This is going to be a long rant because there's been so much about the Arts to discuss, so here I go. First and foremost, last night was the 71st Annual Tony Awards. I had so much invested in this Awards show. The first time in years. About a year ago, I went to see an Off-Broadway musical that my friend was one of the producers of, called Dear Evan Hansen. Was thoroughly blown away by the story, the performances, the music, lyrics, everything. I sobbed, laughed, and cheered. I hadn't seen anything that thrilling since Hamilton, and before that it was way long ago. I told everyone that I knew to get tickets. They announced a move to Broadway and again, I told everyone to get tickets. Well, many listened and some didn't. It re-opened for its Broadway run to more stellar reviews. Tickets began to get more scarce. I got my kids and Mom tickets for the Second Stage Production. We got tickets for the Broadway run for Christmas Day matinee. We all loved it. It lost nothing in the move. One actor was different, but it was still deeply moving and a sobfest.
Tony season began and I had no doubt that it would sweep, just like Hamilton the year before, but people like the NY Post theatre gossip "king," Michael Riedel started banging the drums for Come From Away mightily. He banged for Andy Karl in Groundhog Day over Ben Platt's breakthrough performance. I started to get nervous. I started to feel anxious as Tony night got closer and closer. The Tony's have notoriously voted some odd winners that seemed monetarily propelled. Did the "king" know something that I didn't? I saw Come From Away and I wish it nothing but the best. I laughed, I cried, but what people are responding to is that it is a truly amazing story of humanity and kindness. If you never read or watched the 60 Minutes piece on the generous people of Gander, it will effect you every time. As far as the music goes, it's nothing to hum. So according to Riedel it was going to be a really tight horse race between Ben Platt and Andy Karl for Best Actor in a Musical and Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away for Best Musical. Seriously? Are you watching the same productions?
Truth be told, I was in deep. I listen to the original recording of Dear Evan Hansen all the time. My dear, dear friend of 40 years, Steve Fickinger, is one of the producers. This show hit me hard and in a good way. I related as a parent and as a high schooler. I was not sitting measured and impartial watching the show last night. Steve Fickinger was going to win a Tony and it's for all of us in someway. We started together at UCLA, moved to NYC, hustled, worked hard, and years later, the dedication pays off. I am exceedingly proud of my friend. Dear Evan Hansen won 6 Tonys last night! For those of you who didn't get tickets yet, well good luck.
Dear Evan Hansen's domination made the Tony's great, but as far as the Tony show itself, I give it a B/B-. I, unlike many, am not a big Kevin Spacey fan. I get his exceedingly huge talent, but so does he, so he doesn't need my support. I didn't like the opening number, it felt forced and only some of it was clever. I wanted them to get to the Awards part faster. I must say, Radio City Music Hall looked stellar. It is a recognizable, one of a kind venue and am glad they're back there. I do applaud that the playwrights each got their own moment to give a synopsis of their plays. I found it far more affecting than showing oddly cut scenes and felt how much I've missed not seeing any of them. In Memoriam was difficult for me. My dear, dear John McMartin was honored. It is almost a year since he died and still can't get used to him not being there. Always and forever, John.
I'm not going to go through the entire show, but the one segment that many are applauding and many are criticizing is Bette Midler's Tony speech. I have been a diehard fan for 46 years. My husband got tickets months in advance to see her star as Dolly. We went Mother's Day and I was not disappointed. I have seen Bette in concert halls, arenas, on film, TV, and now finally, Broadway. She has been in this business for over 50 years. She was in the original Fiddler on the Roof and then her own show, Clams on the Half Shell. She hasn't been back for decades. She was a shoe-in to win Best Actress in a Musical. Her name was announced, she came on stage, and spoke a long time, thanking so many people, shut down the orchestra, and kept going. Thanked the women that came before her, Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey. She gave a long and gratifying speech. Some criticized. They didn't like it. To me and many, it was her divine moment to shine. This is most probably her one and only time to win a Tony Award for a role. She's earned the time and respect. Don't ever forget...she is The Divine Miss M and there will never be another!
The summer before I began 4th grade, we moved to a different neighborhood and a different school. It wasn't that far away, but far enough that I was starting anew. My mother encouraged me to audition for a play at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre. She thought it would be a good way to meet new people and make new friends. The play was Cricket on the Hearth. It was the holiday play. I got in and never looked back. I stayed and created a wonderful theatre family. The woman in charge for 47 years, Pat Briggs, died last week at the age of 80. When I was little, she was formidable, a bit scary, and ran the most magical place on earth. As I grew older and went to college, I doubled down on my love and appreciation for Pat and the Children's Theatre. I didn't realize how lucky and unique it was. I figured everyone had something like that in their town, but I soon discovered that we were beyond lucky to have a place to learn theatre craft, make friends, be safe, and be part of something bigger than ourselves. My first real kiss was in the Secret Garden attached to the building. My first play, my first musical, my first volunteerism, my first just about everything was because of the warmth and love that infused this venue. My memories are vivid and some are dimming, but Pat Briggs gave generations of Palo Alto kids opportunities that we couldn't even imagine. I hope that I told you that before you passed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Sidebars: Okay, I never weighed in on Kathy Griffin and her "joke." It was tasteless and not funny, but people, she always pushes boundaries. She has said hilariously funny things and cringey things over the years. I've read so much hate on her since she posted that unfortunate photo I was shocked at the vitriol I am not one to ruin people's careers. I don't like it. I think it's completely wrong to vilify and squash people. I let my dollars speak for themselves. That's how I protest. I was deeply disappointed in CNN's precipitous firing, basically moments after the photo got slammed. Why couldn't they wait until September to see if anyone cared. I also thought the theatres that cancelled her were spineless and shameful. Why couldn't they let the ticket buying public make the decision? So afraid of protestors? I doubt that her fans are the same fans that were demanding her head on the guillotine. Let your dollars speak and let people soar or flop a natural career death. ** Tonight is Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I was so sorry that the Warriors didn't get the chance to break another record the other night and got whooped by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but hoping and expecting that the Dubs want to win at home in front of their loyal fans. So tonight, Game 5, ABC, 9:00pm EDT, let's go Golden State Warriors!!! I love ya!! (No Bachelorette because of the game) ** It's hotter than Hades in much of the Country. Glad to see we have so many ignorant climate change deniers. Enjoy your weather and be careful out there.
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