The Broadway cast of "Kinky Boots"
Credit: AP Photo/The O+M Company, Matthew Murphy
Greets, salutations and welcome to theater's big night! Or... theatre's big night. I spell it that way, because I've actually been to London more times than New York in the past year and seen more West End theatre than Broadway theater. The only Broadway show I caught this year, in fact, was "The Heiress," which was supposed to be a big Tonys contender, but... wasn't.
So I don't have a clue what deserves to win at Sunday (June 9) night's Tony Awards
You can think of this live-blog, then, as a chance to chatter along below, but if you aren't watching the show live, it'll let you know when you want to skip around to catch highlights like the reported duet between Neil Patrick Harris
and Andrew Rannells, or when the cast of "Bombshell" is going to perform.
It's a public service or something for those of you who are watching the "Game of Thrones" finale or a new episode of "Mad Men"...
8:00 p.m. ET. We begin with a "Once" parody and a Shia Labeouf joke as NPH pops up on a guitar playing at a bar. "Let's make it bigger/tonight it's bigger," NPH sings, promising a "legendary" show, winking at the "How I Met Your Mother" joke. "You can bounce a quarter off the ass of Billy Porter," NPH sings about the nominated "Kinky Boots" star. A quick change welcomes the casts of "Bring It On" and "Pippin." Enter... MIKE TYSON, who had a one-man show this season. Mike Tyson, by the way, cannot sing or dance. The loudest applause goes to the kids from "Matilda" and then the cast of "Annie." "Is there a Tony daycare where you all go?" NPH sings, before making a quick Doogie Howser reference. A magic trick and NPH disappears and appears out in the crowd with some dancers from "Newsies." Wow. That was just like in "The Prestige." "Can I have my Tom Hooper 'Les Mis' close-up, please," NPH kids. "See, on Broadway, we don't need extreme close-ups to prove we're singing live." The crowd loves this. This is a very, very, wordy song and NPH is doing it impressive justice. He won't get his Emmy nomination for this until next year, but don't worry... he'll get it. "Welcome to our bigger, better, best of Broadway Tony show," NPH closes, earning an enthusiastic standing ovation.
8:07 p.m. ET. Spit out your gum, Cyndi Lauper.
8:08 p.m. "Well, that's our budget. Good night," NPH says.
8:09 p.m. Our first presenters, after the longest round of applause I've ever heard on an award show, are perpetual winner Audra McDonald and Zachary Quinto. "That's the definition of a tough act to follow," Quinto says. They're presenting Best Featured Actor in a Play. Your winner? Courtney B. Vance for "Lucky Guy." He's been nominated several times previously, but this is his first win. "What? Thank you very much," Vance says. He thanks his wife, Angela Bassett, you you may have heard of. He thanks George C. Wolfe three times. "Mommy, this one's for you," he closes. "Which way do I go," he asks. In the audience, Vance's co-star Tom Hanks and his mustache are clearly moved.
8:11 p.m. Characters from running musicals are making introductions. The cast and stars of "Newsies," in character, are presenting a number from "Matilda: The Musical," which I've never been able to get tickets for in London.
8:13 p.m. Awww... British ragamuffins. Spirited British ragamuffins. It's Roald Dahl's "The Wall." Or something. The first song, "Revolting Children," is terrific. It leads into "When I Grow Up," which features lots of scooter choreography. I can see why this is crowd-pleasing fun. And we get all four Matildas centerstage. Fun.
8:20 p.m. NPH has changed again. He suggests "playsicals," a combination of plays and musicals to bring everybody together. That means its time for Doogie's annual mash-ups joke. "They're rarely funny, but I enjoy them." Examples: "The Elephant Man of La Mancha," "42nd Streetcar Named Desire," "Children of a Lesser Godspell" (he "signs" that one), "Cats on a Hot Tin Roof" (Les Moonves likes that one), "The Testament of Mary Poppins," "A Midsummer Night's Dreamgirls," "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein: The Musical" -- "Too soon? Justin Bieber would love that show" -- "Cabaraisin in the Sun" and "Bring It On Golden Pond." The audience loved ALL of them. Viewers at home may chuckle.
8:23 p.m. Tom Hanks is our next presenter. I think he has a cold, but he's in good spirits. He's presenting Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. This category includes Judith Ivey, the only only nominee I've actually SEEN. Yeah. Tom Hanks is definitely sick. Stuffed up. Sore throat. They'd better give him a Tony later to thank him for showing up. The winner is... Judith Light for "The Assembled Parties." This is the second Tony in a row for the "Who's The Boss" star. She's a freaking juggernaut. "Oh my. There are so many of you," she says. She thanks her fellow nominees, saying this was a celebration not a competition. She doesn't thank Tony Danza. Again.
8:26 p.m. From "Chicago," it's Velma Kelly. She's fictional, but she's presenting the cast of "Bring It On: The Musical."
8:27 p.m. I have zero idea what this has to do with "Bring It On." The performed number is "It's All Happening" and it's properly energetic, but... yeah. I don't know what this has to do with anything. I like the rapped bridge more than the real song.
8:33 p.m. I'm astounded we've made it this far without a "Smash"/"Bombshell"/"HitList" joke. I wonder if CBS doesn't want the show referencing a dud from another network? Or if they're unhappy with how "Smash" depicted them? Or if nobody cares...
8:36 p.m. Mufasa from "The Lion King" is on-hand. He's just around. Whatever.
8:38 p.m. Mike Tyson just gave three of the four Matildas face tattoos," jests NPH.
8:38 p.m. Tony winner Scarlett Johansson and Alan Cumming are presenting Featured Actor in a Musical. The winner is... Gabriel Ebert in "Matilda." He's tall and the microphone refuses to rise to his height. This produces a weird and funny piece of on-stage squatting. "I'm so honored and humbled and grateful and slightly freaked out," he says.
8:40 p.m. Two characters from "Rock of Ages" intro songs from "Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella." They're not even trying to match introducing characters with the shows they're presenting. At least it would have made sense to have Mufasa lead into his fellow Disney-ish production. Unless there are things about "Rock of Ages" that I don't know about.
8:49 p.m. I don't want to see "Despicable Me 2," but I kinda want an all-minion musical to open on Broadway. Singing, dancing minions! I wouldn't see that either, but kids would love it.
8:50 p.m. It's Guy and Girl from "Once," but it's not the Girl who is also The Mother. "Kinky Boots" won for Sound Design in a Musical, while "The Nance" won for Sound Design in a Play. "You haven't lived til you've seen Mike Tyson in a pair of 'Kinky Boots,'" NPH jokes. Running jokes about a convicted rapist! That's so Broadway!
8:52 p.m. Oliver Platt is the Spirit of Comedy, while Liam Neeson is The Spirit of Tragedy.
8:53 p.m. Jon Cryer and Martha Plimpton are presenting. Plimpton says it's an honor to be nominated. "I believe it's an honor just to be miscast," Cryer says. Sigh. I don't get the joke. But I'll Google at the break. The winner for Director of a Musical is... Diane Paulus for "Pippin." I directed a production of "Pippin" once. I won nothing for it and deserved every honor. You don't care. She thanks the Boston audiences that embraced the production when it was just starting. My parents saw there. You don't care. She thanks her family.
8:56 p.m. Plimpton and Cryer are sticking around for Best Director for a Play. "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" gets the loudest applause each time it's nominated for anything. I wonder if it has the room
Pam MacKinnon wins for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "Vegas got this one wrong," MacKinnon says. This is the second straight winning production that got its start out of town, this one in Chicago. "
8:59 p.m. The cast of "Jersey Boys" introduces a different period jukebox production, "Motown: The Musical." Is it just me or are the band and the performers on entirely different pages when it comes to the speed of this medley?
9:03 p.m. Everybody has left to go watch "Game of Thrones." I'm talking about my readership, not the Tonys audience. They're missing The Fake Jackson Five. Fake Michael Jackson is no Michael Jackson, sadly.
9:09 p.m. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski are on-hand to praise each other. "We look like the top of a straight wedding case," she says. "A fabulous straight wedding cake," he counters. Sigh. They're presenting Best Score Written For The Theater. The loudest applause goes to Cyndi Lauper by a wide margin. The winner is... "Girl you're gonna have fun tonight!" Ferguson cheers. It's Cyndi Lauper for "Kinky Boots." Nice. "I've gotta thank my mom for sharing all of that wonderful music," Lauper says. "I wanna thank Broadway for welcoming me. I understand how hard you work and I've never been a stranger to hard work, but your hard work amazes [inspires?] me," she says.
9:13 p.m. And yes, that leaves Lauper the E and the
A O shy of EGOT. Time to make a "Kinky Boots: The Musical: The Movie."
9:14 p.m. That's a lot of Spider-Men. See? This makes sense. They're presenting a musical based on a different comic strip character... It's "Annie." More ragamuffins, American ragamuffins this time. We may need an Annie versus Matilda street fight. Oh right. I forgot that Jane Lynch is doing Miss Hannigan on Broadway now. I can buy this. It's pretty much as perfect a piece of casting as one could hope for.
9:21 p.m. Oh right! Cyndi Lauper won an Emmy for "Mad About You." Wow. "Mad About You." Anyway... She only needs the Oscar. And that's the easy one.
9:23 p.m. The stars of "Newsies" tell us that Jerry Mitchell won the choreography Tony for "Kinky Boots."
9:24 p.m. Andrew Rannells joins Neil Patrick Harris, who jokes about Rannells leaving Broadway to go to LA to do a TV show that was quickly canceled. Rannells notes that he's also on "Girls," which hasn't been canceled. Rannells launches into "I Like To Be on a TV Show," set to the tune of "America." They're joined by Megan Hilty... Yay, oblique "Smash" reference." And it's Laura Benanti, canceled on both "Playboy Club" and "Go On." "Television sucks," Benanti sings to the tune of "Ladies Who Lunch." Wow. Will Chase and another "Smash" reference! See? We can make "Smash" references. "We can't all have long-running hit TV shows like my own," Harris jokes. Megan steals the number with her verse from "What We Did For Love." That was a very nice tribute to TV wasting Broadway stars. "Coming to a dinner theater near you," Harris says as they leave.
9:29 p.m. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Anna Kendrick are presenting Featured Actress in a Musical, or they will be once Cuba puts his ego aside and wears his glasses. The winner is... Andrea Martin for "Pippin." This is her second win. She puts her trophy down. Cuba steals it. I like "Pippin" a ton as a show. I'm looking forward to seeing the number from it here tonight. Martin gets through a tremendous number of "Thank yous" before she gets played off. It's a great performance of a speech.
9:33 p.m. Steven Van Zandt makes a "Sopranos" joke, saying how nice it is to be back on TV on a Sunday night. He's introducing a tribute to clips.
9:36 p.m. Les Moonves again.
9:40 p.m. Jesse Eisenberg is a playwright. Now you know. He's setting up clips from the year's nominated plays. I hate this process. We get full musical numbers either live or semi-live, but when it comes to plays, we get 15 seconds on tape. I understand completely why they have to do this. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
9:43 p.m. The Best Play winner is... "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" Interesting. As I noted earlier, it was obvious there was a ton of affection in the room for this one. It's also odd that we just gave out Best Play with a solid 1:15 remaining in this show. Christopher Durang takes the stage and talks about how he wrote his first play in second grade. He gives a shout-out to not-for-profit theaters. Oh come on. Don't play Christopher Durang off the stage, especially when he's talking about his deceased mother.
9:47 p.m. Awww. NPH and Sandy from "Annie" are on-stage for some quality licking. "You do know I'm in a relationship, right?" he asks Sandy. They're presenting a number from "A Christmas Story: The Musical." And yes, the kids from "A Christmas Story" can join that "Annie"/"Matilda" rumble. I'm that person who doesn't like "A Christmas Story" as a musical -- getting your tongue stuck to frozen metal is NO LAUGHING MATTER -- but this looks fun. I mean... Tap-dancing tykes!
9:52 p.m. It's pretty much the Golden Age of Singing & Dancing Kids on Broadway, isn't it? Stage Moms, if your kid can't get into a Broadway company these days with all of these options, it's really just time to give up.
9:56 p.m. "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." trailer! And yes, I've got the NBA Finals on in the background.
9:57 p.m. NPH comes out on stage texting and David Hyde Pierce interrupts, throws the phone to the floor and jumps all over it. Well... OK.
9:57 p.m. Simba, now. He makes a tenuous connection between "The Lion King" and "Pippin." I'd quibble, but I'd rather sing along to "Corner of the Sky." The circus backdrop to this production makes sense to me. I'd definitely try to get tickets for this one if I find myself junketing in NYC any time soon.
10:02 p.m. Michael Bloomberg and Sigourney Weaver are an odd couple. "I'm a triple threat, literally," Bloomberg says of his inability to sing, dance or act. They're presenting Best Revival of a Play. The audience favorite and winner is... "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." Duh. Even I could have predicted that one. Several thousand people make their way to the stage as there's a microphone failure.
10:10 p.m. Annie and Daddy Warbucks tell us that Dennis Kelly won Best Book for "Matilda." Leaping lizards!
10:11 p.m. Hal Prince has won 21 Tonys. For that, you get a standing ovation at the Tony Awards any time you show up. That seems completely fair.
10:12 p.m. Holy crud, that block by LeBron James.
10:13 p.m. Ah, "Phantom of the Opera." Pandering.
10:17 p.m. "In the fog on his hands and knees? Mike Tyson, pulling the boat with his teeth," says NPH, who has correctly decided that Mike Tyson is his Jack Palance.
10:17 p.m. Sally Field and Matthew Broderick are presenting Lead Actor in a Musical. The winner is... Billy Porter for "Kinky Boots." This was his first nomination and, as you would imagine, his first win. He's giddy.
10:21 p.m. Leading Actor in a Play features some big names in Nathan Lane and David Hyde Pierce and Tom Hanks. knew that the Tony was going to Tracy Letts for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." This was apparently his Broadway debut as an actor. "It's... overwhelming," he says. "You are not my competition. You are my peers and I'm proud to be in your company," he tells his non-rivals.
10:24 p.m. Presenting the Necrology is Matthew Morrison, who introduces a performance of "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper. I just don't like live performances in front of these In Memoriam segments. It's a weird way to upstage the names. Marvin Hamlisch gets the anchor position.
10:32 p.m. "I'll say something when I have something to say," says Velma from "Chicago," waiting for the teleprompter to kick in.
10:32 p.m. Jake Gyllenhaal is presenting Lead Actress in a Play. It's a powerful assortment of actresses and the winner is Cicely Tyson for "The Trip To Bountiful." She's a legend. What are you gonna say? She's also wearing a lot of purple ruffles. She is, in fact, wearing ALL of the purple ruffles. And she's entitled to. Her speech is slow and passionate and powerful and perfectly delivered and if the orchestra plays her off the stage, they should never be allowed to work again. They do. Bastards. "Please wrap it up, it says. And that's exactly what you did with me. You wrapped me up in you arms after 35 years," Tyson says, winning the award for "Best handling of an orchestra play-of in award show history." It's almost like she stood up there waiting to get played off so that she could use that line. Cicely Tyson's a pro like that.
10:32 p.m. Least Actress in a musical goes to... Patina Miller for "Pippin." "This is the honor of a lifetime," she says.
10:41 p.m. "Mamma Mia" people are wearing kinky boots to intro the number from "Kinky Boots." My fear on "Kinky Boots" is that it may be one of those shows that's hugely dependent on catching with the right actors. If I could see it with Billy Porter and Stark Sands? Clearly I'd do that tomorrow. But by the time tickets become available, you'll be looking at three or four casts down the road and at that point, you just never know.
10:49 p.m. Nearly done. I want to go watch the "Game of Thrones" finale...
10:52 p.m. Guy and Girl are here to tell us that "Matilda" won for Scenic Design for a Musical. "The Nance" won on the Play side.
10:53 p.m. Patti LuPone is presenting Revival of a Musical to... "Pippin." No surprise there. Yay for "Pippin." The producer says that the win belongs to the whole company.
10:59 p.m. I guess we're not ending on time are we?
11:00 p.m. We join the cast of "Once" in mid-performance. Strange.
11:01 p.m. "Smash" co-star Bernadette Peters is presenting Best Musical. Will it be "Matilda" or "Kinky Boots"? The winner is... "Kinky Boots." Everybody makes the long journey to the stage. I wanna put on... my my my my my kinky boots...
11:04 p.m. One last musical number for NPH? "We are long on time, so we're not gonna do that tonight," NPH says. But guess what? It was a trick! Set to "Empire State of Mind," NPH raps for a while before kicking to Audra McDonald on the Alicia Keys part. LOVE the part about how at 9 p.m. people changed over to watch "Game of Thrones" or the NBA Finals game. NPH didn't have much to do in the middle of the show, but he slayed the opening and closing numbers, which is what you pay him the big bucks for. "Go see a Broadway show!" NPH closes.
Thanks for following along! What'd you think of the Tonys?