Billy Take On The Tonys

As we went to press last week, the big news was the 75th Tony Awards.  It turned into big news for Billy Masters LIVE.  We didn’t plan on having a show last week.  We didn’t announce it in the column.  But after a few days, I felt there were things worth discussing.  Not only the awards themselves, but about Broadway coming back.  How does theatre move forward?  How does the world move forward?  I assembled a dream panel – Bruce Vilanch, who has written his share of awards shows (to say nothing of his other numerous gifts); Richard Jay-Alexander, who has directed, produced and acted in shows; Michael Musto, who has critiqued shows; and Anastasia Barzee, who has graced shows on Broadway and beyond.  I represented you – the audience.  I am first and foremost a fan.  I love this business we call show.  What transpired was a raucous chat that has become our fastest viewed episode all season.  Check it out on our YouTube channel, Billy Masters TV, or on BillyMasters.com/TV.  While there, why not subscribe to our channel?  You never know when I’ll pop up with all-new content.

In light of rumors that some of the numbers performed at the Tonys were not technically “live”, I asked whether lip synching was common at this event.  Apparently it is.  I understand the reasons not to perform live on television with millions of people (hopefully) watching.  But when it occurs during a celebration of live theatre, it just seems…I dunno…icky.  If you can’t hack it on the live stage, stick to television and film.

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Another step in the wrong direction, in my humble opinion, is the altering of material by a master.  Yes, many shows have questionable moments.  It’s hard in these woke days to get away with performing Show Boat, for example.  So, don’t do it.  You certainly don’t re-write it.  These things were written by geniuses.  And they are reflections of their time, and of our history.  And yet, there was the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus (or, as Len Cariou called them, the New York Gay City Men’s Chorus) performing the title song to Mame with lyrics that would make Jerry Herman turn over in his grave.  I understand not wanting to wax rhapsodically about them ole plantation days.  But, for the love of God, did someone actually think that “grits” and “kick” rhyme?

Everyone online was weighing in on Hugh Jackman’s physical appearance.  Then he ended up testing positive for Covid.  The Tony Awards – a celebration of Broadway, or a super spreader event?  Let us look on the bright side – because even this has a silver lining.  Sure, hundreds of people who paid ridiculous amounts for tickets will ask for a refund because they won’t get to see Jackman in the flesh.  But, this gives Hugh’s Music Man standby a chance to go on.  And that standby is Max Clayton.  While his name might not be known to most, he is the boyfriend to Matt Doyle, who just won the Tony for “Featured Actor in a Musical” for Company.

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