10:17 — Almost all the clips they show from Sunday in the Park with George are from Act One, which isn’t surprising. The number they perform is from Act Two though, and it’s the anti-show-stopper, which makes it sort of a very Sondheim thing to do, I think.
10:21 — Meanwhile, Paul Pierce is making a strong case for Finals MVP.
10:27 — As they go to announce Best Revival, I turn to MTV instead and watch Jabbawockeez perform on America’s Best Dance Crew. These guys are the absolute future of our business, even though they’re not yet in our business. I turn back to see South Pacific win, and accepting the award are three producers, with not an artist in sight. And I just don’t see a whole lot of excitement in that moment, and it’s disappointing. You get the idea that the show is strong technically, and important because it’s historical, and people see it because they know it, but no one is really thrilled about it, and that’s kind of sad.
10:31 — Lily Tomlin imitates Marisa Tomei’s walk onstage and makes a joke about it. I write: “YES!” Lily Tomlin is badass. She announces Xanadu, and I write: “god damn if Xanadu wins god damn.” I have nothing against Xanadu. I kind of really want to see it, and I think it should be good campy fun. But if that show were to win Best Musical this year, it would be beating out two important and historical shows, and we just can’t have that.
10:38 — Meanwhile, PJ Brown is getting in Pau Gasol’s head, doing exactly what you’d expect the old guy on the court to be doing. In the few minutes I catch here, the Lakers look awful–like they’re just going through the motions. The Celtics tie it up.
10:41 — Anthony Rapp introduces the current cast of Rent to do a short version of “La Vie Boheme,” and it’s fascinating to listen to the difference between a show 12 years into its run and the original, especially when the original thrived on a unique kind of emotion. Seasons of Love is pretty much the perfect song for anniversaries and celebrations like this, and I can only imagine what they’ll have cooked up for the final performance.
And when the Rent performance ends, and the show has, for all intents and purposes been sent off into retirement, only Lin-Manuel stands. And it’s at the moment that I realize what’s happening during this broadcast: we’re seeing the very beginning of the future of the American theater, and the past/present of the American theater (or at least the Broadway version of it) doesn’t even realize it’s happening.
10:47 — Where the hell is Liza Minelli’s shirt?
( I never thought I’d write that sentence.)
Liza announces Lead Actor in a musical, and I write: “Paolo Szot? WHAT?” South Pacific Juggernaut, right, I understand, but WHAT? Lin-Manuel is giving a performance that is literally changing the face of the Broadway theater, and Stew is turning the Broadway stage into a rock concert every night on the sheer force of his will, and the award goes to Paolo Szot? And what really starts to make me nervous is that it’s possible that these two guys split the vote, which means it’s possible that their shows are gonna split the vote, which could mean Xanadu could slip in on the strength of those Cubby Bernstein videos. This can’t happen. Can it?
10:50 — Lead Actress, and I write: “Juggernaut? Nope.” The Szot thing had me thinking the South Pacific juggernaut could overcome the Gypsy acting juggernaut, but Patti Lupone wins what seemed like her Tony all along. And then of course, since she’s Patti Lupone she gives a long speech, keeping going even when they try to cut her off.
10:58 — YES. In The Heights wins Best Musical. I give a little Tiger Woods fist pump; it’s more relief than even joy. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again here: I don’t think In The Heights is a better show than Passing Strange, but I do think it works the best for Broadway. And it does so on its own terms, which is really what ultimately matters. I’m a little disappointed that a producer gives the speech for the show, although Lin-Manuel does get prime placement onstage, and then, in another of my favorite Tony moments ever, is hoisted onto the shoulders of two of his producers. The look on his face is priceless, and I’m hoping it’s the front page (or a little corner, at least) of the Daily News tomorrow.
I also have to send incredible congratulations to my homegirl Quiara Hudes, who wrote the book for the show and was, I believe and hope, right up on there onstage and partying into the wee hours of the morning.
So in conclusion, go see Passing Strange right now, because it needs you.
In The Heights will be there waiting, hopefully for a long time.