Ragged Claws

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tony Awards thoughts

-The Broadway musical really is a strange beast. (This is said with all love, as someone who can sing just about the entire score of Chess from memory - "I'm the arbiter, my word is law!" "From square one, he'll be watching all..sixty-FOUR!") There's something indelibly goofy about expressing social or emotional conflict through impeccable vocals and choreography, but also something very endearing about the sincerity with which the actors commit to that goofiness. That so many musicals are about starry-eyed naifs who are initially mocked for pursuing their dreams, but eventually win over the cynics with boundless enthusiasm, talent and moxie, can be seen as a comment on the form itself.

-Is it really worth showing only 5-10 seconds of each of the nominated plays? Some people are sitting around a dinner table, voices are raised, and we cut out. At that point you might as well go full-on conceptual - show the tableau, show the first speaker opening his or her mouth, and finis. It would make a point about the futility of trying to reproduce the vitality of a live performance in the impersonal format of an electronic broadcast, or something. (Because if there's one thing the viewing audience always wants more of, it's oblique allusions to the work of Walter Benjamin.)

-The "In Memoriam" photo montage was set to "What I Did For Love," from A Chorus Line. The original cast recording of this song takes three minutes and 44 seconds. This performance clocks in at 3:37. The point? That clapping enthusiastically for every photo shown during that span of time should not require onerous levels of physical exertion. It's ridiculously tacky to applaud only the famous departed. All of the photos represent people who contributed something to the community and presumably left behind loved ones; your palms won't become bruised and chapped if you applaud as much for a press agent or a character actor as you do for Bea Arthur or Paul Newman.

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