Monday, June 11, 2007

A Tony Award recap -- Park Bench-style

The Park Bench's resident theatre expert Meghann gives us the lowdown on all the Tony Award goodness from last night. Check it out:

When I was 13, I convinced my teachers (with the help of my mom) to take my 8th grade class to New York to see The Phantom of the Opera. Somehow they agreed this was a great idea and thus, I saw my first Broadway show. The following summer, I laid out at the pool on my Miss Saigon beach towel. I searched through my mom’s records until I found Barbra’s Broadway album and then I bought the easy piano book for it so I could play and sing “Not While I’m Around” and “Being Alive” in my melodramatic 15 year old way. I did high school musicals. I just about memorized Rent senior year of high school with my friends and my sister. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched A Chorus Line or Into the Woods with my parents.

I’m a Theatre Nerd. I have a degree in Theatre Nerd, actually. And I’m also a professional Theatre Nerd, spreading Theatre Nerdery to the Greater Philadelphia area. And last night was Theatre Nerd high holy night - The Tony Awards.

The Tony Awards are televised (thank god) but don’t usually get a lot of viewers. Unfortunately last night they lost even more than normal because most of America was wondering whether another Tony would live or die over on HBO. But I remained faithful. Surrounded by Theatre Nerds like myself and my boyfriend, we filled out ballots, we had trivia at commercial breaks, and we rooted for the, uh, one show we saw this season, Spring Awakening.

Now you can find the list of winners anywhere. But there are still awards to be given out. Oh yes, you didn’t know it but there are.

Most Heartfelt Acceptance Speech
David Hyde Pierce, Leading Actor in a Musical for Curtains. You may know and love him as Niles, but DHP has been a stage actor forever (20+ yrs) and this is his first win. He was genuinely touched and I think a little bit surprised.

Guy We Fell Most In Love With Immediately
Bill T. Jones, Choreographer of Spring Awakening. When his name was called as the winner for Best Choreography, he danced down the aisle! And then he danced on stage! And then after his speech, he danced off! LOVE HIM.

Most Annoying Acceptance Speech
Julie White, Leading Actress in a Play for The Little Dog Laughed. She was shrill and loud. And not a little bit terrifying.

Best Presenter in the History of the World
Eddie Izzard. No one was shocked that Eddie Izzard turned out to be the [very sexy] highlight of the show. He ended the introduction by blowing into the “envelope” to show how it sounds like when you blow into a blade of grass – that high pitched squealing sound. I have no idea what award he presented, but it doesn’t matter because he was hilarious and very sexy.

Most Misguided Dress
Now this is a difficult category, but I’m going to have to go with Jennifer Ehle, who won Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Coast of Utopia. I decided on her instead of Cynthia Nixon’s Unfortunate Neckline Styling 2007, only because I expected more from Elizabeth Bennett. I love Jennifer Ehle and I want her to always be lovely. And she was, but the dress was terribly misguided.

Musical Performance That Made Me Instantly Want Someone To Win a Tony
Christine Ebersole as Little Edie in a number from Grey Gardens. And win she did!

Best Line of the Evening NOT from the telecast
“Angela Lansbury is alive?!” – one of my friends

Best Line of the Evening from a Speech
“You know, when I used to think about if I ever possibly won one of these, would I feel like there was a mistake made, would I feel that way and I don't.” – Mary Louise Wilson, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Grey Gardens

And now, a public service announcement. Many of you reading this have probably not even heard of half the plays and musicals mentioned. It’s okay, but I implore you to go see a show. Doesn’t have to be Broadway, doesn’t even have to be a big theatre. There is nothing in the world like live theatre – living, breathing people acting right in front of you. There’s a lot of good stuff going on probably very close to where you live. As Jack O’Brien said when he won Best Director of a Play for The Coast of Utopia, “Let's have no more nonsense about the state of the American theater.” Hear hear!

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