“I’m Still Here” – A Night at the Tony Awards By Danny Brown, Contributing Writer - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Monday, June 12, 2023

“I’m Still Here” – A Night at the Tony Awards By Danny Brown, Contributing Writer

“I’m Still Here” – 

A Night at the Tony Awards

By Danny Brown, Contributing Writer 


            This was a Tonys of questions. Yes, there was the jovial “Who will win?” but something a bit more precarious hung in the air. Complications from the WGA strike, a new venue, and a switch-up in streaming services got audiences and artists alike now asking: “No script?” “Where’s that?” and “What is Pluto TV?” Rest easy, here lie the answer to your anxious questions…

            “No script?” Due to the current Writers Guild of America strike, the awards were required to be unscripted. The usual opening number was replaced by a passionately choreographed medley of popular tunes that have lyrics so memorable, we could almost excuse their absence. The great irony of it all is that none of these numbers were written for Broadway. (The exception being four little notes by Jule Styne trumpeted in the last few measures. Yes, those four.)

            It can’t be understated how well and gracefully Ariana Debose then navigated the opening monologue. She set a pace and tone for the evening that allowed the Tonys to achieve something unimaginable even in a scripted year: they ended on time. Debose is not the only one to thank though. Broadway’s not-so-secret weapon has always been its labor force, and these theatre practitioners are no strangers to curveballs. While the absence of a script was undoubtedly felt, the hero of the night was unquestionably Broadway’s union labor. 

            “Where’s that?” The United Palace. Built as one of the Loew’s Wonder Theatres, the aptly named “Palace” sits on 176th Street in Washington Heights. Though technically on Broadway the street, it is over 100 blocks north of the northernmost Broadway theatre. Of course, a new venue brings with it new complications. Our media room was five blocks away from the festivities, so out of sight and mind that you’d think it was a Broadway pit orchestra. Despite this, you could sense the admiration we all shared for the grandeur of this hidden uptown gem. Perhaps this gawdy temple was the perfect location.

            “What is Pluto TV?” It is a free ad-supported streaming service that was the host of “Act I” of the Tonys broadcast. CBS has long broadcast the Tonys, and the designers’ and writing awards were announced during the commercial breaks. To give them due time and diligence, (or at least an attempt to) CBS moved these awards into a preshow called “Act I.” While this was not the first year of “Act I,” It was the first time it aired on Pluto TV. The Tonys have consistently and gradually seen a decline in viewership over the years, and while it is sad to see these categories leave the space of the big network, there is solace in them receiving the time.

            There was one thing normal about this year that I would be remiss to not acknowledge: the unmeasurable excellence. Broadway did it through improv, elbow grease, and chutzpah. A lot has changed about these awards over the last few years, (and it is likely a sign of more changes to come,) but if there is anything certain, we will still be here next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment