My Top 5 Favorite Moments of the 2015 Tony Awards.

I’m writing this blog in the wee hours after the Tony telecast, and the buzz at the couple o’ parties I went to after mine was that the show was a big ol’ hit.  It was fast paced, funny and it even had a few surprises that made it as exciting as Saturday’s Triple Crown winning horse race.

I wanna hear everything you thought about the show, but first, as is my tradition the morning after the Tonys, here are my top five moments, in no particular order.

1. TWO REALLY IS BETTER THAN ONE

There was a lot of chatter the day Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth were chosen to co-host the awards.  “They couldn’t get a Hugh Jackman-like star, so they got two stars to add up to Hugh,” said the naysayers.  And now, it looks like those Tony Producers knew exactly what they were doing.  They got two fantastic comedians and Broadway personalities who knew how to work in tandem, were happy to make fun of themselves, and knew that the key to a successful hosting gig was just to have a blast (that ET bit was priceless).  We were lucky to have them.  And I hope we get them back.

2.  IN MEMORIAM

Last year’s audience was up in arms when the telecast neglected to air an “in memoriam” segment, opting instead for more musical numbers (including that then out-of-place Jennifer Hudson Finding Neverland moment).  This year, the Producers brought it back, I’m sure in part because they did what all great Producers do . . . listened to their audience.  But they didn’t just bring it back and do what they usually do.  Oh no.  They said, “If we’re bringing this back, then let’s make a moment out of it.”  In walks Josh Groban, and up comes the choruses of all those Broadway shows singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  It was a beautiful and respectful moment that made me proud to be part of the community.

3.  SO YOU THINK BROADWAY CAN DANCE

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shows with big fat dance numbers on the telecast!  An American in Paris, On the Town, On the Twentieth Century . . . even “Shall We Dance” from The King and I.  It was a dancey year on Broadway, and it was wonderful to be reminded of how much story can be told with no words, only movement.  Dance is a key ingredient of musicals.  It’s like chocolate in a chocolate cake.  Hard to make one without it.  It was wonderful to be reminded of it on the industry’s biggest night of the year.  And I bet all those pirouettes sold a lot of tickets to shows (and a lot of memberships at dance schools all over the country).

4.  THE SIXTH TIME’S THE CHARM

It wasn’t even Kelli O’Hara winning her Tony that made the moment memorable for me.  It was the audience standing on its feet as she took the stage.  They seemed to breathe a sigh of relief right along with her!  And that speech, right?  From classy, to emotional, to a goofy shuffle-off-to-Buffalo.  It was worth the wait, and so well deserved.  You know, I was lucky enough to see Kelli O’Hara play Christine in the Yeston/Kopit Phantom at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut before she was Kelli O’Hara, and I remember thinking, “This girl is gonna win a Tony someday.”  I’m happy she finally did.  (And I bet she’s got at least a couple more in her.)

5.  WHAT ROAD VOTE?

Ok, so by far the biggest moment of the night was Fun Home snatching the Tony from the jaws of An American in Paris.  Even though there was definitely a great deal of chatter over the last few days that Fun Home was making a move, I thought it was too little, too late for the ambitious art musical that was up against a Gershwin-laden dance spectacle that has been grossing over $1mm a week, and had a great set of reviews of its own.  But David bested Goliath in a shocking upset.  And as I’ve said a bunch of times on this blog, let this forever prove that there is no block of touring presenters that vote for the shows that they think will play in their theaters around the country to greater success.  Got it?  There is no road vote.  Avenue Q beat Wicked.  Gentleman’s Guide beat Aladdin.  And Fun Home beat Paris, just to name a few.  Never before have I been more proud of our industry than last night, when it rewarded this achingly beautiful new musical that challenges today’s audiences.  More people will see Fun Home because of that Tony.  And the world will be just a little bit of a better place because of it.  And that’s the power of theater.

 

Ok, so now it’s your turn to tell me what you thought of the show!

But we’re going to do it all scientific style. Click the link below to fill out a survey, and we’ll collect the results and post them here for everyone to see.  And maybe we’ll even send them on to the Tony Awards Producers.

Take the Tony Awards Telecast survey here.

Even if you didn’t watch, fill out the survey . . . we want to know that too!

Take it now!

 

(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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Comments
  • MichaelC says:

    @ #2. IN MEMORIAM – the tribute would have been much more effective had they not continually changed the camera angles so that at times it was impossible for those of us not in the theatre could still read the names projected behind Mr. Groban.

    Lots of things didn’t go the way I would have liked but as soon as Kelli O’Hara’s name was announced all was right with the world (for me). While I very much liked “Fun Home” I didn’t find it as groundbreaking as many reviewers (and apparently Tony voters) did. And while I think I understand the choice of “Ring of Keys” as the representative song performed from “Fun Home” I would have much preferred “I’m Changing My Major (to Joan)” which I found to play a much more pivotal role in the show. I’m not disappointed that “Fun Home” won but I’m not sure that it will receive the Tony bounce at the box office that some might expect. It is a small intimate personal theatre experience (one that plays beautifully – and wisely – in the smaller space provided by Circle In the Square) but I still see it with limited appeal.

  • Kathy Hochberg says:

    #2 was #1 for me! Touching, thrilling, respectful and incredibly appropriate, all at the same time

  • Lauri says:

    I loved Alan and Kristen together and hope they’ll be back again next year! They both have that mischievous charm that allowed some of their edgier jokes to come off as smoothly as they did. The big dance numbers were thrilling, Sidney Lucas was perfect, and the winners were gracious.

    The In Memoriam segment felt rushed (the photos of the people were off the screen so quickly that there was hardly time to read the names, and the constantly-changing camera angles added to the difficulty for home viewers. Maybe (for the home viewers) if they’re making this kind of big moment, they should keep the camera on the singer(s) and include a sort-of picture-in-picture at a corner of the screen that shows the scroll of the names/photos of those who have passed? That being said, it is definitely the right choice for the producers to have included this segment.

    Although I truly loved much of the show, the end made me grumpy. I hated that the producers felt the need to rush the Fun Home folks off the stage to allow for the Jersey Boys to sing. It’s one of the biggest awards of the entire night, the songwriters made history as the first female team to win a Tony, and the show itself is historic in that the content, previously unseen on Broadway, held mass appeal to its audience. And I’m pretty sure that Ruthie Ann Miles (god bless her, she was truly adorable and funny in her acceptance speech) got more time to talk than they did.

  • Mark Briner says:

    I was told by a local member of the Tony voting community that the Road Block does exist, but not to reward the big shows. In particular, this voter said that Wicked was a guaranteed presellout when it comes to town. It, and Aladdin, and other big shows, have names and reputations that make them easy sales. But by awarding a smaller lesser known show like Avenue Q, the road block creates buzz for a show that needs the sales boost outside on NY. So it’s not for the show that plays better on the road, but to fabricate ticket sales for one that might not. Why waste a vote on Aladdin when you can create a campaign for Gentleman’s Guide?

    • MichaelC says:

      I see you point and have heard similar arguments from some “insiders”. However, foe me that would totally destroy the honesty of presenting an award if it’s not given to a truly deserving show. That said, I’m not implying that”Fun Home” is not deserving because I truly believe that each of the nominees had qualities that could/would make them deserving. It just seems ridiculous to hand out an award solely for the purpose of boosting someone’s box office receipts. Big box office should not deminish a show’s deserving the award. I’m more inclined to think that many voters want to support the “little shows that could” not necessarily to increase their ticket sales but to encourage others to put that “little show” out there without fear of being overshadowed, ignored or maybe not even given a chance because of the big budget productions.

  • Alex Bernstein says:

    I enjoyed the show on a whole. I understand the use of Jersey Boys at the end as a kind of curtain call for the evening. I felt that Larry David and Jason Alexander, while funny, was allowed more time to banter than the winners of “Fun House” were allowed time to thank everyone. I was probably one of a handful wanting to see Neil Patrick Harris’ predictions this year (I’m a sucker for magic tricks). I agree that the “In Memoriam” section for the home audience left a little to be desired in how it was televised, but I enjoyed the choir of all the casts.

  • Joe Deer says:

    The awards seemed minimally important compared to flattering Harvey Weinstein and pushing production numbers. I love me some Broadway numbers. But, the awards for all the creatives were shoved aside for numbers from non-nominated shows. Loved the outcomes of many of the awards. But, that has nothing to do with the broadcasters. And, the “In Memorium” section was all about Josh Groban, not respecting the deceased – at least on TV. You probably had a very different perspective in the theatre.

  • Sue Cohen says:

    I have a few comments on the survey I just took. I wanted to make note of why I picked what I did as my fave production number (The King and I) — because it brought tears to my eyes when K&K danced together. I almost picked An American in Paris — stunning!
    All in all, the production numbers gave me reasons to see or not see shows I have yet to attend. The “In Memoriam” segment flew by too quickly and applause should be discouraged. Too much applauding for whoever was popular. Josh Groban started way too low–wrong key??
    I loved Jason Alexander and Larry David presenting, and that is the only part of the show I had my husband watch. Finally, the survey should ask if the Tonys were watched live or recorded and watched later. I was happy to fast-forward over all those commercials.

  • Duane Poole says:

    Reasonable minds can disagree, but I thought this was one of the worst Tony Awards shows in memory — and from a season with so many hits, so much potential to create a stellar evening. The hosts came across as snickering, grating presences who took a sophomoric approach that was mostly embarrassing. Talented performers both, this likely had as much to do with the terrible writing, but those cheap, repetitive jokes about Harvey Weinstein and about Alan’s sexuality did not wear well. It was great to have the In Memorium segment back, but the talents we should have been paying tribute to were presented in tiny, rushed graphics, apparently so Josh Groban could have more screen time and promote his new album. What disrespect. And the choice (I assume by the various show producers) to present ‘medleys’ from the various productions more often left us with no impression at all…other than confusion. If viewers didn’t know “On the Twentieth Century”, they sure weren’t more informed after that muddle. And what was that sad, under-rehearsed dance sequence to honor Tommy Tune?! With few exceptions (“On the Town”‘s number, for one) the Tony evening was a lackluster, disjointed, and sad representation of the many glories of this theatre season.

  • Joe says:

    This was the first year when I felt overwhelmed by all of the production numbers. When a number from a show works on the Tony’s, it affects me viscerally- a shot of adrenaline right through the television. I think back to “I Want it All”, “Lets Take a Glass”, “It Sucks to be Me” and even Angela and Bea’s “Bosom Buddies”-the tangible energy in the theater was transmitted into my living room. Many of last night’s “infomercial medleys” felt like Youtube clips. You can’t get that sense of wonder or awe from 30 second snippets of a song before you are being whisked to another production number. ON THE TOWN, THE KING and I and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS didn’t land with me because the energy wasn’t allowed to envelop me. Instead, we got hotel-tv previews -snack sized media bursts that left me cold and uninterested. After a while, those mega-mixes were numbing. A production number builds and grows and draws you in. When a show presented a full number, I was hooked. After seeing “A Musical”, I was so excited that I decided right then and there to purchase SOMETHING ROTTEN. Young Alison nailed it for everyone in the room at Radio City and with me on my couch with her heartfelt rendition of “Keys” and I even sat up and took notice of the presentation of IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU. That’s great theater and it’s great television.

    As some have stated above, I thought the idea of the IN MEMORANDUM was a cool idea, but the execution was … less than stellar. First off, what key was Grobes singing in the opening bars? Was that segment about Groban, or was it about those we lost? Let us be magnanimous and say it was about the dearly departed. Perhaps waiting until verse two to start showing the tributes and rushing through them all was, at best, poorly planned and, at the least, just tacky. The chorus was a really nice touch though. I say bring the whole kit and caboodle back next year- it was a good idea that would be a nice tradition … and with a bit of tweaking it would be the talk of the broadcast.

    Finally, I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I want more acceptance speeches. I wanted to hear what Kron and Tesori had to say. Giants such as Tommy Tune and Stephen Schwartz deserve more than a sound bite for all that they’ve done for the industry. Does anyone really tune into the broadcast to see any of the celebrity presenters? Think about it- do we need to watch any of these stars walk out on stage, stumble through a clunky comedic bit and then struggle with the “envelope”? Good Lord, Jennifer Lopez seemed perplexed by the English language and it was painful to listen to Sting or Taye Diggs sputter and stutter. The voice over woman did a nice job- let her do her job quickly and professionally so we can get more time for the actual winners. Tommy Tune came across as funny and heartfelt and genuine and that is a moment that should have been broadcast .

  • Richard Rizzo says:

    Alan and Kristen acted like a pair of 12 year olds.. Changing outfits so often was irksome.The In Memorial section took away from the seriousness of the people who have departed.

    I feel the best awards program is THE GOLDEN GLOBES. YES. Lots of celebrities, and lots of awards given out. It moves along smoothly.

  • David Turley says:

    I am surprised at how many are calling Fun Home an upset. Statistically speaking, only two of the ten nominated/awarded Pulitzer musicals haven’t gone on to win Best Musical. It gave Fun Home an 80% lock on the award. Sometimes the best way to predict the future is to look at the past.

  • Jeffrey Sweet says:

    I join with those who think that the in memoriam segment was not done well. I have a 32-inch flatscreen and there were names I couldn’t read. I expect people watching on smaller screens (and lots of people watch on smaller screens) could read little or nothing.

    I am less fond of the habit of making medleys to represent the musicals. Give me one full number, as GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE did beautifully last year.

    People talk of the block of touring voters. I’m part of the block of writing voters, the substantial group from the Dramatists Guild. We’re a pretty idealistic bunch and usually prize good writing well-served and will, when there’s a good option, vote for musicals with new scores over juke box shows, even when they are as very good as AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (and that is very good indeed). But I’m pleased that we seem to have four new musicals that are hits: FUN HOME, PARIS, SOMETHING ROTTEN! and FINDING NEVERLAND. (And I’m pulling for IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, which breaks no new ground but gives a splendid cast the opportunity to cut loose joyously.) I can’t remember a season that ended with four new hit musicals. I do wish ON THE TOWN had gotten something. That’s a very hard show to do right, and they did it right. (KING AND I is beautiful, but I can’t remember seeing a KING AND I that didn’t work.)

    I’m sorry some people whose work I admired were overlooked. John Lithgow did remarkable work. SIDE SHOW was filled with stuff worthy of nomination. Ian Barford in CURIOUS INCIDENT is making a difficult character moving. The supporting players in ON THE TOWN are stellar. The cast of THIS IS OUR YOUTH. Nancy Opel and Tony Danza and Jason Robert Brown for HONEYMOON IN VEGAS.

    A lot of good stuff this year. Strong season.

  • philip says:

    Grateful as I am that the In Memoriam segment returned, it was very poorly done. I think they had projection troubles, which led to the delayed start of the images. Unwatchable, unseeable, corny, insulting, really, to those gone before. Let the orchestra play a requiem or dirge, and give the photos of the departed the full screen, please.

  • Robert Hawk says:

    I want to take the survey, but it doesn’t indicate whether “1” or “10” is the highest/lowest. Thus, I’m holding off doing the survey and hope to be informed of how the numerical rating works. Thanks.

  • Jon says:

    Want to be more exciting? Find a way to integrate something like this! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wrTmQ8EslOw (Kelli’s quick change) far more interesting than “0nly on cbs” 20 times…

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