Give the Tonys Back to Broadway?

The past two days I feel like I've had my heart broken by parts of the Broadway community I had grown to admire, love, and respect. A community that I have always thought to be warm, generous, and accepting.

Shortly following the Tonys, Hunter Foster (a past favorite of mine) created a Facebook page designed to "Give the TONYS Back to Broadway". At first glance, it could have had honorable intentions. It would be silly to deny that the Tonys haven't gone commercial in the last few years. They have focused more on getting good ratings than really showing this community for what it is. People have a right to be upset with that, and it is understandable.

However, this has taken a completely different turn.

It's impossible to pinpoint exactly what Hunter's intentions were now. Between him and his wife (Jen Cody) publicly BASHING Catherine Zeta-Jones' win, and Christopher Seiber (a talented, handsome, and extremely charming man) joining the bandwagon on his own Facebook page, going so far as to say that Catherine's Tony was "bought" for her, my eyes have been opened to how mean spirited jilted actors can really be.

There are multiple arguments to fight here.

The Tony Awards: Yes, this year was not a great showing. Sean Hayes, however, was a FANTASTIC host. People took issue with three things in particular: Green Day's performance, the Glee performances, and Mark Sanchez's appearance.

1. Green Day played for too long. I agree. They should have stuck to one song, or a cut of one song (as Christianne Noll was made to do), and it would have been just as good. That being said, the intentions were clear. CBS needs ratings. And again this year, the ratings are down. By 8%. By advertising the Tony Awards riding on Green Day and Glee, they were hoping to draw people in who wouldn't watch otherwise. It sucks, but its understandable. Its the way things are now. Of course I see the other side of the argument - let this be about celebrating Broadway and only that. And of course that's what I want. However, Green Day had a right to be there, having created one of this season's shows. Which brings me to...

2. The Glee performance. This is the area I had the most trouble with. I love Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele, I think they're both very talented and have given fantastic Broadway performances prior to this season. But they were not on Broadway this season, and as far as I'm concerned, their performances took away a slot that could have gone to a nominated musical that did not get to shine. And, in my humblest opinion, Lea Michele was not up to snuff.

3. Mark Sanchez. And I have one thing to say to this: SO WHAT?! A 10 second intro is causing all of this chaos? By someone who seems to genuinely love theatre? So sue the guy. No one else wanted to introduce Memphis, anyway. And for the record, every other "celebrity" presenter or performer had something to do with this season. (Please correct me if I've missed someone).

The problem is what this group has turned into: the outright bashing of Hollywood actors. This argument is old. It's tired. The labeling of every film/tv actor as "stunt casting" is ridiculous. Some of the greatest performances I've seen on Broadway have come from "celebrities". For people to claim that Broadway actors, and only Broadway actors, are worthy of appearing on the stage is ludicrous. Who's to say that these Hollywood actors didn't have Broadway aspirations, and they just managed to break into film and/or tv first? The most insane claim I've heard came from Natascia Diaz....

"Bubble, sir? it seems it is YOU who are in a bubble about this issue if you cannot see what hollywood shlock that masquerades as 'theater" has invaded our craft and community...and you wonder why we who trained and are poised and ready are removed from all possibility because we haven't paraded our tits and asses on the "big screen" were TRAINING and PERFORMING..."

Just the general claim that theater actors train more than film/tv actors is appalling to me. We all grew up with the same goals and worked just as hard - everyone seems to forget that not every "celebrity" rose to that status every night. They paid their dues just as this community does. We don't all pay the same dues, but we all hope to get the same places and work in the same mediums. For all of these stage actors to try and break into film/tv and then act as if it can't work the other way around is ridiculous. They are all, every single one of them, actors. Plain and simple.

To see this all happen after Scarlett Johansson gave a speech about being accepted into the community so warmly is sickening.

There isn't much more to say without beating an already well beaten dead horse. I just hope that Hunter ends this by taking down the group and apologizing for what it turned into. Anything he tries to do, any action he tries to take, at this point will just be laughed at. He and many others have painted a very ugly picture of themselves thus far.



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