2015 Tony Awards: Stars, Entertainment, and a Lot of Tweeting
By Ellis Nassour
Sunday’s 69th annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will be more of a social event than usual. As Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming co-host the live three-hour telecast from Radio City Music Hall from 8 -11 P.M. (ET/PT time delay) on CBS, there’ll be live tweeting during the ceremony.
Thanks to www.NewYork.com, Tony nominees have banded together to use #MyTonys, giving viewers the behind-the-scenes scoop about what’s going on, especially doing those endless commercial breaks. What will vivacious Chenoweth and charming Cumming, both Tony winners, be doing when off stage? What’ll six-time nominee Kelli O’Hara be doing with her thumbs? Better still, will the sixth time be the charm? When they’re not pacing the aisles, will Brian d’Arcy James, Christian Borle, and Brad Oscar be tweeting about which plays were actually written by the Bard? Nominee Andy Karl and his wife Orfeh will be sharing happenings as they happen. With the largest contingent of producers ever [some shows had more producers than cast members], what will they be tweeting about their rivals?
Executive producers Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss [White Cherry Entertainment] announced that more than 175 performers – the most in a single number in Tony history – will join Josh Groban for a special performance.
Those making appearances include Jason Alexander, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Chlumsky, Harry Connick, Jr., Bradley Cooper, Bryan Cranston, Larry David, Taye Diggs, Sutton Foster, Jennifer Grey, Joel Grey, Neil Patrick Harris, Marg Helgenberger, Dulé Hill, Nick Jonas, Kiesza, Judith Light, Jennifer Lopez, Joe Manganiello, Debra Messing, Patina Miller, Jim Parsons, Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Seyfried, Sting, Kiefer Sutherland, Rita Wilson, Thomas Sadoski, and Tommy Tune.
Broadway favorites Sierra Boggess, Darren Criss, and Laura Osnes will co-host the first Tony Awards red carpet live stream. Tony winners Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) and James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin) will co-host the Creative Arts Awards, which will take place off-camera during the ceremony’s first hour. The 14 categories include special, designer, choreographer and other awards [a cue the Oscars should take with their endless list of technical categories.]
The entertainment- packed evening will celebrate Jersey Boys’10-year anniversary on Broadway with the cast performing "Oh, What a Night."
There’ll be more performances than ever from nominated shows in the Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical categories: a medley of "An American in Paris (pas de deux)," "S Wonderful," and "I Got Rhythm" by nominees Robert Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Brandon Uranotitz, Max von Essen, and the cast of An American in Paris; "Ring of Keys" from Fun Home with nominees Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, and Emily Skeggs; "A Musical" featuring nominees James, Borle, Oscar, and the cast of Something Rotten!; and "Love and Love Alone" and "I Would Never Leave You" by nominee Chita Rivera and the cast of The Visit.
From the nominated musical revivals: "Getting to Know You" and "Shall We Dance?" from The King and I, with nominees O’Hara, Ken Watanabe, and Ruthie Ann Miles; A medley of "Lonely Town," "New York, New York," and "Times Square Ballet" from On the Town, with nominee Tony Yazbeck and cast; and a medley of "Life Is Like a Train," "On the 20th Century," "I’ve Got It All," and "Babette" featuring nominee Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher, Karl, and the cast of On the Twentieth Century.
No grudges are being by producers Harvey Weinstein and Madison Square Garden against the massive army of Tony nominators who snubbed Finding Neverland. They’re paying a hefty fee to have Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, and cast perform "Stronger." Joining them will be Vanessa Hudgens, nominee Victoria Clark, Corey Cott, and the cast of 99%-snubbed Gigi will perform "The Night They Invented Champagne." Lisa Howard, Adam Heller, and Tyne Daly will sing "Jenny’s Blues" from It Shoulda Been You.
A press release noted the largess of the Tony Awards, stating "It upholds a valued tradition of recognizing the excellence of the entire Broadway season." Yes, as long as the check’s in the mail. [All shows with production numbers pay a fee.]
Not to be forgotten, there’ll be salutes to Play nominees The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Disgraced, Hand to God, and Wolf Hall, Parts One and Two.
The Tony Administration Committee is awarding a Special Tony to John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote the book for the 1998 Off-Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch for which he won an Obie Award [with co-creator/songwriter Stephen Trask]. He appeared on Broadway in Big River, The Secret Garden (Drama Desk nomination), and Six Degrees of Separation. Off-Broadway: Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me (Obie Award, DD nomination).
"John’s return to Broadway in the revival, which starred Neil Patrick Harris and later Michael C. Hall, Andrew Rannells, and Darren Criss, was a remarkable undertaking," stated Charlotte St. Martin, president, the Broadway League. "We’re honored to recognize his outstanding success." Heather Hitchens, president, American Theatre Wing, said, "His return to repeat the role he co-created in Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one for the history books."
CBS is avidly promoting the Tonys more than ever before. Even the network’s June 5 telecast of the perennially-popular game show Let’s Make a Deal will be attempting to capture some Tony magic. The episode, hosted by multi-talented Wayne Brady, will feature impromptu performances and Broadway-themed giveaways!
Will three hours be enough? And don’t forget a fourth hour that precedes the telecast where creative and honorary awards are meted out.
There were 10 original musicals this season. The Awards category for Musical is
usually open to four, but can be expanded to five. Are the nominators telling us that among the other shows == Dr. Zhivago, Finding Neverland, Gigi, Honeymoon in Vegas, It Shoulda Been You, The Last Ship [which, at least, got a nod for Best Score] – okay, if you insist it to be included, even Holler If You Hear Me == they couldn’t find another honoree. No one can accuse the nominators of working too hard; however, at least, unlike the Drama Desk nominators, they nominated O’Hara!]
It’s completely puzzling how the nominators ignored the many deserving elements of Finding Neverland – such as the performances of Morrison, Grammer, and Laura Michelle Kelly. Many have questioned how 50 nominators couldn’t find value in the numerous elements of the musical – such as previous Tony- winning director Diane Paulus, featured actor Rory Donovan, and Scott Pask’s scenic design [no insult to the extraordinary and different Fun Home, but how is it nominators found its minimal scenic design superior to five-time Tony-winning Pask’s dazzling production design? Was there a blackout during their visit?].
Beloved stage veteran Daly, displaying her hand at high comedy, wasn’t nominated for It Shoulda Been You.
The bonbon Living on Love, by Joe DiPietro, based on Peccadillo by the esteemed Garson Kanin, co-starred opera diva Rene Fleming and, in his return to Broadway after a much-too-long 12-year absence, Douglas Sills. However, it came and went fast; but not so fast that the nominators didn’t get to see it. But they appear to have been blind to the duo of Blake Hammond and Scott Robertson as the butlers who brought the house down with their scene-stealing entrances.
For more information including the full list of nominees, free Times Square simulcast, a meet-the-hosts feature, photo gallery, multimedia, trivia, and the history of the Awards, including a revealing feature on Tony namesake Antoinette Perry, visit www.TonyAwards.com.
Follow the Tonys on the site, as well as on FB, Twitter, and @TheTonyAwards on Instagram and Twitter.