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Tony Awards 2015: A lack of competition makes for a fairly painless show

Matthew Morrison, left, and Kelsey Grammer perform with the cast of “Finding Neverland” on the Tonys. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

As far as infomercials go, this evening’s Tony telecast was pretty painless. The goal was crystal clear, as always: Showcase the musicals! Even shows barely (or not) nominated — “Gigi,” “Finding Neverland,” “It Shoulda Been You” — got a spot in the prime-time sunshine. It’s all about drumming up biz on Broadway.

Expecting more will drive you nuts. Were too many “boring” awards handed out off-camera? Yes. (C’mon, there were probably great ways to handle some of those design categories.) Did the show give plays the back of its hand? Yes.

Is this the same awards show that once ruthlessly pulled the plug on the telecast at 11:00 p.m. as Terrence McNally won the heavyweight best play award? Why, yes! (Dear playwright: No speech for you.)

[Tony Awards 2015: The full list of winners]

So the question isn’t whether the Tonys did a “good job.” The question is whether you can watch it. If you watched — and I hear there was an interesting basketball game on another channel — you were likely only in it for the musical numbers. There was absolutely no sense of mounting suspense or competitive momentum between musical frontrunners “Fun Home” and “An American in Paris,” or — in the race where almost no one wanted to see a loser — between Kristin Chenoweth (“On the Twentieth Century”) or Kelli O’Hara (“The King and I”) for best actress in a musical. (Spoiler alert: O’Hara won, and delivered the liveliest speech of the night.)

Chenoweth and Cumming were cute as buttons together as co-hosts, and despite the sprightly yet snarky bit about how movie stars get the plum roles when stage shows get snapped up as Hollywood projects, none of the in-between shtick was horribly labored. No one tripped up to the podium. Only Ruthie Ann Miles, a winner as featured actress in a musical of “The King and I,” rambled with her thank-yous.

[Chenoweth and Cumming open the show while Harvey Weinstein continues to rake in money]

The Tony train is a toy train, but it has run smoothly. Next musical number — you’re up!

Read more:

Did the Tony Awards nominate more celebrities than ever?

Is this actually a grown-up Tonys?

The 2015 Tony Awards: A wish list

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