Tonight is the Tony Awards – the Oscars for the Broadway set – and this year, for reasons having to do with Cirque du Soleil, the awards ceremony is being held right in our neighborhood at the Beacon Theater. Usually the awards are held at Radio City Music Hall. The difference in the two venues is about 22 blocks and 3000 seats. The Beacon seats just under 3000 (but it feels even smaller) and Radio City seats a whopping 6000 or so, and has a cavernous feel to it.
It was fascinating to go out with the kids and watch the arrivals, which were set up a block south and in the back of the actual theater entrance on Broadway; all the stars entered into the rear of the theater, off of Amsterdam Avenue. I can only think this was due to the protesters in front, though what exactly they were protesting I never got close enough to see. Throngs of people were lined up and down Amsterdam Avenue, screaming when limo doors opened and someone they recognized stepped out. I managed to sort of get a photo of Samuel L. Jackson, who obligingly wore a white suit jacket, thus making himself easy to spot in a sea of black tuxes. The kids, of course, could see nothing but the backs of the people in front of us, but there is a palpable energy at these events, and they enjoyed hearing people scream and watching the barrage of camera flashes in the tents that housed the red carpet.
We left Broadway at 7:30 and by 7:36 the Tivo was ready to go. We watched the opening of the show (brilliant Neil Patrick Harris is too good to miss) and the first hour before turning it off. We’ll finish it up tomorrow – this is the one ceremony where I don’t care who wins, but I love the performances, so it’s ok to watch part of it the day after.
My favorite part of the first hour or so, aside from Neil’s opening and his great ‘host duel’ with Hugh Jackman, was the acceptance speech from Nikki James for “The Book of Mormon”. In it she said that she comes from a long line of bumblebees – those oddest of creatures who by all scientific equations should not be able to fly but because nobody ever told them they couldn’t, do it anyway – and how thankful she is for that, because nobody ever told her she couldn’t fly and always supported her in her dreams. Amen to that. I really feel that one of the worst things a parent can do is tell a child, when it comes to a possible career or dream, “you can’t do that” or just as bad, “why would you want to do that?”
I love the Tonys (and the Oscars, the Golden Globes, etc.) because you always hear from people who followed their dreams, sometimes against all odds and other times because of the people who told them they could. It’s a good reminder to all of us that kids’ dreams and talents have the power to manifest in ways we might not imagine now, if only we give them the freedom and support to follow them.