Despite a very good show, Bruce Springsteen, Robert DeNiro dropping F bombs, and a feeling of solidarity, the Tony Awards ratings were a disaster. Only around 6 million people watched the show, with a decline to 5.7 million during the 10-11 pm hour when Bruce performed.
The numbers were on a par with last year, which was way down from 2016 and the big “Hamilton” bonanza. Pretty much the exact same number of people in the same demo watched the Tonys last night as watched them last year. It’s a steadfast, hearty, if exclusive group.
The Tonys actually lost a million voters from the “60 Minutes” lead in. The news mag had 7.8 mil viewers from 7 to 8pm. The Tonys immediately dropped to 6.8 mil. A lot of people turned to “Celebrity Family Feud.”
It’s kind of amazing since the total box office numbers are up, but that’s also because of inflated ticket prices for shows like Springsteen’s and “Hello, Dolly!” with Bette Midler. Those numbers have given the Broadway producers a false sense of success.
Still, the mood in Radio City was upbeat. Josh Groban and Sara Barielles did a very good job as hosts. They’re singers par excellence and exuded confidence. You couldn’t complain about them. But look, it was not a very good theater season. “The Band’s Visit” brought home 10 Tonys, but it’s a low key show. The blockbuster shows this year– “Frozen,” “Mean Girls”–were tepid at best. The bad shows– “Donna Summer,” “Margaritaville”– were really bad.
The big surprise among theater people was the winner of Best Revival, Musical. In the minds of conventional Tony people, the race was “Carousel” vs. “My Fair Lady.” They are basically the same shows and shouldn’t have come in in the same year. They cancelled each other out. “Once On An Island” — not a great show– snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. “Carousel” producer Scott Rudin must have known what was coming; he didn’t even bother to come to the Tonys.
Rudin lost with “Carousel” and also with “The Iceman Cometh” and to some extent with “Three Tall Women.” With the latter, his actresses Glenda Jackson and Laurie Metcalf picked up awards. But that was like shooting fish in a barrel. And the total wipe out of “Iceman” was pretty stunning. Denzel Washington looked pretty pissed. At least they gave out Best Actor in a Play to Andrew Garfield at the top of the show–it put Denzel out of his misery fast.