Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tone Deaf Tonys

I believe I am the only straight man in North America that every year watches the Tony awards instead of the NBA playoffs. For the first time since I have become a Raging Broadway Queen™, I haven’t had a dog in the fight come Tony time. The shows I saw this year, which included The Odd Couple, The Woman in White, and Three Days Of Rain, were pretty much snubbed in extreme prejudice. So this year, the point was to watch the production numbers and decide if there was anything worth catching up on when we go to New York on our fall pilgrimage.

We once saw a touring company of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and nearly half of the audience left at intermission. I asked a theater buff friend (also the World’s Biggest Cher Fan) how a Tony-winning show could be so bad. He just said that some years are better than others and they have to give the award to something. By all accounts, this was that type of lackluster year on Broadway. The big showdown was between Jersey Boys, a jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and The Drowsy Chaperone, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to bad musicals from the 1920s. Drowsy Chaperone won more awards, but Jersey Boys took home the big prizes including Best Musical, which sort of surprised me. When was the last time, if ever, a show without an original score won best musical?

I like my comedy on the dark side and my wife runs from anything described as a black comedy. I called my son in during the Sweeney Todd clip to see if he was interested in a show about a cannibalistic barber. He was game. My wife said, “Go ahead, just get me tickets to Jersey Boys instead.” I’m taking that as a “no” to Sweeney. Jersey Boys has gotten good reviews and since they won two acting awards I would prefer to see it with the original cast, but I’m still not sold on seeing a show of sappy doo-wop songs from my dad’s era.

The Drowsy Chaperone looked too much like Thoroughly Modern Millie (which has been called the worst Best Musical ever) for my wife. The Wedding Singer looked cute, especially since it’s set in the 80s and I was married in 1986. I’m just not sure that it will be still playing by the time I get around to seeing it and it's starting a tour next year, so I may just wait for it to come to me. And if Sweeney Todd looked dark, Threepenny Opera was pitch black. The Color Purple got a surprise win in the Best Actress category, but that isn’t going to make we want to see it anymore than I have already, which is not at all.

All-in-all, nothing I saw at the Tonys made me grab the laptop to order tickets. I think I’ll wait for the next round of shows to open and take my chances with them. Because that sure beats getting stuck watching this year’s version of Edwin Drood.

Update (6/14/06): For a way cattier and more comprehensive review of the Tonys, check out the hilarity at the Bloody Red Carpet. They have a picture of Julia Roberts much better than my poor paparazzi shot. In an act of humility, Julia called the huddled starving masses that don't make 20 million a movie "insanely talented". And just so I get a few GeekGoogle®Hits, I had forgotten that in addition to turning Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side, Emperor Palpatine won a Tony for Best Featured Actor In A Play.


Anonymous said...

While my interest in modern-day musical theater isn't particularly high and my interest in the Tonys extremely low, I am grateful for this post because now I know that an Adam Sandler movie has been turned into a Broadway show. This disturbs me more than I can say, but I'm still glad I know it.


Impetua said...

Out here in the cultural exile of the Pacific Northwest, we don't get a lot of your fancy pants "musical thee-ater." But I did hear tell that "Wicked" is coming this fall, right in time for my birthday, and I did read the book and enjoyed it, so have you heard anything about it, Mr. Raging Broadway Queen Yellojkt? Any damn good?

Hey, at least it's not about Franki Valli or (shudder) Billy Joel. If I hear Piano Man one more time... well, it's not going to be pretty.

yellojkt said...

Wicked is very good, but I hear very different from the book. I started the book, but didn't get deep enough into it to critique the differences. Take a tween-age girl or a gay guy to Wicked if you can. They will love you forever. It is a show that earned the Tonys it got.

yellojkt said...

Josh, maybe when The Wedding Singer comes to town, we should have Baltimore Blogger Night at the Hippodrome.

btw, Wicked actually got beat at the Tonys by Avenue Q. In what is either a brilliant marketing ploy or a cynical trick, Avenue Q's producers campaigned heavily to get out-of-town Tony voters to support their show. The theory was that Wicked would sell plenty of tickets on tour no matter what, but you better have lots of awards to get people to see a show featuring smutty puppets.

It backfired when after winning the awards, Avenue Q never toured but instead opened a Vegas production which closed after a few months. Don't cry for them though, Both Ave Q and Wicked are making plenty of green.

I'll have more Avenue Q stuff in a few days when Show Tunes Week at Foma Central wraps up.

Anonymous said...

If you do see The Color Purple, do NOT drink anything beforehand, yellojkt.

And resist the temptation to start apologizing to anyone within earshot in the lobby on your way out.


Impetua said...

Thanks for the info, I will ask our token gay guy friend if he wants to go. He's usually into it. He still thanks me for showing him "Victor/Victoria" on dvd.

Anonymous said...

You guys can get more information from http://www.theatre.com/