Broadway Features and Reviews
Seeing Tonys in Times Square
By Leora Kanner, Broadway Magazine
While the celebrities and Broadway buffs were sitting comfortably inside Radio City Music Hall to watch the Tony Awards, a huge number of New Yorkers, tourists, and unknowing pedestrians were treated with a very different experience. Presented by the American Theater Wing and the Times Square Alliance, this simultaneous live-cast near TKTS allowed a number of people to experience the Awards in a way they never had before and is one of the first events to take place in the beautifully redesigned Times Square. Sitting on lawn chairs, bleachers, and on the ground, people young and old cheered along as the awards were broadcast in real time.
The bleachers and actual seats were completely packed but one could see the large screen on 47th street from almost any angle. Even more exciting was the fact that the show was completely free and accessible to all; you could leave, grab food, and return at any point in order to enjoy however much of the show you desired. During the show, the large audience on the street cheered along when their favorites (Next to Normal, West Side Story, and Billy Elliot). Along with the natural excitement over the big performance numbers, Liza Minelli received a standing ovation from the crowd (it didn't matter to anyone that she couldn't hear them.) Angela Lansbury received a similar reaction. As the show progressed Tony volunteers handed out free I-Tunes downloads but no other gimmicks were used, or necessary.
There was something magical about seeing the Tonys as they, and any live theater for that matter, are meant to be seen: in the company of other theater lovers in a public forum. Broadway is naturally large and spectacular, so it is right that the Tony Awards could be experienced in a huge and exciting way! Rather than viewing the show from a small screen alone in the comfort of one's living room, 'everyday people' could watch the show "live" only a few feet away and feel like a part of the experience as it occurred.
Broadway is theater for the audience and experiencing the awards that celebrate Broadway in the company of thousands of other theater lovers amplifies the experience tremendously. Where else can one truly appreciate the Tonys but in Times Square, the very heart of Broadway? The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy the treat: people stayed for most of the three hours, even when it began to rain.
Perhaps the best part about the presentation was the exposure it offered to those that are unfamiliar with Broadway. Much of the audience of the event was people who would otherwise have skipped over the Tonys in favor of other shows. Two students were saying that the only parts they ever watched of the Tonys were the big musical numbers from the shows they recognized.
They loved the opening number but never even knew it existed before! Now that they saw the whole production, they were pleasantly surprised and felt sure they would watch "every year." If even a fraction of the large audience used this event as an opportunity to get excited about Broadway then the American Theater Wing and the Tony Awards have done yet another incredible thing for the future of Broadway right in the heart of Times Square.
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