Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh in on the 72nd Annual Tony Awards!
The party's over... The American Theatre Wing's 72nd Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, aired live from Radio City Music Hall last night, honoring theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway and wrapping up the 2017-18 awards season
Was the ceremony itself a winner? Let's see what the television critics had to say about Broadway's biggest night...
Mike Hale, New York Times: CBS's broadcast on Sunday of Broadway's annual awards ceremony managed the considerable feat of not mentioning the name of the current president of the United States, even as it steadily celebrated currently threatened values of inclusivity, openness and equality. One participant - Robert De Niro, introducing Bruce Springsteen's performance in the final 20 minutes of the show - broke through what felt like an orchestrated attempt to avoid controversy, using Mr. Trump's name three times in a short, obscene salvo that brought the Radio City Music Hall audience roaring to its feet. But CBS's censors, with the benefit of a 10-second delay, made sure the television audience didn't hear it.
Amanda Prahl, BroadwayWorld: There's always a focus on "the dreamers" at the Tonys, because that's the nature of the theatre community. This year in particular, though, felt geared right at that ideal. Whether because of the many speeches about embracing that what make you different might make you great, or the earnest energy of Groban and Bareilles, or the lyrics of the closing number ("To all Tony dreamers at home, keep on with the show"), it gave a heartfelt veneer to the conclusion of a season that's been critiqued for not being up to par creatively. The wins prove, to me, that there's room on Broadway for huge, commercial brands as much as there is for small, delicate underdogs - and what a hopeful sign for the future of theatre that is.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly: The Tonys have always been the most democratic of all the awards show, bringing the best moments of pricey Broadway productions to the masses over the free airwaves of broadcast TV. This year's performances were varied and delightful: The playful razzle-dazzle of Squidward's four-footed tap dance in SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical's "I'm Not a Loser"; the bounding, balletic beauty of Carousel's "Blow High, Blow Low"; and the immersive joy of Once On This Island'sshowstopper "Mama Will Provide" - these toe-tapping numbers no doubt sent the hearts of aspiring young thespians across the country aflutter.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The co-hosts were relaxed, natural and charmingly self-effacing throughout, starting with their tuneful opening number, which they began on dueling concert grand pianos and dedicated in advance to the losers - acknowledging how they've both been passed over for Grammy recognition themselves. "So this is for the people who lose. 'Cos both of us have been in your shoes." The same song was reprised to close the show, with lyrics repurposed to celebrate the dreamers who win, perhaps the overarching theme of the evening. Unlike many awards show hosts who either go AWOL for too much of the proceedings or drag things out with over-exposure, Bareilles and Groban were a welcome connective thread throughout, most disarmingly when they sang a mock-serious dirge about the rigors of the eight-show week.
Daniel D'Addario, Variety: This year's Tony Awards seemed to address the times in which we live with a certain amount of urgency, as all awards shows have done over the course of the Trump era. But give the theater types this: They did their job with a surprising amount of subtlety, with a show that assuaged the wounds of a uniquely divisive time with a whisper, even though we knew they could carry off a belt.
Dino Ray Ramos, Deadline: Throughout the evening, they delivered fun bits and short performances that moved the show forward. Bareilles and Groban did a medley honoring Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber, cast some Harry Potter spells and folded social media into the evening with the fun hashtag #TonyDreaming, which encouraged Twitter users to post pics of their early days in theater - whether it be in elementary, high school or otherwise.
Caroline Siede, AV/TV Club: Bareilles and Groban were great anchors throughout the evening, popping up every so often to provide a sense of continuity without eating up too much screentime. They made fun of their particular musical niches (music you'd hear in a Starbucks, songs you'd put on a mixtape labeled "emotional"), and delightfully underplayed the visual gag of appearing in each other's most recent Broadway costumes. Not everything they did worked (their Sia-themed lament about Broadway's grueling schedule felt a little undercooked), but kudos to Bareilles for earning one of the biggest laughs of the night just by acknowledging a technical timing snafu.
Photo Credit: John P. Filo/CBS