Segregation and rock ‘n’ roll triumphed over corrupt government regimes and Afrobeat, men wearing wigs toppled Sondheim, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis swung and hit a homerun past the fences and Red is the new color of the Great White Way. If you are confused about what I was just referring to, then you missed the live broadcast of the 2010 Tony Awards on CBS.
The stars of Broadway and Hollywood filled Radio City Music Hall while fans in Manhattan braved a downpour to watch a live simulcast of the event in Times Square. Sean Hayes did not disappoint, the Promises, Promises star and Tony nominee was just as enjoyable as the host of the Tony’s as he is on stage at the Broadway Theatre. The show opened with Sean Hayes tickling the ivories singing “Blue Suede Shoes” with Levi Kreis (Tony Award winner for Best Performance by a Featured Actor) and the cast of Million Dollar Quartet; he also accompanied fellow cast mate Kristen Chenoweth as she sang “I Say a Little Prayer.” The casts of Come Fly With Me, Fela!, La Cage Aux Folles and Everyday Rapture provided audiences at Radio City and at home with a small glimpse of why they were nominated and the opening number closed with the Green Day and the cast of American Idiot having stars like Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Will and Jada Smith clapping to their punk rock masterpiece.
Although Fela! and La Cage Aux Folles accumulated 11 nominations, each only walked away with three awards. Bill T. Jones won for Best Choreography for Fela! and the musical centering on the Afrobeat pioneer/activist also won Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical. La Cage Aux Folles won Best Direction of a Musical, Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Douglas Hodge. Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for A Little Night Music and Katie Finneran won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the hysterical Marge MacDougall in Promises, Promises. American Idiot won for Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Lighting Design of a Musical, but it was Memphis that took home the Tony for Best Musical as well as Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.
The Tony Awards were seeing Red literally; the play won the most awards of the evening including Best Play, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Eddie Redmayne, Best Direction of a Play, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Play. The revival of August Wilson’s Fences won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Denzel Washington and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Viola Davis. The beauty and talent of Scarlett Johansson lent itself well to the stage and garnered her Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Tony for her performance in A View from the Bridge.
The main feature of any award show is the performances and the Tony Awards provide the best of any award show. Audiences were wowed by performances casts of Memphis, Million Dollar Quartet, American Idiot and Fela! Catherine Zeta-Jones delivered a powerful performance of the Sondheim standard “Send in the Clowns” and brought her husband, Michael Douglas, to tears. This year marked the 64th anniversary of the Tony Awards and with it being a year away from the age of retirement I can confidently say that I see no departure any time soon. Exciting and provocative shows like Next Fall, American Idiot and Fela! are breathing new life into Broadway and changing the ideas of what a production can do, and revivals like Fences, La Cage Aux Folles and A View from the Bridge show why a classic stage production has staying power. Although Manhattan is battling through one of the worst global economic periods on record, Broadway proves why humans will always crave drama and a little night (or matinee) music.
Top Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com