Sunday, June 07, 2009

metaDRAMA: Didn't Watch the TONY Awards

It's not really a boycott so much as a lack of enthusiasm for it, but I didn't watch the Tony Awards, which probably explains why the telecast keeps losing viewers. I mean, I'm their ideal audience--someone who sees over two hundred shows a year--and even I don't want to watch. Granted, I'm more of a fan of off-Broadway work; in fact, most of the Broadway shows I saw this year originated off-Broadway (Next to Normal, which I regret, and Reasons To Be Pretty, which came a long way). In any case, this was all I really needed to see:

It's an entertainingly glib fete to the Tony Awards, and I don't fault Neil Patrick Harris for having fun with it. But there is something sad about his closing line: "Go see a Broadway play." At the bottom of everything, that's my problem with the Tony awards: it's not about seeing a play, or even about celebrating theater. It's about seeing a BROADWAY play, which is a celebration (as this little encapsulation of the broadcast proves) of glitz and glamor far more than of anything substantial and real. I might tune in if I thought the committee would award risks, as opposed to legacy. (Was Angela Lansbury's performance that good? Am I just too young to get Liza Minelli?)

Well, I hate to play the humbug, so let me just revise things ever so slightly. Congratulations, have a wonderful evening, and go see a PLAY.


Rolando Teco said...

I have to agree with you, Aaron. My interest in all the awards shows has been waning for years.

I think one reason may be that the media has devoted so much attention to behind-the-scenes stories that it makes watching these shows feel redundant. We're already constantly being fed glimpses into the "backstage" drama. Why bother to watch it unfold at an awards show?

Ken Davenport said...

It is interesting that the Academy Awards find a way to represent so much more product, of all different shapes and sizes, whereas we focus on only one area. Perhaps that's because we so often "trade up" (off-bway shows become bway shows, etc.) which doesn't happen in the film world. Off-Broadway Tony Award anyone?

Aaron Riccio said...

Roland - Right. I go to theater to be surprised. There's little chance of that at an awards ceremony. However, I did go to the NYIT Awards last year, and "in the spirit of off-off-Broadway," some of the presenters did unique things. To be fair, the drama you speak of is less visible given the volume of off-off-Broadway shows and the dearth of coverage for it.

Ken - I actually had the Academy Awards in mind when I wrote this post. The big film--and certainly the star--often carries the day and captures the attention, but the awards do not blatantly snub indie filmmakers. You won't hear the host say "Go see a studio movie!" at the end of the night.

It's obvious (from the awards groups that have risen to praise the shows ignored by Tony voters--Obies, ITs, and now ITBAs) that there is a need for wider recognition, particularly on a broadcast that plays to potential tourists who aren't *AWARE* that there's theater beyond Broadway.

As a side note, I've heard that the Tony voters have a hard enough time seeing all the Broadway shows out there. We need more committed voters before we're going to be able to get them to step off the Great White Way.