James Corden, host of “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” came back to Radio City Music Hall to host the 73rd Tony Awards for a second time on June 9.
James Corden did a fairly good job as host. He was funny in a mellow way, and kept the audience entertained enough. His presence wasn’t as strong as awards show hosts usually are, but he led an okay show anyway. His opening number for the Tony Awards didn’t feel like an opening number with Corden in it’s center. Although the other performers around him were lively and exciting, Corden’s blandness dulled the whole thing.
Performances from “Ain’t too Proud,” “Tootsie,” “Oklahoma!,” ”Beetlejuice,” ”The Prom,” ”Choir Boy,” ”Hadestown,” ”Kiss Me, Kate” and “The Cher Show” wowed the audience. In particular, “Beetlejuice” performed a wacky, hilarious medley of “The Whole Being Dead Thing” and “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).” Between Beetlejuice (Alex Brightman)’s sarcastic quips and fourth wall breaks and the gigantic sandworm puppet that filled the stage, it was a fantastic performance. The best musical winner of the night, “Hadestown,” also performed their hit song “Wait for Me,” which was equal parts incredibly stunning and heart-wrenchingly emotional. The lighting design, with synchronized swinging lights, sent shivers down the audience’s spines.
The aforementioned musical, “Hadestown,” dominated the awards show with an impressive eight awards out of their nine nominations. Stephanie J. Block from “The Cher Show” won best performance for a leading actress in a musical for her mesmerizing performance as one of the three versions of Cher the show presents.
Ali Stroker, who plays Ado Addie Carnes in the revival of “Oklahoma!,” won for best featured actress in a musical, and her win was possibly the most monumental of the night. Stroker is the first wheelchair user to win a Tony, a huge step in the right direction for the disabled community. However, this win only highlighted the lack of accessibility because Radio City Music Hall is not wheelchair accessible. Stroker, although she was able to go up for her own award, was not able to join the rest of the cast when “Oklahoma!” won best revival of a musical.
Unfortunately, the Tony Awards did cause controversy in regards to the underdog musical, “Be More Chill.” They were denied the opportunity to perform at the awards show, despite their best musical nomination (an opportunity given to The Cher Show instead, which was not nominated for best musical at all). “Be More Chill,” while a rather unknown musical, was further diminished by Corden’s rather insensitive parody of the show’s most prominent song, “Michael in the Bathroom.” The parody was done without the show creators’ knowledge.
Despite the controversy, the 73rd Tony Awards was a fun watch. As always, it was energetic and emotional, but lacked the excitement of previous years.