9:08 — They’re keeping the Whoopi stuff short and, dare I say, pithy. That’s good. As they list the Featured Actress nominees, I write this: “Whoa. I forgot all about Young Frankenstein.” It’s really crazy, when you think about it: The Producers won everything, and Frankenstein was uber-shut out. Anyway…Laura Benanti wins, and that’s not really surprising, because it’s pretty clear that Gypsy will sweep the acting awards for which it is nominated. And as I look at the nominees, I think Benanti probably deserved it, too (although if that dancer with the impossibly flat stomach from In The Heights had been nominated, I’d have voted for her–hey, why isn’t there a Best Dance Performance Tony?).
Somewhere in here, I write this: Kristin Chenowith is almost a midget. She’s super cute though.
9:12 — The cast of Grease looks and sounds ridiculous, sanitized, and entirely unthreatening to me, which kind of defeats the purpose of that whole show. The whole thing feels a bit like a glorified high school show. I think a show like Grease, where you’re working against the vivid memory of the film, demands a higher caliber execution, and I don’t see that here at all.
9:20 — Meanwhile, America’s Best Dance Crew is on MTV. That show happens to be the future of Broadway, folks. I see a performance by SoReal Cru, and they immediately become my frontrunners. I hate reality TV, but this is a show worth watching.
9:21 — The women from Chicago always look incredibly hot onstage, but less so in close-ups. Maybe it’s just the make-up? Featured Actor in a Musical goes to Boyd Gaines, not surprisingly, although I would have loved for Daniel Breaker to sneak away with a win.
9:25 — Marisa Tomei slings her hips all over the stage as she walks on. I mean, that is some Beyonce shit right there.
9:26 — I haven’t seen Little Mermaid, but that costume looks awfully awkward out of context. Sierra Boggess is pretty cute though — does she have a belly button ring? That’s surprising. She looks and sounds just like the movie, which is (a) what they’re going for and (b) kind of the whole problem. the number from A Catered Affair does absolutely nothing for me. The very first seconds of the number from Young Frankenstein were nice and ridiculous, which I loved to see, but the song had nothing to it and was hard to follow out of context.
9:38 — I know this is blasphemous, but nothing I have seen or read about August: Osage County makes me feel like I absolutely must see it. I’m sure that it’s better than my expectations right now, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that it can possibly live up to the hype. As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the clips really served to highlight the shows in any major way — I’m not sure there’s a better way to use the telecast to make folks want to come to the theater, though.
9:42 — As Gabriel Byrne (with his loose tie — good looks) comes out to announce Best Direction of a Play, I write: “LOCK.” And it is a lock for the August juggernaut. I had no idea that Anna D. Shapiro was so young and attractive. Hmm. Maybe I will like August after all.
That’s a joke, by the way.
9:53 — Speaking of attractive, Mary Louise Parker might be the prettiest woman. Anywhere. Mark Rylance wins Best Lead Actor, and I’m surprised by this, and I’m more surprised by his speech, which is completely off-topic and wonderful. I don’t know who that woman was that they showed with my mouth open in wonderment, but it made the whole thing that much better. Mark Rylance is the man.
9:56 — As they get ready to announce Lead Actress in a play, I write: “LOCK.” And it is. More for the August juggernaut. Meanwhile, there is a commercial for a High School Musical reality show on ABC. Sigh.
10:00 — Lin-Manuel gets to basically introduce his own number which goes on right at 10pm; if that doesn’t tip the Best Musical result, I don’t know what would. They start out with the very beginning of the opening number (“Lights up on/Washington Heights up”), then transition into “96,000,” which makes my mother very happy, because she called it way back when we saw the show. Sadly, Lin-Manuel botches my favorite line slightly (leaving out the “knap” in “knapsack full of jack after taxes”), but that can slide. The really interesting thing to me here is that this is the number that looks closest to a traditional showstopper from any of the nominees — and again, you’ll hear all about how different In The Heights is from an average Broadway show, but that’s just not true.
10:09 — Lighting design didn’t go to Sunday in the Park with George, which on one hand is surprising, since it had amazing lighting design, and one hand is predictable, since it lost to the quickly developing South Pacific juggernaut. In cases like this, I wonder if we’re just dealing with lazy voting (“well, I’m voting South Pacific as Best Revival, so it has to have the best lights and sounds and all, right?”); I’m pretty sure that’s what happened the year The Producers won everything.
10:11 — Daniel Radcliffe looks tiny and awkward. As he gets ready to announce Best Play, I write “least suspenseful award EVER.” And it is. August: Osage County juggernaut. I bet it was near unanimous. There are a ton of producers on the stage, but Tracey Letts gets to deliver the speech at least, and is full of swagger. Nice line about the rareness of an “American play on Broadway with theater actors.” I’m not sure this was the time or place to try to make that point, but whatever. I respect his gangsta.
10:16 — Stephen Sondheim wins a lifetime achievement award, but he’s not there, so Mandy Patinkin’s beard reads his speech instead.