HELLO AMERICA!—Having watched many Tony Award shows it had gotten to the point that I knew what to expect and see. This year with Hugh Jackman as host it was a total new energizing experience. The guy is a ball of energy and fire. Not only that he can sing, dance and adlib with the best of them, making it a joy to be a part of the viewing audience.
It was like old home night watching the likes of Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia made their entrance strutting as if it was the opening night of the Cotton Club in the ‘30s. Of course, they are the main stars of “Midnight on Broadway,” a musical everybody in New York is waiting in line to see. And, yes, Miss Patti made her entrance as if she was the only one about to do her thang, if you know what I mean. However, Gladys and Fantasia held their own resulting in a helluva opening for the show.
Talented Audra McDonald received a Tony for her performance as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day.” Since I had a special relationship with the “Lady” as an 18-year-old kid attending USC, having her remembered and honored in this way, meant so much to me. I related the experience with Billie in my book “Hollywood Through the Back Door.” By the way, Audra made history winning the Tony; this was her sixth, more than any other actress in the Broadway theatre. She was obviously surprised and overwhelmed. The audience gave her a well-deserved standing ovation.
Breaking Bad TV star Bryan Cranston walked away with a well deserved Tony for his performance in “All the Way.” The way Neil Patrick Harris was being played up early in the show, it was obvious that he would receive an award, and of course he did walk away with a Tony for his interesting creation in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Lena Hall who also starred in “Hedwig” received a well deserved Tony as well.
Kenny Leon won his first Tony as director for “A Raisin in the Sun.” He was so happy about the award; he did everything on stage except strip naked. It is so obvious how much these awards mean to theatre-people. They may not get rich or receive the kind of notoriety as those in film when receiving an Oscar, but a Tony validates them as belonging to a group of artists worth watching.
The Tony Awards show was very special, inspiring and those of us who are working on plays and musicals in hopes of making our first or next appearance on Broadway, it made us go to bed hearing the applause and approval of a great group of creative human beings who by their own special genius makes us believe that all is possible. You only have to believe!