2014 Tony Awards Live-Blog
I was in London two weeks ago and caught four plays -- Well, three plays and one musical -- in three days, so when the Olivier Awards roll around, I'll be well-prepared.
However, with Josh Lasser handling most of the New York junkets for Team HitFix, I haven't made it to NYC since Fall 2012, which would also be the last time I made it to Broadway. As a result, I've seen none of this year's Tony nominees.
Click through for the full live-blog and comment below, should the spirit move you!
7:55 p.m. ET. In case you haven't been following any Tony fanatics on Twitter, pre-show winners have included "Rocky" (Scenic Design of a Musical), "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" (Sound Design for a Play) and "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical" (Sound Design for a Musical), plus Rosie O'Donnell won something honorary.
8:00 p.m. Huge Ackman! He's on the red carpet and heading in for the show, but first... He's gonna sing and dance. And I'm gonna tell you about getting standing-room-only tickets to see Hugh in "Oklahoma" at the National Theatre way back in the day. Hugh is bouncing down the aisles. As with everything else in this show, I'm gonna assume this is a reference to, like, "Bounce: The Musical." [I apologize for any and all theatrical ignorance in this live-blog. If I lived in NYC, I swear that I'd have seen 2/3rds of the nominated shows. Or more. That's how I roll.] I'm particularly impressed that Hugh skips the steps and does a standing jump onto the stage. I could not do that. Actually, I could do none of this. It's Sting! It's The Guy Who Plays Rocky! It's women from "Aladdin." It's Neil Patrick Harris in the elevator! Everybody's bouncing. It's the star of "The Carole King Musical"! It's CLINT EASTWOOD!
8:04 p.m. Now we're singing! And unlike "Les Miserables," this is set in a key that Hugh Jackman can sing. In the audience, Neil Patrick Harris and Kevin Bacon and Rosie O'Donnell and Beth Behrs are impressed.
8:05 p.m. We're starting with the cast of "After Midnight," preceded by Fantasia Barrino. The crowd isn't especially excited about Fantasia, but they're very enthusiastic for Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight [sans Pips]. Now we're getting some fun dancing from the cast of the Harlem-set musical. This is why I like the Tony Awards. I don't need context to know this is mighty fun. It's no surprise to see that Warren Carlyle is nominated for his "After Midnight" choreography, nor to have Hugh join the cast for the end of the dancing, which also featured the terrific Dule Hill.
8:09 p.m. "It's gonna be after midnight till I catch my breath," Hugh says, before making a joke about his butt and the great view that the people in the "mosh pit" will have. "You don't see this at Comic-Con, I'll tell you," Hugh says of "Wolverine in tap shoes."
8:10 p.m. Our first joke in favor of same-sex marriage and cross-dressing. This is also an audience that likes a Catskills joke.
8:11 p.m. Our first round of applause for Neil Patrick Harris, who has hosted the Tonys four times, one behind Angela Lansbury.
8:12 p.m. our first presenters are "Breaking Bad" star Anna Gunn and "Elizabethtown" star Orlando Bloom. They're presenting Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play. The winner is Mark Rylance for "12th Night." Awesome. Nobody gives Tony speeches like Mark Rylance. "Wow, I'm up first," Rylance says. He says they had a ball. He talks about Sam Wanamaker, who was blacklisted in the '50s and spurred London's New Globe. "We are children of Sam Wanamaker's vision," Rylance says. That was the least crazy Tony speech Rylance has ever given. Is he assuming he's going to win a second Tony later tonight?
8:15 p.m. Emmy Rossum! Emmy Rossum! Emmy Rossum! She's introducing the cast of the new revival of "Les Miserables," which has been given a high-profile place in this telecast because CBS knows it will keep some viewers watching. They're performing "One Day More," which most viewers will be comparing to the recent movie, which is unfair because these folks can sing. I forgot that I kinda like "Les Miserables" when it's properly sung. Only kinda, mind you. I can appreciate that performance plenty without ever choosing to see "Les Miserables" in its entirety again...
8:22 p.m. Courtesy of commenter Meridith, context for Hugh Jackman's bouncing. And now I know!
8:24 p.m. Hugh's singing an "original" set to "Mack the Knife." Emmy Rossum is dancing in her seat. I would now like Emmy Rossum's reaction for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. The opening was done in one Steadicam shot and Hugh very graciously honors the camera operator.
8:25 p.m. Tony "President Fitzgerald" Goldwyn and Leighton "Married to Seth Cohen" Meester are presenting Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. The winner is... Lena Hall for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." She definitely had the most approval from the crowd. She's very excited and has to retrieve her many-paged speech from the front of her dress. NPH is very happy for the emotional actress. Amidst squeals, she thanks her soon-to-be-born niece. She thanks ALL of us. The whole community. "Friendship is magic," she closes.
8:28 p.m. Lucy Liu, who just happens to have a CBS show, is our next presenter. She's introducing a performance from "Aladdin." We're seeing James Monroe Iglehart's rendition of "Friend Like Me," which I've heard described as "show-stopping." It's pretty impressive. He does what Robin Williams does in the movie, only he does it while dancing and doing magic. I feel a bit sorry for the guy playing Aladdin, who has to stand on the stage in full wonderment in a song that asks him to do absolutely nothing else. Whew. At least Aladdin gets to dance here. For a not-small dude, Iglehart's hoofing is impressive. And his lung-work is absurdly good.
8:35 p.m. The Tonys: The only place you'll see commercials for Carnegie Mellon University.
8:37 p.m. And lots of commercials for fiber supplements.
8:39 p.m. "Frozen" and "Looking" star Jonathan Groff is up next. He's introducing his "Frozen" co-star Idina Menzel, singing one of her songs from "If/Then." You might know this about Idina Menzel: She has a rather big voice. I've heard mighty mixed things about "If/Then" as a show, but someday I'd like to see Idina Menzel on-stage. I suspect I'll have to wait until she does a PBS special and PBS brings her to TCA press tour. That's the only way I've heard the remarkable Audra McDonald perform live.
8:44 p.m. Hugh Jackman is an Idina Menzel fan. Up next? "Jersey Boys" director Clint Freakin' Eastwood. I hope he's going to sing the title song from "Gran Torino." He's presenting Best Director of a Musical. The winner is... Darko Tresnjak for "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder." Clint Eastwood doesn't bother trying to pronounce Darko's last name. He thanks his mom, who fought in the season World War and literally taught him how to jump out of airplanes. Awww.
8:47 p.m. Clint is still there. Do you think it's because they're afraid to take him off the stage? He's also presenting Best Director in a Play. This is all a bit awkward. Can somebody else present next? I mean... I love Clint. He's a God. He already opened the envelope backstage. The winner is Kenny Leon for "A Raisin in the Sun." Clint Eastwood and the in-house announcer have different pronunciations of Leon's last name. I don't know who to trust anymore. He begins by thanking Denzel Washington, not nominated tonight, thrice. He closes by plugging his upcoming musical "Holler If Ya Hear Me."
8:51 p.m. "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." guest star Samuel L. Jackson is presenting a number from "Rocky." Awww yeah. It's a little "Eye of the Tiger" action. Who cares that "Eye of the Tiger" is from "Rocky III," darn it. It's Broadway Apollo Creed! And now they're doing the 15th Round of the climactic fight. ADRIAN! That looked endearingly silly.
8:57 p.m. Several trailers already for "Katharine McPhee: Nerd Wrangler."
8:58 p.m. Wait. If Hugh Jackman is in the upper deck singing, why are we watching crappy-ass commercials. BOO, CBS.
8:58 p.m. Chuck and The Nanny are presenting Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. They're not good at reading teleprompters. Your winner... James Monroe Iglehart, predictably, for "Aladdin." And now we know why, even though I have co-workers snarking about that performance as we speak. Sigh. Iglehart thanks God, his family, Disney and many others. He does a praise shout and a happy dance before leaving the stage.
8:58 p.m. Up next is Maggie Gyllenhall, who killed a swan and is wearing its pelt. She's presenting a performance from Alan Cumming of "Cabaret." I'd love to see Alan Cumming do this on-stage, but all I can think now is that he just did this for advertisers at the CBS Upfront. In fact, I've seen Cumming do this enough times that I wish we could have gotten a Michelle Williams "Cabaret" performance. Of course, she wasn't nominated for a Tony, so that might have been awkward.
9:09 p.m. "Reckless" is also getting a lot of CBS promotion.
9:09 p.m. "Thanks to Alan Cumming in 'Cabaret,' sales of nipple-glitter are sky-rocketing," Jackman says before introing Ethan Hawke and Vera Farmiga. They're presenting Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play. Celia Keenan-Bolger had the largest reaction from the crowd, but Sophie Okonedo is the winner for "A Raisin in the Sun." This was her Broadway debut. "I am loving it here in New York. I am loving it Broadway," she says. As "a Jewish Nigerian Brit," she's grateful Scott Rudin had confidence she could do the part.
9:13 p.m. Jefferson Mays is nominated for "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder." He transitions through several of his nine roles from the musical before introing a scene. For all of those nine roles, the scene they're showing is a non-Jefferson scene. Interesting. It's a nicely constructed three-hander scene.
9:25 p.m. More Hugh Jackman singing and an abrupt transition into an award. Lead Actress in a Play goes to The Unstoppable Audra McDonald for "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." This is her SIXTH Tony. The crowd lows her, more than a little. It's a standing ovation and McDonald is more emotional than usual. She thanks her mother and her late father for not medicating her. Awww. And she tells her smiling daughter that without her, she's nothing. She closes by thanking the women on whose shoulders she's standing, including Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou and Lena Horne.
9:28 p.m. Brandley Cooper is doing "Elephant Man" on Broadway later this year. So he's here now. They're presenting the Bryan Cranston Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. This isn't going to be shocking, now is it? Nope. Bryan Cranston wins for "Godzilla." Or possibly "All The Way." His first Broadway play was sneaking into the second act of "Hair" in 1977. "To this day, I still haven't seen the first half. They tell me the second half was better, because it had more nudity," Cranston says. He thanks his real-life wife. He doesn't thank his former TV wife who presented earlier tonight.
9:31 p.m. Ha. RuPaul, in a shimmery pink jacket, is introducing the number from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." They're doing "Sugar Daddy" and, yes, I assume it would be pretty thrilling to see NPH's highly physical performance live. Who was that who got the "carwash" treatment in the crowd? Samuel L. Jackson gets his spectacles used as a prop and Sting gets a lapdance. NPH also collapses into Kevin Bacon's lap. They could save a lot of time by just giving NPH his Tony right now.
9:40 p.m. How do you follow that "Hedwig" performance? With a metric system joke from Hugh Jackman!
9:41 p.m. Alan Cumming, dressed in a Rorschach Test suit is paying tribute to The American Theater Wing (and also Betty White). And that's all.
9:43 p.m. "Jack Ryan" director Sir Kenneth Branagh is presenting a montage of playwrights describing their Tony nominated plays. I guess I'm glad we're at least seeing fleeting glimpses from the nominated plays. That's always the most difficult part of the Tonys telecast.
9:48 p.m. The Tony goes to "All The Way," which seemed to feature Bryan Cranston playing Stephen Root playing LBJ. Ha. I like the writer calling Bryan Cranston "He who knocks." It's like he watches TV!
9:50 p.m. Wayne Brady is presenting the scene from "Violet." Hi, Sutton Foster. I miss "Bunheads." "Violet" isn't a musical I know in its original form, but guess what? I'm sad I won't get to see this production. Or a second season of "Bunheads."
9:55 p.m. That was terrific. I want to see "Violet" now.
10:02 p.m. Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan are introducing Sting and the title song from "The Last Ship."
10:04 p.m. That happened.
10:05 p.m. Oh. It's an extended in-show commercial for Carnegie Mellon. I didn't realize this was coming. Zachary Quinto and Matthew Bomer are alums. My Uncle Steve teaches statistics at CMU. So... Go Carnegie Mellon!
10:07 p.m. Judith Light and Patrick Wilson are paired for another celebration of the success of Broadway. They're also presenting Best Revival of a Play. The winner is... "A Raisin in the Sun." It's a bit astounding that for all of the clear love for this production, Denzel couldn't get a nomination. But what do I know? It's another chance for Kenny Leon to plug his upcoming music. He says this is the best cast on Broadway because they listen to each other.
10:10 p.m. To keep mainstream audiences watching... It's a flimsy excuse to do a performance from "Wicked." It's a song that requires no choreography and that won't make us annoyed that it isn't Idina Menzel singing it.
10:15 p.m. Hugh Jackman in the wings polishing the piano for the "Beautiful" performance. He was previously seen playing cards with Sting. I'm not sure this has been an exciting job of hosting, but it's been solid and reliable.
10:18 p.m. Ah. Warren Carlyle won an off-camera Tony for his choreography.
10:18 p.m. Hugh Jackman is doing "Rock Island" from "The Music Man." I was one of the salesmen from this number when we did this one my freshman year in high school. Why is NBC not doing a live "Music Man" with Hugh Jackman as Harold Hill?
10:20 p.m. Oh my. It's LL Cool J, TI and Hugh Jackman are rapping to "The Music Man." It's just a bit awesome -- perhaps because it's also a little bit awful -- which means that my snarky colleagues will hate it. I wanted more. Instead, we get Jackman spitting game alone. That's just sad.
10:22 p.m. Audra McDonald is presenting the Neil Patrick Harris Award for Lead Actor in a Musical. The winner is... Neil Patrick Harris. Duh-doy. He gets a standing ovation, albeit not as long as Audra's standing ovation. NPH calls this "crazy-pants." This is his parents' anniversary. He thanks teachers. Why are they playing NPH off? Who plays NPH off?
10:26 p.m. Carole King is introing "Beautiful." Jessie Mueller is pretty great and Carole King drops in to join her toward the end. Now where's Martika to make it a trio on "I Feel The Earth Move"?
10:37 p.m. Hugh Jackman admits that he used "a buttocks double" in the ned "X Men" movie, but says that the double was either Kevin Bacon or Kate Mara. They're presenting The "Hedwig" Award For Best Musical Revival. The winner is... "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Duh.
10:41 p.m. "Scrubs" star Zach Braff is introducing "Bullets Over Broadway." He's the star of the show, but Nick Cordero is the only part of the musical that people all seem to agree doesn't suck, so he's the star of this number. He's fine. I'll stick to the movie, I think.
10:49 p.m. Hugh Jackman is doing most of his hosting for the people in the hall. We're seeing half of it at most, I suspect. We're on to Lead Actress in a Music. He's going through the crowd singing to and about each of the nominees. Jessie Mueller and Sutton Foster are particularly adorable in their interactions with Jackman, with an advantage going to Mueller. Kelli O'Hara does NOT get Hugh Jackman's Ashley Madison joke.
10:54 p.m. The winner is... Jessie Mueller for "Beautiful." I hope somebody has at least told O'Hara what Ashley Madison is.
10:55 p.m. Key takeaway here? Jessie Mueller is awesome. She gets a loud roar of applause for Carole King. "Everybody wants a drink, so thank you," she closes.
10:56 p.m. Tina Fey is getting to close the show? No. she's just introducing a number from "Finding Neverland," it's the title song with Jennifer Hudson ushering the Darling boys into puberty as they stare at her lasciviously. I don't have a clue what J-Hud has to do with anything her, but I guess with Fantasia opening the show, we might as well let J-Hud close it.
11:00 p.m. I guess we don't care about keeping this show on time? Sigh.
11:02 p.m. Rosie O'Donnell is the actual show-closer, presenting Best Musical. I've been told this is a wide-open race between "Beautiful" and "A Gentleman's Guide..." The winner is... "A Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder."
11:06 p.m. Fair enough. That was a very decent Tonys telecast.
11:07 p.m. Hugh closes by inviting all of the Tony winners to join him on-stage for "On Broadway." I kinda wish they'd let NPH do his standard closing number. I bet Hugh wouldn't have been offended.
11:08 p.m. More bouncing!
What'd y'all think?