I had disconnected our TV antenna and so didn’t watch the Tonys last night. Instead, I followed the Facebook posts and tweets from critic friends such as Lou Harry (Indiana Business Journal), plus the “second screen” supplementary trivia function on the Tony Awards website.
Luckily the entire broadcast is being rerun here.
So now I’ve seen the whole thing, and so can you if you haven’t already.
• Now I understand all those comments about “Why is Hugh Jackman hopping?” But I totally got that it was a tribute to Bobby Van’s small town hop from Small Town Girl, long before a clip of Van appeared on a screen behind Jackman. A clip of the original (with voiceover from when it was excerpted for one of the That’s Entertainment movies).
• My father, Peter Arnott, was one of those who was cajoled by Sam Wanamaker to support the creation of Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London. That theater’s first Artistic Director, Mark Rylance, in his latest acceptance speech for Best Actor, spoke at length about Wanamaker’s doggedness. Wanamaker’s American nationality was working against him, so he wisely tried to form a bloc of sympathetic British theater scholars who happened to working in America. My father—an internationally renowned theater scholar who taught at Tufts University—died in 1990, Sam Wanamaker died in 1993, and Shakespeare died in 1616. Shakespeare’s Globe opened in 1997. I saw Mark Rylance play Cleopatra there in 1999; I’d already seen Rylance do Hamlet at the ART in Cambridge in ’91.
• Darko Tresnjak gets much credit for thanking his “artistic home, Hartford Stage,” before he said anything else in his acceptance speech as Best Director for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. It’s particularly notable since he’s only called Hartford Stage “home” for two seasons now. I’d always thought Tresnjak’s lush, bombastic, infernally clever directorial style was better suited to Broadway than to regional theaters, and now here’s his Tony. But he’s supercool for making Hartford such a big part of the win.
• Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which won Audra McDonald her sixth Tony last night, was directed by Lonny Price, who directed this same exact biographical musical play about Billie Holiday at the Long Wharf in 2005; that time, the star was Ernestine Jackson.
• I hadn’t realized Hedwig’s “Sugar Daddy” had been changed from a country song to a riff-heavy metal tune. I’ve seen plenty of fine small-theater and regional renditions of Hedwig, as well as the original Off Broadway production, and am kind of scared of the Broadway version (which I have admittedly not yet seen) because it takes something which I think is best-served in intimate club-sized spaces and, well, puts a car on stage and projects huge images of sugar candy behind it.
• There’s a neat symmetry to Alan Cumming revisiting Cabaret on the same show where Neil Patrick Harris revived Hedwig. Harris followed Cumming as the Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway in 2003. Cumming has done a suite of Hedwig songs in his one-man show, and talks about how he slept on the couch of the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell, when the show was still being put together.
• Not to get all regional-pride on you again, but the list of nominated performers (and/or featured performers on the telecast) who’ve done exemplary work just 85 miles from Broadway, here in little old New Haven, is formidable. Bill Rauch (director of All the Way) has done wondrous things at both Yale Rep (Clean House, Medea MacBeth Cinderella) and Long Wharf (The Good Person of New Haven, with Cornerstone Theater Company). James Lapine trusted Long Wharf with his long-gestating drama Fran’s Bed in 2003.
Etc. etc. I’m being played off.