When the Tony Awards are given out, does anyone watch? I only ask because the presentation comes long after the typical theater season. Even though the video awards season goes from September (Emmys) to February (Oscars) with the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards in between, honors for Outstanding Achievement in regards to theatre are released during the summer.
This year, they were held on the same night as the series finale of The Sopranos. Someone should have realized most people would watch the most talked about ending in prime time history. So much hype occurred prior to air that you TiVoed if necessary. David Hyde Pierce, prior to winning Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Curtains, acknowledged the hit show's demise with, "Ladies and gentlemen, a Soprano has been whacked!" He then explained he wanted to introduce everyone to his show's plot and mentioned a song from the show would soon be performed. It was a clever move from one of today's funniest comedians.
It's not uncommon for actors to have stage work somewhere in their resume. If one knows how to project voice, a dramatic scene is child's play. Disasters are always an issue, but working live helps one cope. Perhaps the biggest adjustment is learning to stay in one spot so the cameras focus. Stage actors use every bit of space available. Both television and theatre do have some things in common, however. Costumes and makeup can transform someone you might not notice on the street into a dazzling spectacle. Proper lighting and sound changes a space from drab to a particular place and time.
Do plays need big name performers to be a smash success? It depends on both the play and the person. While audiences can be drawn in, a bad review can travel around the world. Media outlets these days follow stars as they travel down the road of their careers. Internet access has the potential to leave a black mark beside a work which does not easily go away.
On the other hand, theatre can also revive a career. This was certainly the case for Christine Ebersole. After a run in television had slowed to a trickle, it did not take too long before she won two Tonys for Best Actress. One was for Sunset Boulevard, while the other was for Grey Gardens. These would have been accomplishments in themselves, but she has also won them in back-to-back years.
These two weren't the only top names to grace the year in the past year. Frank Langella also won for his work in Frost/Nixon. Billy Crudup won an acting award for The Coast of Utopia.
Part of the ceremony includes an award to a regional theatre that produces consistent quality work. This year, the award went to the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.
All in all, the awards ceremony tends to have something for everyone. It shows plays, musicals, solid acting. A sweep by one piece of work is not likely with the sheer number of awards. It shouldn't be long before audiences see the touring versions of winning plays and musicals.