I love the Tony Awards. (You're shocked, I know.) But it's not really the awards themselves that get me all worked up. Like all awards, the Tonys are arbitrary, politicized, and downright unfair. In other words, they're marketing. I'm certainly not knocking marketing: I edit a magazine about the subject.
But for me, the actual winners are of secondary concern. The Tony broadcast has always meant one thing, as far as I'm concerned: getting to see -- and to save for posterity -- the musical numbers from the nominated shows. Over the years, I've recorded, or secured recordings of, all the musical numbers from the Tony broadcasts since 1980, and I have selected numbers from broadcasts going back as far as 1967. (What me, bragging? Maybe just a bit.)
So each year I eagerly await to hear which musical numbers the respective casts will perform. Not all of this year's selection have been announced, but here's what's in the offing so far:
The producers of Grey Gardens have predictably decided to showcase the [insert effusive adjective here] Christine Ebersole in her hysterical second-act opener, "The Revolutionary Costume for Today." I was hoping for the Act I opening number, "Five Fifteen," mostly because the former is readily available on YouTube, but I'll take the delightful Miss Ebersole in whatever manifestation I can get her.
The cast of Spring Awakening, the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical, will perform a medley from the show. I HATE HATE HATE when producers do this: rather than showcasing one number, they create what amounts to a commercial for the show. Even more reason for me to root for Grey Gardens as Best Musical. No word yet on what Curtains and Mary Poppins will perform.
As for the revivals, the [insert yet another effusive adjective here] Audra McDonald will perform "Raunchy" from 110 in the Shade, without question my least favorite number from the show, but it does showcase Audra at her playful best. But with such a magnificent score to choose from, why oh why did they have to go with this middling, semi-effective character piece?
The entire cast of the hit revival of A Chorus Line will perform "One," presumably the finale version, as opposed to the surreal Cassie/Zach standoff version. When the cast performed this number on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day telecast, they inexplicably performed in their "street" attire rather than the gold finale duds, perhaps because it was raining, and the wardrobe department didn't want to deal with wet lamé. One presumes Radio City is more lamé-friendly.
Raul Esparza will perform "Being Alive" from Company, which will give the Best-Actor nominee a chance to show why he's the odds-on favorite to win. However, there won't be a number from the best-revival nominated, but otherwise nod-less, The Apple Tree. I was hoping they'd get Kristen Chenoweth to perform "What Makes Me Love Him," but either the Tony-broadcast producers decided not to let anyone from the show perform because it has already closed, or perhaps the nomination-less Chenoweth refused.
In a bald-faced bid for ratings, the producers have also asked "American Idol" winner Fantasia, who got some great reviews after taking over for Tony winner LaChanze in The Color Purple, to perform on the Tony broadcast. Hey, if showcasing an Idol idol does for the TV show's rating what it typically does for my blog traffic, it might not be such a bad idea.