stages menu
Which Tony Award performances do you watch over and over?
By MARK BLANKENSHIP
Thursday, October 16, 2014  •  
Thu Oct 16, 2014  •  
Geek Out Freak Out  •   0 comments Share This
Welcome to Geek Out/Freak Out, where theatre fans get super enthusiastic about things.

This week, Stages editor Mark Blankenship geeks out (via Gchat) with Mark Peikert, executive editor of Backstage


Today's Topic:
Which performances from the Tony Awards do you watch the most on YouTube?

---

Mark Blankenship:
Hey there Mark! I'm glad you could sneak away from your editorial desk at Backstage to spend a few minutes discussing what really matters. Namely, the Tony performances we love watching over and over on YouTube.

Mark Peikert:
It doesn't really take any sneaking away; I'd be watching the Tony Awards on YouTube regardless of whether I was speaking to you or not. What did we DO before YouTube? Well, actually, I know: I taped every Tony Awards telecast and rewatched my favorite numbers over and over again.

Mark B.:
Same here! It was a miraculous day when I learned you could set the VCR to SLP and squeeze even more stuff onto a tape. But now that we have the Internet, which performances do you find yourself revisiting? Mark P.: I think the one I rewatch the most frequently is Bernadette Peters singing "Rose's Turn"---just before she lost to Hairspray's Marissa Jaret Winokur.

Mark B.:
An upset that reverberated through my graduate school, I can assure you.

Mark P.: Because when she comes out and sings-screams, "And I've got it!" she's not just in character; she's telling Michael Riedel and all the other gossip vultures who basically destroyed her in the press that she was up to the challenges of the role. And then she PROVED IT and got a standing ovation AT THE TONY AWARDS.

Mark B.:
Oh man. Clearly, this entire conversation is going to result in me spending three hours watching clips later.

Mark P.: Also, I know it's blasphemy, but I vastly preferred Peters' Mama Rose to Patti LuPone's. There I SAID IT!

Mark B.:
Be brave! Walk in your truth! I liked them both, but I never saw Peters live. So I feel like I can't really compare. Meanwhile, I've got two performances that tie for my most-viewed ribbon. The first is Fantasia singing "I'm Here" from The Color Purple.


There really was no good reason for her to perform, since the show wasn't even eligible that year, but within two seconds, it's clear that rules and timing do not matter. You can feel her teaching everyone in the room a lesson. The depth of raw feeling in that performance, with the emphatic grunts in especially emotional moments, is sensational. And I loved LaChanze in the role, too, but clearly, Fantasia had her own story to tell. And it seems like she's wearing braces? Which just makes it better.

Mark P.:
Now I'm the one who's going to lose my day down a rabbit hole!

Mark B.:
Oh, if you do... PLEASE watch this clip of Fantasia's final performance of "I'm Here" on Broadway. The audience basically sets up a tent and has a revival. I'm wondering if you've seen my other selection, which is Michael Jeter and Brent Barrett performing their "drunks at the bar" dance from Grand Hotel?



Mark P.: I have, I have!

Mark B.:
That's the first Tony telecast I remember watching live. I could not believe it. Where did his bones go? DID MICHAEL JETER HAVE NO BONES?

Mark P.:
Does that magic still survive for you when you watch it now?

Mark B.:
Oh, yes. It's the seeming effortlessness that delights me every time. Just two dudes hanging out and then, oops, their lower bodies are going haywire.

Mark P.:
Funny, my other most-watched clip is also about effortlessness.

Mark B.: Do tell!

Mark P.:
I like that we've chosen two picks that are about emotional strife, and two that feature peerless talents casually creating unforgettable moments. Because my second most-watched clip is LuPone belting her way fearlessly through "A New Argentina" from Evita. Because, can we talk? (RIP Joan!) She gets a round of applause for the line where Evita corrects herself on "We'll---YOU'LL be handed power on a plate!"

Mark B.:
YES!

Mark P.:
And then she takes over the entire group number, even when she has her back to the audience! Watching her hair toss and bob as she throws her head back to roar out impossible high notes? Bliss.

Mark B.:
You're onto something, I think, by noting the two categories our choices fall into. When I watch a Tony performance, I either want an up-close view of someone OVERCOMING, or someone being so perfectly gifted that I can't believe it.

Mark P.:
It's the difference between Liza and Barbra. Today, I mean.

Mark B.: Ha! Either way, we're getting some sort of theatrical essence encapsulated.

Mark P.:
Or just our own gay tastes.

Mark B.:
(Isn't "gay taste" the foundation of "theatrical essence"?)

Mark P.:
(Euphemisms!)

Mark B.:
This year, I'd say Neil Patrick Harris' Hedwig performance falls into the "effortless" category.

Mark P.:
Absolutely.

Mark B.: Alright, pop quiz: If you were to dig deep and recommend a "forgotten classic" Tony performance, which would you choose?

Mark P.:
Oooh! You first. Let me ruminate.

Mark B.:
Sure! I'd choose the seated dance routine from Will Rogers Follies, which was performed at the 1991 ceremony. You get to see some crackerjack choreography from Tommy Tune, and you get to experience the tambourine hat, which really should have taken fashion by storm. Plus, even though it was a big hit at the time, that show isn't talked about that much these days. It's nice to be reminded of its charms.

Mark P.:
I really do love that show! For my part, I'd have to say Barbara Harris' performance of "Gorgeous" from The Apple Tree. She's in amazing voice, she's raucous and raunchy, and she's a reminder of what genuine, effortless star power can do.

Mark B.:
I've never seen that! So now my ulterior motives are satisfied. Because really, I just wanted you to point me toward something new to watch.

Mark P.:
Well, if you ever want to talk just videos of strange/wonderful performances from Broadway musicals, sans Tony ceremony, let me know. I just unearthed Lauren Bacall singing "I Wrote the Book" from Woman of the Year on some Wayne Newton variety show.

Mark B.:
Clear your schedule. I'm on my way over right now!

Now it's your turn! Which Tony Awards performances do you watch over and over? Geek out with us in the comments!



Share This:
0 Comments:
Leave A Comment:
(required)
(required)
(Are you human?)
TDF Stages Home About TDF Stages Newsletter Signup

Follow TDF Stages:

Translate TDF Stages: