HIGHLIGHT: NPH licks the competition — and Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses — in a showstopping number from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (The four-time Tony host later picked up his first-ever award for Best Actor in a Musical.)
LOWLIGHT: Hugh Jackman gamely tries to do a rap version of The Music Man with LL Cool J and T.I., but comes off looking like the white dude in the Soul Train line.
HIGHLIGHT: When legendary Carole King appeared to sing with her younger self (Tony winner Jessie Mueller) in the musical number for Beautiful, you could feel the earth move under their feet.
LOWLIGHT: Clint Eastwood appears lost as he hands out the directing prizes. Did someone forget to bring him his chair from the Republican National Convention?
HIGHLIGHT: Audra McDonald gets a standing O for her record breaking win for Best Actress in a Play for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, then delivers a tearful speech: ”I want to thank my mom and my dad up in heaven for disobeying the doctors’ orders and not medicating their hyperactive girl and finding out what was she into instead.”
LOWLIGHT: After delivering a terrific performance from Cabaret, the Good Wife star appears wearing a white jacket with a mysterious Rorschach test-like inkblot on the front.
HIGHLIGHT: Tony nominee Jefferson Mays pulls off an impressive live quick-change (into three of his nine characters) to introduce a musical number from Best Musical winner A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.
LOWLIGHT: The meandering, time-wasting song from Finding Neverland, a show that isn’t even on Broadway, sung by Jennifer Hudson, who isn’t in the show, with a weird ballet-dancing Peter Pan figure.
HIGHLIGHT: Starry, high-stepping number from After Midnight, which starts with Fantasia in a fringy green gown, adds Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle, and then brings in a stageful of amazingly limber dancers.
LOWLIGHT: Yes, there was a viral video introducing the Tonys’ bouncy host. But even after his bouncing opening routine, I have no idea why Hugh Jackman chose to open the show with a Tigger impression.
HIGHLIGHT: James Monroe Iglehart’s praise shout and happy dance. ”I know this is supposed to be the most dignified awards show of the season, but I have to do this: This is a praise shout.”
LOWLIGHT: Fran Drescher, dressed like a lobster with ruching, gets ahead of herself introducing the nominees for featured actor in a musical.
HIGHLIGHT: Sophie Okenedo’s lovely acceptance speech for featured actress in A Raisin in the Sun. ”Blimey,” she begins, before thanking producers who ”somehow had the vision that a Jewish Nigerian Brit could come over the pond and play one of America’s most iconic parts.”
LOWLIGHT: Introducing a number from Cabaret, Maggie Gyllenhaal appears in feathery dress that made her look like the loser in a down pillow fight.