Sunday, June 15, 2008

TONY Live Blogging

Why live-blog? It's the only way I might get through it. Because...

8:01 In the very first minutes, we get a performance from The Lion King. Now, I don't have anything against this particular show --other than that it started the horrid wave of Disney thinking all their animated films should become stage musicals and we all see the dark places that's taken the American theater and... OK maybe I do have something against this show. But here's the point. It's like, old. TONY should be celebrating the "now" rather than admitting that the theater is dead. Lie, people, lie. Your livelihoods depend on it.

8:05 Whoopi is hosting.

8:08 Rondi Reed wins Best Featured Actress (i.e. "supporting") for August: Osage County. It's going to sweep. She beat Laurie Metcalf, who America will know as second banana "Jackie" from endless seasons on Roseanne and Martha Plimpton, who is quite a theater fixture in New York but is also beloved by most folks who have a thing for 80s movies and early River Phoenix... i.e. people in their 30s.

8:12 CryBaby. This performance is a disaster --it's all over the place --but my friend, who has a thing for dark haired pale men, just melted into a puddle since the entire troupe of dancing jailbirds seems to have been cast to look just like the lead guy who has been styled to look like Johnny Depp from the 1990 John Waters film. Not that you can be styled to be Johnny Depp. There can be only one.

he's the king

8:22 THE LOVELY LAURA LINNEY! She's only presenting (somehow she defied the gods of awards shows by not being nominated for playing the Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses). But for me her appearance is the first true musical number of the night. "why do birds suddenly appear... any time she is near" The supporting actor award goes to Jim Norton for The Seafarer. Raul Esparza gets snubbed every year. I hate the TONYs. Maybe they'll give him more to do guest starring on Pushing Daisies in the fall. Oh, you know you want his salesman back in the Pie Hole romancing Kristin Chenowith.

8:26 Passing Strange. That number did nothing for me.

8:37 John Lithgow. Usually at some point while looking him I remember that he was briefly threatening to be a regular Oscar fixture. But then it turns out to be just a two-in-a-row deal (World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment) and then he became a TV star and weirdly he still seems to be doing that character from that show about the aliens all the time as himself now. Was it always there? Best Direction of a Musical went to South Pacific (the revival).

8:41 Patti Lupone doing the famous 1st act closing number "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy. Is Gypsy to musical actresses what Hamlet is to stage actors? Seems to be. I liked that number well enough but I have seen Gypsy too many times. How do they fill the theater every 3 years when a new revival opens?

8:52 They just shared a bunch of awa
rds that happened off-broadcast. I hate that part. I live in fear that the Oscars will eventually do that. Gives me award-junkie chills.

8:57 A rapped Latino acceptance speech for best score. I think that might be a first for TONY. Very cute. Loved the Sondheim shout out.
Sondheim I made a hat. Where there wasn't a hat. And a Latin one at that!
8:59 South Pacific. Another stage to movie back to stage affair. It's a medley. They start with "There is Nothing Like a Dame" which always cracks me up. Because it's never...butch. Although that was definitely butcher than the last version (that stiff Glenn Close TV version some years back). Now it's the Kelli O'Hara show. I wish I loved her beca
use she keeps getting plum roles. Her voice is gorgeous but as a star... I can never quite bow down. She's just not an "it" girl for me, you know. These things can't be manufactured or rehearsed or willed. They either happen between performer and audience member or they don't. Sigh.

9:02 As we cut to commercial they showed Daniel 'Harry Potter' Radcliffe. Think he's trying to win friends and influence people early to prep for a Lead Actor TONY nomination next summer for Equus? Did that sound cynical? Oh you know they plan these strategies early...

9:08 Whoopi descended from the ceiling dressed as Mary Poppins. "I can watch your children" Hee. Segueway to Kristin Chenowith. [love!] This is Featured Actress in a Musical. And the TONY goes to... Laura Benanti as Gypsy Rose Lee. She's wearing Nicole Kidman's Oscar dress from March 2003 only this time it's glittery and red (see for yourself, pictured left). She is so happy. But take it from me who goes to theater and who has been to a few of her shows. The reputation is earned. By which I mean: her understudies go on... a lot.

9:13 A performance from Grease. Everything (very) old is new again... on Broadway. Zzzz

9:24 I almost fell asleep (still sick. This damn sore throat is not letting up) during commercials but then I got a little e-mail compliment on my work from a writer/director who actually guided one of my favorite
actresses to an Oscar nomination. That woke me right up. What a surprise. Boyd Gaines just won (his fourth win! Watch out Audra McDonald) for Gypsy. The show is two for two now acting-wise. Guess Patti's got her next TONY in the bag.

9:27 We're getting a little medley of the musicals that didn't get nominated this year. Hmmm. I thought the punishment was that they didn't get to hawk their show on this show?

9:40 Oooh, clips (and sets!) for the Original Plays. August: Osage County will win. First it wins Best Director.

9:53 Mary Louise Parker. MLP!!! We love her so much. We loved her before Weeds. And now there's even more to love. Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to Mark Rylance in Boeing Boeing. We've heard from multiple sources that that win is deserved and that he's side-splittingly funny in it. If you're asking "who?" just know that he's amazing and totally sexy to me (What? Shut up!) and he's often naked onscreen including in the devastating Intimacy (2001, my review) and Angels & Insects (1995). I didn't understand that acceptance speech at all.

10:00 Deanna Duagan wins best actress
. She's the pill-popping mom in August: Osage County. As soon as they decide to make it in a movie, there will be a war among all your favorite actresses 'of a certain age' to get it. That is, if Streep doesn't want it. You know Hollywood always gives Meryl first dibs.

10:04 a number from the new musical In the Heights. Strong number. The show is already a hit and this perfo
rmance will only sell more tickets.

10:12 Harry Potter and the teacher from The History Boys (both are in Equus) presented Best Play to August: Osage County. Tracy Letts accepts. Takes some (deserved) potshots at both television and Broadway. I love him. He also wrote Bug.

10:15 Before I moved to NYC I was one of those guys who watched the TONY Awards every year and dreamed about seeing things that I never got to see. Before I ever saw a Broadway show I loved Mandy Patinkin wildly. So I was never one of those people who was like "isn't that Inigo Montoya?" So for me it's always a joy to see him... althoug
h his beard freaks me out. He is accepting a Lifetime Achievement for Sondheim. Nice proxy speech. And now a number from Sunday in the Park with George. Such a brilliant show and this was a strong production. The music.... ah, so pretty.

10:28 Best Revival goes to South Pacific. Glenn Close presenting was kinda telling/tacky since she played Mitzi on TV.

10:33 Lily Tomlin struts out all seductively and says that that was her tribute to Marisa Tomei. I don't get it. But Marisa (my current movie girlfriend) is shown laughing so all is right with the world. Or maybe I'm happy because Lily is introducing the "out of their minds cast of Xanadu" OMG. Cheyenne Jackson. Swoon. Hollywood is so missing out on him. He could so easily be the first big out gay movie star. So talented, handsome, manly, tall, memorable, everything. Gah! But the real star of Xanadu is of course Kerry Butler who is laugh out loud funny throughout playing Olivia Newton John playing a Greek muse playing "Kira". High-larious. Watching her hobble around during the "Don't Walk Away" number on one skate is so funny. I know the whole thing is silliness but I deeply appreciate silliness and that bit of slapstick generously reminds one of Katharine Hepburn's great screwball moment
I was born on the side of a hill
When I laugh I forget that I feel like hell. I have now lost track of the show because I keep rewinding and rewatching the Xanadu number.

Olivia Newton-John with the cast of Xanadu: Kerry Butler, Cheyenne Jackson
and Tony Roberts (not from the TONY broadcast unfortunately)

10:something Rent anniversary. Wheeee. Anthony Rapp --still so adorable. I used to always end up at the same shows as him Off Broadway. It was uncanny AND... true story: that first crazy screening of Moulin Rouge! that I went to at Ziegfeld in New York? He was also there... just a few people away in line. The original cast is lined up which I think might mean that they're going to sing 525,600 minutes. Yep. Taye Diggs & Idina Menzel met on Rent of course and they're such a handsome married couple. This'll be on YouTube in seconds I'm sure.

10:something LIZA! She needs a big font, don'cha know. The Best Leading Actor Musical goes to Paolo Szot as Emil in South Pacific (pictured, right). I guess I need to see this show. Damn he's handsome. I'm really gaying out with this live-blogging today. Cheyenne, Anthony, Mark, Paolo... but it's the TONYs so what did you expect?

10:something David Hyde Pierce is here to present a trophy to Patti Lupone... I mean to announce the Leading Actress in a Musical. I only saw Jenna Russell in Sunday in the Park and Kerry in Xanadu and both were deserving. She says she's using an old speech and just changing the names. The TONYs are in some ways like an unholy but classier version of the EMMYs: i.e. some people win over and over again. Other people are strangely passed over regularly despite many honors and big careers. She hasn't won in 29 years. Jesus.

i'm just fastforwarding now Oooh, final award. Best Musical goes to In the Heights.

the award for best live-blogging DOES NOT GO TO ME. My apologies. I'm sick and delirious!
Good night.

further reading: complete list of winners * ModFab projects about the fallout from the winnings and losing *
more familiar faces @ the TONYs last night:

Lily Tomlin, Kristin Chenoweth, Glenn Close, Gina Gershon, Laura Linney, Idina Menzel & Taye Diggs, Mark Rylance, Daniel Radcliffe.


Pedro said...

I agree regarding The Lion King. Very odd choice. The rapping, in my opinion, was very inspired. The numbers from the shows are blah.

Anonymous said...

Dang !! Brooke Shields is rocking some big man arms !! HOLY COW !!!

rosengje said...

Todd Haynes? Although I would be uncontrollably ecstatic if that was the case.

Robert said...

I do not follow the Tony's one bit, but I do fear for the Oscars doing the "in awards presented earlier..."

Every year, people do complain about the technical and shorts categories taking up time that no one cares about. I feel like, specifically with the shorts, with YouTube and everything, if they could find a way to get things seen, then we would never have to worry about certain awards being held before the ceremony.

I have my own theories on how to fix the Oscar ratings, and they are (unlike ever post-Oscar ratings-based news article) not facetous.

Sorry, back to your Tony's

Anonymous said...

Cheyenne Jackson is manly ?

No offense Nathaniel, but you need to hang out with straight guys more often

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for this coverage. The Tonys don't get nearly enough attention.


alex alex alex he's starring in XANADU. the whole show is flaming. He's the manliest thing in it! ;)

but i guarantee you that not one person who was watching United 93 ever had his sexuality cross their minds

there are plenty of Hollywood stars that read more delicate than Cheyenne who is big tall and musclebound.

but anyway. i love him!

Anonymous said...

musclebound doesn't mean straight-looking. Duh ! Most guys don't spend all their free time at the gym. What I mean is that Cheyenne is still very gay to me...

and what does delicate looking has to do with it ? Haven't you seen Natalie Portman's boysfriend, or every young chick's boyfriends theses days ? They date skinny dudes, yet you don't hear people saying "Natalie Portman's boyfriend is gay".


never mind.

it's a losing battle with me and Cheyenne. people are way too interested in believing the status quo that no gay man will ever be a huge star. Even one as clearly meant to be as him.

he's perfect.

ugh! I want to see him in the movies. With big roles.

gabrieloak said...

Though I would love Jackson to get more recognition on the screen, I'm quite happy that we get to see him live and in the flesh on stage. And he sings so well. Maybe Hollywood could find a musical for a remake of Xanadu. LOL.

RJ said...

Ummmm . . . no mention whatsoever of that dress Liza was wearing?

Glenn Dunks said...

My guess for the 9.24 thing is Steve Kloves. Just 'cause.

Anonymous said...

Considering the Tonys doesn't get an airing in the UK, that was as close as I'll get to living through it, so huge thanks (and an early request that you do this every year? Pretty please?!)


Anonymous said...

I love how Marisa Tomei is all respected now an people are calling her Oscar win a smart call for a smart comedic turn. What a critical U-turn... and the way it should be.

par3182 said...

i picked lily's marisa walk immediately (and thought it was the funniest bit of the night - somebody should teach whoopi the concept of punchlines - every time she inserted herself in a show i waited for the pay off..... i'm still waiting)

anyhoo - back to marisa, watch her next time she presents at an award show - she does the exact same shoulders back glide to the podium every single time

cheyenne jackson - dream. boat.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Nathaniel, I'm begging you, never mention Glenn Close's South Pacific again!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was pretty crass of Tracy Letts to make those jabs about movie actors on stage with Daniel Radcliffe presenting the best play award to him and just about to go on with "Equus", which he was raved at in London. Plenty of movie actors have great success on Broadway. There's room for both movie actors and theatre actors there. Whatever. Movie actors will be all in the film version of his precious play soon enough, where they "belong".

Great show. Yay Patti, always. Never play the orchestra music o her, dammit! Mark Rylance's speech was a mess. Loved "Xanadu" and "The Lion King". Got a little misty-eyed over "Rent". Happy for Lin-Manuel Miranda and his acceptance rap. Get Whoopi to host this show every year. She rocked it.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Stewart didn't win. :(
The Tonys are BS.

Anonymous said...

Whoopi was great. A bit of a trivial question....the song "Grease": I thought that was written for the movie & was not in the broadway musical. Have they since added it. Maybe I'm wrong. I've got 2 "center / row m" tickets to gypsy tuesday night - CANT WAIT. Maybe it's me, but I thought it was painful sitting through Xanadu, except for the fella in the shorts, he was somewhat intriguing I must say.

Anonymous said...

I know that Laura Benanti broke her neck a few years back (while starring in Into the Woods, I think). I wonder if that's the reason for some of her no-shows.

Just feel the need to defend her because she's so pretty.

Anonymous said...

that fella in the shorts was pretty darn pretty too....yowsa.


that fella is CHEYENNE JACKSON who i keep talking about here at the film experience hoping everyone else will catch on.

Anonymous said...

I COMPLETELY agree with you on Cheyenne. The acting chops, the singing chops, the looks, the personality--but then again, wouldn't something get lost in the transition to "big star?"

Laura Linney was HORRIBLE (really, bad bad bad) in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Stand her next to a coffee table and you couldn't tell the difference.


J.J. said...

I will never understand why people like Patti LuPone. She's one of the great scams of modern culture.

Anonymous said...

Must admit, I'm getting a little tired of this whole cliché of actresses winning Tonys for revivals of Gypsy. This must be at least the fourth time, right?



well they skipped over Bernadette but there's been at least 3 winners for it.

it is annoying.

i've never been a huge Lupone fan (her voice is too atonal or maybe that's not the right word... but it's not a "pretty" enough musical theater voice for me to really worship --- much prefer, say, Bernadette Peters as musical divas go) but I did think she was great in the revival of Sweeney Todd

Anonymous said...

Yep; just checked and it's three. Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and now Patti. They passed on Bernadette's Gypsy, and also Ethel Merman's original.

Nonetheless, three times is still excessive. That's like the movie equivalent of Cate Blanchett winning the next three times she plays Elizabeth I.



Anonymous said...

It's only the third time "Gypsy" has won a actress the lead Tony. There's Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, and now Patti LuPone. Ethel Merman lost (and originated the role); Bernadette Peters lost out to Marissa Jean Winokur. I don't think it's cliche at all for this role to be a frequent Tony magnet. It's freakin' Mama Rose! Come on, show some respect! And Patti LuPone is a goddess anyway that should be on her third or fourth Tony at this point in her career, at least.

Also, this is the first time in Tony history that the characters of Herbie and Gypsy Rose Lee have ever won Tonys in all of the "Gypsy" incarnations (for Boyd Gaines and Laura Benanti, respectively).

*the more you know*

Anonymous said...

Surely Nathaniel you must know that Cheyenne Jackson won't be the first gay actor to become a huge star... the first OPENLY gay actor, that's what you meant..

and Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography that he had homosexual experiences, that's already something considering he's one of the most iconic actors who's ever lived

Anonymous said...

@ billy d

Was Linney THAT horrible ?

I just think she's miscast. She's too "american girl-next-door" to play a French méchante

Anonymous said...

I am very happy for Paulo Szot!!

Anonymous said...


Yes, she was. I don't think she was, necessarily, miscast though. She played a perfect bitchy villain in "The Nanny Diaries," and yes, I am admitting that I saw that horrible film. She was just completely lifeless in the role. She blurted out lines so quickly, so tersely, and without any emotional cadence. It was like she was reading directly from a script the whole time. I understand that the play is a a difficult one, but she went to friggin Juilliard! She's done Shakespeare and Chekhov, et al. Actually, she seemed disinterested the entire time. I tried to chaulk it up to an acting choice, but, no, it was just bad.

Ben Daniels was good--not great, and certainly no John Malkovitch, but good.

The revelation for me was the young woman who played Madame de Tourvelle. She was remarkably "alive" on stage. Mamie Gummer (or Meryl Streep Jr. as well call her in my house) was also quite good, but she took her petulant characterization to some cartoonish extremes. I just couldn't get over how uninterested and completely lacking spirit Linney was.

Pen said...

anybody else catch Eden Espinosa in the Rent number playing...


She should just change her name to Idina right now. =) kidding, I love Eden.

Anonymous said...

Laura Linney was far from terrible in Dangerous Liaisons (she definitely didn't seem disinterested the night I saw it), but I wasn't all that pissed that she got snubbed, and this from her biggest fan (no, seriously, I will fight you). She looked lovely last night.

Raul Esparza actually didn't deserve to win this year, but if he lost for a stupid reason last year, he should've won for a stupid one this year. :P

Cheyenne = DREAMBOAT.


yeah, Eden really needs to stop doing Idina's roles. It's getting creepy.

Anonymous said...

Laura Benanto has only missed one performance of Gypsy. The reason she missed so many shows in Into the Woods and Nine was because her doctor misdiangnosed a potentially crippling neck injury. And the emergency surgery she had messed up her vocal cords which made her miss Wedding Singer shows. Congrats Laura, you deserve it!

Anonymous said...

The guy from Boeing Boeing's speech was a poem by Lewis Jenkins called The Backwoods (at least, I think that's what it's called).

Also, I must state my joy at Cheno's armpit fart over the "Defying Gravity" pun.

Anonymous said...

Is there a particular reason why it's taken so long for a "South Pacific" revival to happen? 50 or 60 some years and this is just happening now (and no, that TV film does NOT count)?

Anonymous said...

(davidm said)

Lily's 'homage' to the slow, stiff way Marisa Tomei walked out on stage earlier in the show was one of the funniest things of the night. Glad Tomei was able to laugh along. I love her too, but what was up with the walk? Nerves?

And yes, Cheyenne was the highlight of the whole f'ing thing. I'm still replaying it. Those thighs, those high notes. He's the full package. :wink:

Janice said...

I didn't watch the Tonys (don't have TV or cable) and admit I'm not into theater as I should be - I just had to say I love Marisa in that dress. Gorgeous. (And thanks, amir, for noting the turnaround in her rep. I saw My Cousin Vinnie last year for the first time in ten years and still thought her performance was a stand-out. There are a lot of people out there who should be ashamed for having dissed her so savagely.)

Glad to have that off my chest, thank you.