It is so beautifully fitting that my first post for Real Posh Mom be about the theater, specifically last night’s Tony Awards. As a little girl in Pennsylvania, the Tonys were my connection to a world that few around me understood, much less appreciated, yet that I was entranced by. I would watch transfixed, knowing that a place existed that was full of people for whom live theater and both raw and finely tuned talent were the purest expression of the strength of the human spirit, something which is very true in my heart.
Last night’s awards show was more difficult for me to watch than in year’s past. Last week my family relocated to California, making this the furthest I have lived from the Broadway community and the furthest away I’ve been while watching the broadcast. For ten years I lived in New York and had many brushes with many of the people on that stage last night, but it’s been years since I was seeing the hottest shows before they were featured, giving me favorites to root for. In Dallas I was just starting to find my people again with my involvement with the fabulous Dallas Theater Center, but after only one year on the board I had to resign due to this move. Being new to town now I’ve not yet had the opportunity to find a new theater family, and so with my jet-lagged munchkin asleep on my lap and my husband being a trooper trying to appreciate what I loved so much on the Radio City Music Hall stage, I watched a delayed-for-Pacific-Time show. Here I touch on some favorite highlights, as well as a few Posh Mom suggestions for what to see when you go to New York City this year both with and without the kiddos.
Hugh Jackman is a brilliant and beautiful showman and even my husband commented that it was unfair for a man to be that talented and successful and attractive. But there is no doubt that Neil Patrick Harris was a perfect host for this event and was missed by many of us last night. Thankfully even as an audience member and nominee he seemed to get as much airtime as Hugh, so there’s not much for any of us to complain about. You’re both very pretty in your own ways, gentlemen.
The awards were very spread out this year, with not one show sweeping. This is very good for Broadway and a sign that the right shows won in their respective categories. The biggest non-surprise winners included NPH, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston for his role as LBJ in “All the Way,” and Audra’s MacDonald record-breaking sixth Tony for her performance as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Kenny Leon’s direction of the recent “Raisin in the Sun” revival starring Denzel Washington (closing in 6 days) brought the show 3 Tonys, and the witty musical comedy “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” took home top honors in its category, with director Darko Tresnjak seamlessly working his native Serbo-Croatian and shout-outs to both his mom and husband into his acceptance speech.
The musical performances, which I watched again this morning with a more alert version of my almost 6-year old, were, as always, the best part of the evening. The show opened with an energetic number from “After Midnight” starring Fantasia, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle. Winner Jessie Mueller as the lead in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” performed “I Feel the Earth Move” along with King herself. Frozen fans got their Idina Menzel fix when she performed a song from her new musical “If/Then,” there was a number from the new Rocky musical (which I found awkward and misplaced on a stage), a big spectacle number from Disney’s Aladdin featuring deserving winner James Monroe (who had one of the best speeches of the night), and in strange déjà vu moments there were performances from new revivals of old musicals Les Miserables and Cabaret, and an anniversary nod to Wicked. Strangely, there were also performances from shows still in development, featuring Sting and Jennifer Hudson in what I can only assume were very expensive sponsored spots.
I was happy overall, with my personal favorite moments including the LL Cool J/T.I./Hugh Jackman rap version of “Rock Island” from The Music Man, my lifelong celebrity crush since childhood Kenneth Branagh in a shiny tux introducing the authors of the nominated best plays to each introduce their clips, and performances from and accolades given to two of my all-time Broadway favorites, the risqué Hedwig and the Angry Inch (especially when Neil Patrick Harris in drag licked Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses and gave Sting a lap dance) and Cabaret. Both are obviously recommended for mature adults only, but I intend to make a NYC trip this summer just to catch them and will guarantee you will get your money’s worth if you do the same.
As for the family-friendly options currently on the Great White Way? There are plenty of options. I intend to take my first-grader to see last year’s winner Matilda the Musical, and/or Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Newsies or Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (if I can stand Fran Drescher as the stepmother). Possibly even the positively magical Pippin, which snuggled into my second-best-show-ever slot after I caught it in December but has a more mature theme.
As for the opening shot of Hugh Jackman bouncing around Radio City before breaking into “I love the Tony’s”? Many were left wondering. It was an homage to Bobby Van’s bopping routine from the 1953 musical, Small Town Girl. You’re welcome!