The Tonys are my Super Bowl. As a musical theatre performer, I found myself onstage when the Tonys aired, but thank god to the interwebs and magic such as YouTube and DVR, I am able to talk to you about the most memorable moments for me.
Now I will preface this by saying I am going to focus on a few things that haven’t gotten as much notoriety. Yes, we all know Idina Menzel sang her face off. Alan Cumming should perform “Willkommen” every year, for as long as he lives, because it will only get better. We all know that Patti, Gladys and Fantasia ripped it up. But did you even know that “Bullets Over Broadway” even performed?
I didn’t expect you to. So here goes, my most memorable moments of the 2014 Tony Awards.
“For Good,” Wicked 10th
It’s easy to overlook something that has become a staple of the Broadway community, but the fact remains that it takes a lot for a show to last as long as “Wicked” has, especially in this day and age. And the performances brought by Jenni Barber and Christine Dwyer were fresh and genuine, and made you fall in love “For Good.”
“On My Way/Raise Me Up”-Violet
Having been a fan of the show “Violet” for over a decade, it was a thrill to see it be given its due at the Tonys, and with such an incredible cast. Sutton Foster of course brings her golden voice and honest embodiment that she always brings, but it is incredibly difficult to pick out your favorite performeramong this stellar ensemble of unforgettable performers.
“Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” Bullets Over Broadway
I’m a sucker for a good gangster comedy. (If you haven’t seen the movie “Oscar,” by the way, you are doing yourself a disservice.) A brilliant play gets a brilliant musical treatment, and it rings of classic, “Guys and Dolls”-esque entertainment. With handsome thugs and sexy dames, this is definitely a must see.
“I’ve Decided To Marry You,” A Gentlemen’s Guide To Love and Murder
“Gentlemen’s Guide” seemed to sneak up on its competitors, but takes the cake for such a sharp, witty package. It takes the very best of Victorian manner – the scandal, the fashion! – and presents it in a timeless, entertaining bow. Oh, how you feel for this boy. So many choices…
*Footnote: Jefferson Mays’ 60-second quick change into 3 of his 8 characters in “Gentlemen’s Guide” for the introduction is quite possibly the best thing you will ever see.
“Sugar Daddy,” Hedwig And The Angry Inch
This year was the year for Cult Favorites to make their mark on Broadway. With “Violet” grabbing the feel-good feels of the season, “Hedwig” grabbed…well, a lady doesn’t speak of such things.
Neil Patrick Harris earned his Tony with the portrayal of the damaged and hard-rocking transsexual Hedwig, holding nothing back in his performance. From thrusting his goodies in Orlando Bloom’s face and licking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses, (which left the most intimidating figure in Hollywood flustered and blushing,) to giving Sting a lap dance and laying a wet one on his husband David Burtka, NPH wowed the crowd in perfect Hedwig style alongside the incredible Lena Hall as Yitzhak. With blond wig waving and legs for days, Neil brought that Sugar Daddy way, way home.
“Will You Love Me Tomorrow/I Feel The Earth Move,” Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
There was no better way for this musical to have been presented. With King herself introducing and joining in on her most iconic of songs with the cast, and the transcendent performance of the company lead by the incomparable Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful,” brought the very best of music to life in the grandest of ways.
The “Well, That Happened” Moment
“Rock Island,” The Music Man, ft. Hugh Jackman, LL Cool J, T.I. (What?)
Did I just type that? Wow. I sure did. I am conflicted about this, as it is such a trainwreck that I think I love it. I watched it a couple times in a row just because it made me smile so much. Does this fall into Gwen Stefani sampling “Lonely Goatherd” for me? No. I hope nothing will ever surpass my annoyance with that. But LL? T.I? Hugh awkwardly trying not to look white? Really?
The “You Really Gave This The Shaft???” Moment
Anything To Do With “The Bridges Of Madison County”
I just had to say something here. Jason Robert Brown’s “Bridges” got royally shafted. Thank god it won one of the few things it was nominated for, but even then it was rushed so Jackman could hop around onstage and RAP WITH T.I. Go. Listen to “Bridges Of Madison County.” Join me. And ye shall understand.
Editor’s Note: Stephanie Hayslip is currently coming to the close of her tour with the cast of Sister Act the Musical. We are very lucky to have her expertise on the matter.