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2010 Tony’s recap

June 26, 2010

Sunday, the 13th marked the American Theater Wing’s 2010 Tony Awards. I’m ashamed to say that up until about 8:30, I forgot that they were even on. A sign of this season’s lackluster theater openings perhaps? By the time I tuned in, I had missed the opening performances, which always include pieces from the year’s Best Musical nominations. Among them was a bit of Green Day’s new Broadway show American Idiot, based on their 2004 concept album of the same name. Now, aside from the fact that I love the idea of blue haired theater goers having their hearing aids blown out by Billy Joe Armstrong’s doppelganger, I was a little annoyed when I first heard about the existence of this show. It’s yet another sad sign of the inevitable Hollywood-ization of Broadway. The whole number itself seemed like it was thrown together to be the opening act to the more important Green Day concert. Take a watch.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that album. The 90s, jaded, alt-rock chick inside me will always love Green Day, and that album in particular is quite singable and suited to Broadway style voices. But the show itself was allotted a total of four musical numbers throughout the night. Four. That’s more than the number of nominations than they received. So are rock band written musicals the next step after celebrity theater appearances? More than ever, movie stars and famous names are heading back to the stage, and for what? To put theater actors out of jobs? (It’s not like they have the star power to turn around and do the same in films). To earn street cred as high-quality performers? (Nice try, Katie Holmes). Just take a look at this years Tony nominee’s for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play:

Jude Law-Hamlet

Alfred Molina-Red

Live Schreiber-A View from the Bridge

Christopher Walken- A Behanding in Spokane

Denzel Washington-Fences

See a pattern there? I predicted Alfred Molina (the least movie-starish of the bunch whose performance as the artist Mark Rothko has been earning praise) would take the prize; alas it went to Denzel for Fences. Denzel Washington, master of class who…didn’t know who awarded him. I believe he said something along the lines of, “I’ve been awarded by the Tony Award—what do you call yourselves? The Tony Committee.” Wow dude…wow. Did I forget to mention that Will and Jada Smith, Beyonce and Jay-Z were also in attendance? Seeing Jay-Z at the Tonys is like seeing Elaine Stritch at the BET Awards. Hey Elaine’s got soul, that’s for sure. They were there, of course, to support Fela, which I totally want to see as it looks like an awesome show. But I’m wondering if such a show would have gotten produced if were not for its celebrity backers.

Related to that, early on in the show Scarlett Johansson (the only movie star in her category, though Jessica Hecht is pretty well known) won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in A View from the Bridge. Now, I haven’t actually seen the production, but I know the play and that particular award left me thinking, “Huh??” I really love Scarlet Johansson when she does comedy, but her dramatic acting always seemed a bit forceful. As if she’s trying to be more than just gorgeous and brooding, by overacting in dramatic roles. Perhaps what appears to be phony on film is better suited to the stage then. Too bad I missed it. Later on, Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a musical. Yet again, she was the only movie star in her category, but I have to give her some props since she’s been singing and dancing in the UK since she was like a fetus. Thankfully the movie star effect didn’t hit Best Lead Actress in a play or Best Lead Actor in a Musical. Check out the complete list of winners.

In theater-actors-that-seem-to-have-penetrated-Hollywood news, Broadway veterans and Glee stars Matthew Morrison and Leah Michele took the stage for some individual numbers. Morrison suaved it up as usual, and Michele pretty much confirmed that she’s ready whenever someone wants to put up that revival of Funny Girl. Like… really ready. Like, “don’t you want me to sing rain on my Parade AGAIN!!?” ready. I wonder how many producers she approached at the after parties. Though these two were great, they totally wouldn’t have performed that night if it weren’t for Glee, a TV show.  They’re stage royalty that’s for sure, but it definitely overshadowed the folks who are, ya know, actually ON Broadway right now. And another thing (I swear I almost done ranting about this) what was with the announcers using phrases such as, “Please welcome Academy Award nominee so and so,” and, “Now to present ABC, here’s Academy Award Winner so and so”? I’m sorry, but would they ever announce, “Please welcome Tony nominee/winner so and so” during the Oscars? I seriously doubt it. So, what do you guys think of this Hollywood take over of Broadway? Helpful press and money coming to the stage? Or a negative gentrification of sorts? And the most important question of all, how much plastic surgery has Laura Bell Bundy had??? Let’s get some before and after’s here:

LBB in her Legally Blonde days:

Now LBB at the Tony’s

Yowza.

All in all, it was an ok show for an ok year of theater. The topper though, was in a moment right after the start of the show. In a reaction to the Newsweek article “Straight Talk lambasting gay actors for playing straight roles, Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth had the following to say:

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