Tony Awards: Good (Acceptance speeches), bad (Rachel Bloom) and ugly (Midler v. Orchestra)
By Charles Bright
June 12, 2017
The 71st annual Tony Awards is now in the history books and once again it proved to be one of the best productions on television. But, as always, I’m always able to find a couple of flaws in the presentation and what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t point out what worked and what didn’t work? That’s a rhetorical question, so don’t answer it. Regardless, below are the good, bad and ugly of this year’s Tony telecast.
The Tonys are always full of the most genuine acceptance speeches you can find in entertainment. The graciousness that is found in most winners here is very heartwarming and several stood out to me:
- Ben Platt (Musical Actor, “Dear Evan Hansen”) was adorably nervous but did a great job of getting everything out that he wanted to say, and quickly too. From stating that he would fight anyone who claimed to have better parents than he did to telling young people “don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful,” he proved why so many people have been taken with him beyond his performance.
- Michael Aronov (Play Featured Actor, “Oslo”) got things off to a strong start when he paid tribute to the people who housed him while trying to make it as an actor in New York and finally being able to buy a place in the city “tiny studio apartment where if you walked in too fast you’d fly out the window.”
- Gavin Creel (Musical Featured Actor, “Hello, Dolly!”) had a very nice moment shortly after that when he thanked the teachers who changed his life and implored people with money to start scholarships to provide the same opportunities to more students.
- Rebecca Taichman (Play Direction, “Indecent”) was insanely shocked when she won and so were most people watching the show. Usually when a win catches someone off guard, the speech can be rambling and feel like a bunch of random blather, but Taichman kept her cool and managed to say everything she wanted to say in an even and dignified tone. Bravo!
Kevin Spacey did a great job hosting. He was funny, charming and everything you would normally want from a host. His opening number was really solid, he had (mostly) good jokes throughout the ceremony and showed off all the talents that make him one of our great modern entertainers.
The Tonys finally corrected something that had been bugging me. For years they would present Best Play before they would even get to the lead acting categories for plays and it drove me nuts! This year they finally corrected that and made sure to present all the other awards for plays before bestowing the final honor.
The “In Memoriam” tribute was pretty solid. I thought the song was good and was surprised at how much I actually liked Justin Guarini’s singing. But most importantly, we were able to see the images and names of people that were being honored, unlike in the last couple of years where you couldn’t read whose small image was being projected. The clapping from the audience was distasteful but that’s not the fault of the show.
The sound quality was fantastic this year. In recent years it’s been tough for me to hear certain segments of the show as the audio would be hard to comprehend. This year the presentations by all the presenters was able to be heard crystal clear.
The presentations for the Best Play nominees wasn’t bad but it felt a bit lacking to only show images of the play instead of showing a clip while the author’s narrated what their shows were about. It would have been nice of them to put a little clip of the show at the end of the presentation.
While most of Spacey’s material was pretty good, the Johnny Carson bit just fell flat to me.
I don’t think the use of Rachel Bloom was necessarily bad but it did feel kind of pointless. I don’t need to see her wearing a tiny hat and hearing about how she’s about to orgasm.
I understand that Bette Midler was going on and on and on in her speech but the whole playing her off bit was unnecessary. It was already 11:01 by the time she won and the show was going long so let her have her time. And I shouldn’t have to add that she’s BETTE FREAKING MIDLER and you do not play her off!
The number from “Hello, Dolly!” was a huge disappointment. Do not get me wrong, I love David Hyde Pierce (he was actually one of my first crushes) but to have that number be the representation of the show during the Tony telecast is just unfortunate. I don’t know what the issues were that prevented Midler from performing but it definitely didn’t do any favors for us, the viewers.