So the spell was broken and Broadway was reborn, after a gestation period roughly equivalent to that of an elephant. And, if a Tony Awards marking the return of one of the greatest engines of New York’s cultural economy and a lasting emblem of the city was not, as is so often the case with these shows, a where the elephant gives birth to the mouse, its monumentality was largely symbolic.
There have been peaks without a doubt, foremost among which Jennifer Hollidays repeats her period 1982 Tony Awards performance of Dreamgirls’ And I Am Telling You Im Not Going, which not only looked stunning, but could -being briefly upset the earth from its axis. Yet on the whole, the event was simple and modest by the standards of shows less and less staged for real-time effects than for instant viral replication.
This was reflected in the family tone of the show a gathering of the makeup tribe so often referred to when the show people get together but also in the performers’ wardrobes. The Tonys’ wobbly tone was in part due to a heavy format that branched off the broadcast, with the first half being shown on Paramount + and the rest being broadcast live on CBS. Switching between the two was a bit like looking around the kids’ room to see them play on an Xbox, then checking in at Grandpa’s Den, where he fiddles with an antenna shaped like a bunny ear.
The clothes, too, expressed a certain generational dissonance, confusion over how we now dress for a world that Covid-19 has changed through ignorance. We are talking here mainly about the dress of the male cis-genre part of the Broadway population. After slipping inside for two years in our underwear, are we now ready for red letter events like our fathers maybe once did, wearing penguin costumes, tuxedo belts, and ties that require an instruction manual to tie? Or are we adopting some kind of new evening dress?
People seem uncertain. For the recent Met Gala, Jerry Lorenzo, the creator of Fear of God, stood out from a crowd of impeccably cut socialites and celebrities (and politicians): tailored) by coming in his own take on formal wear. That is, nicely cut taupe sweatshirts and a soft blazer worn with backless sneakers.
Likewise, at the Tony Awards, Jake Gyllenhaals’ Prada alabaster crepe tuxedo (which looked pink to me) worn without a tie and with an open-necked shirt seemed like a nice sartorial answer to the question of how to look polished and yet not ready for the coffin.
How is Broadway bouncing back? Join us virtually as we tour the now bustling theaters to find out. Go inside the rehearsal of Tony Award winning Hadestown, listen to “Girl From the North Country” songs and more.
As bombproof as a men’s formal uniform should be, it also lends itself too easily to improvisational missteps. Take Darren Crisss’ tuxedo, cut tight for its visibly fitted and yet over-designed silhouette, with its satin sleeves and its button-down high-neck shirt and accessorized with a collar instead of a tie.
Or grab Jesse Tyler Fergusons’ light gray evening suit, again well-fitted, but veering into The Music Man territory with its high notched collar in a slightly contrasting tone. Or try David Byrnes’ royal blue suit, worn with surely white lace-up shoes, an improvement over the two-tone double-breasted ice cream parlor outfit he wore for the Met Gala, but not by much.
The beauty of a uniform, after all, is built into the definition of words: staying the same all the time and in all cases.
It’s not that there are dos and don’ts. The voluminous Aaron Tveits white suit, with his pleated pants, by the Row, although evidently inspired by Armani’s suddenly influential look of the 1980s, might have been more appropriate for La Croisette in Cannes than the Théâtre du Jardin. Winter, while remaining a trendy catnip.
It’s just that you can’t easily beat the self-assurance a man conveyed in such a chic tuxedo as the midnight blue high-breasted, double-breasted one worn by Ron Cephas Jones. Like those actors who serve the job by minimizing and observing breaks, Mr. Jones is certainly one of the costumes that has subtly showcased its wearer rather than its creators, venerable family-owned Italian fashion house Luigi Bianchi Mantova.
Or, maybe you can. That is, if you’re American dancer Utopia Chris Giarmo, who dragged not only traditional men’s evening wear but also old genre binary straight out of their respective ways by attending the 74th Tony’s. Awards in a navy mini dress and matching outfit. pair of starry platforms.
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