The Tony Awards were last night. As usual, the event was a mishmosh of the excellent, the meh, and the totally bizarre. You’ve got your unimpeachable performances (Idina Menzel), your theater jokes that don’t land on TV (host Hugh Jackman’s intro, an homage to “Take Me To Broadway” from Small Town Girl), your guys in suits who start off singing and then break into a tap dance (like way too many to list here), and your Neil Patrick Harris (this time in heels!). The Tony Awards also has that Oscars-like tendency to spend a lot of time making the case for just how important and life-changing theater can be, even though obviously everyone who is there is already on board with that idea. This is a show that’s odd by nature, as it is a three-hour attempt to make theater suitable for an audience who may or may not have been watching just because they had to wait until 10:00 for Game of Thrones to go up on HBO Go.
But it can also be the scene for transcendent, exhilarating performances that make you yell “SHUT UP HOW DID YOU DO THAT” at your screen: last year’s opening number, the record-breaking Audra McDonald singing “Summertime” in 2012, the 2011 end of show rap that name-dropped all the night’s winners, an astonishing feat of writing, performing and stamina.
Speaking of raps! During some mid-show banter, host Hugh Jackman shared a lovely childhood memory: the first musical he ever auditioned for was The Music Man. Then he started to perform the opening number of the show. And then he said:
“If you think about it, if you think about it, as I was doing my bad rap, Broadway composer Meredith Wilson, he might have actually created one of the very first rap songs ever back in 1957.”
Um, sure. The first rapper was definitely a white guy writing a musical.
Perhaps because he’s been so into time travel lately, Jackman declares that it’s time to “bring The Music Man into the 21st century!” and brings out LL Cool J and T.I. to help him do just that. Counterpoint: maybe don’t bring The Music Man anywhere! Maybe it’s better to just leave things where they are. But you tell me.