Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Katie's Top Ten Tony Awards 2015 Moments

Let's get one thing straight: I am musical theatre trash. I have been deeply invested in this artform/fandom/lifestyle since 8th grade. I majored in it in college and I was a T.A. for Musical Theatre History for two semesters. One of my reasons for going to MN this upcoming weekend is because one of my friends is hosting a double movie night with two musicals: the semi-sequel to Rocky Horror and a 1970's retelling of the Phantom of the Opera AND I AM SO EXCITED FOR IT OH MY GOD! I am the worst person to watch musicals with because you have to literally put a gag on me and tie me down to stop me from singing along and pointing things out that I love (in another context, the previously described acts would be welcome and exciting, but I digress.) The majority of my iTunes library is Broadway soundtracks (which, hint hint, my birthday is a week from Tuesday, if you want to get me something, money for musical soundtracks is always a good place to start). Point is: musicals. I love them. And the Tonys are the only time of the year when normal people love them too (fun fact: fifth year in a row when I've guessed correctly who would win Best Musical. Actual life skills, guys). So I figured I would make a list of the parts I loved. Without further ado, let us delve into Katie's deep fandom love:

1. Fun Home performance. Performed by Michael Ceveris, Beth Malone, and Sydney Lucas.

 Fun Home is based on the graphic memoir of the same name by Alison Bechdel (yes, she created the Bechdel test). Fun Home is important for a number of reasons: it's the first mainstream musical with a lesbian in the lead role and the composer (Jeanine Tesori) and lyricist/librettist (Lisa Kron) are the first women to win those respective Tony Awards. Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer of In The Heights and stealer of my heart, posted on Twitter "How many just figured something REALLY IMPORTANT out because of Sydney Lucas [Small Alison]..." Fun Home is one of the many reasons why diversity is so important in art! I can't help, but imagine so many little girls feeling conflicted about who they are, and seeing Sydney Lucas sing about who she is, and watching the little girls' self esteem just shoot through the roof. Sydney Lucas was nominated for a Tony Award. She didn't win, and I would be mad if I didn't like the winner and her speech so much, which leads us to...

2. Ruthie Ann Miles Acceptance Speech - Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, The King and I

"Please recycle." That was the beginning of Ruthie Ann Miles' speech when she brought out her phone to read the speech she wrote on it. This is one of my favorite speeches for a few reasons: she's so eloquent while also being so adorably awkward. "There's a lot of people here!" She was just so genuinely humble and thankful and she just looks so adorable. And don't even get me started on that dress because she was one of the best dressed people that night. She's also the only Tony Award winner I've seen who thanked the ensemble, and as someone who is perpetually typecast as "ensemble member", that means a lot.

3. An American in Paris performance. Performed by Robert Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Brandon Uranowitz, Max von Essen, and the company of an An American in Paris.

During my time as a telemarketer for the Joffrey Ballet, I got free tickets to see the ballets they produced. One of those ballets was Christopher Wheeldon's re-imagining of Swan Lake and it was fantastic. After seeing this performance on Tony night, finding out that it was directed and choreographed by Wheeldon was surprising, but obvious when I thought about it. Based on the 1951 Gene Kelly film, set to the classic tunes of George and Ira Gershwin, this performance alone was enough to send my friend, her parents, and I into the fantasy world this musical sets up. I didn't know anything about this show before the Tonys, and now I want front row seats when it tours.

4. Kelli O'Hara Acceptance Speech - Best Leading Actress in a Musical, The King and I

Kelli O'Hara has been long overdue for a Tony, and finally, after her 6th nomination, she has it. She has it, and she is thrilled. The audience is right there with her. "Mom, Dad, you don't have to pretend anymore, its okay." She doesn't have a rehearsed speech, but she doesn't have to, because she's Kelli freaking O'Hara! Her little dance of joy at the end was the moment that everyone in the audience was like "yep, I'd be doing that too if it were me."

5. The Opening Number - performed by Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth

These cuties are the actual cutest and you will never be able to tell me otherwise. Look at them being so charming. Alan Cumming opening the show with "ladies, gentlemen, and those who you don't identify as either," then singing Willkommen AND JOEL GREY HIMSELF SMILING AND APPLAUDING HIM OH MY GOD I DIED! (Context: Joel Grey originated the role of the "Emcee" in Cabaret and won a Tony & an Oscar for his performance. Alan Cumming played the role in the 1999 revival and won a Tony for it. They performed together at the Kennedy Center Honors when Kander and Ebb won their medals, and just.... musical theatre feelings, you guys), Kristin Chenoweth saying "Wicked is still running...", just... look at these adorable dorks being adorable. They were great and a joy to watch. It wasn't a giant spectacle like with NPH hosted, it was simple, it was cute, and I loved it.

6. It Shoulda Been You - performed by Adam Heller, Lisa Howard, and Tyne Daly

It Shoulda Been You wasn't nominated for any awards, but after that performance, my friend and I just looked at each other and were like "so, why wasn't Lisa Howard nominated for a Tony?!" This performance is spectacular and I don't think any of you understand how important it is to me that a beautiful fat woman was belting her heart out on the stage... It's a shame it wasn't nominated, because holy hell this was one of the best performances of the night.

7. Annaleigh Ashford Acceptance Speech - Best Supporting Actress in a Play, You Can't Take It With You

I have a lot of affection for You Can't Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart; when I was in high school, I was cast as Essie Carmichael, the ditzy, ballet obsessed older sister of Alice Sycamore, the only normal member of the Sycamore of the quirky family. Essie dreams of being a dancer, but she is horrible. That is the part that Annaleigh Ashford won the award for and all of her references to winning the award for "the worst dancing on Broadway" warms my heart. This year was the year of super emotionally overwhelmed nominees who just can't words anymore and I love it.

8. The Visit - performed by Chita Rivera and the company of The Visit

In Kander and Ebb's final collaboration, The Visit tells the story of a wealthy woman who returns to her home town on a condition: if the town will kill the man who jilted her, she will donate enough money to revitalize the town. This performance is great, and Chita Rivera is a legend. The woman is 82, yes, 82 years old, and she still has more fabulousness and class in her than I've ever seen. I hope I am as gorgeous and talented as she when I get older. The other performers are great too, but Chita Rivera, man.

9. Something Rotten! - performed by Brian d'Arcy James, Brad Oscar, and the company of Something Rotten!
Something Rotten! follows in the recent tradition of modern musical comedies, in the same vein as The Producers, Monty Python's Spamalot, and even some more serious shows like [title of show] and Urinetown where the show, or parts of it at least, are about musical theatre as an art form, both the good and the bad. "Mostly you just sit there asking yourself 'why aren't they talking?!'" The performance is so much fun and is filled with so, so many classic musical theatre references. Like, every time I watch this, I recognize another musical they are referencing. But it's a fantastic performance on its own as well. They didn't win any Tonys, unfortunately, but their PR department was smart enough to create "Best Loser" posters for the show.

10. Best Musical Announcement - Jason Alexander and Larry David

 I won't say much about this video because I believe it speaks for itself, but I will say this: the banter between Jason Alexander and Larry David is genuinely funny. "Oh! Oh! You were nominated! Oh!" The speech that follows is pretty typical speech fare, but the person they bring out at the end, and seeing her smile, like she's been accepted and this is home... I cry. I cry so hard.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, I missed out on all the revival performances, the speeches by people in new shows, and I don't have a whole lot of host moments posted on here (seriously, if any of you can find the video with Kristin Chenoweth in the E.T. costume, I will love forever, because I couldn't). But the Tonys mean a lot to me, musical theatre means a lot to me, and I hope I have helped maybe convert some more people over to the musical theatre fandom. What were you favorite Tony Award moments?

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