Spring has sprung: The teen-themed rock musical Spring Awakening took home an impressive eight trophies last night — hey, there are only 25 categories total — at the 61st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall. The other big winner? Tom Stoppard’s three-play epic, The Coast of Utopia, which nabbed seven. For those of you watching The Sopranos — and we’re guessing a few of you were — here’s our recap of Broadway’s big night. (Click here for the complete list of winners.)
EVERYONE’S A WINNER
No, really! Except for Radio Golf (the final spoke in the wheel of the ten-play August Wilson series), every nominated new play and musical won at least one award, even one that closed four months ago, which brings us to…
BEST AWARD OF THE NIGHT
Okay, so a lot of people (including EW) predicted Julie White to win Best Actress in a Play for her brilliant barracuda-like Hollywood agent in Douglas Carter Beane’s scathing satire The Little Dog Laughed. But, you have to admit, someone who bested Angela Lansbury, Vanessa Redgrave, Swoosie Kurtz, and Eve (ahem) Best for a show that isn’t even running anymore has some major pull. And unlike the Oscars, for example, it showed that Tony voters’ memory spans are not those of fruit flies. White’s a class act: Let’s hope that caveman/Geico commercial series doesn’t tarnish this victory.
NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS
Looks like Kiki & Herb will have to settle for Carnegie Hall; their cabaret act-turned-Broadway bonanza lost Special Theatrical Event to Jay Johnson’s heartfelt bioplay about ventriloquism. Note to Kiki: Apparently it helps to have an actual dummy (Bob) rather than a live one (Herb).
NIXON’S GOT NOTHING ON…
Frank Langella. A slam-dunk winner for his Tricky Dick in Frost/Nixon, Langella continued his tradition as the best speech-giver ever. If Nixon had ever been this eloquent and joyous in real life, impeachment may never have been an issue.
THE SUBWAY DIET
Is it me, or does winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) look like the South Park version of Jared from Subway? Anyway, his opening line of his speech, ”This is not heinous” left many wondering what exactly he meant.
PHONE RINGS, DOOR CHIMES, IN COMES…
No Company. In a rather puzzling move, John Doyle’s excellent revival of Stephen Sondheim’s benchmark musical (which took Musical Revival) featured only Raúl Esparza performing the show’s final tune ”Being Alive” — not giving viewers any indication that the show features an entire (and terrific) cast who act, sing, and play in the orchestra. And speaking of Raúl…
Esparza’s searing, unforgettable turn as Bobby was trumped by David Hyde Pierce’s showtune-lovin’ detective in Curtains as best lead actor in a musical. Hyde Pierce’s shuffling, Bahston-accented Niles Crane-ish coppa was sweet, but Esparza reinvented one of the toughest male roles in the canon of musical theater — and played a mean piano too, for God’s sake! Every pundit predicted Esparza to take the trophy.
”If I only had a nickel for every time I gave it to an actor.” — Presenter Harvey Fierstein. If I have to explain it, the Tonys ain’t for you.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Spring Awakening‘s energetic cuties sold the show pretty effectively, but what was with all the line subs? Chest for breasts in ”The Bitch of Living”? (Tyson would be very upset.) And while I’m at it, why sing a song called ”Totally F—ed” if you can’t say ”f—ed”. Oh, wait, I can’t say f—ed either.
C’MON DUDE, SHE’S THEATER ROYALTY!
Usher called four-time Tony-winning 110 in the Shade star Audra McDonald ”Audrey.” Guess she wasn’t ”Raunchy” enough for him.
ALL I ASK OF YOU
The Phantom chandelier crashing down bit was hokey, but John Mahoney and Jane Krakowski were a hoot, the latter absolutely spot-on impersonating the American Theater Wing’s loopy Sondra Gilman. Now, why aren’t we seeing that deft comic ability in the Xanadu musical, Ms. Krakowski? (A great bonus was Mahoney’s little ”goddamn,” which slipped by the delay as he exited the stage. He he he.)
WEIRDEST PASSING OF THE TORCH
The regal Jane Alexander introducing none other than The Color Purple‘s Fantasia to perform. Well, if American Idol castoffs can win Academy Awards nowadays (something Alexander has sadly never been able to do), why not?
Jennifer Ehle, kind of a surprise winner for Featured Actress in a Play for her sterling three roles in Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, hoping that the play’s success will allow theatres to consider the idea of repertory again. Hear, hear!
RADIO CITY BLUE STATE HALL
Judging from the audience’s rapturous response to Little Edie’s (Grey Gardens‘ earthshaking Christine Ebersole) claim that East Hampton is a ”mean, nasty Republican town,” we know what side their political bread is buttered on. (Hmmm, wonder what first lady Laura Bush thought on her recent visit to the show?)