I have a friend (and former student) who is a huge Broadway fan — we’re talking mega-huge. We’re talking she loves it all, so my entry today is named for her. Kaybee, I’m glad you enjoy theatre like this.
I watch the Tony Awards every year, taking particular note of the musical numbers. My blog this week centers on my opinions and eventual ratings of those moments. On with it!
The opening number was cute and clever …the bouncing Jackman had me right away thinking of the movie (the title escapes me) in which Bobby Van hops all the way through a song – and Jackman honors that film and performance here. Energetic, fun little changes as the camera follows him from outside the theatre and into the stage and under the stage and … well, hopping all the way. Once finally back on stage, Jackman begins the show with no sign of breathlessness – that alone is impressive, after a good 3 or 4 minutes of constant hopping about at a pace of 100 hops per minutes. Grade: B+
Bring on next, AFTER MIDNIGHT – a high energy dance number of some of the old standards – well done, fun to watch. But you know, nothing new, nothing all that innovative. Grade: B
LES MISERABLES is a fine show – at least I think so. Wilma and I are tainted by the only stage version we ever saw – we were in the very back of a large theatre – and it just seemed that we couldn’t make out who was singing – it was a pattern of ‘sing a song, turn the stage’ – … so we came away thinking “Is that all there is?” Well, the music is so very good …I wasn’t exactly in love with how they did a medley that bounced from song to song, concluding with so many of the songs going at once. (“Masters of this House” along with “I Dreamed a Dream”? Clever arranging, but confusing for the listener….) It was okay. Grade: C+
On comes ALADDIN. I was instantly transported to any of many of the sites at any Disney amusement park. This was Broadway? Lots of glitz, lots of energy, but hey, on Broadway I want to see some innovation and/or new kinds of stuff. Grade: C- . If I were to give this one an award, it would be the “YOU’RE NO LION KING” award.
Idina Menzel came out next to sing her song from NOW-THEN. I have three words to say: BELT BELT BELT. Is it just me or is she hard to watch? She seems to have a good deal of facial contortions – which makes me thinks she’s working ‘waaaaay too hard. She performed on another award show, and I thought she sounded strained there, too. (The one where John Travolta screwed up her name…..) Is she okay? I mean, are there vocal nodes at work? She’s very good, yes… but….Grade: C+
Kudos to Clint Eastwood for his comments. It is SO very unique what he is doing with JERSEY BOYS. It’s nice to see the cinema world and Broadway aiding each other. This KAYBEE award for “Nicest Cameo by Someone who Came all the Way from Hollywood” goes to Mr. Eastwood.
ROCKY. Yup, that’s what it was. I may have been glad to see the Eastwood/Broadway interplay, but I’m not sure every movie should be turned into a musical, and this was evidence of that. I thought the play was based on the first ROCKY movie, but the first thing we hear is a song from the second ROCKY. Lost me right there. Grade: C-
Alan Cumming does a fine job as the political advisor on THE GOOD WIFE, and he surely made a mark for himself when he did CABARET in the re-imagined version of the show when he did it so many years ago. He reprised his part again — and you know, the show didn’t necessarily need that re-imagination. I didn’t like the sleazy version back then, and I didn’t like it now. Sorry folks, but give me Joel Grey. Grade: D
GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER – well, now! Here we have an innovative presentation. Double doors, some clever choreography. Very strong musical work by the guy and his two gals. Clever and very visual. This is the kind of thing I like seeing from Broadway. KAYBEE award for exactly that innovation and cleverness. Grade: A-
Audra McDonald is a class act. Leave it at that.
HEDWIG and the AMAZING INCH was very visual – very costumed – very ‘in your face’. But you know what? Neil Patrick Harris has a certain charm about him when he performs – you can witness that from his various appearances on so many award shows, whether he’s hosting or not – and of course on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER…. but he was so hidden in the performance here that I didn’t see that charm that I’ve to associate with him. Lots of energy, lots of vocal work, lots of appeal….. but it could have been anybody under that blond wig…. even Charlie Sheen. So, I was a bit disappointed. Grade: B+
The segment with the five different playwrights was great! It’s very nice to see these folks out front once in a while.
Brian Cranston – okay, what will he do next! Good for him!
VIOLET – with Sutton Foster, who holds a particular interest to my awards column namesake…. Good singing, nice work. But for TV someone didn’t quite get the idea. I’m sure the show is good and all that – but this version ended suddenly – I would have liked to hear more of Ms. Foster. Grade: B- for its unsettling production value.
STING – with a guitar. with his weepy voice. Celtic/Irish/Brit. Saw the same effect on stage when Wilma and I saw “ONCE” down in Minneapolis. Nothing new. Grade: C
FOR GOOD from WICKED was quite nice. I really liked this Ephalba. Good music, and good stuff again. Not a big show stopper for the Tony Awards, so I give it the KAYBEE “Nice Try. Thanks for the Memory” award. The show has been on for ten years now — and that is good. Grade: B-
ROCK ISLAND LINE from THE MUSIC MAN – When I was teaching, I used this piece and challenged my students to do it … and I said that it was a RAP before there was RAP. Thanks for giving us proof, Mr. Jackman and all….. I wish they had done the whole number. Grade B+
Jesse Muller is introduced by Carole King. That’s enough right there. And then, we hear the song as Jesse first does it in the show, and then it continues into the commercial version as done by the Shirelles, and then Ms. Muller appears doing “I Feel the Earth Move”, only to be joined by Carole King herself…. what great moment! Jess M. goes on to win best actress in a musical…. Best segment of the show! Grade A
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY – A Woody Allen musical? Why did it take this long? And of course, the music would be stuff from the 1940s….. It’s old school Broadway. It’s the Kaybee award for “Best Tribute to Shows of the Past”. Grade: B-
Jennifer Hudson presented a song from the upcoming show NEVERLAND. The lady looks great – the song is big …and may end up as big as “LET IT GO”…. Grade: B
Let’s finish with a clever combination of ON BROADWAY and LULLABY OF BROADWAY…. enjoyable, but too short since the show went over its time limit.
I enjoyed the show – some high points, some low points (I see KAYBEE herself noted that she’s amazed that actors can memorize large scripts but still stumble over reading from a teleprompter…and she’s right….). So Kaybee, we saw another TONY AWARDS show… I hope you enjoyed it…. I did….