Everybody back in the time machine! I hope you had a great time discovering all the free-love, light ’em up joys of 1972 but now we’re skipping ahead a decade and just saying no in 1982.
Oh, but say yes to the 1982 Tony Awards because it features THAT performance. Yep, this was the year that Jennifer Holliday Godzilla-stomped, took a heaving breath and set fire to a theater (and the imaginations of thousand of little show queens in training at their TV sets) when she sang “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls.
But before we get to that video, what else do we see on this fair night from the Reagan years? Why there’s Roger Rees, a Tony nominee in 2012 for his co-direction of Peter and the Starcatcher, winning Best Leading Actor in a Play for the similarly story-theater styled The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. And there’s Amanda Plummer pulling a double by getting nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Play (A Taste of Honey) and winning for Best Featured Actress in a Play (Agnes of God)…all under the watchful eye of her father Christopher Plummer, nominated in ’82 for Othello.
Nine and Dreamgirls duked it out in the musical categories with Nine taking the top honor…but Dreamgirls, I’d say, having the more influential run in the popular imagination. Which is the perfect segue to watch…
…a bunch of TV stars doing show choir like it’s Glee: The GED Years! I know, I’m cruel. You thought you’d be clicking to see JeHo tear it up and you get interchangeable poodle-haired fembots Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy), Michele Lee (Knot’s Landing) and Beth Howland (Alice!). Seriously, I know my 80’s TV and even I got them mixed up watching this number. (And wait there’s another one holding hands with Hal Linden? Is that Cher? Lena Horne? I can’t tell under all that hair.) And could that be Benson’s maid, Inga Swenson (go Wildcats!), getting all Jeanette McDonald on us? And did anyone bother to learn the choreography for “They’re Playing Our Song”? Thank God Ann Miller shows up at the end because only she can top the madness.
All right, you’ve paid your dues. Get ready to bust out of that Members Only jacket and watch the most popular Tony performance of all time. Seriously.
And that, my friends, is how it is done.