Tuesday, June 14, 2016

they say the neon lights are bright on Broadway

I am no fan of live theater — plays or musicals. I know, it makes no sense, as I am a huge fan of live music (i.e. concerts). I don't know what it is. Actually, I do know what it is. I don't like the over-exaggerated movements and the shouting of dialogue and songs and actors trying their very best to upstage each other. (I wrote about my dislike for live theater here and here.) 

I am also no fan of televised awards shows. Despite my dislike, I have watched many of them. I've even stuck with most of them until the bitter, tedious end of a broadcast that usually runs well over its allotted time. For the most part, awards shows are long, sprawling, sometimes aimless marathons of self-congratulation and inside jokes, punctuated by celebrities — both big and small — who make it very clear that they should not appear before a camera without a script.

But, on Sunday night, I watched the 70th Annual Tony Awards. And I actually enjoyed it.

Dancing > interviewing
Because of my disinterest in theater, I was not familiar with any of the nominees, save for current media juggernaut, the unavoidable Hamilton. This year's festivities were hosted by James Corden, host of his own talk show on the Tiffany Network following Stephen Colbert. I have seen Corden's show a few times and, while I can say that his interviewing skills leave a lot to be desired, the guy is undeniably talented. He sings, he's funny, he's self-effacing and he's personable. Plus, there wasn't really anything on Sunday night.

I was surprised by how many shows I actually knew, mostly because the current Broadway season is fraught with revivals and musical versions of big-screen movies re-imagined for the stage. I was also surprised by how many actors I recognized — seasoned Frank Langella, enigmatic Michael Shannon, pixieish Michelle Williams, the lovely Jane Krakowski and that redheaded guy from Modern Family (a show I never saw, but I have spotted him in commercials). The brief musical highlights were energetic and richly produced, a stage full of original cast members giving their all, as though it were opening night once again. In between musical numbers, the cameras cleverly switched to the front entrance of the majestic Beacon Theater as the cast of a different current show performed a compact rendition of a song from a classic Broadway musical, much to delight of the crowds gathered on the sidewalk. (The young cast of Spring Awakening belting out "I've Got Life" from Hair was especially amusing.)

Love is love is love is love
I think what I enjoyed most was the heartfelt sincerity expressed by each and every winner in their acceptance speeches. The actors, actresses, directors and assorted "behind the scenes" people all seemed genuinely appreciative, grateful and humbled. Most fought back tears and some didn't bother to fight, delivering their gramercy through red-rimmed eyes and quavering voices. It was truly touching and emotional and very real. Everyone looked happy and happy to be with other happy colleagues. It was especially touching as it was hours after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub in which 50 people were senselessly murdered by a hate-filled miscreant with an assault rifle. It was an incident that hit close to home for a great many of the evening's honorees. Yet they felt the right thing to do, the only thing to do, was to celebrate life. They expressed their support for their fallen brethren, as well as their anger and frustration. There was an overwhelming feeling of love and camaraderie that was palpable to the home viewer.

The entire three-and-a-half hours flew by. It was joyous and sad and entertaining.

And real.

1 comment:

  1. I love theater and musicals! Everybody's happy and has a good singing voice in the pretend world -- and clearly the real world sucks as evidenced by the shooting. I had to laugh at the miracle you witnessed in your last post.