tony awards

Tony Awards 2013 and the Magic of Broadway


Theatre is hurting. Arts funding, both at an educational and professional level, is getting harder and harder to come by. Theatre companies all over the country have to make cuts to their cast sizes, seasons, and staff. Theatre salaries for working actors pale in comparison to more lucrative paychecks in film, television, commercials, voiceovers… just about any performing work that isn’t done live on a stage.

revolution promo
This two-second clip paid more than the four theatre gigs I did that year. True story.

Broadway, while being the biggest form of theatre in the US, doesn’t go unscathed. Think piece after think piece examines the state of Broadway’s uncertain state with critically acclaimed shows that close too soon, audiences that skew older, wealthier, and whiter, and the constant onslaught of celebrity vehicles, jukebox musicals, and uninspired revivals. With musical theatre becoming more of a niche art form and straight plays following close behind, it can be all too easy to look at the state of Broadway—and theatre as a whole—with a jaundiced eye.

And then this year’s Tony Awards happened. We at LMezz got to see the Tonys not once, but twice, as Sara won a pair of tickets to their dress rehearsal held earlier that morning.

Yes, he did this twice.

This year’s show featured Simba, Velma Kelly, Annie, and other beloved characters from current Broadway shows as presenters, showcased awesome original numbers, and had some of the most inspiring acceptance speeches ever. From Broadway legends to Broadway debuts, stage managers to composers, directors to lighting designers, every person at Radio City Music Hall was there because they loved theatre. And that includes the movie star wanting to build their theatre cred. The producer hoping their Tony win increases their box office sales. The diva who wants all eyes on them.

Host Neil Patrick Harris said it (or sung it) best during the opening number (whose lyrics were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda):

“There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere who’s sitting there living for Tony performances…So we might reassure that kid, and do something to spur that kid, ’cause I promise you all of us out there tonight, we were that kid.”

With all the problems Broadway has, there are still creators. There are still productions. And most importantly, there are still audiences who love to enter a theatre and see magic be made.

Some Alternative TONY Awards

Good Times. We’ll miss you 2012-2013 season. Kind of.

Kinky Boots on Broadway

Sunday night’s TONY Awards is destined to be a British showdown for Best New Musical. Matilda, originally from Britain and the musical with the most Olivier-awards ever won, stands to likewise sweep up its fair share of TONYs if it can tear them out of Kinky Boots’ colorful, bedazzled grasp.

And that, gentle reader… or weirdo stranger (whichever you prefer to be called) is going to be a difficult task.

Why? Because Kinky Boots is the entire package. It’s a feel-good story that blends just the right amount of entertainment and social critique. It’s a vehicle for what many feel is an urgent civil rights issue, but it also stands clear of getting too preachy or divested from the characters’ motivations. It’s got clever, fun, cross-genre songs by Cyndi Lauper (you know them TONY voters love that cross-genre stuff by famous people) and a heartfelt, well-paced, and witty book by Harvey Fierstein (you know them TONY voters love the Fierman).

Visually, Kinky Boots is also a treat. The sets are realistic, yet practical– a mountain of shoe boxes can flip around into a bathroom stall, factory conveyor belts make handy tools for an OK Go-style dance number. The costumes are… well, let’s just say if you have an entire song devoted to how amazing shoes are and another song about how burgundy is the least sexiest color, you know there’s got to be some serious stress in the costume department or else someone’s going to lose a job.

Also likely to sweep up an award Sunday night is Annaleigh Ashford, whose supporting role nearly steals the show… and that’s hard to do when you’ve got half a dozen drag queens parading around you. Billy Porter and Stark Stands are going head to head for that Best Actor award. And in full confidentiality, I’m on Team Stark. I mean, haven’t enough Starks suffered on television this week? I pretty much knew I was Team Stark when I exited the theater with my fists in the air, in full Steve Holt style, saying “Stark Sands.” ButyeaBillyPorterisgreattoosogoodluckeverybody!

Ashford and Porter admire Sands’ face. Or something.

Go get it, Kinky Boots! Sunday night is YOURS!


Five Things You Should Know About ORPHANS

Alec Baldwin’s duckface, Tom Sturridge’s worst impression of a famous actor, and Ben Foster’s impression of Alec Baldwin welcome you to this post.

1) It’s like a Harold Pinter play. Minus the confusion.

Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge play Treat and Philip, two orphaned brothers fending for themselves. Treat does some petty thieving– a couple of diamond bangles, some cash here and there– while his mentally retarded brother, Philip, stays in the house all day under the false impression that he is ‘allergic’ to the outdoors (a ploy created by Treat to keep his brother safe). One day, Treat brings home Jack Donnaghy Harold, a mysterious stranger, also an orphan, whose briefcase has some shady stocks and bonds stuff (idunnowhatthestockmarketis). Treat drugs and kidnaps him.

The next morning, Harold offers them a chance to change their lives around under his employ.  It’s a bit like if Harold Pinter met Charles Dickens and they had some kind of strange, multi-genre, sentimental, and super funny baby.

2) Give the man his Tony!

You might hesitate to give an award (or any praise whatsoever) to a man who makes this face and manages to go home to Sienna Miller at the end of the day. But believe it or not, I am of the opinion that if Tom Sturridge doesn’t get a Tony for this role, it would be a GIGANTIC Broadway crime.

3) Ben Foster is particularly amazing while shrieking.

A high-pitched Ben Foster is a good Ben Foster. Carry on.

4) Alec Baldwin, on the other hand…

Now, I usually like Baldwin. But his portrayal of Harold feels a bit like a rehashed SNL character. It works in the funny bits. But when you’ve got Tom and Ben giving it all that they got, and Alec formulaically saying his lines like he had Adam Sandler in his arms, well, it just ain’t right. I should say, however, that Harold is nowhere near as fleshed out a character as the brothers. His mystery and lack of background enables him to ease his way into the family. But characters can still be mysterious while making their lines actually sound slightly different than every other one they’ve just said. AMIRIGHT?

5) Cool Set is Cool

The brothers’ living room is more like a jungle gym, a crazy womblike jungle gym.

A question though- If you go to the expense of building a second floor and the actors never use it, does it really exist?


All in all, Orphans is a fun time to be had. I totally recommend it.


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