Tony Awards 2011 Live-Blog
If it's Sunday night, I've gotta be live-blogging something.
Last week? That awful MTV thing.Â
This week? The Tony Awards. I haven't seen any of this year's nominated shows, but I like the Tonys, because I enjoy going to the theater and in my Sideways reality, I live in New York City and I've seen everything.Â
So click through for a live-blog of Neil Patrick Harris and an evening-long coronation for "The Book of Mormon."
8:00 p.m. "I'm teen heartthrob Neil Patrick Harris," he observes, starting the show. He launches into song. "Broadway has never been broader... It's not just for gays anymore" he sings, welcoming "any breeder." "We're asking every hetero to get to know us better-o," he reassures us. It's all about trading your Playboy for Playbill.
8:02 p.m. Whew. Broadway's also for Jews and people with relatives in from out of town.
8:03 p.m. Time to head into the testosterone-filled crowed.Â "Angela Lansbury. You're super-straight. Are those things real."
8:03 p.m. OMG. Did Neil Patrick Harris just out Joe Mantello? [A. That was a joke. B. Nobody in America who knows who Joe Mantello is.]
8:04 p.m. Brooke Shields joins in for a verse, but messes up twice before pulling out her lyrics.Â "Nice. It was worth it. Totally improvised," NPH cracks.
8:05 p.m. Bobby Cannavale is the first performer of the night to get bleeps. Congrats, "Cupid" star. One of the people amused is CBS' "A Gifted Man" star Patrick Wilson.
8:05 p.m. Heh.Â "Come in and be inspired, there's no sodomy required."
8:06 p.m. The crowd loves the musical number, including former Tony and Oscar host Hugh Jackman. It was a great intro and funnier than anything Neil Patrick Harris did all season long on "How I Met Your Mother."
8:07 p.m. Alec Baldwin is our first presenter tonight. He's presenting to Actress in a Featured Role in a play. Ellen Barkin and Edie Falco and Judith Light lead what is actually the evening's most star-studded category. The winner is... Ellen Barkin for "The Normal Heart." This was Ellen Barkin's Broadway debut. Nice. "Thank you for the way you've embraced me and welcomed me into your community," she says. She thanks Larry Kramer, who wrote the play and all of the usual suspects.
8:11 p.m. Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick are a nice "How to Succeed" pairing. Have I told you the story of how my freshman dorm floor got tickets to see Matthew Broderick in "How to Succeed," but he took time off and we ended up seeing John Stamos in the lead role? The best analogy I can make here is like it was paying to see multiple Tony winner Matthew Broderick do something and having to watch "Full House" star John Stamos do it instead.
8:13 p.m. It's Harry Potter singing "Brotherhood of Man" from "How to Succeed." Daniel Radcliffe's vocal limitations are pretty obvious, but he's trying hard, which makes the whole performance very endearing. The same can also be said of his dancing. You've gotta admire a young actor so eager to expand his horizons. I also quite like "How to Succeed." Sideways Dan definitely saw that one and probably sang along.
8:20 p.m. Like most Tony viewers, I'm also watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the same time.Â
8:22 p.m. "I just had to stop Daniel Radcliffe from poking out the War Horse's eyes," NPH says, referring to the madness backstage.
8:23 p.m. John Leguizamo is doing what I assume to be material from "Ghetto Klown." Hmmm... I haven't seen this particular show, but I've seen other John Leguizamo shows, so that's close, right? Someday, somebody will find a vehicle for John Leguizamo that utilizes him as well as he utilizes himself in his one-man shows. Though time may be running out. Employ this man better, Hollywood.
8:27 p.m. Speaking of people who always need to be used better by Hollywood... Viola Davis is presenting Featured Actor in a Play. Actually, there are some familiar people in this category as well, including Billy Crudup. The winner is... John Benjamin Hickey. That's our second straight win for "The Normal Heart." And I'm sure this'll give a huge boost to Showtime's "The Big C." Heh. That was another little joke. Showtime doesn't care if anybody watches Showtime shows. Unless it's "The United States of Tara." In that case? Cancelled!Â
8:30 p.m. Yay! Hickey makes the night's first (and last?) reference to the NBA Finals game. It's good that he's doing this, because with his name, he was either going to be a Tony-winning Broadway star, or a serial killer.
8:30 p.m. I haven't seen "Catch Me If You Can" on Broadway, but I've seen the movie. See? I'm trying here! Aaron Tveit is playing the Leonardo DiCaprio role and as Tom Hanks, it's Norbert Leo Butz. I know the Tonys seem like a ridiculously long show, but they're also so much more entertainment-filled than the Emmys or the Oscars. Only the Grammys can compete with the Tonys when it comes to stuffing three hours with entertainment.Â
8:40 p.m. "Spider-Man" humor time. NPH gives himself 30 seconds to make "Spider-Man" jokes. "No audience members were harmed in the making of this musical... Yet." Bono and The Edge don't look particularly amused. Until it ends. NPH got out six jokes in 30 seconds, but he can't quit.Â "I sent Bono a congratulatory cable, but it snapped." This one makes Bono laugh. A little.
8:42 p.m. David Hyde Pierce is presenting Best Direction of a Musical. Your winner... Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker for "The Book of Mormon." Trey Parker lets his less "South Park"-y collaborator take the mic first. But Trey's sparkly black shirt is upstaging the effusive Nicholaw. "I really want to thank 'South Park' fans, if it weren't for you guys, we wouldn't be here," Parker says.
8:44 p.m. Right into Best Direction of a Play. The Tony goes to... Marianne Elliott and Tom MorrisÂ for "War Horse." This is a play I've actually missed seeing a couple times now in London. So missing "War Horse" is on me and I can't blame anybody else. That's sad. I like blaming people. Elliott and Morris get played off the stage rather aggressively.Â
8:47 p.m. Tonight is all about Showtime stars. Here's Don Cheadle, star of the upcoming "House of Lies." He's introducing a number from "The Scottsboro Boys." There's a bit less flash than in the "How to Succeed" and "Catch Me If You Can," but there's a lot of vocal talent on display.
8:52 p.m. They're saying that the "Book of Mormon" performance is "next." There's no way they're going to put the big-ticket performance this early in the show, is there?
8:56 p.m. The Theater Wing is about more than just the Tony Awards. And I'm more interested in the bench-clearing brawl in the NBA Finals game.
8:58 p.m. Harry Connick Jr. comes to present the award for Featured Actress in a Music. Is Harry a little... ummm... drunk? He can't get anything out. Nikki M. JamesÂ is your winner for "The Book of Mormon." "Tony come on over and live with me," she says. She's endearingly frazzled, a nice contrast to the incoherently frazzled Connick. "They're saying 'Wrap it up,' but I will not leave this stage," James declares, trying to make sure that she gets everything out. She ends with a rather beautiful story about bumblebees that her mother told her. Awww. This is another reason to love the Tonys. By the time anybody wins an Emmy or Oscar or Grammy, they've won a dozen awards on national TV previously. Yes, there are awards leading up to the Tonys, but they aren't shown on CBS in primetime. So you can get performers who are truly and unaffectedly giddy at this platform.
9:02 p.m. I was wrong. We are, indeed, getting the performance from "The Book of Mormon." Shows usually pick big ensemble numbers for this platform, but this is all Andrew Rannells and he's rather tremendous in this moment. Most of the buzz I'd heard from people was about Josh Gad's performance in "Mormon," but Rannells is, of course, also a nominee tonight.Â
9:13 p.m. NPH welcomes Hugh Jackman who says, "For a guy in sitcoms, really nice." They get into a pissing match about the number of times they've each hosted and the number of times they've won Emmys for hosting. "What I'm saying any show you can host, I can host better than you," Hugh says, leading into a musical showdown. It's not just "Annie Get Your Gun," but it does include a "Viva Laughlin" joke and the two hosts dancing to a "Chorus Line" musical sting. It turns out that Hugh Jackman knows how to get better gift bags and even NPH is impressed. Gotta say: NPH is great at this, but seeing him next to Jackman isn't really fair.Â
9:17 p.m. "That was tough. Now I know why you're all six-pack-y," NPH says as the number end.
9:18 p.m. Brooke Shields has to make excuses for her opening-number flub. It's a bit pathetic and she swears in the bargain. You goofed, "Suddenly Susan." Deal with it and move on. She's got Featured Actor in a Musical. Your winner?Â John Larroquette for "How to Succeed."Â How could this possibly have been his Broadway debut. He thanks Harry Potter and a bunch of other people.
9:20 p.m. Bono and The Edge are up next. "We used to be famous for being in U2," Bono cracks. They joke about how they weren't nominated because they missed deadlines, with The Edge observing,Â "In rock and roll, deadlines are just the lies your manage tells you to get you back on the bus." Hilariously, Bono has now realized that every musical that makes it to the stage is "a procession of miracles." The two rock stars have come out to be humble about their much-mocked show.
9:23 p.m. It may not have been eligible and its composers may have just spent three minutes apologizing for it, but "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" is still the biggest show in town (in its own way), so they get to do a number. Just like on "American Idol." This is a much less exciting number than the one they did on "Idol." But nobody dies. So it's still a win.
9:32 p.m. Jim Parsons is making his Broadway debut this year and he also stars in a CBS sitcom, so he's a slam-dunk presenter tonight. He's introducing this year's approach to the never-ending challenge of how to handle the Best Play nominees. With the musical nominees, you can show a scene and that excites the crowd. Some years, they've done a scene from the plays. This year, stars from the show are explaining what their shows are about. This is *not* a good way of doing this, no offense to Tate Donovan and the legendary Mark Rylance. Yeah. That did almost nothing to help me want to see those two plays.
9:35 p.m. Wow. That's quite the the beard Robin Williams is rocking. "This is an incredible room. The only beard here is on my face," Williams observes. He came to Broadway this year trying to complete his EGOT. He didn't even get a nomination. But at least he gets to present the award for Best Book for a Musical. The winner... duh... is... "The Book of Mormon." Matt Stone speaks on the behalf of Trey Parker and Robert Lopez and also thanks "South Park" fans.Â
9:38 p.m. And speaking of EGOT... It's Whoopi! She's here because the final nominee for Best Musical is "Sister Act." As Whoopi correctly notes, between "Sister Act," "The Lion King" and "The Color Purple," she's pretty much the master of movies-that-become-musicals. Yeah, this is the first musical we've seen tonight that I probably wouldn't be eager to see. Well, maybe I'd see it for Patina Miller, but I certainly wouldn't see a second or third tier cast do this.
9:46 p.m. More actors telling me what their plays are about. Please, let's not repeat this format next year? It's making the worse of a tough situation. But I'd really love to see "The Mother... with the Hat."Â
9:48 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage riding on the War Horse. That's a little cool. Even Hugh Jackman is impressed. "Ironically that entire horse is held together by glue," NPH observes wryly. Well played.
9:49 p.m. Patrick Wilson, another Broadway favorite and CBS star, presents Best Revival of a Play. But wait. Is the "Arcadia" revival that came to Broadway the same production that played in London last year only with a different cast? Because I SAW THAT! And kinda loved it. The winner is... "The Normal Heart." Suck it, Shakespeare. Produce Daryl Roth accepts. Because I'm judgmental, I'd have assumed that "Daryl" was a man's name, but Daryl is a woman. See? Even without seeing "The Normal Heart," it's challenging my expectations and my preconceived notions.Â
9:53 p.m. Apparently "Memphis" won the Tony for Best Musical last year. Somehow I missed that entirely. But here's my chance to watch one song from it. They're dancing in the aisles and the stars are clapping politely in their seats. Chris Rock has that "I know the director's gonna be looking for the highest profile African-American in the house, so I'm really enjoying this!" expression.
10:01 p.m. Is anybody else slightly surprised that the name "Tracy Morgan" hasn't been mentioned tonight? I kinda am.
10:02 p.m. Samuel L. Jackson is playing Martin Luther King Jr. on Broadway? Do I need to get into the whole "Samuel L. Jackson is kinda old" thing? Oh well. Not for me to quibble. I'd pay money to see it. Or is his age part of the gimmick? [No. It's not.]Â The winner for Best Play is... "War Horse."Â
10:05 p.m. Hi, Joel Grey. He's presenting the number from "Anything Goes." Because I'm an old school musical guy, I'm required to observe: Now *this* is a musical. And this is a production number. I mean... COME ON. In 50 years, they'll still be doing "Anything Goes." In 100 years, they'll still be doing "Anything Goes." In 200 years, our alien overlords will be doing All-Alien productions of "Anything Goes."Â
10:16 p.m. Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones are kinda a big deal. They get a standing ovation. As well they should. "Theaters are shrines," Darth Vader observes. Vanessa Redgrave's got a pretty good reading voice herself, but it's hard for her to follow Mr. Jones. They're presenting... A clip package from recent Broadway shows. It's a clip package that focuses fairly heavily on Broadway's A-list stars. It's impressive mostly for showing how many movie and TV stars figured they were locks to get Tony nominations, but didn't.
10:20 p.m. Christie Brinkley looks phenomenal. I would not want to see her do "Chicago."
10:20 p.m. It's the cast of the recent "Company" showcase, a group that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Martha Plimpton, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Christina Hendricks and a slew of other familiar faces. And yes, this yields another of those, "This is what a musical sounds like" moments.
10:24 p.m. Another "Frasier" star. It's Kelsey Grammer, presenting Best Revival of a Musical. The winner is... Â "Anything Goes."Â Producer Todd Haimes looks like either a Jewish Harry Truman or a character in a period musical. He doesn't sing his acceptance speech.
10:26 p.m. Tyne Daly is presenting the Tonys Necrology, beginning with notice to Arthur Laurents. This is not one of those award shows that has decided to mute the audience reaction to different stars. It's also a show that notes costume designers, stage managers, writers, producers and theater company producers as well as the big-name stars. Joseph Stein ends the tribute...
10:31 p.m. I don't wanna get anybody worried, the show only has 30 minutes remaining and there are still a ton of big awards that have to be presented, specifically all the lead acting prizes and the "Book of Mormon" win for Best Musical.
10:35 p.m. It'd been a while since we saw Harry Potter. He's presenting Lead Actress in a Play and he's reading very quickly. Somebody told him that time was tight. The winner is... Frances McDormand, who kisses whichever Coen Brother she's married to. This is her first Tony. Interestingly, McDormand has only been nominated for one Emmy. Time to get a Showtime comedy. Rhetorical question: Does anybody remember the last person to accept a major award in a blue jean jacket?
10:38 p.m. No time to pause. Lead Actress in a Musical. The winner is... Sutton Foster. This is her second Tony and based on that scene from "Anything Goes" that we just saw, I understand what she's doing up there. She runs through a long list of teachers and directors and mentors. She closes with a passionate tribute to her dresser, who's leaving her after seven years to go to Cape Cod to become an artist.
10:42 p.m. Remember that thing about "It's Not Just For Gays Anymore"? Well, "It's Raining Men."
10:43 p.m. If you'll excuse me, I'm muting this to go watch LeBron James cry.
10:50 p.m. Catherine Zeta-Jones won a Tony last year. I'd forgotten that. She's a stunning woman. I had not forgotten that. She gets to race through the two Best Actor fields.
10:51 p.m. Best Actor in a Play goes to... Mark Rylance. He gives a marvelous speech about walking through walls. It's loopy and funny and I'm sure it's metaphorical. That was utterly fantastic and I couldn't have transcribed it if I'd wanted to. [Note: It appears to have been a Louis Jenkins prose-poem that Rylance was reading. And he appears to have done the same thing when he won his first Tony in 2008.]
10:53 p.m. Best Actor in a Musical goes to... Norbert Leo ButzÂ for "Catch Me If You Can." This is only his second Tony? I'd have guessed his third or fourth. "This award doesn't mean that I'm the best at anything, but it does mean that I'm the most grateful man in the room tonight," he says. Butz thanks many, many people. He doesn't thank any of his "Catch Me If You Can" co-stars. Make of that what you will.
10:59 p.m. Chris Rock doesn't seem at all bitter to have missed the Mavericks and Heat for this. "Come on. We know what the Best Musical is. This is such a waste of time. It's like taking a hooker to dinner," Rock says. The winner, of course, is... "The Book of Mormon."Â Trey Parker ends by thanking Joseph Smith.
11:02 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris ends with a freestyle recap of the entire show. It's fantastic. I'm smelling another Emmy for NPH. But not for "How I Met Your Mother."Â
It's been fun watching The Tonys with you...