by Mo Brady
1. The Opening Number's Bevy of Talented Men
Opening numbers are often an excellent chance to see veteran dancers who AREN’T currently on Broadway strut their stuff, and this year was no exception. Accompanying host Kevin Spacey was a slew of male ensemblists, including podcast guests James Brown III, Marty Lawson, Adam Perry - as well as Michaeljon Slinger and Charlie Williams. (How Michaeljon and Charlie were able to perform in the opening while also being in the casts of Hello, Dolly! and Miss Saigon, respectively, is beyond my pay grade. But I loved seeing their handsome mugs on my TV screen.)
2. Best Director wins by ensemble-led shows
Sure, Best Director winners Christopher Ashley and Rebecca Taichman looked as pleasantly shocked as I was when their names were announced as winners for Come From Away and Indecent, respectively. However, it should come to no surprise that these two productions specifically were heralded for their direction. The companies of each of these show shine as ensembles where every actor is responsible for moving the action of the story forward. Helming this kind of theatre is not an easy feat - which is why Chris and Rebecca are worthy winners of their awards this year.
3. Hello, Dolly! Storms the stage
Sure, the major news outlets were all over the story of star Bette Midler’s extended acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Musical. But my favorite Hello, Dolly! moment was watching the steady stream of cast members hit the stage during producer Scott Rudin’s acceptance of the award for Best Revival of a Musical. The lauded revival of the Jerry Herman classic features a huge cast (33 onstage actors plus four swings), and it seemed that every single one of them took to the stage of Radio City.
4. Bandstand Almost Tumbles
It’s undeniable that the ensemble of Bandstand brilliantly showcased the most thrilling choreography of the telecast. Andy Blankenbuehler proved why he was bestowed his third Tony Award for choreography with the show’s performance of their Act II opener, “Nobody.” But the most exciting moment for me was watching the cast save leading lady Laura Osnes from a near fall. No one person should apologize for this moment, as the circumstances of performing on a new stage with limited rehearsal in front of an audience of 5,000 would throw anyone for a loop. But to watch cast members Max Clayton, Corey Cott and Laura Osnes keep their cool in a moment of potential stress was the epitome of professionalism.
As a side note, I’m gonna need this moment of Jessica Lea Patty as a screensaver on my phone.
5. Catching the Comet
Major props to the company of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 for taking advantage of the expansive space inside Radio City Music Hall. Viewers were treated to an electrifying performance that is sure to inspire potential ticket buyers to lay down their credit cards. From the number’s opening and closing moments highlighting a chandelier high above the balcony, to the bringing the red banquets of the Imperial Theatre onto the stage of Radio City, the number was masterfully staged.
(btw, anybody know why the show was referred to only as “The Great Comet” during the telecast? Was CBS afraid taking too much air time by saying the full name of the show.)
My personal favorite moment was me holding my breath as Reed Luplau performed a dizzying number of barrel turns on the passerelle of the stage. I may have had a heart attack watching that moment, but Reed seemed to perform it without a hitch.
Mo Brady is co-creator and host of The Ensemblist podcast.