Tony Award: Good (acceptance speeches), bad (hosts) and ugly (In Memoriam)

This marked the 69th annual edition of the Tony Awards and, once again, these kudos proved to be the classiest of them all. 

THE GOOD
Once again, the Tonys brought the best acceptance speeches you can find during an awards show. Particular standouts from this year include:

Best Actor (Play) champ Alex Sharp (“Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time“) championing people who feel different to accomplish their dreams;

Best Actor (Musical) winner Michael Cerveris (“Fun Home“) invoking the memory of Alison Bechdel‘s father when wishing for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality later this month;

Best Actress (Musical) winner Kelli O’Hara (“The King and I“) finally taking home her first Tony and proudly dancing offstage; and

Surprise winner of Best Featured Actor (Play) Richard McCabe (“The Audience“) referring to himself as a “tosser” and acknowledging that most Americans don’t know the man he played. Harold Wilson, it should be noted, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976.

The show also featured some wonderful performances, most notably the selections performed by the casts from “Fun Home,” “The King and I” and “Something Rotten!”

I like the way that this year’s nominees for Best Play were introduced by Bryan Cranston. It didn’t feel rushed, which has been a problem in the past, and each nominee was given a proper amount of time to be recognized before Cranston announced the winner. However, the placement of this top award before all the acting categories were presented puzzles me.

THE BAD
I’m sorry but I did not take to this year’s co-hosts, Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. Their songs that they sang as the telecast went to commercial, their smiley faces when they referred to Josh Groban (is he that special?) and their banter just fell flat and forced.

Enough with putting numbers from non-nominated shows on the telecast. If “Finding Neverland” and “It Shoulda Been You” couldn’t get any nominations (and in the case of “Gigi,” only one), then why should they get the same treatment as productions with 12 bids?

THE UGLY
I really thought the treatment of this year’s honorary recipients was terrible. It was bad enough that John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Schwartz had their awards presented before the main telecast, but the treatment of Tommy Tune was atrocious. They don’t allow him an on-air acceptance speech but have Chenoweth and Cumming do a half-baked musical tribute before Tune presents someone else with a Tony Award. 

The “In Memoriam” segment was a misfire: the camera was too far away from the screen displaying the names of those being honored; the audience should have known better than to clap for only certain names; and that huge chorus of people felt out of place.

Was playing off the producers of “Fun Home” really necessary? I guess it was or else we wouldn’t have been able to see the current cast of “Jersey Boys” perform for the ten-thousandth time during the Tony telecast.

17 thoughts on “Tony Award: Good (acceptance speeches), bad (hosts) and ugly (In Memoriam)

  1. I totally disagree about not including “not nominated” shows in the telecast. There can only be 5 nominees and there are often more than 5 excellent plays/musicals to showcase. For those who don’t live or travel to NY and want to see more, why not? Its not like they don’t mention any other movies at the Academy Awards except the ones nominated.. You are not going to tell me that Lisa Howard’s song was not memorable and worthwhile on all counts…
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  2. I agree with the memoriam. Who put that together needs to be parking cars…even the song Josh sang…didnt work. how can you ” Never walk alone” if your dead…duhhhhh plus the screen went way toooo fast and far away. Really bad. And you would think that being Broadway, they would be the best…not this time. When you have two people as hosts, it never works…no matter who they are. The jokes are lame, nothing flys. Using just one person usually is best; Billy Crystal, Whoppie Goldberg, etc…but parterning, never ever is funny. Fire the guy that put the Memoriam together and use Tommy Tune for next years host.

  3. I thought the hosts were very good and entertaining. I especially liked the toned down version of Kristin Chenoweth. I thought she was excellent.

  4. KathyNYC, There are eight nominated musicals if you include the revivals. Based on those songs last night, I wouldn’t go near “Finding Neverland” or “It Shoulda Been You” if the shows paid me. The musicals weren’t nominated and shouldn’t have been cut. Then perhaps the special honorees could have had their moments in front of the camera and maybe the “In Memoriam” slides wouldn’t have been so rushed it felt like they were prepared by someone on speed.

  5. I so totally agree about the “In Memorium” segment. Not with Josh Groban, because I love Josh and everything he sings, he’s just amazing, but it was as u said that the names and pictures were too far away, and they went too fast. I had to slow down my DVR just to read them. Otherwise, I liked the show.

  6. Having done theatre since I was 16 – I’m now 65 – I’ve seen a few Tony shows and this one was dreadful. Cummings (wearing a charming ‘I wish I was anywhere but here’ look) and Chenoweth, drenched in too much make-up that gave her cheery, chirpy persona a downright evil quality, had no chemistry and were an awful pair. It should have been billed as ‘The Tonys: A History of the Musical since The Greeks’, with bone chips thrown to ‘straight’ plays, all starring gay actors – kidding…and i’m gay…. It was easily the worst and most painful drek in a long time. TV/Disney stars made this season the most profitable, which makes me glad I don’t do theatre anymore. You can have it!!!

  7. I thought the hosts were great and other then the angle of the camera the memorial was wonderful. I enjoyed the evening with all the great music.

  8. What is truly ugly is some writer disrespecting a beautiful and moving tribute simply to fill space with (what I bet he thinks) are clever and bitchy comments. Your comments about Cummings and Chenoweth and Grobin should be recited, by you, staring at and standing in front of a mirror.

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