Why the Tonys are the best family television ever.
by Lauren Silverman Durban, writer
There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere who’s sitting there living for Tony performances
Singin’ and flippn’ along with the Pippins and Wickeds and Kinkys, Matildas and Mormon-ses
So we might reassure that kid
And do something to spur that kid
Cause I promise you all of us up here tonight
We were that kid
-from the opening number of the 2013 Tonys
You cried a little at that point in the Tonys, right? I mean, assuming you weren’t too busy marveling at the wonder that is Neil Patrick Harris (seriously-- I really thought I couldn’t love him any more than I already do), nobody who has spent their life in love with musical theater could escape being moved by those lyrics. All of us were that kid, and whether or not our Broadway dreams have come true, we all remember what it was like watching the Tonys when we were little. That was real life, right? Far away in that land called New York, there lived those amazing people who did amazing things on stage every single night, and we just knew that some day we had to go there.
So it’s important to me now that my own kids watch the Tonys. I have no idea yet if they’ll ever want to perform (they’re only 5, 3, and not quite 1 year old), but I at least want them to see this thing that I’ve always loved so much. In the same way that I take my oldest to as much theater locally as I can, I feel that it’s all part of their proper musical theater education. If they hate it, fine. (Well, it’d probably break my heart, but I won’t make them feel too guilty about it.)
Fortunately, they did not disappoint me. My 5 and 3 year old boys were all about the Tonys this year. Glued to it. Thanks to the prevalence of kid performers (they should just go ahead and declare this the Year of the Child Actor on Broadway), they could identify with it. They were floored when I mentioned that that insane tap dancing kid in A Christmas Story was not all that much older than they are. They giggled at the girls from Annie. And after the number from Matilda, my 3 year old said “Oh, Mama. Dat was amazing.”
I know there’s been a lot of whining about the number of kid shows on Broadway recently, but I think it made for a pretty cool year at the Tonys. Yes, some of it is pandering to the tourists. No, not all of it is great art. But for all the negatives, there is something truly valuable about theater that’s accessible for kids and families (and this is coming from someone who likes her theater darkity dark dark dark). These kids will be the next generation of performers and composers and directors and technicians, and we’ve gotta hook ‘em young. And seeing performers up there on that biggest of stages who aren’t all that much older than they are makes that dream not so far away.
So here’s to the next generation of theater lovers! May we train them well, educate them early, and teach them to dream big!LAUREN SILVERMAN DURBAN is a freelance writer, former tv news anchor, mom of 3 tiny humans, musical theater fanatic, native Los Angelino, and guacamole enthusiast living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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