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Top 5 Things to Take from the Tonys

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One night every year, Broadway pulls out all the stops for the Tony Awards. If Twitter is a barometer of the zeitgeist, it worked. Emcee Sean Hayes and attendee Catherine Zeta-Jones were trending in the top 10, despite competition from the NBA Finals, a potential no-hitter in Chicago, and the season premier of True Blood. Whether that bodes well for the theaters, struggling to sell tickets in a down economy, is yet to be seen. In the meantime, here are the top 5 things to take away from the Tonys.

1. The theater has often looked to big names to sell tickets, however, the star power at the Tonys went well beyond the stage to honor stars of film and television. Whether it was winning (Scarlett Johansson, Catherine Zeta-Jones), presenting (Katie Holmes, Paula Abdul), performing (Lea Michele, Michael Morrison) or spectating (Beyonce, Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith), Hollywood ruled the night.

2. As the opening sequence showed, Broadway rocks. The program led off with some classic rock, followed by Afrobeat rock, and then more classic rock and closed with punk rock. Granted, there was some R&B and crooning in between the rocking and rolling courtesy of Million Dollar Quartet, Fela! and American Idiot join Hair and the tribute to 80s hair-bands, Rock of Ages.

3. Even though the Great White Way is embracing more styles and genres of music, it’s not generating much new music. Jukebox productions (Million Dollar Quartet, Fela! and American Idiot) dominated the new musical category, and only two musicals (The Addams Family and Memphis) qualified for the original score category. Rounding out the field were Enron and Fences, which are both considered plays.

4. It could have been just coincidence Glee’s Lea Michele sang  “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl days after Broadway producers announced a revival in the works. Michele did sing the Babs tour-de-force in the Glee season final. Still, the number might well have been an audition for the part Fanny Brice in 2011.

5. Between Fela! (3 Tonys) and Fences (3 Tonys), it’s hard to remember a year that celebrated African and African-American heritage as much as this one. Patrick Healy reported in the Times this was the first time black actors swept the best acting in a play categories. The only minority to carry away a bigger haul of awards were the British.