Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Dance Party: Attention Every Breeder, You're Invited To The Theater

All Hail Neil Patrick Harris! What a week he had. He had a birthday on Tuesday, turning 38, and two days earlier, he scored a personal and professional triumph at the Tony Awards. His hosting abilities have not been questioned since he first hosted the Tonys two years ago (a performance for which he won his only Emmy to date); he followed up that success by hosting the Emmy awards the same year, then headlining the opening number at the Oscars. But this year's Antoinette Perry Awards Show was surely the most entertaining in memory, due in large part to Harris's smooth, sly, and utterly disarming presence.

This week's Dance Party can star no one else. It is the opening number from the awards, and I have no doubt 99.99 % of the readers of these pages watched the number live on Sunday. But it's worth a second viewing, just to enjoy the confidence which Neil Patrick displays with professional nonchalance. He handles this highly energetic number with such aplomb, especially when compared to the performance of Daniel Radcliffe in the overly exposed "Brotherhood of Man" number from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

I know for a certainty that this song is not the only number in the show, but you might think otherwise, considering it is the only song which has made the rounds of the talk shows to promote the musical. I have seen Radcliffe gamely puffing his way through that choreography on David Letterman and the Today Show. Who knows, he may have performed it on Regis and Kelly and Martha Stewart Living too.

Well, Radcliffe is a real trouper. If you care to see that number as performed at the Tonys, go here. Pay particular attention at the 3:07 mark. Daniel is dancing on a table in the background, being tossed around by the chorus, and the focus of the number has shifted from the star to the ensemble. I love the fact that one of the chorus boys plants a big ol' wet kiss on Radcliffe's neck. I wonder if they will soon have an exciting announcement.

And wasn't Brooke Shields a big ol' mess? She totally blows her moment in this clip, an error she later blamed on the teleprompter. That's a TV star for you. How about actually LEARNING the two lines of lyrics you were appointed to sing? What would THAT be like?

Our hero NPH wasn't thrown a bit, and even counted down the intro for Bobby Cannavale, who exposed one of the big problems the shows' producers had this year: how to refer to the play The Motherfucker With The Hat on national television. He sang the whole title, which was of course bleeped, but subsequent mentions of the show became "The Mother With The Hat."

The Book Of Mormon's producers had a similar problem regarding their show. I've been listening to the original cast album this week, which has made a bit of history on its own. Amazon offered downloads of the complete album, including artwork and liner notes, for only $1.99; as a result, the cast album cracked the Billboard Top Ten, the first original cast album to do so since Hair in 1968. Anyway, the show's score is, to put it mildly, profane. They didn't have many choices from which to pick a song to showcase on the Tony telecast; they settled on "I Believe," one of the very few ballads in the show, but one which showcased star Andrew Rannells.

Allow me one more observation before this week's Dance Party takes over. I am not, believe me, someone who cares about fashion in the least. I don't give a flip who shines on the red carpet and who does not. But two Tony outfits cry out for comment. I can only assume that outfit Whoopie Goldberg was wearing had some kind of cultural significance which I could not discern; it reminded me of my Aunt Beulah's couch.

But worse, I found myself genuinely angry when Francis McDormand took the stage to receive her Tony award, dressing in a jeans jacket. It shows a lack of respect toward the community which granted her the stage's highest honor; frankly, she looked like she had just been arrested. Her mug shot belongs on the wall next to Mel Gibson's and Nick Nolte's.

Really, if you care so very little about the Tonys, just don't show up. But back to Neil Patrick Harris, who made this year's ceremony so memorable. He has starred in the Dance Party before, almost a year ago in fact, go here to take a peek. And enjoy this number once more!

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