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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of the 2019 TONY AWARDS?

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of the 2019 TONY AWARDS?

On Sunday, June 9, The American Theatre Wing's 73rd Annual Tony Awards was hosted by James Corden, live from Radio City Music Hall and broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The ceremony honored the incredibly talented theatre professionals for their remarkable achievements on Broadway during the 2018-2019 season.

But, what did the critics think of the broadcast? Read their reviews below, and keep checking back as more reviews come in!


Amanda Prahl, BroadwayWorld:

This was a Tonys that was pretty much lacking in surprises, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable to watch. Every years, hosts and winners alike reiterate how watching the Tonys is such a formative experience for young theatre fans and artists, as well as for longtime members of the community. The Tonys truly are the one awards show that seems to remember it is a source of inspiration and joy for more than just the handful of winners.

Finally, consider this my official plea to cut down the cheesy "fun" host segments and actually show some of the creative awards (no best book, seriously?) on the main broadcast. These are crucial components of the theatre world and I'm guessing a fairly big portion of the already-niche audience would prefer to see more awards and fewer silly gags. The Tonys are, after all, about honoring the very best theatre can be and the way that theatre is a true community, especially for the young aspiring artists watching the broadcast and dreaming of being there themselves someday. So let's be a community - including all the people who make a show happen, so that young designers and writers at home can see themselves on that stage too. Let's raise our cups to them too.

Mike Hale, The New York Times:

More Corden would have given the show more life, and a more unfettered Corden might have been able to cut through some of the gauze of earnest sanctimony that enveloped the ceremony to an even greater extent than in recent years. Exhortations to inclusiveness, tolerance and the special character of the Broadway community by presenters and winners have become part of the furniture of the Tonys.

In its main job of drawing paying customers to the plays, the night was a mixed bag. The biggest musicals fared the worst in the production numbers - the slick, showy, mostly soulless medley from "Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations" and the static "Unstoppable" from "Tootsie" weren't showstoppers. "Beetlejuice" and "The Prom" fared better, with some energetic staging and choreography and winning performances by Alex Brightman and Brooks Ashmanskas, respectively.

Daniel D'Addario, Variety:

That quality of showmanship - the simple sense of taking joy in a production having been brought across well - seemed painfully absent from a broadcast that has little other reason to exist. Many, many people who watch the Tonys never have seen and never will see a nominated show in Manhattan; for that audience, a production brought off well before the cameras is the ceremony's point vastly more than is a list of winners. And, again and again, performances seemed to default to a kind of supercut style, whereby sheer enormity stood in for artistry. Was it impressive when the scrim came up during the "Ain't Too Proud" number, revealing a massive complement of dancers and a live band, or when all the Chers ran in during the "Cher Show" number, revealing a show of mass quantity if not detectable insights about the person behind the legend, or when "The Prom's performance" shed the character shading of its first moments to reveal a big, bold, contextually meaningless dance number? Of course. Those people were working hard; in its way, it was more impressive than TV.

Greg Evans, Deadline:

All in all, CBS' Tony broadcast showed how an awards show should be done: No flab beyond what a three-hour broadcast necessitates, smart selections from the nominated musicals, a few well-placed comic bits from Corden and an unexpected show of respect for the playwrights of the non-musical nominees.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:

If the camera angles couldn't quite capture the impressive scope of casts from every nominated show joining Corden in the number, the sheer scale of it was audacious. The performers declared themselves "better than television," before going on to list the many exceptions to that rule, from Game of Thrones to, of course, The Late Late Show. Corden sang about the high ticket prices and uncomfortable seats on Broadway, as well as the inferior paychecks for actors. The self-irony of that mixed message bordered on the defensive, but disconcerting as it was, it didn't diminish the opener's endorsement of live theater.

Thankfully, the Tonys is less about the host than the award recipients and the shows they represent, and on that front, the ceremony delivered some stirring speeches, a couple of stellar performance interludes in an otherwise mixed bag, and some welcome, and long overdue, respect for playwrights.

Michael Riedel, NY Post:

As for Corden, this was not his finest hour. The opening number, written especially for the telecast, was a dud, and he seemed a bit tired throughout the evening. There was a skit where he had Broadway actors dissing each other, and I can only hope he did not have script approval on that one.


Photo Credit: John P. Filo/CBS

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