Monday, June 12, 2006

The 60th Annual Tony Awards - A tribute to Broadway's Brightest and Gayest!

The 60th Annual Tony Awards
Sunday, June 11, 2006

Has it really been sixty years since viewers worldwide began ignoring the Tony Awards? Yes, Bruce it has. And why is that we ask? Simple, pimple. By charging a small mortgage for an orchestra seat, the premiere theatre community of the States has limited the amount of viewers possible to actually tune in and enjoy the outcome of the big theatrical award. Long gone are the days when you could nab a pair of great seats, have dinner and cocktails, pick up a hooker on Times Square and still have enough change to take a taxi home. You’re also lucky to see any real stars outside of the Great White Way on tour in their original productions. No, no kids. That went the way of Lunt and Fontanne. Dead.

And speaking of dead . . . what a remarkably unremarkable way to celebrate sixty years of the Antoinette Perry Awards! Having lost the luster of a Rosie O’Donnell or a Hugh Jackman to host their show, the Tony folks decided to feature sixty “famous” theatre alums paired off like sheep boarding the ark. Or gay sheep boarding the USS Intrepid, for as we all know by now there is nothing more exuberant, boisterous, dare we say it . . . G-A-Yer than the Tony Awards.

The hero of Hurricane Katrina (Seriously, Harry Connick Jr. made it into the 9th ward, where the fuck were you FEMA?) and star of the current revival of "The Pajama Game", who was saddled with unenviable task of opening the show with a banging thud. Singing “Give My Regards to Broadway”, what a shocker. Last year we declared a moratorium on the usage of “Another Opening, Another Show” from “Kiss Me, Kate” – we never thought we’d have to actually state that by now, nobody should be singing “Give My Regards to Broadway” as an opening number to the Tonys. Clearly, our advice is still needed. Oh yes, they trudged out the sixty presenters and plotzed them on a high school gymnasium set of bleechers. Real classy.

And just in case you thought the Tony Awards didn’t feature big name stars, here is the first appearance of Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey on the evening’s telecast. Julia of course made her “quietBroadway debut in a revival of “Three Days of Rain” and was summarily trounced by every major theatre critic. Oprah was one of the producers of the musical version of “The Color Purple”. Neither show is worthy of any attention. Moving on. (And no, we have no idea why they allowed Julianna Marguiles to stand next to them.)

After that incredibly dead in the water opening, they decide to taunt us by forcing us to wait around a few hours to actually see the Oprah or the Julia. (Although they will mention there names every commercial break . . . subtle.) Instead, they bring out Josh Lucas and Kyra Sedgwick. Big stars! BIG!! But just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins . . . these two mega-wattage thespians are merely the beginning of a long evening of nobodies.

Don’t believe us? Here are some more famous Tony couples of the night.

Anna Paquin and Frank Langella. Yup. One of the "X-Men" and "Dracula" from the late 1970s.

Oliver Platt and Hank Azaria, you don’t get much bigger than this friends! Presenting Best Director of a Musical. Or making bird calls. We can't tell from their expressions.

Lauren Ambrose and Paul Rudd present Best Book of a Musical. You know . . . the chick from the funeral home and the guy from "Clueless". Duh.

Audra McDonald and Harvey Fierstein. Working the gay shtick. That never gets old. At the Tonys.

S. Epatha Merkerson and Stanley Tucci. Relax, people. It’s not Oprah.

And presenting the Best Play nominees. Tyne Daly. Eat a salad, Tyne honey. It'll do ya a world of good.

Victoria Clark and Norbert Leo Butz recap the lesser awards handed out beforehand. If you have no bloody clue as to who they are, they are the proud recipients of last year’s Tony Awards for top acting honors in a Musical. And both were quite deserving, despite remaining nobodies.

Famed housewife, Rita Wilson and two time Tony Winner Jonathan Pryce. Apparently the cow is appearing in the revival of “Chicago”. Opposite Charlotte Rae and Bronson Pinchot by now, no doubt. Can't you just read Jonathan's mind: "Bloody Hell, why did they saddle me with Tom Cruise's silly bint of a wife, who could be old enough to be his bloody mother . . . I knew the chap was desperate, but Good Heavens! Oh, Tom Hanks' wife. Makes even less bloody sense."

Oh, an Oscar winner! Awww, it’s just Marcia Gay Harden with four time Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce here to present the Best Play Tony.

And our favorite lame duck duo of the night - Dame Barbara Cook (Wearing the same multi colored caftan she’s been draping her flab with for decades.) and Paul Shaffer??? Amidst the buzz of “She’s still alive?” and “Who the fuck is that with her?”, they shuffled onstage to present the Best Original Score Tony to two incredibly unattractive people from Canada who penned the charmingly retro score to “The Drowsy Chaperone”.

Now one would think that winning a Tony Award only because Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons weren’t eligible would be a bit of a downer, but hey, they’re from Canada. They’re thrilled.

And speaking of the Best. If we needed any further proof that the Tony Awards are gayer than a nude beach on a sultry summer day in August . . . the top honors of the evening went to “The History Boys” – a British ode to buggery, and “Jersey Boys” – an American ode to boy bands of the sixties that sang like girls. You just know that the Tony voters failed to see over half the shows and merely checked off the boxes labeled “Boys” – confusing the ballot with their at home delivery notice from their local escort service. (We’re looking at you Stephen Sondheim and Edward Albee.)

Let’s just cut to the chase and tell you who won, as if you cared to begin with. But pay attention sci-fi geeks the world over, ‘cause two slightly familiar faces won the Best Featured Actress and Actor in a Play.

Emperor Palpatine (aka Ian McDiarmid) from the Star Wars saga won for “Faith Healer”.

And Madame Maxine (aka Frances de la Tour) from the latest “Harry Potter” won for her turn in “The History Boys”.

Now, we kid the Tonys because we love them. Seriously. Back home in Walla Walla, we never failed to watch the telecast. Back in the day when there were actually three or four musicals of note nominated. When shows featured larger than life divas belting out a showstopper surrounded by mincing chorus boys flexing their thigh muscles bedecked in sequins and sweat. We simply couldn’t wait for the inevitable bloated film version of the Best Musical of yesteryear, even if we had to wait an average of ten to fifteen years. Whew! Those were the days, my friends, we thought they’d never end . . . But they did, Marge, they did. And now we’re either stuck with British imports, flying saucers landing onstage accompanied by aggrandized pop scores or the inevitable Hollywood to Broadway musicalization that just makes you want to run and watch the movie in lieu of listening to the score. Still and all, there were some nice bits last night.

Cue “The Drowsy Chaperone” cast, who charmed the socks off of us. Featuring the brilliantly versatile Tony Winner, Sutton Foster in her showstopper “Show Off” number. Between changing ensembles umpteen times, juggling pie plates, doing handstands and flashing her cooter at us, we were applauding her style and verve.

And to the winning musical boys, the cast of “Jersey Boys” headlined by Best Actor winner John Lloyd Young surrounded by a Hullabaloo-like staging that shakes the rafters and brings down the house. Who the hell would ever have thought that a musical based on the life of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons would stop the show at the Tony Awards? We pray we’re dead by the time “Trailer Trash” mounts the boards.

We even enjoyed Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelli O'Hara belting out the old standards from "The Pajama Game". So much for the good musical numbers . . . for as fate would have it, we were forced to sit thru the following trainwrecks.

Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in the “Sweeney Todd” revival. God bless, Patti Lupone for never giving up on the dream that she is a true Broadway Diva, despite the rest of humanity doubting it. Now we adore the original Sondheim show, but this revival staged like a Jean-Baptiste Mondino video from the 80s seems less revolutionary, and more like . . . well a Mondino video from the 80s. Judge for yourself:

So of course, the Best Director of a Musical Tony went to John Doyle for the Mondino video! He also designed the costumes and sets, so guess what boys, that means he’s available!

Oops, there it is, he just thanked his “partnerRobert. Sorry troll lovers, he’s taken.

Continuing the theme of “majorBroadway name presenters, Jamie-Lynn DiScala-formerly-Sigler-who-the-fuck-cares and Molly Ringwald pretend to know each other while they gird themselves to introduce the worst number of the evening. Molly, what’s with the wall eyes? Here to present “The Wedding Singer”. Oh, my God.

This looks horrible. Beyond horrible. Almost as bad as the movie. We know you have to fill out the slots, Tony voters, but really. You should have left it at two nominees. “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Jersey Boys”, at least they didn’t embarrass themselves during their numbers. And no, you get no points for mentioning Van Halen, Boy George, “Careless Whisper”, Jessie’s Girl and “Bang Your Head” pop culture references in the lyrics. This is the reason most people don’t attend theatre.

Oh, no, no, no . . . as if the Best Musical slots weren’t stretched thin enough, the Best Revival of a Musical fares even worse. Cue the cast of the umpteenth revival of the Brecht / Weill theatrical legend – “The Threepenny Opera”. Sadly, this latest revival makes the mistake of replacing the original sinner soaked milieu with a debauched transgender-bending Mad Max after-the-Apocalypse vibe. Casting Tony Winner cum media junket whore Alan Cumming as Macheath doesn’t help any. But bless former 80s pop diva Cyndi Lauper . . . she gets a round of applause for her turn as Pirate Jenny. Thank God they chose “The Tango Ballad” in lieu of that old karoake chestnut “Mack the Knife”. Lot of gay / lesbian groping in lieu of any real choreography and some chorus boys, girls, whatever found felching in the backroom of The Eagle apparently. No wonder America is terrified of watching.

Sweet Jesus, they trudged out Patricia Neal, the first Tony winner back in 1947 for “Another Part of the Forest”. Clearly nowadays, the forest refers to her painted on eyebrows. But we love this old gal. A true blue survivor, Best Actress Oscar winner, and if nothing else, the star of one of our favorite films ever, “The Fountainhead”. And they gave her a new Tony!!!!! (Apparently hers was stolen soon after winning the original. Way to go Tony people. Took you sixty years. Pay attention current winners, keep your eyes on the Tonys – it’s a long haul till 2066.) They’re here to present the Best Actress in a Play award. And she steals the moment, bless her heart. Oh yeah, that muffdiver, Cynthia Nixon won and she kissed her husband. I mean wife. Ugh.

Oh my God, It’s the Julia!!!!!! Looking not bad, we might add. Perhaps lousy reviews agree with her. No, that can’t be it. She’s had years of those. She’s here to eat crow and present Best Actor in a Play which goes to . . . Richard Griffiths for “The History Boys”. And good for him. He’s been around for years, is a more than familiar face and Ker-rist he’s larger than the set! He almost bites off Julia’s face when kissing her. No big loss.

Alfre Woodard brings her breasts out for the night in the same dress that Gayle King wore. Thereby thoroughly confusing Patricia Neal who gave Gayle the keys to her car and ordered a Scotch & Soda and a pack of Luckies® from Alfre. Oh, please people – she won her Tony Award in 1947! Everybody was racist back then! It was the “In-thing”. Rumor has it that Al Jolson actually refused to be in the same room as his blackface make-up. Anywho, Alfre is here to pay tribute to the late great playwright August Wilson with the man himself, James Earl Jones. God that voice! Makes us wet. Not the face. Makes us bone dry.

Unfortunately, she also paid tribute to Wendy Wasserstein, the stenographer posing as a playwright who brought us “The Heidi Chronicles” aka, “The Feminine Tragique”. Ugh. Alfre says that Wendy spoke for a generation of women – yes, well, maybe she did. But those women are the bitches you have to navigate around on the sidewalk because they’re yakking on the cell phone while juggling their Crate & Barrel® jumbo shopping bags, Starbucks® Frappuccino® and pushing a stroller carrying their Puggle puppy.

She’s here! She’s here! The Black Christ is here! In a really huge, ugly, oversized (pardon us, what else would it be) purple raincoat to present a number from “The Color Purple”. Of course she mentions the Spielberg flick and plugs her show by saying that “tons of people” stop her every night to mention how the play has changed their life. Apparently it humbles her. What she fails to mention is that they meant the five hundred dollars they spent on three hours of crap has now left them without money to pay the rent. Bitch – just die, will you. Oh, lighten up you O-Fanatics, even if she did die you know she'd just come back in three days! We could use the time off.

And Great Gosh A Mighty, what a crappy, screetchy song! It’s less revival meeting and more refuse meeting. We say, “Hell, no!”.

Although back in the day we would have said "Hell, yes!" to Tony winner Harry Belafonte . . . still looking dapper at the ripe old age of 427 crawls onstage with three time Tony diva Glenn Close (slightly older) to present the Best Actor in a Musical Tony to the newest Broadway star, John Lloyd Young for his portrayal of famed vocalist Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys”. Apparently his mom died when he was two years old. Way to bring the room down, John Lloyd.

Thankfully Bernadette Peters brings out her ginormous tits and belly roll to cheer up the room, alongside still humpy James Naughton to present the Best Actress in a Musical Tony.

(Sidenote: why does one of the nominees, Patti Lupone always look like she’s picking dried salami out of her teeth? And from the look of her upper breast flab, she might want to switch to carrots or a nice warm water with lemon juice.) And oh my freaking Lord, LaChanze wins for “The Color Purple” confounding the bet placers (Sutton should have won, damn it!).

But we do love LaChanze and are thrilled that she is finally being recognized for her rafters shattering voice and acting talents. From the looks of things, she's thrilled too. And wait for it, of course, she thanked the Oprah. Watch for the hour long Oprah special thanking herself later this week.

How can they top the Julia and the Oprah? With the most famous singing nun of all time, Dame Julie Andrews, of course. Who else appeals to Anglophiles, bored housewives and Theatre Queens the world over? She’s the embodiment of the Broadway musical, perfect to present the top award of the night – Best Musical. And the Tony goes to “Jersey Boys”! Good luck getting tickets now, you tourists.

And with a wave of her slowly disappearing upper body strength, Dame Julie Andrews bids adieu to the 60th Annual Antoinette Perry Awards, and takes a moment to encourage everyone out there in Poughkeepsie to sell their home and come pay us a visit in the big apple to see a Broadway show. Great. More fat tourists staring at the buildings instead of where they’re walking and stopping locals for directions to “9/11”. Can’t they just wait for the movie version, like we did when we were kids? We're willing to wait till next year to view more Tony Award madness. Trust us, we'll wait. Bless you all!

The 60th Annual Antoinette Perry Award Winners
Best Play – “The History Boys” by Alan Bennett
Best Musical – “Jersey Boys”
Best Book of a Musical – “The Drowsy Chaperone” by Bob Martin & Don McKellar
Best Original Score – “The Drowsy Chaperone” by Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison
Best Revival of a Play – “Awake and Sing!” by Clifford Odets
Best Revival of a Musical – “The Pajama Game”
Best Actor in a Play – Richard Griffiths in “The History Boys” (literally)
Best Actress in a Play – Cynthia Nixon in “Rabbit Hole” (Insert Lesbian joke here.)
Best Actor in a Musical – John Lloyd Young in “Jersey Boys”
Best Actress in a Musical – LaChanze in “The Color Purple”
Best Featured Actor in a Play – Ian McDiarmid in “Faith Healer”
Best Featured Actress in a Play – Frances de la Tour in “The History Boys”
Best Featured Actor in a Musical – Christian Hoff in “Jersey Boys”
Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Beth Leavel in “The Drowsy Chaperone”
Best Direction of a Play – Nicholas Hytner for “The History Boys”
Best Direction of a Musical – John Doyle for “Sweeney Todd”
Best Choreography – Kathleen Marshall for “The Pajama Game”
Best Orchestrations – Sarah Travis for “Sweeney Todd”
Best Scenic Design of a Play – Bob Crowley for “The History Boys”
Best Scenic Design of a Musical – David Gallo for “The Drowsy Chaperone”
Best Costume Design of a Play – Catherine Zuber for “Awake and Sing!”
Best Costume Design of a Musical – Gregg Barnes for “The Drowsy Chaperone”
Best Lighting Design of a Play – Mark Henderson for “The History Boys”
Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Howell Binkley for “Jersey Boys”
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre – Harold Prince
Regional Theatre Tony Award – Intiman Theatre, Seattle, WA
And for those of you still with us . . .
Special Tony – Sarah Jones

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