Review: The 58th Tony Awards

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Mister D: I must admit the only show I saw this year on Broadway was “The Boy From Oz” (thanks to Snook and Lady Puffy…long story) and was so blown away by Mr. Jackman’s performance, I couldn’t see anybody else winning for Best Actor in a Musical. I was also a big fan of Peter Allen’s so I might be prejudiced, too. But the transformation was just unbelievable considering Mr. Jackman’s hetero-friendly roots! (what does that mean and why does it sound so nasty???)

As everyone knows if you read about Bruce here (well, what else ya gonna read if you are here?) you know that he worked with Mr. Jackman on his hosting duties…I also get the feeling he did some inspiring writing for a few other stars, too. Anyway, bravo, Mister V!

The show was fast paced, entertaining, and…well…theatrical…and I knew nothing about the other nominees…but I found it truly enjoyable….who knew I would get huge laughs from Avenue Q…I just thought it would be boring because it had puppets…(well I did like Puppetry of the Penis….but that’s different)…now I want the soundtrack.

My fave part was the Oz section though where Jackman did a little conversing with the front row and Ms. SJP….he was having fun…part Peter Allen, part Bette Midler, and part Bruce Vilanch…well, it’s true…just an awesome performance…oh, and please….that line about Carol Channing and the drive-by shooting….please tell me that was you Mister V….I almost had my new nasty sample low carb coke spraying out of my nose…not pretty:-)

Okay..that’s enough…I loved it!

Hollywood Reporter
June 08, 2004
58th Tony Awards
By Ray Richmond

Bottom line: A lively and energetic time was had by all.
(8-11 p.m., Sunday June 6, CBS)

Those who opted not to watch the end of the Lakers game (lucky them) or the season finale of “The Sopranos” were treated to a spirited, high-energy time while taking in the 58th annual Tony Awards telecast Sunday night on CBS. Tape-delayed three hours to the West Coast, the kudofest celebrating Broadway’s finest was nicely paced and loaded with bracing performances from the casts of some of New York’s current stage rage. It was a night when assassins and puppets were met with equal praise and host Hugh Jackman showed that it’s possible to be both part of the festivities and the one presiding over them — and have it not seem too weird.

Considering the dark nature of many of the nominees and winners — from “Assassins” to “Caroline, or Change” to “The Boy From Oz” — this was an upbeat, ebullient affair, one that took its celebratory mandate to heart. The Tonys should be about the joy of performance itself, and this one was, right from the outset when Jackman high-stepped it with the Rockettes on the Radio City Music Hall stage to a rousing rendition of “One Night Only.” Jackman would later accept the leading actor in a musical prize for his work in “Oz.”

The telecast itself ran mostly like clockwork, sometimes a bit too much. It would have been nice to see a bit more of an improvisational bent to the evening. But alas, when you’re on live TV, any flight by the seat of one’s pants is a tad too risky. Everyone, in any case, seemed to be having a great time, including the night’s most emotional winner: Anika Noni Rose as featured actress in a musical for “Caroline, or Change,” who was at once overwhelmed, tearful and joyous.

Speaking of “Caroline,” one of the evening’s most dynamic and riveting moments was supplied by the play’s star Tonya Pinkins in her performance of the tune “Lot’s Wife.” Pinkins, a welfare mother and past Tony winner when she landed the role, exuded a raw passion that pours from within and simply can’t be taught. Another highlight was provided by the cast of this year’s winning musical, the puppet-populated “Avenue Q,” with their live interpretation of “It Sucks to Be Me.”

On the subject of oddities, pairing LL Cool J with 83-year-old stage legend Carol Channing to present an award was bizarre, yet strangely inspiring and even appropriate. Just a guess, but that little piece of business must have been cooked up in the mind of Tony Awards co-writer Bruce Vilanch. Most of the scripted intros were, by contrast, bland and/or cornball (as per usual). But the heartfelt parade of acceptance speeches — only a few of which were interrupted by hurry-up orchestral music — made up for it.

And again, Jackman was very much a host with the most. The Tonys ought to invite him back every year, even on those occasions when he isn’t nominated for anything.

58th annual Tony Awards
Tony Award Prods.

Executive producers: Ricky Kirshner, Glenn Weiss
Director: Glenn Weiss
Managing producer: Liz McCann
Coordinating producer: Joey Parnes
Writers: Dave Boone, Bruce Vilanch
Musical director: Elliot Lawrence
Production designer: Steve Bass
Lighting designer: Bob Dickinson
Talent executive: Danette Herman
Carol Channing, Sean Combs, Taye Diggs, Edie Falco, Jimmy Fallon, Harvey Fierstein, Victor Garber, Joel Grey, Ethan Hawke, Anne Heche, Billy Joel, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Jane Krakowski, Peter Krause, Swoosie Kurtz, Nathan Lane, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, LL Cool J, Rob Marshall, Helen Mirren, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Anna Paquin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bernadette Peters, Phylicia Rashad, Chita Rivera, John Rubinstein, Carol Bayer Sager, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, Sigourney Weaver, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Renee Zellweger. Performers: Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, casts of “Assassins,” “Avenue Q,” “The Boy From Oz,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Wicked” and “Wonderful Town”
Host: Hugh Jackman