The television watching theatre lover in me took great delight in the 67th annual Tony Awards program on June 9, 2013.
In particular, for the opening number, producer Ricky Kirshner, director Glenn Weiss, and host Neil Patrick Harris presented an exhilarating eight minutes of pure stage magic celebrating the event’s return to Radio City Music Hall.
Just be prepared for the song “Bigger” to embed itself in your head. Be sure to stay through the very end of the clip.
Eight minutes later …
Here are just a few of the items that have made this such a delight for me to watch again and again. Remember, originally all live:
Neil Patrick Harris delivered a perfect mix of professional self-confidence and wink-to-the-audience delight, even slipping in TV allusions to Doogie Howser, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother.
Harris was in great voice handling tongue-twisting lyrics and constantly on the move, somehow managing (in about 16 seconds) to get from an onstage magician’s disappearing box to a main floor aisle dancing with a line of characters from Newsies without missing a beat.
The superb on-stage sequence timing never let up. Line after line of kids, kinky boots, acrobats, dancers, singers, and costumed characters flowing seamlessly, including Harris leaping through a paper hoop.
There was crafty camera framing by Weiss, as with a close-up image of Harris assuring kids watching at home dreaming of a showbiz career that “we were that kid.” In a dramatic transition, that close-up opened wide to show a celebratory line of dancers suddenly appearing with Harris, in step together.
Picking up from that moment, you can follow a split screen of the on-camera images side-by-side with activity in the production studio (posted afterward). There is an almost giddy sense of triumph in the series of camera calls to wrap that non-stop opening, ending with Harris hanging onto a giant prop Tony symbol high above the stage floor.
Moments later, Zachary Quinto, as one of the first presenters, observed, “That’s the definition of a tough act to follow.”
Looking ahead, I can’t wait to see how they rise to that challenge with the 2014 Tony Awards show.
Text and photographs © 2014 Walter J. Podrazik