Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Theater isn’t really our thing at HitFix. We do movies, TV and music. But just as the lines between those genres have blurred over the years, theater is also becoming more blended, less distinct.
On Sunday (June 7) night, Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush is expected to add a Tony to his mantle. “American Idol” loser Constantine Maroulis is expected to add “Tony loser” to his resume. And “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony, taking one last shot to convince Emmy voters that he’s one of TV’s most versatile performers.
And that, dear friends, is why we’re live-blogging the 63rd Annual Tony Awards…
8:00 p.m. ET The show opens with Elton John singing one of the songs from “Billy Elliot,” with the kids dancing and flying through the air. I’ve hear that the only people who don’t enjoy “Billy Elliot” lack souls. Quickly, the Jets from “West Side Story” and Craig Bierko from “Guys & Dolls” come out and duet on “Tonight” and “Luck be a Lady.” Is this their way of kissing up to musical challenged viewers or their way of mocking “Guys and Dolls” for its relative lack of knowledges.
8:04 p.m. Let it never be said that the Tony producers aren’t willing to pander. Ladies and gentlemen… Poison! They apparently have music in “Rock of Ages,” the show that has given the world “Tony Nominee Maroulis.”
8:05 p.m. Stockard Channing is joined by… um… Somebody they really ought to be identifying for viewers at home, because the audience is tremendously excited about him. I mean… I’m trying here! But I’m in Los Angeles, y’all.
8:06 p.m. Ah, “Shrek: The Musical.” Like “Land of the Lost,” I can only assume this is one of those things that would be better high. Or if you were six years old. Or if you were six years old and also high, not that we recommend that.
8:07 p.m. Once you’re doing all of these musical numbers up front, what do I have to look forward to? Here’s Dolly Parton and the cast of “9 to 5,” which includes Allison Janney, our second “West Wing” leading lady in two minutes.
8:08 p.m. Liza? With a “z”? We’re just knocking out icons one after another. Hi, Anne Hathaway. She’s doing Shakespeare in the Park, if memory serves.
8:09 p.m. If Treat Williams isn’t there, it really isn’t “Hair,” if you ask me. The cast of “Hair” brings Sir Elton onto the stage. And the cast of Shrek. And Poison. This is one of those very rare moments were the word “surreal” is well and truly apt.
8:12 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris, suited up and shiny, takes the stage. He is, as you might guess, just amused and honored to be here. NPH tells us that the opening was the biggest and most expensive opening in Tony history. “And that is why I’m your host tonight,” he adds. “I’m in TV.” He thanks us all.
8:15 p.m. “So now, let’s bring on the Constantine Maroulis jokes… I kid. Because I can,” NPH kids. He then introduces the big stars in the audience, specifically the movie stars.
8:15 p.m. Jane Fonda, accompanied by a “Blithe Spirit” joke, is the night’s first presenter, as a dozen politically conservative viewers change the channel. They expected a “Cold Case” repeat anyway. She’s presenting Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play. Several of the actors are recognizable from “Law & Order” episodes. Yay! The winner is Roger Robinson for “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” He says that it’s been a 46-year journey.
8:24 p.m. And you thought we’d seen the last of “Shrek: The Musical.” This is creepy and I hope that nobody is ever subjected to “Shrek the Third: The Musical.” Yes, Lord Farquaad’s tiny legs are both disturbing and amusing as a piece of performance. “What’s Up Dulac,” indeed.
8:29 p.m. “Wow. Cool. Broadway. Bigger than ever,” NPH says before proposing that producers go with a presidential theme –“Barack of Ages.” “The Phantom of the Oprah,” “Obama Mia!”
8:29 p.m. “God of Carnage” stars, and movie stars, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini are out next, presented Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. One of the nominees is Angela Lansbury. The other four are not. We therefore shouldn’t be surprised that the “Murder, She Wrote” star picks up her fifth Tony Award. Yeah, she’s kinda a big deal.
8:32 p.m. “Who know at this time in my life that I should be presented with this lovely, lovely award,” Landsbury says. She acknowledges her fellow nominees, reassuring them that this wasn’t really fair.
8:33 p.m. Broadway shows, 20 of them, are touring North America. We’re giving a nod to the touring companies of three of those shows, starting with “Mamma Mia.” This may possibly be the best time ever to check in on the NBA Finals.
8:35 p.m. The three ladies singing are actually awful. They’re all out of breath and not especially in-synch. Yikes. Go Lakers.
8:37 p.m. I know NPH is just doing his part to move the show along, but part of me wants to think that he’s interrupting “Dancing Queen” to put the audience out of its misery.
8:41 p.m. NPH’s next suggestion, Smellovision. It’s a dirty series of jokes involving scratching and sniffing Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot.
8:42 p.m. Samantha Mathis and Colin Hanks lead into a scene from “33 Variations.” It’s a very brief scene. Plays, apparently, don’t matter.
8:44 p.m. “As a Broadway veteran…” begins Will Ferrell, up for a Tony for his George W. Bush impression. He makes “Hair” and “Waiting for Godot” jokes that go over flat. He’s giving the award for Best Score and if anybody thinks Elton John and the “Billy Elliot” guy who isn’t Elton John can possibly lose…
8:46 p.m. See? I know nothing. Nothing. The award goes to the team from “Next to Normal.” The show’s director immediately cuts to a disappointed Dolly Parton, another loser. Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, incidentally, are the winners. Kitt and Yorkey seem to have practiced this, because they go back-and-forth with their thanks fluidly. Not fluidly enough. They’re played off the stage.
8:48 p.m. Here’s the company from “West Side Story,” doing the elaborate gym dance. The director is unprepared for so much dancing taking place across so much of the show. As a result, almost none of the scope of the scene is captured on camera.
8:51 p.m. Ah, Tony and Maria. They were truly the Bella and Edward of their time. Eventually, he will bite her and she’ll become a Jet.
8:55 p.m. The commercials airing with the Tonys indicate that CBS thinks this show’s average audience is between 55 and dead.
8:57 p.m. Susan Sarandon is presenting the award for Best Direction of a Play. She looks fantastic. She’s got that “Motherlover” glow. Matthew Warchus is up against himself. He beats himself, winning for “God of Carnage.” Warchus thanks his “God of Carnage” peeps and then also thanks the people behind his other nominated play. Way to multi-task.
9:00 p.m. For Best Direction of a Musical, we’re all assuming that Steven Daldry is unbeatable, right?
9:01 p.m. Whew. This time I got it right. I can’t believe Daldry won a Tony for “An Inspector Calls” back in the day. He did the original British production as well. What an overrated, overblow mess. He thanks his three little Billys.
9:02 p.m. Tony Nominee Constantine Maroulis. Now on my TV. “Rock of Ages” is probably a fun couple hours at the theater.
9:04 p.m. Oh. Look. It’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Again. Between “The Sopranos” and “Glee,” there has to be a breaking point eventually doesn’t there? “Don’t Stop Believing” is the new Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” as in “Find a new song already, folks.”
9:07 p.m. The commercials also indicate that the average Tony viewer has erectile dysfunction and/or a chronic yeast infection. I’m feeling older and unhealthier just watching this show.
9:12 p.m. Edie Falco, star of Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” presents the award for Best Special Theatrical Event to “Liza’s At the Palace.” Sorry, Will Ferrell. And sorry, Shaolin monks. We’ll always have The Wu. Liza is giddy and forgetful. The band tries to play over Liza thanking her parents.
9:16 p.m. Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis present a clip from “God of Carnage.” As one of the few people out there who detested “Art,” I’m a bit less into Yasmina Reza than some.
9:17 p.m. Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham present a performance from “Guys and Dolls,” a performance that doesn’t include Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham. Boo. It is, instead, “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” Uh-oh. Nicely-Nicely is having microphone problems and somebody has to rush a handheld mic to the stage. Whew. Nice save.
9:24 p.m. This is the second or third “How I Met Your Mother” promo during the show, which is a nice tip-of-the-cap to NPH.
9:27 p.m. Meredith Grey’s mother and Lucy’s daughter present an infomercial.
9:29 p.m. I guess I’d go see John Stamos in “Bye-Bye Birdie.” Wait. No I wouldn’t. I did, however, see John Stamos on Broadway back in the mid-90s in “How to Succeed in Business.”
9:32 p.m. Stamos is presenting the award for Featured Actor in a Musical. The winner is Gregory Jbara, who plays the dad in “Billy Elliot.” He brings his wife up onto the stage with him, thanking her for being a single mom for all of these months. It’s unclear if she’s tremendously embarrassed, tremendously proud or just tremendously confused.
9:33 p.m. Stamos also gets to give out the award for Featured Actress in a Musical. Two of the nominees are from “Billy Elliot,” but it’s Karen Olivo from “West Side Story” who wins. This is a woman you’re going to see on TV and in movies sometime very soon.
9:34 p.m. How do you top John Stamos? With Carrie Fisher, it would appear. She’s introducing a musical number from “Next to Normal.” She ends with “Please welcome, from the cast of ‘Next to Normal,’ the cast of ‘Next to Normal.'”
9:36 p.m. Why is it that I suspect I’d probably respect “Next to Normal” a lot more than I’d respect “Rock of Ages” or “Shrek: The Musical”?
9:44 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris pops up eating sushi. He jokes about how if he ate sushi all the time, he’d be able to do show after show every night. BURN ON JEREMY PIVEN! Alas, The Thermometer will probably still take NPH’s Emmy. Because Emmy voters are mo-rons.
9:45 p.m. Jessica Lange is presenting Lead Actor in a Play. It goes, as expected, to Geoffrey Rush for “Exit the King.”
9:47 p.m. Another 15 second clip from a play is introduced by the dude from “Major Dad.”
9:49 p.m. I return from a minor technical problem just in time for the Necrology, led off by Natasha Richardson and Harold Pinter and accompanied by a chorus singing “Can’t Regret (What I Did For Love).” I’d forgotten that we lost two Golden Girls during the past Tony calendar year.
9:51 p.m. Paul Newman closes the Necrology. The lights go dark.
9:58 p.m. Frank Langella, a three-time Tony winner (and star of the production of “The Father” I still count amongst the best I’ve ever seen), is presenting Lead Actress in a Play, though he starts by mocking the nominating committee for not giving him a nod for “Man For All Seasons.” I’m not sure if this is funny, or unsightly. Ah, it’s funny, as he accidentally pulls out his Oscar speech and ends with “And I thought Geoffrey Rush was nice in that play.”
10 p.m. The nominees include Hope Davis, Jane Fonda, Marcia Gay Garden, Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter. That’s a lot of star-power, though all around America, people are wondering who Harriet Walter is. It stinks to just be a respected theater actor.
10:02 p.m. Marcia Gay Harden is your winner. She thanks enough people to get played off the stage.
10:04 p.m. “Coyote Ugly” star Piper Perabo kicks off the 15 second clip from “Reasons to be Pretty,” which is instantly identifiable as Neil LaBute.
10:05 p.m. Is something wrong with Elton John? I thought he sounded awful singing in the opening credits and he can’t read any of the “Billy Elliot” intro off of the teleprompter. Once again, the director has a hard time just letting the “Billy Elliot” kid dance, cutting the performance to unrecognizable bits.
10:08 p.m. Poor direction aside, the number is clearly pretty remarkable. I’d go see the show, I guess. It’s more “Tommy” meets “So You Think You Can Dance” than I’d have guessed or assumed.
10:09 p.m. Why *haven’t* we had a “Coyote Ugly: The Musical”?
10:14 p.m. Gina Gershon would seem to be appearing in “Bye-Bye Birdie” with John Stamos. For no reason, she presents the touring company from “Legally Blonde.” Well, it’s better than “Mamma Mia.” I know that this telecast is all about goosing ticket sales for musicals, since those are the industry’s cash cow, but it hurts that we get this stuff instead of a full scene from the nominated plays.
10:16 p.m. Harvey Fierstein is just funny. He’s presenting Best Revival of a Play, which goes to… “The Norman Conquests.” Half of the audience comes to the stage. Huge cast? 500 producers? It’s a very big crowd.
10:19 p.m. Harvey also gets to present the Best Play award. It goes to “God of Carnage.” Marcia Gay Harden, still clutching her Tony, comes rushing up from backstage to join the cast, which the play’s producer calls “The acting equivalent of Roger Federer.” Way to be topical and cross boundaries!
10:27 p.m. Angela Lansbury is back, introducing a tribute to Jerry Herman, the man behind “Hello Dolly!” and “Mame,” among other very fine musicals.
10:31 p.m. “It just doesn’t get any better than this, does it?” Herman says of what he calls “the ultimate moment of my life.” He thanks every soul who has touched his life in the musical theater.
10:33 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris is back! Not for long. He’s just introducing the very lovely Anne Hathaway, who’s just introducing a performance from “Hair.”
10:36 p.m. Lots of funny reactions from the stars in the audience as the “Hair” cast runs down and gets up-close-and-personal. Best moment? James Gandolfini not killing the dirty hippie in his face. This is my happening and it’s freaking me out!
10:38 p.m. “They managed to keep their clothes on and everything!” gushes Kristen Chenoweth, presenting Best Revival of a Musical. Conveniently, the winner is “Hair.”
10:46 p.m. “Coming out for the second time this month,” says NPH on David Hyde Pierce, presenting Leading Actress in a Musical. The applause is loudest for Alice Ripley and she’s the winner for “Next to Normal.” She quotes John F. Kennedy very very loudly. She’s very proud of artists and her family. The most amazing part is that she finishes her speech without getting played off.
10:49 p.m. Tony winner and “Private Practice” castmate Audra McDonald is presenting Leading Actor in a Musical. Will it be the three stars of “Billy Elliot”? Will it be the guy in the Shrek suit? Or will it be Constantine Maroulis. As expected, history is made, as the three “Billy Elliot” stars share the award. The three stars amusingly giddy and unsure how to handle the spotlight. Eventually they figure it out. Between them, they have a lot of sisters.
10:53 p.m. Chandra Wilson, about to start a run in “Chicago,” turns the stage over to various touring pieces from “Jersey Boys.”
10:56 p.m. That was awful. Stop pandering, Tonys.
10:59 p.m. Liza’s back. Again. The only thing left is Best Musical. Will it be “Billy Elliot” or “Next to Normal”?
11:00 p.m. Liza is very excited as “Billy Elliot: The Musical” is triumphant. Elton John thanks us all for opening our wallets and our hearts.
11:03 p.m. Closing Number Time! Finally a reason for Neil Patrick Harris to be here! He sings and recaps the entire show. That’s some fast lyrical work courtesy of Marc Shaiman, I hear. Sample lyric (to the tune of “Tonight”): “This show could not be any gayer/ if Liza were the mayor/ And Elton John took flight.”
11:06 p.m. Well that was a lot of musical theater, kids. Thanks for reading!
Can’t get enough of The Fien Print? Sign up now for HitFix Blog Alerts and receive daily updates.