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Monday, June 11, 2018

The Tonys: Josh and Sara were great, but I'm with De Niro

The Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro stole the show last night by saying what every sane American is thinking nowadays. And he deservedly received a standing ovation for his censored words, which you can hear in the video below.

As for the rest of the 72nd Tony Awards, I thought co-hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban did a great job. I enjoyed their amusing banter as well as their musical numbers. The big winner of the night was The Band's Visit, which received 10 awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, Best Lighting Design and Sound Design of a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Leading Actor in a Musical (Tony Shalhoub), Leading Actress in a Musical (Katrina Lenk), Featured Actor in a Musical (Ari'el Stachel) and Best Direction of a Musical (I worked with David Cromer at Chicago's Shear Madness box office way back in 1987, and I am thrilled for his success). The only nominated category the show didn't win in was Best Scenic Design in a Musical, which I was happy to see go to SpongeBob SquarePants. However, I must admit that the featured performance of The Band's Visit did not make me want to rush to Broadway to see the show. Maybe that particular song is quite moving while watching the entire musical, but on its own, it didn't do much for me. In fact, the only musical number from a new musical that somewhat piqued my interest was "Last Dance" from Summer: The Donna Summer Musical - and that's only because I've always loved her music.

Below are more highlights (and some lowlights) of the Tony Awards (the pink categories are the ones I correctly chose to win):

Best Musical Number: My favorite performance of the evening was "This One’s for You," the catchy and clever opening (and closing) number that Bareilles wrote.

Best Acceptance Speech: I liked Andrew Garfield's eloquent words - especially his cake reference - as he received the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Play for Angels in America.

Best Line of the Night Runner-Up: "All four of tonight’s best musical nominees are based on movies, but only one of these movies paid for my boat" - presenter Tina Fey while introducing the Mean Girls musical number

Most Pointless Gig (Once Again): Last year I complained that Rachel Bloom's brief backstage comments were not worthy of her talents - and this year she even had less to do. The Tonys must be paying her well, but let's hope that next year she declines their offer.

Best Dress: I thought winner Laurie Metcalf (Best Featured Actress in a Play for Three Tall Women) looked fabulous.

Best Musical Number from a Musical Runner-Up: My Fair Lady (Lauren Ambrose has a lovely voice, but I suspect that there were no drag queens in the original 1956 Broadway production)

Most Amusing Response from an Audience Member: Who was the guy who stuck out his tongue in disgust after the My Fair Lady performance? (UPDATE on 6/13/18: And the answer is Bartlett Sher, who directed the musical revival)

Special Tony Award Unworthy for Television: I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan so it was nice to see him be honored and get to perform, but actor/comedian John Leguizamo also received a Special Tony. Here's his moving acceptance speech.

Best Acceptance Speech Honorable Mention: Lindsay Mendez, who received the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel.

Best Musical Number from a Musical Honorable Mention: Carousel, which showed off its Tony Award-winning Best Choreography and the hunky Amar Ramasar, making his Broadway debut as Jigger Craigin.

Most Moving Musical Number: "Seasons of Love" by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department

Role I Can Definitely See Patti LuPone Playing: Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (UPDATE on 6/12/18: The Tony Awards photo of her was incorrectly identified since she says that she never played the role)

Least Favorite Tribute: The combined video/medley tribute to Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber (who received Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre) just did not work. These two Broadway legends deserved much better, and it's a shame we were not allowed to hear their acceptance speeches (which you can watch below).

Best Birthday Greetings: I thought it was sweet that John Tiffany, who received the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for Harry Potter, had the audience sing "Happy Birthday" to his boyfriend.

In Memoriam Snubs: I have no idea how they select people, but these folks deserved to be honored in my opinion - David Cassidy (Blood Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Rose Marie (Top Banana, Fun City), Jerry Lewis (Damn Yankees) and Ann Wedgeworth (who won a Tony Award in 1978 for Chapter Two). It was nice to see Chicago director Rachel Rockwell make the cut (she appeared in touring productions of Mamma Mia! and Show Boat) but, unfortunately, Chicago actress Mariann Mayberry - who appeared in three Broadway productions, including August: Osage County - was not featured.

Hottest Hunks of the Night: The Boys in the Band - Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells - in their colorful suits.

Let The Playwright Speak, Dammit: Producer Sonia Friedman hogged the microphone when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two won the Tony Award for Best Play, and then the orchestra began playing so we didn't get to hear playwright Jack Thorne speak.

Best Musical Number from a Musical: Once on This Island's "Mama Will Provide" featuring the amazing Alex Newell and Isaac Powell's amazing abs.

Biggest Surprise of the Night: I don't think anyone predicted Once on This Island winning Best Revival of a Musical over Carousel and My Fair Lady.

Best Acceptance Speech Runner-Up and Best Birthday Greetings Runner-Up: "And what kind of homosexual would I be if I didn’t say, 'It’s June 10 - Happy Birthday, Judy Garland" - playwright Tony Kushner in his acceptance speech for Best Revival of a Play for Angels in America (he also reminded the audience of the importance of the November midterm elections).

Best Featured Actor in a Play: Nathan Lane received his third Tony Award for Angels in America.

Best Leading Actress in a Play: Glenda Jackson received her first Tony Award for Three Tall Women and has now achieved the Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar, Emmy and Tony).

Other Categories Unworthy for Television (but you can watch all of their acceptance speeches here)

Best Costume Design of a Musical (My Fair Lady)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
Best Scenic Design of a Play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
Best Lighting Design of a Play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
Best Sound Design of a Play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
The Isabelle Stevenson Award (Nick Scandalios (the Executive Vice President of the Nederlander Organization)
The Regional Theatre Award (La MaMa E.T.C. of New York City)
The Excellence in Theatre Education Award (Melody Herzfeld of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School)
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre were presented at the Tony Awards Cocktail party on June 5 (New York Times photographer Sara Krulwich, costume beader Bessie Nelson and Broadway dry cleaning service Ernest Winzer Cleaners)

And that's all, folks. I'm giving a grade of B+ to the telecast and an A to the hosts and Mr. De Niro.

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