From the show (Whoopi flies! Mark Rylance talks nonsense?) to the star-studded after-parties, reviews the highs and lows of Broadway's big night
Mark Rylance
Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

South Pacific sailed away with seven awards, Whoopi Goldberg flew, and In the Heights lived up to its title. Yes, it was a big night for musicals at Radio City on Sunday. The Rodgers and Hammerstein revival emerged as the evening’s big winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Heights nabbed Best Musical, and viewers were treated to no fewer than 13 (!) numbers — including a lavish opening performance from The Lion King (which just marked 10 years on Broadway) and a special appearance by most of the original cast of Rent (which is about to close after 12 years). And, as predicted, Tracy Letts’ drama August: Osage County took the Best Play title, one of its five Tonys.

At Rockefeller Center, where the event and some after-parties were held, the consensus seemed to be that the 2008 Tony Awards were pretty fair (no one was skulking around at the supper ball — at least not visibly), breezily enjoyable (Whoopi gets a big thumbs up!), and not even as unpredictable as everyone thought (I correctly predicted 21 out of 26 categories!). Here’s a rundown of the evening’s highlights — some of which you didn’t see on camera.

Best Orchestrations winners Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman (In the Heights): ”We’re Alex and Bill, and we just pooped our pants a little bit.”

Good Thing the Pre-show Isn’t Live
Passing Strange author/composer/star Stew, accepting his award for Best Book of a Musical: ”I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know we were going to do this now. I thought this was going to happen an hour from now. I was looking for some M&Ms in my pocket. I don’t know what to say…. We did this s—!”

Guess the Orchestra Was Still Tuning Up
During the pre-show, the music cues didn’t always match the winners: On his walk to the podium, South Pacific lighting designer Donald Holder heard the mambo from West Side Story, and Stew was serenaded by Meet Me in St. Louis‘ ”Trolley Song.” Because, of course, when you think of Stew, you immediately think of Judy Garland.

The Hosts With the Most, Part 1
Last year’s Best Actress, Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed), and 2004 Tony winner Michael Cerveris (Assassins) proved to be good-humored hosts at the pre-ceremony ceremony. (That is, the awards CBS can’t accommodate because they’re shoehorning in 47 musical performances. Perhaps we exaggerate.) But might the Tony powers-that-be consider putting the creative/technical awards back on PBS like they once did? And when they do, they should hire the crack comic team of Cerveris and White, who got multiple laughs simply by pronouncing Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

NEXT PAGE: Harry Potter pops by and Patti LuPone puts the smack down