Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

The Tony Awards are the only award shows I really care about. Sure, I watch the Oscars and have learned to appreciate them in the years I’ve started watching them, but the Tony’s are nothing compared to them. For those who don’t know what the Tony Award’s are, they’re an annual awards show that celebrates broad broadway’s best and brightest (actors, directors, lighting and set designers, lyricists and costumers, etc.). Each of the musical’s nominated puts on a piece of their show for those watching to give the audience a taste about why they’re nominated. Sometimes it’s a medley (it’s best when it’s a medley) or sometimes just one song, but just seeing those broadway actors perform is exciting. And one of the best things about the Tony Award’s is that unlike the Oscar’s, they almost always end on time.

First thing’s first though, this blog post isn’t a live writing like my Oscar’s one, because unlike my blogging of the Oscar’s where I was alone with the Tony’s I was with friends, so all this is written from memory of what I (and my friends) were feeling when we watched the show.

I have a lot of theatre friends and every year one of them will host a Tony’s party of their house. I don’t know how long we’ve been doing it now, long enough to have started making traditions. We all bring snacks, too many snacks but is that really a thing? And we usually play some sort of theatre game, usually it’s my sister’s “Be a Broadway Star” board game but this year it was my friend’s guess the song game, where they would read a lyric of a song and we would have to sing the next lyric back as well as name the song and artist. It was a fun game, but we all agreed that a musical theatre version should be made.

Josh Groban and Sara Barielles did a fantastic job hosting! They’re new to the broadway scene, Groban for starring in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and Barielles for composing, writing lyrics, and sometimes starring in the musical Waitress. Their opening number was funny and sung beautifully, a tribute to the loser’s at awards shows, and they worked great off each other. Though I do wonder why whenever their’s a woman’s host for award’s shows they’re almost always paired with a guy, like Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming who hosted the Tony’s a few years back. I think a woman from broadway can host the show by herself now.

My main interest for the Tony Awards are the musicals, musical revivals, and the actors nominated for each. I like knowing about the play’s too, if I recognize the names and plots, but the musicals are the big things for me. This year the nominees for best musical were The Band’s VisitMean GirlsFrozen, and Spongebob Squarepants the Musical. Best revival of a musical were Once On This IslandMy Fair Lady, and Roger and Hammerstein’s Carousel.

For best musical I was hoping that Frozen or Spongebob would win. I still love Frozen, even though it isn’t the best Disney princess movie, but the broadway musical looked amazing, plus Caissie Levy who plays Elsa is from my city so it was definitely for her too. I was shocked to learn she wasn’t nominated though. If you don’t know who Caissie Levy is take a pause from this post right now and search her on youtube singing anything, you can thank me later. Watching the Tony performance of For the First Time in Forever and Let it Go made me want to book a plane ticket to New York to see the show. The cast is phenomenal and it looks like a show you wouldn’t want to miss!

I didn’t really want Spongebob to win, I just think the idea of a Spongebob musical is weird, and they’re are so many composers who wrote songs for it! But it’s been getting rave reviews, and it looks fun, and the performance of Squidward’s song by Gavin Lee made me appreciate the musical a whole lot more. As weird as it sounds, the actors do an amazing job bringing these strange sea creates to the broadway stage. It’s fun, it’s weird, and it’s unforgettable. I was so upset that Gavin Lee didn’t win a Tony, because he’s an amazing Squidward!

Mean Girls was a train wreck. Great movie, horrible musical. It had potential, but it just seemed very surface level, like they were trying to hard to recreate the charm of the movie for the stage and it just didn’t happen. Like one of my friends said, it looked like Heathers the musical if no one cared. The main problem I think is that the music is really catchy for it but the lyrics are horrible, but I guess that’s what happened when Tina Fey hires her husband to do it. The choreography was interesting enough in the performance, as was the set, but the whole performance was lackluster and awkward. I don’t know how they were nominated for twelve Tony’s, but I’m glad they didn’t win any of them.

Next was The Band’s Visit which people seemed to love even though it was the only show I didn’t recognize or know anything about. But aside from my lack of knowledge it won ten Tony’s including best actor/actress in a leading role and best musical (which are considered the top awards of the night). Again, I knew nothing about the story for this song, nothing about it or that it existed until the Tony’s began and I know even less now. The performance looked alright set wise, but overall it was pretty boring. The best actor/actress took the stage in a song that was mostly talking, sitting at a table. And that was it, no choreography unless you counted the lead actresses weird flowy arm movements. It was stoic, it was boring, and someone on twitter compared it to the Ring of Keys performance from Fun Home from the 2015 Tony’s which is so unbelievably wrong I don’t know where to begin. I have no idea how this musical won so many awards. I guess I’ll just have to see it someday.

Now onto best revival of a musical! I loved the My Fair Lady performance, even though the show and story as a whole is way overdone, it’s cute and timeless. They did a medley, a wonderful thing with a huge ensemble and choosing some of the classic songs from the musical (The Rain in SpainI Could’ve Danced All NightTake Me to the Church On Time) which flowed together perfectly with a beautiful set, talented actors, and an amazing ensemble. I wasn’t surprised they didn’t win best revival though. Though it was nice it was nothing different from the countless other productions of My Fair Lady we’ve all seen before.

Then we had the Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Carousel performance which was just meh. I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about Carousel, but I do know there’s supposed to be a carousel and they didn’t have it for their performance, though the song was about people on a boat, and I guess a carousel would be too heavy for a boat. It was a good performance with absolutely amazing choreography and cool costumes, but I would have liked to have seen a more well known or catchier song performed.

And then there was Once on this Island which I don’t know much about but had heard of a lot! From what I gathered from the interactive performance (THEY HAD A GOAT! ON STAGE! A REAL LIVE GOAT ON STAGE WEARING A BOW TIE AND EATING GRASS NEAR NATHAN LANE! AND CHICKENS! AND I REALLY WANTED THE GOAT TO GET A TONY! NOTHING AGAIN THE CHICKENS OF COURSE BUT THE GOAT STOLE THE SHOW!) it was about a girl swept away from her home in a storm, or at least a girl who had survived from a very bad storm. Either way, her life on the island seemed to meld between reality and fantasy, with mortals and gods, and it looked really cool! Aside from the goat, it seemed like a very charming and fun show (though it had a lot of white people putting it on, I just thought the backstage would be as diverse as the cast onstage was) and I’m so happy it won best revival.

I didn’t know much of the play’s up for Tony’s except for Angels in America and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, both which were huge shows and both deserved the number of awards they won. Angels in America seemed like a really interesting show I’d love to see someday and Andrew Garfield definitely deserved his award for his role. And though a dumb story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child looks like a killer thing to see on stage and when it comes to Toronto I will be the first in line to see it!

Also Robert De Niro said “Fuck Trump” and got a standing ovation before introducing Bruce Springsteen who played piano and talked and was so dull we muted him until he was finished.

And those are the highlights from the 2018 Tony Awards! I don’t know what it is about them, maybe it’s just watching them with theatre friends, maybe it’s the way theatre connects people, but the Tony Awards just feel like an awards show about love. Each and every person in that theatre cared for each other, rooted one another on, and supported one another and I just don’t think Hollywood or the Oscar’s are like that. I don’t do as much theatre as I used to, but I love these nights where I can go back to it with my friends and enjoy it all with people who get it.

(Image of Tony Awards 2018 logo found here.)

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