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Eleven Things About the 2011 Tony Awards

Brooke Shields WTF
Things started off real rough for Brooke.  It took her three tries (at least, we kind of lost count) to make it through her lines in the opening number, which ultimately involved obvious use of a cue-card.  We almost felt bad. Almost. (I mean, really, is it possible to feel bad for someone THAT beautiful?) Then, much later in the telecast, Ms. Shields attempted to make light of her misfortunes, only to slip deeper into a sinkhole of disaster.  Girl fully melted down on TV.  We’d say we’re sorry for her, but, it was probably the most interesting thing to happen all night.  It certainly beats the number from Company.

Ellen Barkin Talked Forever
No, seriously.  Every time we thought her speech was over, it just kept right on going.  And for all you conspiracy theorists out there, note that there was scarcely an attempt to play her out early, even though the show was already running over thanks to Brooke Shields’ inability to remember words/sing them.  Maybe it’s just because we weren’t that impressed with her performance in The Normal Heart to begin with, but still… why?

Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris Play Dueling Hosts
We love Neil Patrick Harris. We really do. But put him head-to-head with Hugh Jackman, and… it kind of leaves you wishing that the Tonys had another host. Sure, their fake-competitive duet was one of the highlights of the evening, (our favorite part: the dorkily in-unison dance moves) but something about it felt a little uncomfortable, and a little too truthful. If given the choice, many of us actually would choose Hugh Jackman—a reality that dulls/complicates an otherwise funny joke, and reminds us of what we missed out on.

Norbert Leo Butz Wins, for Some Reason
Let’s square this away. We love Norbert Leo Butz to the roots, and his performance certainly was the highlight of the otherwise lackluster Catch Me If You Can. But did he need to win another Tony for it? We here at The Craptacular are solidly divided in our opinions over this, but ultimately, we’re bummed that Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells were so utterly efficient in splitting the Tony vote that neither of them won. That said, Norbert’s touching acceptance speech—he mentioned his sister Teresa, who was murdered in 2009, and his own personal struggles while working on the show—was one of the night’s best.

Company Performs a Number, for Some Reason
So, Company performed. And Patti LuPone was there. And so was Christina Hendricks, who is famous and looks pretty. And so was Stephen Colbert, whose connections to musical theater are dubious at best. But you didn’t really see or hear any of these people, because “Side by Side” is a totally useless number where no single performer gets to do much of anything except vamp, and illustrate a point that is totally remote and makes no sense out of context. Oh, and there are hats and canes. And the ugliest parade of well-meaning polyester costumes you’ve ever seen. And… and… and… it was a disaster. Its inclusion in the telecast was questionable in the first place, but the Company number became even more irrelevant once it actually started happening. Sondheim is the great genius of musical theater. If only there were two or three more geniuses out there who were willing to stage his work…

Aaron Tveit Is Here, for Some Reason
Broadway’s resident cutie pie Aaron Tveit kicked off the Catch Me If You Can number, proving that a pretty face is good for ratings. Or at least the Tonys think so. Sure, his inclusion in the telecast seemed sort of optional, given that he wasn’t nominated for anything, but we’re not arguing with anyone’s decision to put that pretty smile on our TV.

Christie Brinkley Has No Idea What’s Going On
She looked gorgeous. Or something. Or she looked… statuesque. And… tall. And confused. Her appearance at the Tony Awards was on-topic thanks to her current starring role in Chicago. But why is she on Broadway in the first place? When she opened her mouth to present, we couldn’t help but wonder if we’d instantaneously unlocked the secret: She might actually be Roxie Hart in real life, right down to the mildly bleary look in her eyes.

Frances McDormand Wore Denim
We’ve obsessively loved Frances McDormand since her galvanizing turn in Cameron Crowe’s 2000 flick Almost Famous, it’s true.  But even that kind of love can’t save her from a big, resounding “What the fuck even?!” after her appearance at last night’s Tony Awards.  McDormand looked like she’d forgotten what day it was entirely and had to sprint the theater direct from a dress fitting for the MTV movie awards.  Or maybe just an updated take on Oklahoma.  Then she got real intense about how much she loved her job in a kind of… off-putting way.  But like. We’ll forgive her. Because she’s badass. And also, because she dropped a Greg Allman reference like she was still in Almost Famous and that forgives many a fashionable sin.

Spider-Man Was Everywhere
There was a joke in the opening number, then Bono and The Edge ate humble pie and got a few laughs before Peter Parker and Mary Jane—err, Reeve Carney and Jenn Damiano—performed some lackluster song thing while suspended on a fake fire escape.  The best gag of all was host Neil Patrick Harris’ attempt to contain all remaining Spidey mentions to 30 seconds of the telecast, into which he crammed as many jokes as he could spit out while still breathing.  Too bad it was a fruitless effort, and Spider-Man: Holy Shit We Might Actually Open Finally got at least several minutes more airtime anyway.  Because apparently even on Tony night, Spider-Man is still the single biggest story in the Broadway community, and that is just fucking depressing.

The Tony Writers Shine
Neil Patrick Harris is basically always very good at what he’s doing, we’ll grant him that, but last night, his work as host was completely outshone by the folks behind the scenes, in particular, the ones writing his material.  Sure, NPH’s delivery was passable and no one would be upset to see him invited back.  But between the hilariously on-the-nose opening number “Broadway’s Not Just For Gays Anymore” and the badass Lin-Manuel Miranda penned closing rap, it was the material that caught our notice.  Bravo, Tony Writers!  Wherever you are this morning—and we hope it’s in a big comfy bed, sleeping off your celebratory hangover—we applaud you.

God’s Favorite Musical… Apparently Is
And then The Book of Mormon won everything. It’s not a shock, really, with 14 nominations to begin with. But with 9 wins, many in major categories, including Best Book, Best Direction, and Best Musical, it looks like this show will remain the tough ticket of the summer. And the fall. And the winter. And funny story, it already was. But this little musical did much more last night – it became the single thing that people across America, many of whom have never seen a Broadway show, will talk about today. While Andrew Rannells was belting out the last notes of “I Believe,” the show’s web site fully crashed, and the names of its otherwise entirely obscure stars were trending on Twitter. And then Nikki M. James started crying. A surprise winner in the Best Featured Actress in a Musical category, her tearful acceptance speech – and the perfectly-timed crowd shot of an equally choked up Rory O’Malley – was essentially the sweetest moment of the evening.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Linda June 13, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t all that impressed with Ellen Barkin’s performance in The Normal Heart. I may, however, be the only person that would rather watch Neil Patrick Harris host than Hugh Jackman. Why wouldn’t Aaron Tveit perform since he is starring in a nominated show? It’s not as random as non-nominated shows getting performance time.

  • Elizabeth June 13, 2011, 10:35 pm

    I’m surprised there was nothing about the fact that Memphis was performed because I was extremely pissed off that that happened.

  • Kevin June 16, 2011, 1:56 am

    Until Tony night, I didn’t know Frances McDormand was a frazzled children’s librarian by day.

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