"Broadway....it's not just for gays anymore!"
That's what host Neil Patrick Harris proclaimed at the top of the 65th Annual Tony Awards, and that was pretty much the theme that carried through the entire evening. And what else can be said about an award show who's most-nominated production came from the minds of the South Park creators? Trey Parker and Matt Stone's The Book of Mormon came into the night with 14 nominations, but how many wins did it triumphantly walk away with? And just how did our host deal with making just enough fun of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark during the show?
The Book of Mormon was nine for 14, including Best Musical and Best Directing in a Musical. Other big winners of the night were War Horse, which snatched up Best Play, and Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, which was awarded with Best Play Revival and both Best Featured Actress and Actor in a Play.
The opening number of the Tony's was one of the most entertaining award show numbers in recent memory, with NPH inviting everyone to embrace the world of Broadway. And it wasn't just fun to watch because Brooke Shields completely flubbed her verse when she joined him onstage (seriously, she had to pull out a cue card), but also because it included this little gem of a line: "Come in and be inspired, there's no sodomy required." Once again, the How I Met Your Mother star completely rocked his hosting duties.
And even though our host made this promise: "I'm not going to spend the whole night doing Spider-Man jokes. It's just too easy," he did give himself 30 seconds. Bono and The Edge seemed to take the jokes somewhat in stride, and we even got a little laugh from them after Neil told the audience that he "sent Bono a congratulatory cable, but it snapped." To their credit, the producers of Spider-Man did pretty much offer a three-minute apology while onstage introducing a number from their show. "We used to be famous for being in U2," Bono jokes, with The Edge adding: "In rock and roll, deadlines are just the lies your manager tells you to get you back on the bus."
Daniel Radcliffe was also in the house to support nominated (and victorious) cast member John Laroquette and to perform "Brotherhood of Man" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Laroquette won Featured Actor in a Musical for his Broadway debut. That's right, his first time out and he's got a Tony. Bravo, sir. And because he's no fool, Laroquette made sure to thank the big name in the show, Harry Potter himself, because without him he would be "sitting at home in my underwear watching this."
Later, with little time left in the show, Daniel hurriedly presented Lead Actress in a Play to Frances McDormand for her role in Good People. But more importantly, Frances accepted her award while sporting a pretty stellar jean jacket.
Ellen Barkin (another Broadway debut this year) accepted her Best Actress in a Featured Role in a play for The Normal Heart from Alec Baldwin. In her acceptance speech, she warmly expressed gratidtude to the Broadway world. "Thank you for the way you've embraced me and welcomed me into your community."
Despite having some trouble getting his words out, Harry Connick Jr. presented Nikki M. James with Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and she totally charmed us by proclaming "I will not leave this stage!" after getting the times-up signal during her sweetly frazzled acceptance speech.
Another highlight of the evening was Neil taking on Hugh Jackman in a host vs. host singing/dancing battle. The gauntlet was thrown when Hugh told NPH that his hosting performance was "nice" for "a guy in sitcoms." After the epic battle of Tony hosts (which included a Chorus Line dance), Neil quipped to Hugh, "That was tough. Now I know why you're all six-pack-y." And for that, we thank the theater profusely.
Robin Williams' beard showed up to present the award for Best Book for a Musical to Book of Mormon, but at least his crazy facial hair led to this line from him: "This is an incredible room. The only beard here is on my face." To class the joint back up, Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in all their glory were onhand to present a clip package from recent Broadway shows. Speaking of class, Catherine Zeta-Jones (a Tony winner last year) looked stunning while presenting two Best Actor awards. One went to Norbert Leo Butz for Catch Me If You Can, who insisted: "this award doesn't mean that I'm the best at anything, but it does mean that I'm the most grateful man in the room tonight." After two Tonys, we'd be grateful, too.
Finally, Chris Rock came onstage to present Best Musical, and just like everybody else, he knew the wait before annoucing who won was a useless one. "Come on. We know what the Best Musical is. This is such a waste of time. It's like taking a hooker to dinner," Rock cracks. Parker thanked "co-writer" Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, in his acceptance speech. Then, NPH wrapped up the night with a crazy-awesome freestyle rap recap of the show, and poignantly ended it by dropping the mic on the floor. Of course, he received a standing ovation.
And in case you were wondering, there was not one mention of or joke about the Tracy Morgan situation.
Here is the full list of winners from tonight's Tony Awards:
• Best Musical: Book of Mormon
• Best Play: War Horse
• Best Musical Revival: Anything Goes
• Best Play Revival: The Normal Heart
• Best Featured Actress in a Play: Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
• Best Featured Actor in a Play: John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
• Best Actress in a Play: Frances McDormand, Good People
• Best Actor in a Play: Mark Rylance, Jerusalem
• Best Actress in a Musical: Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
• Best Actor in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
• Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
• Best Featured Actor in a Musical: John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
• Best Choreography: Anything Goes
• Best Direction of a Play: Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
• Best Direction of a Musical: Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
• Best Book of a Musical: The Book of Mormon
• Best Orchestrations: The Book of Mormon
• Best Original Score: The Book of Mormon
• Best Scenic Design of a Play: War Horse
• Best Lighting Design of a Play: War Horse
• Best Sound Design of a Play: War Horse
• Best Sound Design of a Musical: The Book of Mormon
• Best Lighting Design of a Musical: The Book of Mormon
• Best Costume Design of a Musical: Priscilla Queen of the Desert
• Best Costume Design of a Play: The Importance of Being Earnest
Did you think Neil Patrick Harris' performance as host was a success? What was your favorite moment from this year's Tony Awards?