Liveblogging The Tonys [UPDATED with video]

Ken AshfordTheatreLeave a Comment

061008tonyaward A night at the theater on TV.  (My choices below are in yellow)…

8:10 — Things I would have changed about the opening number:

(1)  I would have made sure Elton's mike was on.
(2)  I would have given mikes to the cast of West Side Story
(3)  I would have taken Stockard Channing's mike away
(4)  I would have taken Liza's mike away, or at least turned it down a lot
(5)  I would have made sure the Billy Eliott kid didn't kill himself flying into the rafters
(6)  I would have taught Liza the lyrics to "Let The Sun Shine In", although — really — they're kind of quick to pick up.

Obviously, the opening number was a reflection of Old Broadway (e.g., Pal Joey) vs New Broadway (e.g., Rock of Ages).  New Broadway won.  Clearly.

8:20 — Neil is very at ease and charming.  But that's Neil.  I guess someone clocked themselves during the opening number.

Tony Injury Update  at 10:27 p.m. An update on Bret Michaels (from Poison): A spokeswoman for the Tonys tells The Associated Press that the singer “missed his mark” during the opening number. (No kidding.) She says he did not break his nose, but the extent of his injuries are not yet known.  Here's the video:

First award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

John Glover, Waiting for Godot
Zach Grenier, 33 Variations
Stephen Mangan, The Norman Conquests
Paul Ritter, The Norman Conquests
Roger Robinson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
And I'm wrong.  It's Robinson.  Would have liked to see Glover, but his part wasn't "featured" enough.
8:25Shrek number.  I guess it's good to get in early and out of the way.  Cuz it's a kid's musical and they have bedtime at 9.  Plus the performers just got in costume for the opening number, and they want to get out of them and enjoy the rest of the evening.

8:34 — And now Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Hallie Foote, Dividing the Estate
Jessica Hynes, The Norman Conquests
Marin Ireland, Reasons to Be Pretty
Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit
Amanda Root, The Norman Conquests

Yup, of course it's her.  Classy broad.

8:36 — Why are we watching a Mamma Mia number?  Isn't that , like, a decade ago?  Ooohhh, the moooovie.

8:45 — Didn't even televise Best Book of a Musical

Billy Elliot, The Musical
Lee Hall
Next to Normal
Brian Yorkey
Shrek The Musical
David Lindsay-Abaire
[Title of Show]
Hunter Bell

…but I got it right; it's Lee Hall.  Will Farrell (why?) announces Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Billy Elliot, The Musical
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Lee Hall
Next to Normal
Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey
9 to 5: The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton
Shrek The Musical
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire

Next to Normal.  Bit of surprise there…. but I am very happy that the one show that wasn't adapted for the stage from a movie won.

8:50 —  West Side Story number.  Good dancing.  Especially Prince.

9:00 — Ah, the directors.  Best Direction of a Play

Phyllida Lloyd, Mary Stuart
Bartlett Sher, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Matthew Warchus, God of Carnage
Matthew Warchus, The Norman Conquests

I had the right guy, but the wrong play.  Glad God of Carnage picked up (at least) one.

Best Direction of a Musical

Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Michael Greif, Next to Normal
Kristin Hanggi, Rock of Ages
Diane Paulus, Hair

Nope, it was Stephen Daldry.  I should have guessed.  He thanked the stage manager.  Nice touch.

And now the Rock of Ages number.  Wow, I'm kind of impressed.  Now "Don't Stop Believin'" is going to be in my head….

9:13 — And now….Best Special Theatrical Event

Liza's at The Palace
Producers: John Scher and Metropolitan Talent Presents, LLC; Jubilee Time Productions, LLC
Slava's Snowshow
Producers: David J. Foster, Jared Geller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Judith Marinoff Cohn, John Pinckard
Soul of Shaolin
Producers: Nederlander Worldwide Productions, LLC; Eastern Shanghai International Culture Film & Television Group; China on Broadway
You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush
Producer: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, Home Box Office Inc., Gary Sanchez Productions, Bat-Barry Productions, Ken Davenport, Ergo Entertainment, Ronald Frankel, Jon B. Platt, James D. Stern, The Weinstein Company, Tara Smith/b. Swibel, Dede Harris/Sharon Karmazin, Arny Granat

And Liza won of course.  Let's see how badly she embarasses herself.

Yup, pretty badly.  She does a really good Liza impersonation though.  Notice how she thanks "my" orchestra rather than "the" orchestra.  Thanks mommy and daddy too.  Whoever they were.

9:28 — They pushed these guys off to not-ready-for-prime-time:

Best Choreography

Karole Armitage, Hair
Andy Blankenbuehler, 9 to 5: The Musical
Peter Darling, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Randy Skinner, Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Best Orchestrations

Larry Blank, Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Martin Koch, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, Next to Normal
Danny Troob and John Clancy, Shrek The Musical

I got them right, except Martin Koch tied Best Orchestrations with the Next To Normal folks.

9:30 — Why is that the old Broadway revival shows have sucky mike problems?  I love "Sit Down You're Rockin The Boat".

Ah, a good category. Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

David Bologna, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Marc Kudisch, 9 to 5: The Musical
Christopher Sieber, Shrek The Musical
Will Swenson, Hair

Gregory Jbara.  Looks like a Billy Elliot blowout, as expected.  And now…Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

Jennifer Damiano, Next to Normal
Haydn Gwynne, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Karen Olivo, West Side Story
Martha Plimpton, Pal Joey
Carole Shelley, Billy Elliot, The Musical

Karen Olivo won.  Yeah, I heard she was good.  She was awesome in Into The Heights. Nice dress, too.
Next to Normal show number.  Wow.  Wow.  Good number.

9:45  And the big ones now…Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jeff Daniels, God of Carnage
Raúl Esparza, Speed-the-Plow
James Gandolfini, God of Carnage
Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
Thomas Sadoski, Reasons to Be Pretty

Geoffrey got it.  Funny speech.

In Memorium.  Always makes me want to shoot myself.  I guess that's why they shot this segment so that you couldn't actually tell who died.  Big ones though, including Natasha Richardson, Gerald Schoenfeld, Harold Pinter, Horton Foote, Eartha Kitt, Bea Arthur and Paul Newman.  I've always liked Robert Protsky, too.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Hope Davis, God of Carnage
Jane Fonda, 33 Variations
Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
Janet McTeer, Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart

Got it right.  She deserved it, too.

10:00  I really wish they would show longer scenes from the plays.

Anyway, they told us who won these awards.  They are calling them the "Creative Awards" because apparently, writing, acting and directing aren't creative.  Seriously, what a crock.  Give these guys their due by announcing their awards live, and letting them speak.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King
Rob Howell, The Norman Conquests
Derek McLane, 33 Variations
Michael Yeargan, Joe Turner's Come and Gone

Derek won.
Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Robert Brill, Guys and Dolls
Ian MacNeil, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Scott Pask, Pal Joey
Mark Wendland, Next to Normal

Ian won.

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King
Jane Greenwood, Waiting for Godot
Martin Pakledinaz, Blithe Spirit
Anthony Ward, Mary Stuart

Anthony won.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregory Gale, Rock of Ages
Nicky Gillibrand, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Tim Hatley, Shrek The Musical
Michael McDonald, Hair

Got it right.  Tim won.  (Sorry, Michael).

Best Lighting Design of a Play

David Hersey, Equus
David Lander, 33 Variations
Brian MacDevitt, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Hugh Vanstone, Mary Stuart

Got it right.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, Hair
Kevin Adams, Next to Normal
Howell Binkley, West Side Story
Rick Fisher, Billy Elliot, The Musical

Rick won.

Best Sound Design of a Play

Paul Arditti, Mary Stuart
Gregory Clarke, Equus
Russell Goldsmith, Exit the King
Scott Lehrer and Leon Rothenberg, Joe Turner's Come and Gone

Got it right.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Acme Sound Partners, Hair
Paul Arditti, Billy Elliot, The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rock of Ages
Brian Ronan, Next to Normal

Got it right.

10:12  Not sure how I feel about the Billy Eliott number.  I'm sure in the context of the show, it is a showstopper.  But taken out of context, it looks like a kid good running around, smashing into moving flats and going "Augh!" a lot.  Would be funnier if he went "D'oh!" each time instead.

Glad he didn't flip the bird, though.

10:14  "Highest grossest season on Broadway"?  Maybe due to ticket prices rather than audience attendance?

Yes, I know we have to show Legally Blonde in order to get non-theatre people to go to the theatre, but do we have toWith respect to this showcasing of already popular musicals, I think the NY Times liveblog said it best:

C.I. Really seems inappropriate and unnecessary to me. “Mamma Mia” does not need the exposure. But obviously the Tonys telecast is now becoming more a big advertisement than a chance to honor artists’ work.

D.I. It does seem a somewhat circular argument. “We need the show to focus on productions that home viewers wouldn’t otherwise see. So let’s emphasize the shows that everyone has already heard of.”

Harvey announces Best Revival of a Play

Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, Andre Bishop, Bernard Gersten
Mary Stuart
New Version: Peter Oswald
Producers: Arielle Tepper Madover, Debra Black, Neal Street Productions/Matthew Byam Shaw, Scott Delman, Barbara Whitman, Jean Doumanian/Ruth Hendel, David Binder/CarlWend Productions/Spring Sirkin, Daryl Roth/James L. Nederlander/Chase Mishkin, The Donmar Warehouse
The Norman Conquests
Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Dede Harris, Tulchin/Bartner/Lauren Doll, Jamie deRoy, Eric Falkenstein, Harriet Newman Leve, Probo Productions, Douglas G. Smith, Michael Filerman/Jennifer Manocherian, Richard Winkler, Dan Frishwasser, Pam Laudenslager/Remmel T. Dickinson, Jane Dubin/True Love Productions, Barbara Manocherian/Jennifer Isaacson, The Old Vic Theatre Company
Waiting for Godot
Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Elizabeth Ireland McCann

Not a surprise there.  Got it right.

Hmmmm.  They usually do this later, don't they? Best Play

Dividing the Estate
Author: Horton Foote
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, Bernard Gersten, Andre Bishop, Primary Stages
God of Carnage
Author: Yasmina Reza
Producers: Robert Fox, David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, Stuart Thompson, Scott Rudin, Jon B. Platt, The Weinstein Company, The Shubert Organization
Reasons to Be Pretty
Author: Neil LaBute
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, MCC Theater, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Ted Snowdon, Doug Nevin/Erica Lynn Schwartz, Ronald Frankel/Bat-Barry Productions, Kathleen Seidel, Kelpie Arts, LLC, Jam Theatricals, Rachel Helson/Heather Provost
33 Variations
Author: Moises Kaufman
Producers: David Binder, Ruth Hendel, Goldberg/Mills, Latitude Link, Arielle Tepper Madover, Bill Resnick, Eric Schnall, Jayne Baron Sherman, Wills/True Love Productions, Tectonic Theater Project, Greg Reiner, Dominick Balletta, Jeffrey

Yup.  Got it right.  Wow, I'm doing good tonight.

10:25  Tribute to Jerry Herman.  Zzzzzz.

10:35  The Hair showcase.  Nice.  A little tired of this show, but it looks like a good production.  And they're keeping their clothes on.

10:40  Kristen Chenowith steals my "keeping clothes on" joke.  And announced the winner for Best Revival of a Musical

Guys and Dolls
Producers: Howard Panter and Ambassador Theatre Group, Tulchin/Bartner, Bill Kenwright, Northwater Entertainment, Darren Bagert, Tom Gregory, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., David Mirvish, Michael Jenkins/Dallas Summer Musicals, Independent Presenters Network, Olympus Theatricals, Sonia Friedman Productions
Producers: The Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, Andrew D. Hamingson, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Kathleen K. Johnson, Nederlander Productions, Inc., Fran Kirmser Productions/Jed Bernstein, Marc Frankel, Broadway Across America, Barbara Manocherian/Wencarlar Productions, JK Productions/Terry Schnuck, Andy Sandberg, Jam Theatricals, The Weinstein Company/Norton Herrick, Jujamcyn Theaters, Joey Parnes, Elizabeth Ireland McCann
Pal Joey
Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Marc Platt
West Side Story
Producers: Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, Jeffrey Seller, Terry Allen Kramer, Sander Jacobs, Roy Furman/Jill Furman Willis, Freddy DeMann, Robyn Goodman/Walt Grossman, Hal Luftig, Roy Miller, The Weinstein Company, Broadway Across America

As I predicted, Hair wins…. and the Hippies go wild.  Excuse me, the "Tribe".

Nice not-so-subtle shout-out to gay marriage.

10:46 Cute intro of David Hyde Pierce by NPH ("coming out for the second time this month")… and David does Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Stockard Channing, Pal Joey
Sutton Foster, Shrek The Musical
Allison Janney, 9 to 5: The Musical
Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
Josefina Scaglione, West Side Story

Alice Ripley gives a passionate but waaaay-too-dramatic speech.  I get her point, but DOES SHE HAVE TO YELL?  Who the fuck is she MAD at?

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish ‚ Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gavin Creel, Hair
Brian d'Arcy James, Shrek The Musical
Constantine Maroulis, Rock of Ages
J. Robert Spencer, Next to Normal

Oh, man, it's the Billy Elliot kids.  So here's the question…. which one of the three was the best?  Or were they all three better than each of the other nominees?  What a cheap gimmick.

And you would think they would have prepared a speech.

Okay, that was funny and cute, even if it was a gimmick.

Jersey Boys.  Again, why?  I'm enjoying it though.

10:59  And with one minute left, Liza hurriedly gives the award for Best Musical

Billy Elliot, The Musical
Producers: Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films, Old Vic Productions, Weinstein Live Entertainment
Next to Normal
Producers: David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Second Stage Theatre, Carole Rothman, Ellen Richard
Rock of Ages
Producers: Matthew Weaver, Carl Levin, Jeff Davis, Barry Habib, Scott Prisand, Relativity Media, Corner Store Fund, Janet Billig Rich, Hillary Weaver, Toni Habib, Paula Davis, Simon and Stefany Bergson/Jennifer Maloney, Charles Rolecek, Susanne Brook, Israel Wolfson, Sara Katz/Jayson Raitt, Max Gottlieb/John Butler, David Kaufman/Jay Franks, Mike Wittlin, Prospect Pictures, Laura Smith/Bill Bodnar, Happy Walters, Michele Caro, The Araca Group
Shrek The Musical
Producers: Dreamworks Theatricals, Neal Street Productions

And it's Billy Elliot of course.

That's 15 right by my count.

NPH is doing a cute closing number.  Very funny.  In fact, the best part of the entire ceremony.
UPDATE: NPH's closing number lyrics:

[to "Tonight"]

Tonight, tonight
The Tonys were tonight
And Elton's Billy was all the rage
What class, what drive
Now Angela won five
And she hooked up with Poison backstage

With heels as sore as poor Achilles
Three tutu-wearing Billys
Were such a winning sight

Tonight, all three
Won Tony plus they hit puberty

[to "Luck be a Lady Tonight"]

And Geoffrey won a Tony tonight
Karen won a Tony tonight
Liza at the Palace
Mr. Ripley's daughter Alice
They all won a Tony tonight

Credits! That's not going to stop me!

[to "Tonight"]

Chris Sieber – please!
Performing on your knees?
Dude, that only works
To win Golden Globes

I hope, tonight,
When they're high as a kite
To be there when the Hair cast disrobes

This show
Could not be any gayer
If Liza was named mayor
And Elton John took flight

The curtain falls
I'm off to hit some big Tony balls