Guilty confession: I'm a theatre junkie. Whenever I can get to New York City, I make a beeline for the theatre district and for the TKTS booth to see what's on sale. So it's a given that I love The Tony Awards and last night's show did not disappoint.
The highlights for me were the opening and closing numbers. The opening number gave me chills! It was no surprise to see the now-history-making boys of BILLY ELLIOTT open the show but then the casts of WEST SIDE STORY and GUYS & DOLLS (featuring Craig Bierko singing up a storm!) came out too and it was musicals gone wild! When Liza Minnelli came out and sang a snippet of "But the World Goes Round," I had a huge grin on my face and got goosebumps.
Finally, when the company of HAIR joined in, the place went up for grabs with the performers and audience members dancing and cheering. The only show I wasn't familiar with was NEXT TO NORMAL and the song they performed from that show blew me away. I was not surprised when Alice Ripley won a Tony after seeing that. It was really powerful - but then, a musical about a bi-polar woman probably has a lot of super-dramatic moments.
I was a little thrown by Ripley's uber-dramatic acceptance speech where she quoted JFK about culture and applied it the arts but it's a big moment in an actresses' life so I understand. It certainly made me want to see the show.
The Tonys also made me smile as I watched Angela Lansbury win her record-breaking fifth Tony and accept it with elegance and grace. Throughout the show, I was constantly reminded at how supportive the New York theatre community is: the actors actually see each others' shows and compliment each other. It's downright friendly.
Don't these people know they're in show business?
I have to send some love out to Neil Patrick Harris because he was one of the best hosts I've ever seen. He brought the funny as well as his mad musical skills and in the words of Barney Stinson, he suited up beautifully. The closing number, penned by musical wizards Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, had NPH belting out a funny summation of the evening's events to the tune of WEST SIDE STORY's classic song, "Tonight." It was a perfect cap to a fun-filled show. Let's hope the Tony organization brings Harris back for a return engagement very very soon.
In closing, I can only echo the words that close every Tony ceremony: go see a Broadway show and if you have kids, be sure to take them too. It's a very special kind of happiness to see a show live and in person. Long live Broadway and the Tony Awards!