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Sunday, June 11, 2006


The Tony Awards & the "Leslie Uggams Moment"

There's always at least one moment in each Tony Award broadcast where some extraordinary confabulation of factors arrives to the stage & even StinkyLulu's left wondering: "Who but an unrepentant theatre freak would find this thrilling?" These moments, of course, become StinkyLulu's favorites but -- in a strange way -- they also stir Lulu's internalized Tony-phobia. "Does it have to be so...soo...sooo cheesy?!? People are watching!" (One great recent example came in 2004 with Hugh Jackman's fronting the Dreamgirls number, "One Night Only" (youtube video here) with 3 sets of 3 back-up singers. So divalicious, so gay, so wierd: surely the number itself flipped any number of baby divas/queens stuck in the provinces from latent to blatant in the space of 6 minutes.)

Not all of the heart-cloggingly cheese-tastic bits are such extravaganzas, however. Consider the case of Leslie Uggams, a fixture on Tony broadcasts for most of the 1980s. Every year the producers would trot her out to sing fragments of soaring Broadway songs, usually by Jerry Herman. Inevitably, about 3/4 the way through, there would be what Lulu's cohort of Tony watchers came to call the "Leslie Uggams Mist" -- where Uggams' eyes would sorta mist over with transcendent, anthemic emotion, whether the song needed/justified it or not. (One time, 1984, La Uggams did this no fewer than 4 times in a single broadcast. Really quite extraordinary. The YouTube below has a Leslie Uggams mist -- somewhere between the 26th & 29th second -- not that easy to see in this capture but it's there.)

Over time, Lulu's come to call any appallingly, fabulously, absurdly over-the-top musical moment on the Tony Awards a "Leslie Uggams Moment" -- and, lovely ModFab reader, be sure to watch for your favorite such moment tonight!


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