Mood Buster: The 1985 Tony Awards

It's been a rotten day and I need to cheer up.

Ooo...the infamous Sideshow performance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that still haunts Alice Ripley because the wind was strong enough to push her and Emily Skinner apart. Cute, but not cute enough.

A fine year for Tony Award performances. Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Tony Awards doing tap showcase-cum-showstopper "Forget About the Boy." Nah. I've had to play this at too many auditions because of Sutton Foster. That just depresses me more.

The other Broadway Foster? Well, Urinetown is one of my favorite musicals and this is a great production number, but it's a bit too...needy for right now. Especially that really hammy conducting section.

What's this? A massive Tony Award medley of three of the four Best Musical nominees from 1985, my birth year, including Big River, one of my favorite musicals? Yes, please. That'll do, YouTube. That'll do.

What a strange year for the Tony Awards. The Best Musical nominees were an original book musical adapted from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with bluesy/folky/country-tinted score and an out of place up with people attitude (Big River), a barely-booked spectacle with flashy costumes and elaborate dance sequences (Grind), a Jukebox musical about the life and work of songwriter Ellie Greenwich long before Jukebox musicals were accepted on Broadway (Leader of the Pack), and a tableaux about American pioneer women that didn't even stay open long enough to perform at the Tony Awards (Quilters). It wasn't a bad year for the American musical, just a really experimental year.

That Tony Award ceremony is infamous for being the only year the Best Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Leading Actor in a Musical statues weren't handed out. To be fair, the only leading actress was Dinah Manoff as Ellie Greenwich in Leader of the Pack and if you judge it by the reviews, she was in no way award-worthy. Lead Actor is a bit more unusual, as two of the roles in Big River could be considered Co-Leads and a production The King and I was eligible (though the role of the King of Siam has flip-flopped between those categories in many awards ceremonies).

The season was strange, but the shows were at least inventive. Quilters, for example, has a rather lovely conceit. There are monologues, songs and scenes represented by 8 squares on a quilt for 8 different issues pioneer women dealt with, including death, birth, and marriage. It's the kind of show that should have never gone to Broadway but did because the theaters were available. Now it has a bad reputation in spite of much earlier regional success before its Broadway bow.

It's good to feel like my old self again. Thanks, 1985 Tony Award for Best Musical medley video. I wouldn't have gotten out of this "eye doctor told me to bring my glasses in for a lens change that should take an hour but then called five hours later to say they wouldn't be ready today only to call me an hour ago and say if I didn't pick them up quick I couldn't get them till Saturday" funk without you.

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Presented Without Comment: Side by Side by Susan Blackwell: Josh Gad