As people who see a number of plays during the year -- GVSU, Hope Summer Rep (coming in just a few weeks!), Grand Rapids Broadway Theatre Guild, MSU's Wharton Center -- we have a strong interest in what's happening and who's performing on Broadway. So when I say I was disappointed with Sunday night's telecast of the Tony Awards on CBS, it wasn't the wonderful plays or people. Who doesn't like the energy of West Side Story, seeing Allison Janney in 9-to-5, the three wonderful young men in Billy Elliott, or the silliness of Shrek?
No, the problem lay in the show itself.
Fail No. 1
There were sound problems all night. More than one production number had terrible sound balance. Either I couldn't hear the leads, or in the case of the Lord Farquahr number from Shrek, the lead doll was way too loud for the chorus. And then in one number they had to idly sing along until someone ran a cordless hand mike out to the lead.
That we don't see more of this in live television and awards show tells you how good the sound and tech people are. And I'm sure they were mortified as they ran from crisis to crisis last night. Definitely felt bad for them, but since the music suffered, I felt bad for the shows and the singers, too.
Yeah, I'm just an old theatre softie at heart. There's a reason we often go to either opening night or closing night productions. And preview nights...
Fail No. 2
Back in February, I wrote about the disrespect the Oscar's telecast showed those who were on the roll of the departed. I was not alone. Many people complained about the camerawork and the inability to see the names and faces of those being honored. You'd think people would say, "Nope, that's not gonna happen again."
Well, apparently the Tony Awards Show people didn't get that memo. Other than have a chorus singing, instead of one, it was almost the same stupidity. The screens with the pictures and names were either set at an angle or the projection was such that it made them look at an angle. And then the camera bobbed and weaved around "artistically". I was furious. I don't think I got a good look at as many as one-third of the people who'd died in the last year.
Fail No. 3
Finally, for years the Tony people have smuggly mocked the Oscars broadcast for running over. Sometimes nearly an hour over! We know how to time a show, and get on and get off to make a speech, the theatre professionals say. Alas, the Tonys did not end at 11pm EDT. A fact that host Neil Patrick Harris did briefly acknowledge, by noting that it was 11:03 or so when he had to start his musical wrap up finale song over the credits.
Okay, so Mrs. Dr. Phil didn't think this was so-ooo bad. After all, it was just a few minutes. And it's not like the local Channel 3 news was the only 11 o'clock news running late, since ABC ran longer with the NBA Finals game, too. Not as bad as the Oscars for sure.
But I have to wonder. With so many new Broadway shows based on movies -- Billy Elliott, Legally Blond, Shrek, etc. -- and so many movie actors showing up -- take Will Farrell, please -- are there too many movie people around to know how Broadway should be doing things? (sly evil grin)
Still, A Passing Grade
We still like watching the Tonys. Singing, dancing, acting -- it's a great mini-course on what is happening on Broadway. Some of the new shows and the revivals we knew about. The new West Side Story, with Spanish!, was featured on NPR Weekend Saturday, I think it was. Some, like 33 Variations, I hadn't heard about, but am very intrigued now.
And then there's Hair. (grin) When we saw a GVSU production of Hair the other year, Mrs. Dr. Phil and I observed that it was nice, but there was something missing. The actors were too young to know about the 60s. Same with the Broadway revival. I think I've put my finger on it. The free love and hippy movement -- they got the joy and the happiness and delight in randomness down. What is missing is the deep dark undercurrent. See, the 60s happened in... the 60s. And some of what was going on was singing La-la-la I can't hear you over the ugly noise of the day. Knowing that every day might bring you crashing down from your self imposed high.
So, interesting. (grin)