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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

Tony Awards actually deliver this year

June 13, 2011

It’s perfectly understandable if you missed the Tony Awards Sunday night on CBS.

After all, the Broadway awards show has been so badly produced over the last few years that it’s a wonder it gets any ratings at all.

That being said, though, it turned out to be a very entertaining show—even with little suspense in either the new play and musical (“War Horse,” “The Book of Mormon) or revival (“The Normal Heart,” “Anything Goes”) categories.

It was a show that effectively did the job of making me hungry for another trip to New York in the near future

For once, the Tony Awards looked like it was staged by someone who knew something about live entertainment.

Some random thoughts:

—Every year there seems to be at least one performer who seems to win because he or she is the most familiar Hollywood star among the nominees. Last year, that meant Catherine Zeta-Jones winning for “A Little Night Music” and this year it was “John Laroquette in “How to Succeed…”

—The danger of having Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick introducing a number from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”? I wanted to see Robert Morse oo Matthew Broderick do the song instead of Daniel Radcliffe.

—Really like Norbert Leo Butz—and appreciate his speech supporting his much-maligned show “Catch Me If You Can”—but I don’t think his song helped sell the show.

—“The Book of Mormon,” on the other hand, delivered the right number for the broadcast masses. Expect it to be even harder to get tickets now.

—"Sister Act" looks like the compromise show of the season. Not anyone's first choice, but the one that groups of tourists will settle on if they are going out together.

—Great and appropriate to have the In Memory segment not cheapened by Celine Dion or some other pop singer.

—Contest is over: There is no better awards-show host than Neil Patrick Harris. And I’m not just talking about James Franco. Harris shines even among the likes of Crystal and Carson.

—Bad enough that Brooke Shields flubbed her lines in the otherwise outstanding opening number, she then doubled down and made it worse at the presenters’ podium. Sorry, but I haven't seen sign of enough talent to make me want to see a show feturing this attention vampire (She's taking over Morticia in "The Addams Family").

—Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones are brilliant … when they have something to say. Here, they were given the same overwritten theatrical platitudes that seem to be dragged out every year.

—Loved Mark Rylance’s “speech.” Instead of a litany of thank yous, Rylance took the time to give a great read to a poem by Louis Jenkins about walking through walls. More than anything else I saw at the awards, I want to see “Jerusalem” (which has nothing to do with the poem).

—Odd to have that much attention focused late in the show on a) a musical you can only see in movie theaters (“Company”), b) a musical that wasn’t nominated (“Priscilla Queen of the Desert”), c) a musical that isn’t technically a part of this season” (“Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark”), and d) last year’s Best Musical winner (“Memphis”).  I think it’s good to stretch, it just seemed out of balance toward the end.

—“War Horse,” “Equus,” and the pretty-much-forgotten off-Broadway musical “Strider” would make a very strange equestrian theatrical festival.

—Sutton Foster. Sutton Foster. Sutton Foster.

—But please, keep Christie Brinkley off the stage. Now and forever.

In case you missed it, here’s the knock-out Tony opening number, "It's Not Just for Gays Anymore." If all musical comedies had lines as sharp as "Attention every breeder/You're invited to the theater" Broadway would be an even better place.

Your thoughts? Did you see the show? Did any of the numbers/clips make you want to buy a ticket?

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