7:54: Happy Sunday, b-rollers! Are we all excited for the Tony Awards this evening? No? Just me? Okay. I love the Tonys, myself – I’m a big theater geek (go ahead and snicker, see if I care) – and this award show features actual performances, and not in the MTV/Grammy Awards “stare blankly, what the hell” vein. Real live theater pieces. I’m delighted, I have to say. Back in 5!
8:00: “Ladies and gentlemen, Sean Hayes!” No offense to Sean Hayes, but who else was hoping they would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Neil Patrick Harris!”?
8:01: Color me stunned that Sean Hayes is this talented a pianist. Although this transition to Elvis music was a tad awkward. Remember last year’s opening from Billy Elliot? No? Just me again? Okay.
8:02: You know what the Tony Awards are missing? A six-hour pre-show red carpet hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
8:03: Kristin Chenoweth! Maybe she’ll do this performance as her Glee character April Rhodes (ie, drunk).
8:04: I love Sinatra and Elvis and Green Day, but remember when Broadway musicals were filled with original music? Those were fun times. Thanks a bunch, Mamma Mia.
8:05: Five minutes in and I’m a touch underwhelmed. Apparently this was the year of the obscure musical. Last year’s opening had Billy Elliot, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Hair, 9 to 5, Rock of Ages…and this year, we’ve just seen some writhing and a spastic squeal courtesy of Fela! Kinda paling in comparison, frankly.
8:08: American Idiot – the current show I’m utterly dying to see. Loved, loved the album.
8:10: And Green Day is IN THE HOUSE! I hope this ends better than last year’s Bret Michaels’ performance, when he was leveled by a descending stage piece.
8:12: And the Tonys opening turns into the Green Day Show. This was clearly at the behest of a CBS executive who saw the roster of shows and scheduled performances and said to the producers, “For God’s sake, give me something to work with!!!!”
8:13: Crowd shots of Ryan Reynolds (yes, please), Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester!) and Will Smith (if he’s here to pimp The Karate Kid remake, so help me God…).
8:14: AND Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes make out. Take that, Newsweek!
8:15: Look at Angela Lansbury – stone fox even at the age of 117. She could still be solving murders in Cabot Cove.
8:16: I’d like Christopher Walken to do a little jig down the aisle if he wins. I think that would be delightful.
8:17: Apparently, Nathan Lane is rocking the Gomez Addams mustache IN REAL LIFE. Can you imagine? What kind of looks does he get at the grocery store?
8:18: Harry Potter! How wildly short is Daniel Radcliffe? Even Tom Cruise doesn’t look as towered over in papparazzi photos. And did Katie Holmes spend the last twenty minutes backstage talking about Scientology? He looks/sounds terrified.
8:19: Scarlett Johansson wins! I hope she thanks her husband for his abs. Because we are all grateful.
8:21: Okay, wrap it up, sweet pea. There are far less well known people who need their thirty seconds of stage time before being played off.
8:22: Ricky Martin’s going to be in Evita? I can kinda see that. More than Les Miz, at any rate.
8:23: First full performance goes to Million Dollar Quartet.
8:24: Do you realize that we’ve gone 24 straight minutes without a commercial? In a related story, I have gone 24 straight minutes without a bite of my pita sandwich. I’m not usually a huge fan of commercials, but…
8:25: Either there’s lipsynching going on (doubtful, since this isn’t an American Idol or Ke$ha performance), or they just cut off the wrong mics. Well done, Tony crew.
8:26: This seems like a perfectly lovely show, but I feel a bit like it’s ground that’s been covered by Walk the Line, no?
8:27: Commercial break! Grabbing a bite of sandwich, then I’m going to introduce my commercial gimmick: linking to YouTube clips of some of my favorite Tony performances. You’re intrigued, yes? Back in a few.
8:30: Okay, first performance: “Find Your Grail” from Spamalot, from the 2005 Awards. Completely freaking hilarious, but then, when isn’t Monty Python?
8:31: Hey, a Snooki reference! How timely. Let’s stop mentioning her so that the small obnoxious orange one can go gently into that good night, okay?
8:32: There’s a play called Superior Donuts? I’m gonna need to Google that premise and find out what the hell that show’s about (it can’t really be donuts, right?).
8:34: Fun fact: This winner, Eddie Redmayne (Do you really care what category he won in? No, right? I’m moving on then) was just cast in Steven Spielberg’s next movie. How do I know this? I KNOW EVERYTHING.
8:35: I’ll be honest: I only know the story of La Cage Aux Folles from the film remake The Birdcage. I know that’s sort of like saying “I know Jane Austen’s Emma because I saw Clueless,” but that movie’s freaking hilarious, no? “Chewing gum helps me think.” “Sweetie, you’re wasting your gum.” Priceless.
8:37: How much do we adore this performance? If nothing else, it reinforces that even fictional characters are obsessed with Glee.
8:41: Okay, and now a Tony performance from my FAVORITE SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF EVER: Rent. This is from 2008, and I geeked out because it included an original cast reunion.
8:45: Okay, that’s a pretty genius sight gag. And the arrival of Antonio Banderas gives me an opportunity to tell you all that I saw Nine with its original cast – Banderas, Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson, and CHITA FREAKING RIVERA – when it was on Broadway a few years back. I know, you’re appropriately impressed.
8:47: Who else had Michael Grandage on your scorecard? Anyone nearing Tony Bingo?
8:48: I just called this win based on, and I quote, “that performance was really quite darling.” It’s all about the educated guesses, b-rollers.
8:50: Not to take b-roll into R rated territory here, but when the cast of In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play was talking about said invention and mentioned the character’s “laboratory,” my first thought was, “Wait, he seriously needed a laboratory to invent that?”
8:55: Nicely done, Mr. Big. The poor stage manager is probably having a stroke right now after having to frantically scream, “CAMERA!!!” within earshot of the entire auditorium and home viewing audience. All 17 of us.
8:58: And your third retro Tony clip: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Because if you can involve Al Sharpton, you absolutely should.
9:00: Wait, Beyonce and Jay-Z are there, and they waited until right now to show them? Seriously?
9:01: When I see Angela Lansbury, I think Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Who else watched that movie on a loop in their childhood? I love that scene with the armor marching over the hill. And yes, I’m tuning out the rest of this speech.
9:03: It’s like a Frasier reunion! How do they not play “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs” as their intro music? And how sweet is Kelsey Grammer, tearing up at David Hyde Pierce’s award? I miss them.
9:05: They just showed the wrong credit over Katie Finneran (winner of Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, holy crap that’s a long title). Wow, that’s awkward.
9:07: I give Mark Sanchez (ie, quarterback of the New York Jets) credit for appearing at an artsy event. That kind of crossover is rare. Also, I look forward to seeing Mark spend large portions of this fall’s Jets-Patriots games flat on his artsy rear.
9:09: Memphis wins the prize for “catchiest performance song” thus far. I may have to sample this album on iTunes and contemplate a purchase.
9:12: Paula Abdul is there? Why, again? Based on her American Idol finale appearance, she could go from interesting to uncomfortable in eight milliseconds. I’m officially looking forward to this now.
9:13: Another commercial break clip! Going really retro this time – from 1982 (a wonderful year in the birth of Tony Award live bloggers), here’s the original Jennifer Holliday performance of “And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls. Will you get chills? Oh, yeah.
9:17: “That’s unusual for me.” I might join the Chenoweth fan club, b-rollers. Not gonna lie.
9:19: “Making me more available to my good.” What an, uh, interesting way to approach spirituality. Not that I disagree, but I’m still working out what in the hell that means.
9:20: It’s almost not fair that someone as beautiful as Catherine Zeta Jones has that kind of singing voice.
9:22: This is one of the only Sondheim songs that I like, by the way. I’m not the world’s biggest Sondheim fan, though I know that’s rather sacrilegious to say. I just like melodies that aren’t ridiculously dissonant. Call me crazy.
9:24: Here’s your next clip: the Tony performance from Nine at the 2003 show, referenced earlier by yours truly. Sean Hayes wasn’t wrong, by the way – that show was WAY better than the movie.
9:26: Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I have these clips at my disposal: I may Google them occasionally. Those and old clips of Johnny Depp (did you know he was once on Vicar of Dibley?!) Neither of those admissions is terribly flattering to me. Forget I said anything.
9:30: Idina Menzel! Why do they have her introducing Ragtime rather than Lea Michele (who was in the original)? The producers know that Idina and Lea are not ACTUALLY related, right?
9:31: I saw Ragtime, too (last year at the Kennedy Center, where it premiered before going to Broadway). I thought it was excellent. Unfortunately, its stint on Broadway lasted about as long as that performance (75 seconds).
9:33: And this shall be the BIG STAR portion of the evening! Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Liev Schrieber, Monk, that guy from The Hangover and National Treasure…
9:39: Kerry Washington is in Times Square “with thousands of people watching the Tonys.” Or, she’s in Times Square with thousands of people who paused to look at the large screens before moving on to ESPN Zone.
9:40: Next clip: Jersey Boys. I know I lamented the lack of original musicals on Broadway, but this show is way more entertaining than it should be.
9:43: I’m also using this commercial break to grab a handful of peanut butter M&Ms (need protein to keep live-blogging b-rollers) and check on the Celtics-Lakers game. I don’t want to jinx the Celtics by watching them, but to be supportive I am starting a “Beat LA” chant in Casa b-roll.
9:44: And Bernadette Peters laughs good-naturedly (read: doesn’t really want to but is on camera) at Sean Hayes second sight gag. These may become old soon.
9:45: Does Helen Mirren ever come across as anything less than regal? Even when she’s waving to the fans in the cheap seats? I want to be her when I grow up. British accent and all.
9:46: Congrats to Viola Davis, who just beat out one helluva field of actresses for Best Leading Actress in a Play (I condensed that for the sake of everyone). Wow.
9:47: Addendum to previous note: I would also like Viola Davis’ biceps when I grow up.
9:48: I hope no one cared about knowing the ending of Fences, because Viola Davis kinda just spoiled it. Whoopsie.
9:49: And Denzel Washington completes the Fences sweep! Although he doesn’t know the name of the organization that has just given him the award. Angela Lansbury may charge the stage and take the Tony back for that. Stay tuned.
9:50: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith produced Fela!, huh? Does it star one of their children? Okay, I know that’s cold, but the news that their 10 year old daughter is going to release an album – this announced at the movie premiere of the film that stars their 11 year old son, by the way – well, that just struck me as a tad too much.
9:52: In case you’re wondering how Hollywood is reacting to the Tony Awards, I just got an email bulletin from The Hollywood Reporter with the following headline: “Scarlett Johansson wins Tony Award.” That just about cuts right to the heart of their priorities, no?
9:55: By the way, Fela! is performing. This is colorful and exuberant and I really cannot stand jazz music so I am searching for YouTube clips at the moment. Sorry, b-rollers.
9:56: They just pimped Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison for the 962nd time. I’m a Gleek. J’adore that show. But we freaking get it – THEY’RE PERFORMING. Desist.
9:57: Since I dinged this year’s opening – minus American Idiot, of course – here’s a look at last year’s open (part 1, though you can find part 2 as well). Tell me it’s not 700 times better than this year’s.
10:01: How does the winner of a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre not get airtime on the main show? It’s Marian Seldes, for the love of God. Be serious, Tony producers.
10:03: Paula Abdul is a two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer? My jaw is on the floor. I know she’s a talented dancer-choreographer, but the reigning perception of her is so rooted in “You know, you look great tonight” and smacking Simon. I’m kinda stunned.
10:06: That choreography from Come Fly Away slayed me. And then I saw that Twyla Tharp was the choreographer and went, “oh, freaking duh.” Tyce Diorio, please take notes on how to choreograph a Broadway routine for So You Think You Can Dance. Twyla just beat you like a drum.
10:09: Sean Hayes has more to do during the actual play of Promises, Promises than just pretend to work at a desk, right? Because he’s quite good at feigning a phone conversation, but the man is nominated for a Tony tonight, so I was expecting more.
10:10: Really? The choreographer is “dancing his way to his second Tony Award”? That pun was so unnecessary, Tony announcer.
10:14: Here’s a retro/classic clip for you – the opening of the 1975 Tony Awards, featuring the original cast of A Chorus Line. I’ve kinda become obsessed with this show after seeing the marvelous doc Every Little Step last year. If you haven’t seen that yet, Netflix it, for God’s sake.
10:19: I’m having a lot of difficulty identifying the fabric that created Cate Blanchett’s outfit. Is it gray velvet? Or some super shimmery material that was only discovered in time to create this suit, like a new element or something? I’m flummoxed. Guesses, b-rollers?
10:20: This is kinda predictable, huh? I mean, after Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won, did anyone think Fences wouldn’t win the Revival Tony?
10:21: What’s up with the war drums that appear to be playing quietly underneath the Fences acceptance speech? The production crew has had more than a few audio and visual glitches this evening. Tighten things up, fellas.
10:22: And Red wins the original play prize. Just keeping you in the loop, b-rollers.
10:23: The drums are still playing. It sounds kinda like someone is pounding on an open microphone. Might we want to stop that, tech crew?
10:24: Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison! Hey, did you know they were performing?!
10:26: I’m surprised that Mr. Schuester isn’t rapping to some late ’80s hip hop number, frankly. I guess CBS couldn’t clear “Apache” in time.
10:27: Okay, I’ll ask – this is entertaining, but was there any other motive for this besides, “Glee is wildly popular, let’s get some of the cast members to help us boost our ratings”?
10:28: It’s official: Lea Michele is ridiculously talented. It’s one thing to sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in a recording studio with multiple takes; it’s another to perform live in front of Broadway’s finest and and a large-ish home audience. HOLY. CRAP. I am in total awe.
10:31: Awesome clip alert: From the 2000 Tony Awards, the cast of The Full Monty performing “Let It Go”. Not for the faint of heart, although the audience reaction at the end of the clip is completely priceless.
10:36: It takes a confident man to pull off the Spider Man uniform. Even more than an Annie costume.
10:38: Raquel Welch is still trying to play up the sex kitten angle, and she looks great, admittedly. Though not every line (like explaining what a “revival” is) requires a sexy wink, Raquel.
10:40: During the American Idiot performance, allow me to say that one of the reasons I always loved this album was that it was innovative, but also exceptionally brave. It’s hard to remember now, but at the time, speaking out against the war in Iraq wasn’t much done, because you’d be accused of being unpatriotic. I always admired Green Day for making such a strong statement. This serious comment brought to you by b-roll’s liberal conscience. (And this performance rocks, by the way).
10:45: Another clip as we near the end of the show (we have to be almost done, right?): In honor of Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, here’s Spring Awakening from the 2007 show AND Hairspray from 2002. I feel like if the Hairspray footage were clearer, I’d exclaim “God, Mr. Schuester looks so young!” Alas, we’ll just have to assume that reaction.
10:49: Could there be any more perfect casting for Gomez and Morticia Addams than Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth? Just asking.
10:50: Catherine Zeta Jones continues the movie star sweep – and what an adorable acceptance speech. How is it possible that she sang as well as she did earlier with her voice giving out? She sounds like a British Miley Cyrus at the moment.
10:53: The other guy from La Cage Aux Folles (ie, not Kelsey Grammer) wins the Tony for Best Actor/Musical (I’m really condensing now). Seeing this gentleman in a tux is entirely disconcerting.
10:56: Okay, last clip (I presume) comes from the first musical I ever saw and the official favorite show of b-roll Mom and Dad: Les Miserables. An epic and a classic, b-rollers.
11:00: Wow, the producer of Memphis is pumped at their win! Lotsa energy directed into that microphone. I, meanwhile, am pretty sapped, though I’ll definitely be checking out that album.
11:01: And Sean Hayes awkwardly intros a performance from Best Musical winner Memphis. The production of this show has been less than seamless. A lot to work on for next year, fellas.
So, that was fun! Okay, it was underwhelming compared to last year, but the theater geek had a ball. I am in mourning for American Idiot, though. Alas.
I wish you all a good night, b-rollers!