Welcome to the 63rd Annual Tony Awards—also known as the 19th Annual Law & Order Reunion!
The Tony people dispensed with a bunch of "tech" awards between 7 and 8, with a crowd watching near the TKTS booth in Duffy Square.
The CBS Broadcast started with Elton John performing a song that must be from his show Billy Elliott. Only after that did my prediction come true: West Side Story's ensemble Tonight was performed. What I didn't expect was that "Luck Be A Lady (Tonight—get it?)" from Guys and Dolls would be worked into the number. Nice touch.
And now it's some excerpt from Rock of Ages. Time for a break!
UPDATE Of course, I missed something: Bret Michaels getting conked on his head while the show went on. I hope he's okay!
The opening medley continues with Stockard Channing doing "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" from Pal Joey paired with excellent but snubbed Aaron Tveit doing "I'm Alive" from Next to Normal.
And now it's "Let Your Freak Flag Fly" from Shrek. So you know it's the Tony Awards.
And what's this? Hello, Dolly! Parton kicks off 9 to 5.
What can top that? Good ol' Liza Minnelli gamely belting out "The World Goes 'Round" by her friends John Kander and Fred Ebb.
It figures that the follow-up to Liza is the chorus...from Hair: "Let the Sunshine In." Can't be too soon. (This one's for Debbie, of course.)
A good start, with the crowd pretty worked up!
And now for the drinking game: a drink for every mention of sushi or mercury poisoning.
And here's our host Doogie, getting applause from Niles. Wow—dirty joke about head-banging! [UPDATE This turned out to be a joke about Bret Michaels's injury. So I guess all the naughtiness was in my own head.] Followed by self-deprecating joke having to do with the show's budget! I just checked: He has been on Broadway.
And here's Jane Fonda, entering to the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me." This continues a trend (from the tech awards) of playing standards.
Best Featured Actor in a Play: Roger Robinson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone! Barack Obama gets a mention in his speech—Could the Prez do something that, maybe, only James Darth Vader Earl Jones could also do: Fill the house for a substantial stretch of an August Wilson play? That would be nice.
Now that there's an intermission—oops, "commercial"— here's one of the tech awards:
Best Sound Design of a Musical: Paul Arditti of Billy Elliott.
We're back with an excerpt from Shrek. How many times will they say Fuckwad...I mean Farquaad? You know, admidst all the "size" jokes? I think we're up to 4. Hm. 5 now. And now here he is: Paul Lynde! Maybe 6? It's hard to count and blog at the same time!
Doogie mentions Obama, too. Another drinking game? And jokes: Barack of Ages, The Phantom of the Oprah, Obammammia!
Presenters Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini, who makes a self-deprecating Shrek joke. Crowd cheers suggest Lansbury.
Best Featured Actress in a Play: Yes, Angela Lansbury for Blithe Spirit. She's awesome. Standing O, well-deserved. Box office boost for Blithe Spirit? She congrats the other nominees, saying "It wasn't fair." I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and take that in the best possible sense!
Cutaway to Hathaway. And now on with the show. Touring talk. Oh no. Oh no. An excerpt from Mamma Mia! Break!
And now there's another "commercial"...so:
Best Sound Design of a Play: Gerald Clarke for Equus.
Doogie's back with a Smell-O-Vision joke. I was just joking about that the other day at Pure Confidence, a play about horseracing. Wouldn't onstage manure be great?? Anyway, good jokes about Doogie liking the scent of Mary Poppins [UPDATE A blog visitor seemed to want to figure this out. I think it's an "Of course a gay guy would like Mary Poppins" joke, but I welcome alternate intepretations.] but not wanting to scratch Billy Elliott [UPDATE Meaning he's a gay guy—not a pedarest!].
Play excerpt time: 33 Variations. I'm glad I mentioned this, just in case you blinked.
Now up: Will Ferrell, back from his TV talk show tour. Good Godot joke.
Best Book: Lee Hall for Billy Elliott.
Best Score: Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey for Next to Normal. The comment about keeping on going with creating a fresh musical, no matter what it takes refers to the famously long workshopping of the show. And these guys get played over by the orchestra. Ironic? Do the musicians have no respect??
Excerpt from West Side Story: The dance at the gym. Some of the best music ever on Broadway. Note the competing dance styles. I think Josefina Scaglione might have missed a note, but don't let that confuse you: She's got a genuinely pretty voice.
"Commercial time" again, so...
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Rick Fisher (no relation) for Billy Elliott.
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Brian MacDevitt for Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Tim Hatley for Shrek.
And here's Janet Weiss, joking about the two director noms for Matthew Warchus.
Best Direction of a Play: Matthew Warchus for God of Carnage. Great Warchus quip: "I was hoping for another tie, actually." It's sort of amazing that he got the prize for the short play, not the three-plays-in-one-play. He gives lots of praise for the playwright, Yasmina Reza. And he gives props to The Norman Conquests company.
Explanation of the "tie" remark:
Best Orchestration: TIE between Martin Koch for Billy Elliott and Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt for Next to Normal.
Best Direction of a Musical: Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliott. He made two lit adaptations for film that I admire—The Hours and The Reader—and coming up is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Rock of Ages. Break time...but wait! Joking with Liza! Freak machine remark! Funny! But now, it's back to Rock of Ages...so...break time!
Another "commercial," so...
Best Costume Design of a Play goes to Anthony Ward for Mary Stuart. It's a blend of Elizabethan garb and snappy modern suits for men. (Hm...is it Elizabethan garb for the women and the modern suits for the men? I think it is! Must muse over this....)
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Ian MacNeil for Billy Elliott.
And here's Judy Berlin, presenting
Best Special Theatrical Event: Liza Minnelli for Liza's at the Palace. And yes, I wrote that out before the award was announced. John Scher is talking, but we all want Liza, Liza, and more Liza! And here she is. Will the band dare to play over her???? Heh—now she's saying she didn't think she was gonna win? She gives shout outs to Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch of Monday night's Cast Party and Birdland. And she keeps talking. And finally the band starts playing as she thanks her parents and Kay Thompson (her godmother, if memory serves, and the "inspiration" for the show). But really, it's really something that the band was really really reluctant to play over Liza. Unless I'm grossly mistaken, that did not happen with songwriters Kitt and Yorkey.
Excerpt from God of Carnage. Really: With plays you can't afford to blink.
Excerpt from Guys and Dolls with cracklin' bad audio transmission. (Did someone just run on stage to replace the mic? It's hard to blog and supervise sound design at the same time!)
It's a "commercial," so...
Best Scenic Design of a Play goes to Derek McLane for 33 Variations—something Ellen will really appreciate!
Best Choreography goes to Peter Darling for Peter P...oops, Billy Elliott.
American Theatre Wing promotion.
John Stamos presents...
Best Featured Actor in a Musical is Gregory Jbarra for Billy Elliott He brings his wife onstage for his speech. And his wife is female!
Best Featured Actress in a Musical is Karen Olivo for West Side Story. I didn't realize she didn't win for In the Heights; otherwise I think I would have picked her in The BAT Challenge, just like Myra did.
Princess Leia introduces Next to Normal and mugs about it being about manic depression and its impact on a family. And Princess Leia should know a thing or two about that! Uh-oh—the mixing isn't flattering for this. Sound alert! Sound alert! Hey, don't judge this musical by this broadcast performance—expect something better on stage! Ah, and here comes Aaron again, heading for big things despite his Tony snub! Of course, if this were a play excerpt, it would've been over after 1 minute, tops—making a strong case for plays to include at least one song each. Also, by the way, I'm not sure Alice Ripley is coming across that well in this excerpt either—and she's really great in the show. Which might well be borne out by the upcoming Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.
Time for a "commercial" break. Time to ask: Where are the sushi jokes??
Ah—this segments starts with a sushi joke! L'chaim!!
And the segment also started with a number from a current musical (a revival, I think), but I already forgot which one. D'oh!
Jessica Lange is up. Oooo—audience applause suggests that it's Raul Esparza's night. And?
Best Leading Actor in a Play is Geoffrey Rush for Exit the King—as widely expected. He held up a little lightbulb and said something to the effect that it's great to be a little light among the many on Broadway. He's cracking wise about it being a good year for French existentialist absurdist drama on Broadway, Frenchifying the names of other plays this season. This qualifies him for the Julie White Award for Outstanding Acceptance Speech.
Awww. Hallie Foote gets to co-present her late father's play Dividing the Estate. Yeah, about a minute's worth of excerpt.
And here's Lilith, dressed for the Addams Family...and introducing the death roll! A little tacky?? Boo-hoo—bye-bye, Natasha Richardson! Other names include Harold Pinter, Gerald Schoenfeld, Estelle Getty, Dale Wasserman, Edie Adams, Horton Foote, James Whitmore, sydney Chaplin, Clive Barnes, Bea Arthur gets the big applause blast, Robert Silver, Robert Prosky, Pat Hingle, George Furth, Eartha Kitt (sob), Rodger McFarlane, Paul Sills, Paul Newman...and lights dim&at Radio City and Broadway Theaters. Nice touch, all to "What I Did For Love."
And how else would you follow a death role than with a "commercial" for Actonel?
Frank Langella jokes about being snubbed for A Man for All Seasons, which ran during the wrong part of the season. He brandishes the full-page ad pushing him for a nom. Best Leading Actress appplause-o-meter is very hard to read—and the same technique didn't work for Best Leading Actor....
Best Leading Actress in a Play is Marcia Gay Harden for God of Carnage, as widely expected. She thanks her husband—a man! And even thanks the plays translator!
Pay attention, now: Here comes a play excerpt for reasons to be pretty.... The quickie excerpt might remind you of a sitcom featuring Ray Romano...it's actually part of an outstanding, intense, dialogue.
Billy Elliott excerpt featuring a cameo from Elton John. Maybe Myra can explain the choice for Billy here. Anyway, tap is back! Or did it ever really go away? Oh wait: Could it be that all of the Billy Elliotts are in this one, subtly changing places with each other over the course of the routine? If so, amazing!
Time for an Advair breather...because what else could possibly follow Billy Elliott?
Gina Gershon says this is the highest grossing season in the history of the League. She introduces Legally Blonde. Break time!
And here's Harvey. Fierstein, not Weinstein. And not Lichtenstein.
Best Revival of a Face...I mean, a Play is The Norman Conquests. It's a really charming, worthwhile play/set of plays, but so far I have to say I favor Mary Stuart. Onstage is a huge mob of people connected to the six-character play. It's funny to see Amelia Bullmore sort of being in character as Ruth....
Best Play is God of Carnage. No surprise. Another shout-out to Yasmina Reza, also winner of Best Revival of an Accent. She also gives a nod to translator Christopher Hampton as well as director Warchus and her mother, who flew in for this.
And the medication of the moment is: Reclast!
Hmmmm. Familiar theme music? Angela Lansbury presenting? Yes, it's time for Jerry Herman time. What a crazy career Jerry's had. From Maim to Hello, Dalí to that kinky French women's prison S&M musical La Cage aux Femmes, Jerry's made his indelible mark on the Great White Way. But seriously, the use of "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" in Wall-E is an amazing moment redeeming a movie version of the song . But Holy Shit! The band played over him!
And here comes Anne Hathaway! Did you see her playing guitar on late night TV last week? Could it be a sign that she's readying herself for Promises, Promises? The Encores revival had a guitar-accompanied performance of "Never Fall in Love Again"....
Musical excerpt from Hair. The guys are messing with the audience. Have I mentioned that I ate sushi next to Wolf on Friday night? (At least that what Myra sez.) You know who else was at the resto? Jennifer Damiano from Next to Normal! (At least that's what Myra tells me.)
This telecast should be great for Hair.
And now here's Amy S...I mean, Kristin Chenoweth.
Best Revival of a Musical is Hair. Like I was saying.... Anyway, it's another mob scene on stage—just like Norman, but much hairier. Even without Norman's Stephen Mangan. Hey—shout out to the Public Theater. Yay!
Medication of the moment is...KIA???? Followed by Quilted Northern Ultra Plush...and Metamucil—nice pairing, people. Followed by Applebee's and the Palm Pre and Purex Complete 3-in-1 Sheets—someone ought to tell the folks from Next to Normal and Distracted about that!
News preview talks about pipe bombs in New Jersey. Perfect lead-in for the road show of Jersey Boys. Break time! But wait?
Niles is introducing...
Best Actress in a Musical is Alice Ripley for Next to Normal. OMG—she's hollering out a quotation of John F. Kennedy talking about art: I AM CERTAIN THAT AFTER THE DUST OF CENTURIES HAS PASSED OVER OUR CITIES, WE, TOO, WILL BE REMEMBERED NOT FOR VICTORIES OR DEFEATS IN BATTLE OR IN POLITICS, BUT FOR OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT. It's sort of like Rebecca Sealfon spelling E-U-O-N-Y-M. She gives thanks you and gets back to art. "Musical theater is a fine art, and so it needs constant tuning...constant adjusting." Yup, Next to Normal famously went through long workshopping.
Audra McDonald is presenting.
Best Actor in a Musical is/are those crazy kids from Billy Elliott. It's the first time a Tony acting award has been shared by three people—not sure it's the first time any Tony has been shared by three, as the announcer sez. Oh, they're a hit, looking sharp in their dark suits. Myra, feel free to help me tell them apart. They're all Billy to me. Should they/did they shout out to the other Billy Elliott(s)? Oh, they're good. Gotta get the video—more Julie White material here! Oh—shout out to Long Island. Hey, where's the band? They're going over.... Ah, there's the music. And you dancing kids out there? "Never give up!"
UPDATE Here's video.
And now it's Jersey Boys. Break time!
Did you know this was sponsored by Caduet and Cadillac? Break time!
Liza is back! And (surprisingly!!) she goes straight to the award with one minute to go!!!
Best Musical is Billy Elliott. And yes, I wrote that in advance. Another mob on stage—skewing even younger than Hair! Elton comes up and singles out Next to Normal for encouragement—nice. And then Liza gives Elton the ol' glittery hug and kiss.
11:03 number: A Tony-customized Tonight from Dr. Horrible. Or is it Dr. Howser? When was this written, I wonder? Very dirty joke about getting down on your knees to win a Golden Globe. Oh, this song is good. Golden. This really must be Dr. Horrible. Must get the video. And lyrics. Very naughty!
Okay...now for the news...and seeing how I did in The Bat Challenge!
UPDATE Here's video of the funny closing number. Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman get credit for the arrangement and lyrics. They're working on the musical Catch Me If You Can.