Arts & EntertainmentFeaturesStage

The Tonys? No, the Tommys

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Tommy Tune. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Courtesy TUTS

by Donalevan Maines

The ninth annual Tommy Tune Awards on April 20 probably wasn’t as high on your list as, say, Kylie Minogue, but it was one of the best award shows I think I’ve ever witnessed. See what I mean when KTRK-TV broadcasts the ceremony as a two-hour special, 1–3 p.m., Sunday, June 5. Watching Houston-area teenagers from this year’s best high school musicals might not sound all that exciting, but if the Channel 13 special captures one-tenth of the electricity that was in the air at the Hobby Center that night, I think you’ll enjoy the show.

Switched: Logan Kessler (far left, dressed as his character, Bitelle, from Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles) and Houston actress Stephanie Styles present an award, then return to the stage...switched. Photos by Bruce Bennett/Courtesy TUTS.

Switched: Logan Kessler (far left, dressed as his character, Bitelle, from Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles) and Houston actress Stephanie Styles present an award, then return to the stage…switched. Photos by Bruce Bennett/Courtesy TUTS

Switched: Logan Kessler (far left, dressed as his character, Bitelle, from Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles) and Houston actress Stephanie Styles present an award, then return to the stage…switched. Photos by Bruce Bennett/Courtesy TUTS

And did I mention that Logan Kessler presented an award in drag as Bitelle (his Cagelle character in Broadway’s current revival of La Cage aux Folles) or that his co-presenter, last year’s best actress, wore a tuxedo—and then they returned to the stage with Kessler in the tux and the teenage girl in his gown? (The Cagelles, including Kessler, graced OutSmart’s December 2010 cover.)

Tommy Tune introduced the show, quipping that Oscar doesn’t introduce the Academy Awards and a guy named Tony doesn’t welcome the audience to Broadway’s big night. Other presenters included local out celebrities. In the audience was “the father of gay theater in Houston”—I’m telling you, to paraphrase Neal Patrick Harris, the show couldn’t have been gayer if Annise Parker was named mayor. But wait—Annise Parker is our mayor, and this show—it was Glee at nationals, it was American Idol with talent.

The casts of all eight nominees for best musical performed a number from their shows, including the most cleverly choreographed, preciously performed production number that had the audience abuzz throughout intermission. Damn, those Yankees were good!

At the actual Tonys ceremony, a camera might pause for a second on nominees; but at the Tommys ceremony, the best-actor finalists appeared together onstage, with each guy singing a song from his show, backed up by his fellow nominees. Ditto for the best-actress nominees.

I won’t be surprised if it makes you want to catch some of next year’s high school musicals in all their glory.

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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