Friday, June 11, 2010

Free, Glee, and Tone-ees!

So the Tonys are this weekend. I have to say that, honestly, I’m not feeling it too much this year. There’s not one specific show or performance I’m particularly excited about getting recognition. It’s a bit ironic too since two of my biggest all-time crushes (Ms. Zeta-Jones and Ms. Johansson) are nominated. Sean Hayes may be a perfectly fine host but I’m sure I’ll miss Neil Patrick Harris. I kind of hope “Ragtime” picks up a few wins as a poke in the nose of the producers who shut the production down too early but that’s a bitter attitude to bring to a more celebratory event. If you want to review of some of the highlights of previous years, you can read this piece. Remember “Avenue Q” versus “Wicked?” Now THAT was a year to be watching the Tonys. Will you be watching on Sunday?

Something that I’m more excited about than the Tonys is high-quality, free theater and it looks like Sycamore Rouge will be offering some this summer. Though in process for a while, it was confirmed yesterday that the Rouge’s July production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be absolutely free. And also held outdoors on the beautiful-looking grounds of the Battlesea Plantation. Do you need any more reasons to drive a few miles south this summer? I don’t.

In another realm, I’ve come to the opinion that “Glee” must be the most actively criticized show in history. After the season finale, my favorite rag, EW, wrote not just one but three different wrap-ups, including these two critical quibbles (one and two). It then immediately launched into dishing about next season. In the past couple of months, Facebook would light up with people in anticipation of – and then in post-show discussion of – the merits of each episode. Hey, I’m not one to try and put a damper on the critical process but I’m thinking people may want to chill out a bit. I remember when “Twin Peaks” came out (yes, I’m that old) and people went crazy over a show that was so completely different. But the joy for “Peaks” fizzled long before its second and last season clambered to a close. The fact that so many people were so excited about the show made its collapse that much more painful.

Personally, I think “Glee” has certainly made a misstep or two and the “theme” episodes have been highly divisive (I loved the “Gaga” ep, many people didn’t. On the other hand, the Madonna show was just a-ight for me.) But, in general, I have been consistently surprised at how well the show works. It may not always be cranking on all cylinders, but at least once every episode, something impresses me, whether it’s a blockbuster song, a particular arrangement, a wickedly funny line, an awesome bit of choreography or a clever plot point. And when they all work together, well, it’s still pretty magic. I’ve got high hopes for next season but also, I’m willing to overlook the small stumbles, let the show flow and soak in the overall high-quality of the whole endeavor.

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