Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why I hate the Tony Awards … and why I love them.

The 63rd Annual Tony Awards, which recognize the best of Broadway theatre, will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday, June 7 beginning at 8 p.m. For those of you who live in the Greater Lafayette area, you'll be seeing them on WLFI TV 18.

I lately have developed a love / hate relationship with awards shows, which seem to be more hyped and overproduced and underwhelming than any other event in popular American culture except the Super Bowl. The love and the hate for the Tony Awards go a little farther than with other awards shows however.

  • Love: The Tony Awards honor the best of theatre.
  • Hate: "Best" is a nebulous term, a subjective term. Two is larger than one, but who can rightfully say that "Billy Elliot" is better than "Next to Normal"? Or that Angela Lansbury deserves a nomination while Kristin Scott Thomas does not? Most people can tell if a show is good or not, but to determine what is the best of a disparate lot ... it's comparing apples and oxen.

But despite all that, I will watch the Tony Awards broadcast on Sunday evening for the same reason I watched them as a kid growing up on a farm outside Remington, Indiana: I want to know what's out there. I want to know what may be coming my way in the future. I am woefully unaware of the careers of playwrights Alan Ayckbourn, Horton Foote and Yasmina Reza, but now I know a bit about their plays "The Norman Conquests," "Dividing the Estate" and "God of Carnage" because of the Tony Awards. I can look forward to the possibility that Purdue Convocations may bring in a touring company performance of "Billy Elliot," "Hair" or "West Side Story," or perhaps Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette may mount a production of one of these someday.

So I'll turn on the television Sunday night at 8 p.m. – or find someone who owns one and camp out in their living room – in order to feel connected a bit more to theatre.

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