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September 3, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris saves the Tony Awards

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 8th 2009 12:02PM
NP Harris TonysIf you had DVR'd the Tony Awards on CBS last night, or switched off the set after Elton John's Billy Elliot, The Musical won the final big award of the night -- Best Musical -- you missed the best thing in the entire show. In a word, Neil Patrick Harris.

At a few minutes after 11 o'clock, Tony host Neil Patrick Harris wrapped up the broadcast, but instead of just saying goodnight and urging viewers to go see a Broadway show, Neil did a musical number and it was the high point of the night. In true Barney Stinson style, the How I Met Your Mother star (and sure bet Emmy nominee), performed a song that was as good as any Billy Crystal Oscar opening. Funny, snarky and pointed, it really skewered the Tonys, almost like a Mad magazine parody.

You see, it's musical theater tradition that there be a penultimate production, the 11 o'clock number, that wows the crowd and sends them home happy and/or amazed. Here's the special song that Neil presented that did just that:

Overall, the Tonys were not very good. I'm not talking about the merit of the winners. I'm speaking as a TV viewer who has long enjoyed Broadway and regularly watches these theater awards. The show was star-studded, including Jane Fonda, James Gandolfini, Anne Hathaway, Kristin Chenoweth, Liza Minnelli, Lauren Graham, Angela Lansbury, et. al., but there wasn't a lot of excitement or great entertainment. That's why Neil really saved the night. He was legen -- wait for it -- dary. I vote for him to bring Dr. Horrible to Broadway so that next year he can win a Tony, not just host the show.

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You want to know the pulse of America? See what is on Broadway. The Tony's give a glimpse of what is in fashion, what is in the news and what interests the public. And they sing and dance.

You can judge a society by how it treats the arts and their dead.
The Tony's appreciate both.

Best Awards Show so far, well, except for the poor sound, the headbanging of a singer, and the poor showing of non-musical shows.

But otherwise. . .

June 09 2009 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sarah Ingersoll

I thought the show, overall, was good. The sound, as mentioned by others, was terrible. I live in Atlantic Canada and love New York and Broadway. I have visited the city 5 times and am going again end of August. I had already decided that one of the show I want to see when I go is Billy Elliot. But, having seen the Tony's, now I want to see God of Carnage, Hair, Guys and Dolls and West Side Story. I do not want to see Shrek. I loved the movie but this Shrek just creeps me out. I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a fantastic job and loved, loved, loved his closing number.

June 09 2009 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Tony, no matter what it may or may not mean outside of NYC, is still one of the top four awards a performer/artist can win (along with the Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy). I don't think many would deny the prestige associated with getting one, though how much cache it carries in the long term for a person's career (at least a career outside of the theater) is certainly a whole other debate (though in fairness, many Oscar winners have dropped off the face of the earth, too).

June 09 2009 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just wish they'd stop moving awards out of the broadcast. Personally, I'm just as interested in what the winners of Best Score, Best Book, and Best Costume Design have to say as in the performers and directors.

Also, "penultimate" means "next to last" and is not a stronger way of saying "ultimate."

June 09 2009 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tony's highlight shows that will end up touring in your city in the next coming year. Sure it's relevant outside of NY.

I thought the show was great. The 3 hours flew by. I thought it was weird that Legally Blonde performed (and for like a minute). Sound problems were inexcusable. I mean, don't they do stage productions for a living? Overall, watching the Tony's made me interested in Billy Elliot and Next to Normal. And also confirmed that I will be avoiding the Shrek musical like the plague.

June 09 2009 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I've heard of Shrek (the movie). Didn't know it was a play. Have no idea who Billy Elliot is.
Thw Broadway Theater, like the Metropolitan Opera, is a wonderful institution. I hope it continues forever. It just doesn't interest me or many others. The TONYs are not relevant to many other than those like yourselve,

June 08 2009 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I agree its a great art form, but who outside of a very few ever see them. I live a couple of hrs from NYC, but have never been to a Bway play, nor can I name any of the plays up for last nights' awards.

June 08 2009 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Johnntravis's comment

I live nearly 3,000 miles from New York City, but make it out there as often as I can. Broadway is just like any other American landmark, where people from around the world come to see the shows, and make up for more than half of each show's audience. And often, these shows make the rounds and/or try-out in cities across the country, some big, some medium, and even some small.

If you live only two hours from NYC, I beg you to take advantage of your location. But so far, your resistance to the Tonys and what it represents seems solely based on your own disposition.

And really? You've never heard of Billy Elliot or Shrek?

June 08 2009 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The show had some very good moments (Neil's closing among them) and some very bad moments (terrible sound production throughout).

As someone with a slightly higher than average interest in Broadway, I thought the problem with this year's show was the shows it was trying to promote. I read terrible reviews of Billy Elliot and was not impressed with the number they highlighted, yet it won 10 awards? The Shrek numbers were unwatchable, and Next To Normal ... well, let's just say it doesn't look like the "feel good" show of the year.

The highlight for me was watching Bret Michaels get face-planted in the opening.

June 08 2009 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who really cares about the TONYs, besides those in NYC.
I never have heard of most of them, much less gone to see them.

June 08 2009 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Johnntravis's comment

A subjective opinion from somebody completely unaware of perhaps the world's greatest art form. The Tonys are far more important than simply to those who live in NYC.

June 08 2009 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Artie B

... and what was with the artsy camera moves during the "In Memoriam" section of the broadcast? With the camera moving as it was, you couldn't see the names of half of the people whose faces were shown.

June 08 2009 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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