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. 

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.

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?

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.

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