The Tony awards telecast is the biggest night of the year for American theatre. The country’s most disciplined artists gathered to celebrate a year of magical and moving productions on the Great White Way. Hugh Jackman hosted a memorable show full of electric performances and a diverse array of winners.
Fantasia Barrino, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, along with Dulé Hill and the cast of “After Midnight” opened the show with a sweet and soulful medley of songs from the show. It was a treat to see (and hear) music legends Labelle and Knight. Their voices were healthy and as vibrant as ever as they shimmered in full period costumes.
“Aladdin” made a splash with a dazzling performance of “Friend Like Me,” featuring James Monre Iglehart as Genie, who went on to win a tony for his performance. “Aladdin” proved quite a spectacle with vivid design elements and eye-popping visuals. Iglehart bursts from the stage as Genie although sometimes his energy seemed a bit frenetic and unfocused.
Idina Menzel silenced the audience with a gut-wrenching selection from “If/Then.” Recently separated from long-time husband actor Taye Diggs, Menzel seemed to authentically channel the heart-breaking nuances of love lost.
Neil Patrick Harris, introduced by drag icon RuPaul, brought the house down as transgendered rock star Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” finding hilarious moments to lick Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses and grind on Bruce Springsteen.
And Jennifer Hudson truly mesmerized and reminded the audience why she’s a star with a gorgeous rendition of “Finding Neverland.” This is the best she’s sounded since “Dreamgirls,” for which she won an Oscar in 2007.
However, the true darling of the night was Audra McDonald who made Broadway history when she won her 6th Tony Award for her haunting portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” She now holds the most Tony awards of any actress, ever.
Though the show ran a bit long, Hugh Jackman did a great job of sustaining the energy throughout. Following a string of outstanding past telecasts hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, Jackman displayed a stunning array of talents from tap dancing to singing, and even rapping an ode to “The Music Man” with LL Cool J and T.I.
The Tony telecast has become notorious for its production flubs and sound issues, but this year the show transitioned seamlessly and there weren't any noticeable issues.
Theatre is such an enriching and inspiring art form; it’s nice that we get a night to celebrate and honor those fearless artists holding high the values of the tradition.
Check out the Tony Awards website for a full list of nominees and winners!