Monday, June 13, 2016

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I have been looking forward to Sunday, June 12th all week.  The 70th Annual Tony Awards were being presented and it's one of the great nights, if you are a theatre lover.  I've been watching them far longer than I've even seen live professional theatre, but I woke up Sunday to the news we all heard.  Twenty people killed in a shooting in a nightclub.  As it turned out, it was a far greater number, it was a gay nightclub, and it was being called a terrorist attack.  I can't tell you why when I heard it was a gay club, I burst into tears.  I think that it clarified the hate crime.  Dying for who you are.  I was/am truly shattered, but what happened afterwards sent outrage through my whole being. The tweets and reactions from many Republican leaders and the presumptive nominee were so self-protecting and lacking any real human feeling. How can you not be deeply moved by the sheer madness and carnage?  Why do politicians take sharp positions in a moment of tragedy?  Why isn't it a human feeling?  Any leader that isn't deeply moved by the 15th mass shooting in less than 8 years, shouldn't be in office.  Any leader that thinks about his political coffers over humanity, shouldn't be in office.  Any leader that is under the thumb of the NRA or any other lobbying group, should take a long look in the mirror and re-assess their priorities and their moral compass.  It is a sickening, outrageous, and inexcusable  lack of human reaction and you could see it in the face of President Obama.  He has no more words.  He and I can't believe we are still spinning our wheels over common sense gun control.  I have said it before and I will say it again, NRA members that support their leadership are culpable, too.  If they stood up and told Wayne LaPierre that he doesn't speak for them, maybe something in this country could change.  Crickets!  I'm sick of it. You are making sensible people want to destroy the Second Amendment, instead of being reasonable for all of our rights.   I'm mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore.

After, too many hours of hearing the horrific news. I did see that there was a bit of light at the end of this dark, dark day.  The Tonys!  James Corden was chosen as the host and before he did one thing, I knew he'd be perfection.  I did wonder how he and the producers would handle the tragedy and what James Corden did was nothing short of perfect.  It was truly and deeply heartfelt and clearly pointed out why the theatre community is special and unique.  It is what the whole world should be, but isn't:  loving, supportive, accepting, tolerant, etc.  Then, on with the show.

James Corden's opening number was a smash. Genius and so clever showing a "young" James Corden getting the theatre bug.  Knowing he could be whatever he wanted. Living from magical Broadway musical to Broadway musical.  The climax of the number was moving.  All these young kids came out on stage and he sang that they can dream and be what they want. The camera moved in on Corden and pulled back again and they were the adult Broadway actors. Great opening!

The Awards started with best supporting actress in a play. I will be very honest, I didn't see many plays this season, but very please to see multiple veterans win their first Tonys after a life in the theatre: Jane Houdyshell, Reed Birney, and Frank Langella.  Jessica Lange too but not a life spent in the theatre.  So, I am glossing over their beautiful wins and speeches.  Thrilled that Renee Elyse Goldsberry won for Hamilton.  I have been a fan for a long time. She used to be on One Life to Live, which is where I first saw her.  On one episode she opened her mouth to sing and she blew me away.  She is beautiful and, oh so, talented.  

Up next, Shuffle Along did a number and it did not impress me.  Wouldn't sell me a ticket from what they showed.  Daveed Diggs won for Hamilton.  Embarrassed to say, but I didn't realize until watching 60 Minutes' piece on Hamilton, that he played two roles.  He deserved that Tony.  Lin Manuel Miranda won for lyrics and music for Hamilton and gave a truly moving speech.  He was deeply affected by the tragedy in Orlando and came prepared.  Of course, no one could criticize his having a prepared speech.  There was no doubt Hamilton would win multiple awards.  She Loves me did their excerpt from their show.  I think it landed.  I love the show so much from the last production 20 years ago. It's a great score and a talented cast.  Fiddler on the Roof, another musical revival from the amazing Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, left me a little cold.  Danny Burstein who is so talented was minimally featured as Tevye.  I'm not sure why the producers went with that number, but I think his performance is a huge selling point.  The excerpt from Bright Star was unsatisfying. The lead character is singing about her story, but we never find out what her story is.  To be honest, it wasn't  compelling enough of a hook for me to care. :-( 

James Corden did a great bit about all the people that are on Broadway but you may not know their names, but you know them from all the Law and Orders they guest starred on. It was hilarious.  All the Law and Orders have been a constant source of employment for the New York City theatrical community.  Corden just pointed out some of the multiple roles they played, particularly Danny Burstein, over the years.  New Yorkers have always known this about the acting community, but it's great to point it out to America.  

Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist of the Broadway revivals of She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof, received the Tony for Lifetime Achievement.  He is truly one of musical theatre's treasures and it was shameful not to give him his due on national television.  We have few of these wonderful veteran theatre makers.  We should have gotten the privilege of hearing his speech.  He would've received a standing ovation.  He is beloved.  

Next up, they brought out Diane Lane to describe the Best Play Revivals and then Claire Danes for Best Play.  Both these women sounded and looked beautiful  I am grateful that they didn't show scenes from the plays live, as in past seasons.  They don't work and this was a classy way of framing the nominees.  By the Way, Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge  and Humans won, respectively.  Keri Russell of Felicity and The Americans fame came out to introduce the musical version of Waitress ( she starred in the original movie version).  I will make one fashion comment here, way to revealing and not attractive, but here comes the excerpt.  Sigh.  I really wanted to love it, but felt so depressing.  Don't think that it was the right songs to share out of context.  

Chita Rivera came out and introduced the In Memoriam portion.  They were very smart to disclaim upfront that this is a sampling of those we lost, but not all.  Can't get the backlash.  Very smart.  Well done and always sad. Chita looked amazing!  

I am not going to list every winner, but it was sheer joy to watch the look on Lin Manuel Miranda's face when Leslie Odom, Jr. won best actor in a musical,over him .  That was beautiful and well deserved.  Cynthia Erivo made a beautiful speech when she won for The Color Purple.  The final award of the night...Best Musical.  Barbra Streisand made a return to the Tonys for the first time in 45 plus years.  She presented the Tony to the winner...Hamilton!!  She looked beautiful and happy to be there.  

This was an evening this theatre girl needed.  It was classy, emotional, funny, and long, but well worth it.  Helped turn the day around for a few hours.  There's so much more that I could say about this show but, really, thank you, I really needed this.

Sidebars:  My baby girl kept bringing up another show, Dear Evan Hanson, which she loved so so much.  It will be opening in November on Broadway and we can only hope that it can make the kind of difference and splash as Hamilton.  -- After the Tony's ended, I got an email alerting me that the next batch of Hamilton tickets went on sale.  FYI, tried and no tickets available.  All sold out in minutes.  This will be a constant rant about the ticket problem, but I will say that a young person pointed out the irony that the Hamilton audience is largely white privileged people.  Hmmmm. -- Tonight is Game 5 in the NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. My love/hate relationship swung back again with LeBron James.  His incessant whining helped get a Warrior player suspended for Game 5.  It's disgusting and shocking that the NBA would do this.  I'm not saying there may not be issues with the player, Draymond Green, but Game 4 was rough and tumble and LeBron James got away with tons and tons of fouls.  Go Warriors!!!  Finish it off and show them! -- San Jose Sharks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the NHL Stanley Cup.  Hockey season is officially over.  --
There are tons of petitions going around now on Facebook and email regarding automatic weapons and gun control, sign them.  May not help but maybe the leaders will unplug their "earbuds" and start hearing the majority of the American people.  

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