hope YouTube doesn't pull it.)
Me, I thought it was terrific. Mind you, I don’t usually watch awards shows. Too many boring spots, too many commercials. But those three hours Sunday night, at least on TV, seemed to fly by and with far fewer hitches than “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has had. And, yes, it was awfully gay. That’s what gave it such a kick.
Neil Patrick Harris is too good to be true -- cute, funny, a very competent singer and dancer, and a host who actually makes you believe he is welcoming everybody into his world. From the way he nailed the hilarious opening song (I can’t remember any Academy Awards show starting with something so witty, succinct and just plain fun) to the way he delivered the rushing rap at the close, Harris demonstrated a remarkable cool factor. (That not-for-gays-anymore song was written by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger, creators of “Cry Baby.”)
As for the actual awards, there didn’t seem to be too many surprises or strange choices. It was a glorious night for those of the Mormon persuasion -- nine Tonys for "The Book of Mormon" and some great references to a religion that is bound to come in for even more attention as the presidential race heats up.
I especially loved Trey Parker’s acceptance remarks, reminding folks who like the show that they will have to atone for it one day, and thanking “our co-writer who passed away, Joseph Smith.”
The “I Believe” number from the “The Book of Mormon” was ...
a great choice for the awards broadcast, letting everybody at home know what the fuss is all about. Ticket sales probably had an uptick during last night’s TV performance. (If my editors knew what was good for me -- I mean good for them -- they’d send me to New York on a Broadway round-up story so I could report back to my faithful readers on “The Book of Mormon” and all the other must-sees.)
It was, well, heartening, to see Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” receive a Tony for best revival of a play, 30 years after the world started keeping toll of deaths from a disease that seemed to be targeting gay men. Kramer’s acceptance speech must have driven some folks crazy, with its description of gays as “a special people” (I wondered if he added that as a riff on all the Mormon talk).
On a lighter note, there was cute little Daniel Radcliffe hoofing it up mightily in “The Brotherhood of Man” from “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (you gotta admire the guy for continuing to break out of his movie persona).
And we all got to hear a number from the cursed “Spider-Man,” the show that will finally open next week after, what, three years of previews? The song didn’t make me want to rush out and get a ticket, but it was nice to get a taste of what could still end up being one of Broadway’s monumental crashes.
The Tony show had an off-moment or two. Chris Rock was as needlessly vulgar as ever (couldn’t he learn by now that you don’t have to bend over a microphone to be heard?).
There were glitches, too, of course, including some professional actors who couldn’t read cue cards; the inevitably teary, over-the-top speeches (I’m still trying to understand Nikki M. James and the bumble bees -- she's pictured above in a Reuters photo); and some fashion oddities, including those from Whoopi Goldberg, wearing what looked like a cross between an 18th-century tricornered hat and a small building, and best actress winner Frances McDormand, who looked like she had just gotten out of bed and grabbed her previous day’s clothes off a chair before rushing to the Beacon Theatre.
In the end, though, I still say it was a great ceremony, celebrating the variety and considerable quality of this year’s theater scene. And, yes, it was the gayest show ever.