The 2019 Tony Awards aired on CBS on Sunday night, and for its big opening, the show took quite a few shots of binge-watching.
There’s a good chance that you saw most of the opening song coming — TV is fine, but there’s something about live theater that is special. It’s being in the moment and seeing the actors respond to your very behavior. It’s such a different environment — and yet, there was still plenty of irony that came from watching a performance on television encouraging you to go to the theater instead. Also, add in there that the show was hosted by a guy best known in the States from The Late Late Show. (Yes, we do know that James Corden does have a history of live theater at the same time.)
As for celebrity cameos, rest assured there were some of those. Bryan Cranston spoofed Network with a brief appearance, and host James Corden had a chance to spend a little time with many of the nominated plays.
While they may be a tad predictable insofar as the premise goes, what’s most impressive about the opening tonight was just how many people they crammed into a short period of time. We don’t know how the producers and the choreographers work this out so that there are constantly casts rotating in and out on the stage, but they do — and everyone also seems genuinely happy to be there. A part of what makes the Tonys so unique is that the majority of the actors on-stage are probably not people the average viewer has ever heard of. They recognize that this is the one opportunity to be on stage in front of millions and they embrace it with smiles and nods. They don’t take it for granted.
This was a fun, well-done opening that extols the greatness of theater, while also recognizing that television is a perfectly-fine medium in its own right. After all, people tend to make a lot more money doing it than they do being on the stage much of the time. Broadway is a unique experience that feels different every single time. There is no repeat episode of a plat that is 100% identical to every single one that comes before. It’s a world away for a whole lot of its viewers.
For the sake of the spectacle alone, we give the Tonys opening this year a round of applause — and that includes the fairly basic stage design. This is a show that knows what it is — it’s not about to make things too crazy or elaborate. This is Broadway! It doesn’t need to. (Also, kudos to the camera team for finding people like Adam Driver and Kristin Chenoweth in the audience.)
What did you think about the opening for the 2019 Tony Awards? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments. (Photo: CBS.)