I didn't realize until a few years ago that the Tony awards aren't as big a deal as the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys. To me, they always have been a must-see event. The awards broadcast is kind of a lifeline for theatre lovers who live on the West Coast and have to wait months or even years to see touring productions of new shows. Watching the Tonys each year helps me keep up with what's new, and can often result in a new obsession. (I don't think I listened to any music other than the Spring Awakening cast recording for about six weeks after last year's Tonys.)
It's great to see numbers from the musicals nominated for best revival, but there aren't really any surprises. I think it's cool that South Pacific won for its first Broadway revival since the original production closed in 1954, and it looks like a great production, but it's not really breaking new ground.
The exciting part of the Tonys are the performances for the shows nominated for best new musical. I was kind of disappointed that Young Frankenstein was not nominated because I got the chance to see it in out-of-town previews and loved it, but this year it seems like the shows nominated were breaking new ground. Well, some of them, at least: Cry-Baby is John Waters trying to have another Hairspray-type hit, and Xanadu is a campy jukebox musical that happens to work better than most. Passing Strange, created by a guy who simply goes by the moniker "Stew" has a contemporary story about a young African-American's travels to Amsterdam. The winner for Best New Musical, In The Heights, is set in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, and has songs influenced by Latin music and hip-hop.
The Tony Awards also honor non-musical plays. This is kind of the non-glamorous part of the evening. Equate it to the documentary portion of the Oscars, slightly more intellectual and appealing to a narrower group of insiders. This year's winner for best play was August: Osage County, a black comedy originally produced by Chicago's Steppenwolf company.
The Tony awards are a chance to celebrate and publicize Broadway. The celebration wasn't just limited to the current years batch of new shows and revivals. This year's broadcast kicked off with a performance of The Circle of Life from The Lion King, a number which never fails to reduce me to tears, and also featured a number from the original cast of Rent, which is closing in September. The publicity and enthusiasm generated by the Tonys are a boon to both New York City tourism and touring productions.
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Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.