Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris
Credit: Evan Agostini/AP
I only had one theatre-ready night in New York City this year, so I had to make that time count, Tonys-wise. My buddy and I tried to get tickets to "Once," but we there weren't any unobstructed seats, so we ended up picking "Seminar" over several other viable plays. I figured Alan Rickman would at least be good for a Tony nod, right?
That's how I find myself live-blogging a Tony Awards
telecast that will honor only plays and musicals that I haven't seen. My bad for not going with "Porgy & Bess" that night.
Then again, if the Tony telecast were only for people who had seen the shows in question, literally nobody would watch the show, as opposed to the figurative nobody the Nielsen numbers will reveal tomorrow.
It's OK. I like the Tonys and I like when Neil Patrick Harris
hosts things, so follow along with my live-blog...
8:01 p.m. We begin with a filmed bit. People from "Book of Mormon" show up to make pitches to various Broadway stars, folks like Cynthia Nixon, James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick and Ricky Martin. Yes, we're pretending Ricky Martin is a Broadway star for the purposes of this bit. And DON'T tell me that he's in "Evita." I've seen the review. If you want a Broadway Che, call former CBS star Mandy Patinkin.
8:02 p.m. I want to see "Book of Mormon." Some day, I suppose. But it won't be with the original stars. Then again, if you see it on Broadway, you'll have the same issues.
8:04 p.m. Enter Neil Patrick Harris, in full-on-Mormon costume. The crowd likes NPH. That's probably because he's awesome. Or else because they stopped watching "How I Met Your Mother"
8:04 p.m. Tonight's show? "50 Shades of Gay," NPH cracks. This is his third time hosting. "And just like with movie sequels, the third one's where you start seeing quality, he promises. Theater's great, NPH tells us. The crowd loves a good "Newsies" joke. "What if life were more like theater?" NPH asks, as he transitions into a song. It's a tribute to seven-second costume changes, crazy dance routines, crisp diction and moving stage sets. "What if everyone took it for granted/ That British umbrellas were all enchanted," NPH sings, as Mary Poppins drifts by. Patti LuPone drops by. Just because. Hi, Jesse Tyler Ferguson! He's playing NPH's understudy. I think when NPH decides that he's outgrown the Tonys, JTF would make a very fine Tonys host, other than his sitcom being on ABC and not CBS. It's Annie! She reminds NPH that the sun *will* come out tomorrow. Apparently "Annie" is coming back next fall. "If life were more like theater/Life wouldn't suck so much," NPH sings. We totally won't point out that he's a bit off-key. Because he's NPH.
8:11 p.m. "I'm just sayin'..." NPH says, ending the number and introducing our first presenter, Mr. Paul Rudd. It's Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Play time. He has some weak patter about what "Featured" means. Poor Paul Rudd. Audiences are largely looking at these nominees and going, "Oh, it's the woman from 'Who's the Boss' and some people we assume are theater actors." The winner is... Judith Light for "Other Desert Cities." See? America's so relieved they didn't have to learn a theater actor's name. "I feel like I'm the luckiest girl in New York tonight," Light says. She thanks all of the right people, but why isn't she thanking the most important Tony in her life? Poor Mr. Danza.
8:15 p.m. Nick Jonas, using a very weird accent, introduces the scene from "Newsies." It's impressive that in a year "Porgy & Bess" is up for many Tonys, it's apparently not the musical with the most feigned grammatical incorrectness. "Newsies" looks like it's a pretty energetic, synchronized affair. I'll bet it's fun to see live. Lots of dancing and jumping and easily accessible melodies. Now they're flipping! And stuff! Now they're dancing with newspapers on their feet! Hmmm... That's a silly piece of contrived choreography, but OK! More cartwheels. That's not what I look for in my theatrical experiences, but I'm not gonna quibble with those who do.
8:25 p.m. "Newsies" won the choreography award, but it wasn't ready for primetime.
8:25 p.m. NPH has some suggestions for producers: "Why not combine popular movies with popular musicals? Like a mash-up?" He suggests. "The ExorSister Act" and "Field of Dreamgirls" are the best he has to offer. He also suggests "My Left Footloose." Ha?
8:26 p.m. Amanda Seyfried likes to do movie versions of musicals, so the "Mama Mia" and "Les Miz" star makes as much sense as anybody here. She's presenting Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. Nominees include DAG and The Original Observer. Instead, the winner is Michael McGrath for "Nice Work If You Can Get It." I assume we'll see a scene from "Nice Work If You Can Get It." later? He thanks his family in Worcester, MA. Nice.
8:29 p.m. How is it possible that Bernadette Peters only has two Tonys? That's entirely unfair. She should have like... 10. And she should get a pity-Tony for having to appear on "Smash." She's introducing the scene from the revival of "Follies." That's an impressive suit that Danny Burstein is wearing. I'm always much more a Sondheim guy than... whatever "Newsies" was. That's OK. It's just a preference. I'm sure I'd have fun at "Newsies." See? This is funny. And clever. And it doesn't make me want to stand up and dance, which is a compliment.
8:39 p.m. There's no excuse for wasting time in this telecast with a scene from "Ghost: The Musical." The scene from "Ghost: The Musical" works much better if you pretend "Ghost: The Musical" is a joke. It's not. This is freaking dreadful, which is probably why "Ghost" was only up for three Tonys and I don't believe any of the three people wailing on stage were among those nominees. I haven't paid to see "Ghost: The Musical," but I want my money back.
8:41 p.m. John Larroquette won a Tony last year. He's presenting an awards for directing, for both Musical and Play. The Musical Directing winner is... John Tiffany for "Once." The announcer helpfully tells us this was John Tiffany's Broadway debut and his first Tony. Funny, that. "Whoa, that's amazing," says the charmingly Irish Tiffany. Sigh. I wish they'd had unobstructed seats.
8:44 p.m. Best Director of a Play is... Mike Nichols. This is his BILLIONTH Tony Award. Wait. It's only his sixth win. Back in the '60s, Mike Nichols literally used to win Tonys every single year. "I'm extremely touched that you did that, but you used up part of my 90 seconds," Nichols tells the enthusiastic crowd. He remembers winning a pie-eating contest at the same venue. "You see before you a happy man," Nichols says. He can't talk about his star-studded cast because of how much he loves them. Awww. He's particularly enthusiastic about Arthur Miller's play, which gets truer as time goes by. SHUT UP, ORCHESTRA. YOU DON'T PLAY MIKE NICHOLS OFF.
8:48 p.m. And speaking of legends, it's freakin' Ben Vereen. He received his first nomination for "Jesus Christ Superstar" and now he's presenting a scene from the current revival. Josh Young isn't bad, but he's no Ben Vereen. I'm sure he'd admit to as much. And, actually, he's annoying me more as he progresses. I may need to take back that "No bad" part. Bring back Vereen!Hey look! Joel McHale is Jesus. [Not actually Joel McHale.]
8:57 p.m. Heh. Neil Patrick Harris is lowered onto the stage upside down, Spider-Man style. Well played, director, cutting to Andrew Garfield in the crowd laughing.
8:58 p.m. As Angela Lanbury and some Tonys guy take the stage to babble about something, NPH dangles in the background and signals for assistance.
8:59 p.m. Dangling.
8:59 p.m. The curtain comes down and The Lovely Jessica Chastain comes out to present the Tony for Featured Actor in a Play. The nominees in this category include Spider-Man, That Guy from "Smash" and some British actors. The winner is... That Guy From "Smash." Andrew Garfield is first to stand to hug Christian Borle. He's pleased, but somehow forgets to thank Katharine McPhee.
9:02 p.m. Matthew Morrison is growing a beard. Good for him. The "Glee" star is introing the scene from "Nice Work If You Can Get It." Is a jukebox musical not a jukebox musical if it's a Gershwin jukebox musical? Lots of applause for Matthew Broderick. I'm sure that makes up for his lack of Tony nomination.
9:10 p.m. We've all gotten over how old Matthew Broderick looks, right? Good.
9:12 p.m. "Once" keeps winning awards that aren't cool enough to be on TV.
9:12 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris is out of his harness. Whew. It's... James Marsden. Naturally. Have they made "Hop" into a musical yet? "Straw Dogs"? Anyway, he's presenting Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. These are not people the audience at home knows. The winner is... Judy Kaye for "Nice Work If You Can Get It." This is her second Tony and she is, indeed, the person from that category a few people may know. "I guess chandeliers have been very, very good to me," says Kaye, who won her earlier Tony for "Phantom of the Opera." She thanks her husband for knowing about "the care and feeding of the diva." Sniffle. Judy Kaye lost her father just last week. Sniffle.
9:16 p.m. Ellen Barkin's saying nice things about The Broadway League. It's time for The Year In Plays. That was a quick scene change from Christian Borle with a sequence from "Peter and the Starcatcher." Lots of clips from lots of other stuff. Now a scene from "One Man, Two Guvnors." It looks quite... British. Oh look. There's one second from "Seminar." I SAW that one. Judy Garland impersonation. Another one second from "Seminar." That wasn't enough to make me want to see any of those shows.
9:28 p.m. Interesting. NPH is singing a medley of 66 years of Tony score winners. This is a lot of work. Kudos to whoever did this cutdown, because you can still pick out the individual shows and they flow together weirdly well. I'm pretty sure they basically gave up by the end. Still, good effort.
9:31 p.m. Sheryl Crow did the score for the upcoming musical adaptation of "Diner," which she mentions several times. Well plugged. The winner for Original Score is "Newsies," specifically Alan Menken and Jack Feldman. Menken recalls winning a Razzie for Worst Song for the feature film of "Newsies." Cute.
9:34 p.m. "Porgy & Bess" scene time. Somewhere, Sondheim is blindfolded, covering his ears and complaining. Audra McDonald is something. I have no idea why I didn't just see this when I was in NYC. I blame Sondheim, honestly, for starting an ignorant and pointless backlash pre-premiere and suckering me into it.
9:43 p.m. Paloma Young won costume design for "Peter and the Starcatcher."
9:43 p.m. TYLER PERRY, Y'ALL! I love Tyler pointing out that he's done 120+ sold out performances in that show. We're snobby about Tyler Perry -- Well, I am -- but he fills the seats as a playwright. The winner for Best Revival of a Play, to the surprise of nobody, is "Death of a Salesman." Poor Diane Sawyer has to stand up to let everybody in her row exit. Scott Rudin accepts. He doesn't yell at anybody. Who knew that Mike Nichols hired Scott Rudin to be the casting director of "Annie" at 19? I sure didn't.
9:46 p.m. Josh Groban gets to introduce the scene from "Once." Interesting staging, with the people in the crowd at the performance becoming the musicians. I was kinda wondering how they opened up the movie for the show. I guess that's what good ol' John Tiffany earned his Tony for earlier tonight. Callback! Awww. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are in the crowd.
9:57 p.m. Lots of wins for "Peter and the Starcatcher."
9:57 p.m. "While you were gone, Tyler Perry just sold out the entire season of 'Porgy & Medea,'" NPH says. Meh.
9:58 p.m. Hi, CBS Comedy Star Jim Parsons. I'd like to see Parsons in "Harvey," I think. He's steering us through a series of scenes from the year's nominated plays. Up first "Clybourne Park." Wow. That was quick. Why is Jim Parsons explaining the plot of these plays for 30 seconds to set up 10 seconds of dialogue? Bad planning, folks. Yeah, I really don't get what the point of that presentation was.
10:02 p.m. The winner for Best Play is... "Clybourne Park." The five seconds we saw looked interesting. I think it's author Bruce Norris who's accepting first? He's amusingly flustered. The producer follows him and is vastly more articulate. His speech is, in fact, quite excellent.
10:05 p.m. Cote De Pablo is introducing the "Evita" scene. Her interpretation of the musical is a bit odd. Then again, this revival also seems to have an odd interpretation. Ricky Martin is... lacking as Che. I always have mixed feelings about "Evita" anyway, but I'm not unhappy about missing this one, though the Eva is kinda intriguing. Naturally, though, it's a Ricky Martin song that they decided to stage for the Tonys. Geez, he's mediocre. I think if the show had been running for five years and they needed somebody to come in and boost ticket sales, he'd make sense. But to launch a production? You're making a clear statement.
10:10 p.m. I love that they follow that lackluster Che by teasing that Mandy Patinkin will be dropping by soon. Any chance he'll sing "The Money Kept Rolling In"?
10:11 p.m. Solid placement for the "Les Miserables" trailer.
10:14 p.m. "Corbin Bleu and the company of 'Gospell." Well that pretty much puts this whole thing in perspective, doesn't it? Somebody in the crowd was dancing with Hugh Jackman, weren't they? And Bernadette Peters looks absolutely terrified. That did not work at all. And it got confetti everywhere.
10:16 p.m. Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. Awwww. He opens by singing to her. God, I love Mandy Patinkin's voice. I have no objection to Patti LuPone's voice, but Mandy's voice is my Spirit Broadway Voice Animal. They're presenting Musical Revival (hence the singing). The winner... "Porgy & Bess." Stupid Sondheim. Really should have seen that one. My mistake. Sorry. It's "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess." The band tries to play the producer off, but he's sticking to his guns and he makes it through his acceptance.
10:20 p.m. Harvey Fierstein hits the stage in Bermuda shorts with a cocktail and a floaty-ring he's there to present the somewhat icky plug for the cruise line -- I refuse to say their name -- that's co-mingling with Broadway and presenting "Hairspray" on the high seas. I guess I shouldn't begrudge Broadway for attempting to make money however possible. But this is still a bit unseemly.
10:25 p.m. And then the first commercial after the performance is for Broadway at Sea on that cruise line. Yeah. Icky.
10:30 p.m. Emanuel Azenberg received a Lifetime Achievement award. As we already heard, Bernadette Peters received an honorary award as well.
10:31 p.m. Apparently Hugh Jackman hadn't known that his wife, Deborra Lee Furness, was presenting him with some sort of award for his contribution to Broadway and Broadway-related charitable causes. Did she just tell Hugh that she was getting up to go to the bathroom? Seconds before he was going to receive his award? Yes, if we trust Mr. Jackman. "Just off to the loo," Jackman jokes of his wife's secret-keeping. In any case, Broadway is VERY invested in the success of "Les Miserables," eh? Jackman is very gracious, humbled and candid. "I know how much you hate public speaking, but this is probably the greatest thing you've ever done for me," Hugh tells his wife. Awww.
10:39 p.m. "I just got terrible news that the cast of 'Hairspray' has been taken over by pirates... of Penzance," Harris cracks. He then introduces Candice Bergen, who will be presenting Lead Actor in a Play and Lead Actor in a Musical Lead Actor in a Musical is first and the winner is... Steve Kazee for "Once." He's earnest and earnestly touched. His final tribute to his mother really does bring tears to my eyes.
10:39 p.m. Lead Actor in a Play time. It's a damn star-studded field. The winner is James Corden for "One Man, Two Guvnors." In an awkward moment, James Earl Jones seems to hear "James" but not the last name and he looks incredulous, before being told who won. Or at least that's what I saw. Did somebody see somebody different? James Earl Jones has recovered seconds later when Corden salutes him. Corden is also touched and sweating. I like his adoring send-off to his baby mama, of whom he says, "She makes me say 'us' instead of 'I' and 'we' instead of 'me.'"
10:44 p.m. Scene from "Leap of Faith."
10:49 p.m. We still have three more awards to give out, right? Can we do that quickly? I really want to watch the "Mad Men" finale...
10:50 p.m. Christopher Plummer in the house! Nice that he's an Academy Award winner now. He's doing Lead Actress in a Play and Lead Actress in a Musical. Play is first. This is a star-packed category and the winner is Nina Arianda for "Venus in Fur." "Sir, you were my first crush," she tells Christopher Plummer, dropping a "Sound of Music" reference. Plummer looks chuffed. "I might not do this again. Hold on!" Arianda tells the band as it begins to play her off. That was spirited and likable.
10:54 p.m. Lead Actress in a Musical is in the bag, so nobody's surprised that the winner is... Audra McDonald for "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess." This is her fifth Tony and her first as a leading actress. That's pretty astounding. She gets a well-deserved standing ovation. She's emotional and she gives good speech. Awe. She ends by telling her adorable daughter, sitting out in the crowd, that the night she was born was the best night of her life. Awwww.
11:00 p.m. Our final presenters are Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They're amusing as they joke about how their wins last year make them "The Broadway Establishment." The winner for Best Musical is... "Once." So many shows I wish I'd seen. Glen and Marketa don't get to come up on the stage. The producer tells the old story of the elixir that is "theater."
11:04 p.m. Final musical number? "If I had time I would sing a little song recapping these awards," Harris sings. This is pretty much the highlight of Harris' hosting gigs, including lines like, "Is Harvey Fierstein gay? Who knows?" I also like the joking about how Nina Arianda's speech was what cost them them time. I don't think this was the best of Harris' show-enders, but it was still clever.
That was the Tonys. What did you think?