8:34 — Billy Elliot is an awful show. Awful. I saw it in London. It was awful. Awful. I am sure it will do very well in New York, but man, I thought it was awful. Also, I do not remember the little boy doing The Wave when I saw it. I do remember a little boy dancing with his mother’s dresses. I mean, the dresses were dancing. Yikes.
8:37 — Best Direction of a Musical goes to Bartlett Sher, and I guess that’s not terribly shocking. Rumblings of a South Pacific juggernaut are already starting. I did think that the other three nominees were pretty strong contenders, with Buntrock putting a really pretty set of pictures onstage, and Kail playing a huge role in make In The Heights a success, and Laurents being, well, Laurents. They show Andre Bishop in the audience with his daughter, and that’s pretty cute, and reminds me of the time he came to speak to our marketing class at the Metropolitan Opera, and his daughter called him in the middle of the class, and he told her what he was doing, and she asked if she could listen in, so he just left the phone on while he went back to talking to us. You gotta love that.
8:40 — Mandy Patinkin’s beard. Really. Jack Klugman introduces the number from Gypsy, and I’m a little surprised that they didn’t do Rose’s Turn. It’s probably the smart move though — make folks pay to see that one, plus Everything’s Coming Up Roses gives Bananti and Gaines a chance to be onstage too. I had originally written this in my notebook: “nothing in this makes me rethink my reaction to [Lupone’s] performance” (I didn’t enjoy Gypsy very much when I saw it). But on further reflection, I’m going to change my mind a little bit. The very tail end of that performance shows a pretty huge transformation. She’s desperate and angry and hurt, and I think Patti gives you a lot of what you’re looking for from Mama Rose. She got a standing ovation, and I wouldn’t have gone that far, but there are certainly some real good things going on there.
8:45 — Does Whoopi has a boob tattoo? A big boob tattoo?
8:51 — Orchestrations and Choreography both go to In The Heights. That’s a good sign. Book goes to Passing Strange, which is a little surprising and awesome; I’m sure of all the awards they thought they’d get for that show, Book was not high on the list. Sadly, they’d win nothing else all night, which I think bodes very badly for the chances of them staying open much longer. And that’s a damn shame. It’s really a great show. Boeing Boeing winning Best Revival surprised me somewhat, but I guess there wasn’t really a juggernaut in that category.
8:54 — Duncan Sheik looks goofy. In The Heights wins Best Score, which it most certainly should have, and then we get what is probably my favorite Tony moment of all-time: Lin-Manuel Miranda raps his acceptance speech. And he pulls out a Puerto Rican flag at the end. And what’s really exciting here is not just that he’s doing these things, but that he is, and I cannot stress this enough, legitimately thrilled to be where he is. I write this in my notebook: “This is exactly what we needed. Fuck yes.”
8:57 — And the South Pacific starts its performance with “Nothing Like a Dame,” and I realize that I sang that song onstage in high school. And as I watch the rest of the medley, I’m struck by the clear contrast between the show’s last two moments: Lin-Manuel was all sheer excitement and new fresh energy, then not three minutes later we’re seeing staid and traditional and (in my opinion) biteless and out-dated. And don’t get me wrong — the songs sounded great and all, but man, give me that energy any time.
You’ll see that this becomes a recurring theme.