My Top 5 Favorite Things about the 2011 Tony Awards.

Last year, when it was announced that the Tonys were going to be evicted from their temporary residence at Radio City, everyone wondered what the change of venue would do to the show.

Well, I think we have our answer.

Moving uptown shook some dust off the ol’ girl, because in my opinion, the 2011 Tony Awards were the best I’ve seen in the last . . . well . . . since I’ve been watching.

It didn’t matter that we all knew who was going to be walking home with the most Tonys on his arm at the end of the night–the show itself was a fantastic representation of the top-notch entertainment that Broadway can present.

Now, we can only hope that more people were watching this year than last.  But even if the ratings don’t bump, the people that were watching got a terrific show that I know will get them more excited about going to the theater.  (Take that Oscar!)

What made it so special?  Here are my top five reasons why this Tony Awards telecast was so special.

1.  Not just another opening, another show.

Oh yeah, they went there.  And it was funny, original, and unabashedly proud of who we are.  Rather than trying to pretend we’re something we’re not (which never works in awards shows and in life), NPH and the nominated shows let their freak flags fly, and said this is who we are, and you know you love it.  And if a couple of viewers in red states reached for the remote when they heard the “G” word, I’d bet a bunch that we had them laughing before they could change the channel.

2.  Broadway is a “numbers” game.

When I was just another Broadway fan from Massachusetts, I used to tune in every year for one reason, and one reason only . . . to see production numbers from Broadway shows.  See, I lived far away from New York City.  You know, like 65% of our audience.  So I wanted to see what I couldn’t see any day of the week.  This year, in addition to the numbers from the nominated musicals and musical revivals, the Tonys included numbers from Spider-Man (it’s what the world is talking about, after all), the non-nominated Priscilla, and last year’s winner, Memphis (what a coup!).  I’d keep pushing the numbers envelope myself, and start doing more previews from the next season’s slate.

3.  The host with the most.

Neil?  You had me at “I’m teen heartthrob Neil Patrick Harris.”  Yeah, he can sing, he can dance, he can tell a joke, and he looks good in a tux and a purple jumpsuit.  But most importantly, the guy loves Broadway, and it shows.

4.  The plays are usually not the thing.

Year after year, the Tonys try to come up with a creative way to showcase the incredible writing behind the nominees for Best Play.  We’ve seen live snippets of scenes, we’ve seen all the plays jumbled together in a Best Play soup, and many more iterations.  This year, they just showed footage.  Simple, great footage, and wonderfully succinct descriptions (and a special appearance from “Joey” the War Horse).  Sometimes being too clever gets you into trouble  Just show us the show and move on.

5.  “The Circle of Doom”

Something had to be done about the swarms of people that have taken to the stage over the last few years when the Best Musical, Best Play and Best Revivals are announced.  This year, a pre-determined select group of folks were invited to the stand behind the microphone, while the rest were sent to “The Circle of Doom”, as labeled by Trey Parker.  The acceptance speeches were classy and clean, less chaotic, and most importantly, quicker, creating a much smoother show.


I’m giving the show a 9.  I’d give it a 10, but I would have liked 1 or 2 more A-list stars that I haven’t seen before giving something away.  Oh, and I know they are on tour, but we couldn’t get even one member of the Glee cast?  A lot of kids would have stayed up late to see Darren Criss for just a sec.

What would you rate this year’s Tonys?

You’re going to get a chance, because we’ve created a quick seven question survey for you!  Click below to take the survey and share your thoughts.  The results will be posted on Friday.

Take our Tony Awards Survey!

Oh, and stay tuned to tomorrow’s blog for the announcement of the winner of my Tony Pool, and to see how I did with my predictions.

Don’t forget the survey!


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Randi says:

    Totally agree. I enjoyed this telecast more than I have enjoyed any awards show in many many years. NPH was brilliant, from the opening line and number to the host-off with Hugh Jackman to the amazing rap at the end. I can’t wait to rewatch.

  • Danny says:

    I’m wondering what your thoughts are about removing more awards than ever from the telecast, particularly Best Book and Best Score. I’m sure their thinking was that squeezing in another musical number would be more entertaining television, but I was really disappointed that such important awards were excluded this year.

  • Paul Mendenhall says:

    I agree with everything you said. Fast-paced, witty, entertaining, it was the best awards show I’ve seen in many, many years. And I generally HATE awards shows.

  • It was a delicious show.
    My biggest complaint is the numbers that were picked by some of the various shows. Not that I didn’t enjoy them. I just wanted them to make me want to run to see the shows they were from. (And not make me less interested.)
    I was totally rooting for them. And I was entertained–but I wanted the feeling you get when you smell chocolate chip cookies that were just taken out of the oven–that you’ve got to have one right now.
    For me, these were the chocolate chip cookies: How to Succeed–with really original choreography and a very hard working Harry Potter, and Mormon, with a truly winning song that showed the wonderful way it is both respectful while it makes you laugh– Also, War Horse–fifteen seconds of that horse carrying NPH put that on my must see list. John Leguizamo was a big winner, too. Great monologue. Loved Company, but it would take a lot for not to.
    After that–nobody else made me want a ticket. Even shows that I really want to see.
    Anything Goes was adequate. Was it just me, or did something seem up with Sutton Foster during that number?
    I was disappointed by Scottsboro Boys– the commencing a journey number didn’t really give you any sense of the heart of that show. The Catch Me number didn’t kill me either. The theme of following the straight and narrow wouldn’t make me rush to see that show if I didn’t already want to see it. Sister Act didn’t do much for me either. That song, though a big number, had some of the more pedestrian lyrics compared to the rest of the show.
    Spiderman turned me off in a big way. Priscilla was okay. Memphis just doesn’t do much for me, I suspect there isn’t a number in that show that would make me rush to see it.
    My theory is that these numbers need to be like the back of a paperback novel– that makes you want to read the rest of the book. Part of the task is arousing curiosity or an emotional connection to the material.
    I’ve seen it work, at least for me. I saw Light in the Piazza because of the one scene they showed on the Tonys.
    What does anyone else think– in terms of which numbers attracted people? Anything stand out from the past that made you desperate to see a show? Ever surprised by a producer’s choice from a show you loved? (My biggest disappointment, and the one that made me think about this topic, was Baby.)

  • Critique says:

    Best Tony show in years. They had me at the opening number. NPH was great, but I’m partial to his rival,
    Hugh Jackman, who for me, is the host with the most,
    but this was the best hosting job that NPH has done.
    Yes, the Beacon had a more intimate feel to it even on TV, but I hope they don’t make it a permanent venue,
    because I actually did get to attend the Tonys in 2005,
    and I love the fact that at RCMH they sold tix to the public.

  • Gary says:

    I agree as well. Best show in years. The intimacy (as compared to Radio City) made a world of difference. Neil and Hugh should host together next year. Their bit was amazing- (especially the dance break)!

  • Paul says:

    Loved the opening number. So, so funny.
    But some of those acceptance speeches. Oy vey! Give ’em the hook.
    And, broken record here, CANNOT believe they present Best Score with the technical awards.
    A partial list of people who would NOT have received their Tony live in prime time (if all were in the TV era):
    Kurt Weill
    Cole Porter
    Richard Rogers
    Irving Berlin
    Jerry Herman
    Frank Loesser
    Frederick Lowe
    Stephen Sondheim
    Charles Strouse
    Marvin Hamlish
    Cy Coleman
    John Kander
    and on and on and on

  • great post. When you think about it that way, it really is a loss, although this year the creative team made so many journeys to the stage that it didn’t quite matter as much, although I don’t remember Robert Lopez speaking.

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