Tony night. The biggest night of the year for the theater industry (not gross-wise) and for me personally. This year it was a little more of a mess than normal. I could not find the dress I intended to wear to the after-parties, leaving me to make do with whatever I had in my closet. I watched Matilda lose the big award of the night, much to my chagrin. I lost my party companion at the second party we attended, as he was knocked down a couple of stairs by a drunken partygoer. But there is always something a little satisfying and joyous about the evening -- it is a time when the theater industry gets to show off. The Broadway community tries to put its best foot forward to the general public during the awards telecast; then it celebrates its own achievement at after-parties. I always like to attend the post-Tony gatherings because there is a sense of community and levity associated with them.
If Matilda didn't have children in it, the party may have been like a morgue. After all, although the show did pick up four well-deserved awards, it lost a pretty major one it should have won, Best Musical. Long considered a shoo-in, the show lost momentum in the last few weeks. But the kids, the kids were happy. Who could blame them? They had just done a tremendous number on the Tony Awards for millions of people. Some guy in a tux walked up to one of them and complimented her on a "kick ass" performance. Not what I would have said to a child, at all, but, still, it made me smile. (And, for what it is worth, I thought the Matilda medley was a highlight of the broadcast -- it should sell tickets.)
None of the winners were yet at the Pippin party, so it was onto the party for Best Play winner Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which actually had the best location of any party, The Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center. I have been a supporter of Vanya since its Lincoln Center run. It was not a likely Tony winner, Best Play tends to go to dramas. However it was truly the best play this season. I would not have been sad had Lucky Guy won -- as I would have loved to see Wellesley alum Nora Ephron be celebrated in that way -- but I think Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike deserved this award. I was very sad Kristine Nielsen didn't win, and I still blame the Tony Awards Administration Committee for moving her up to lead. To her credit, she was very gracious when the countless number of people came up to her and told her she was robbed or made fun of Cicely Tyson's dress. (Seriously, I overheard someone coming up to Nielsen and saying: "I am sorry that old grape won.") I of course had to tell her I too thought she should have won. Nielsen told me she knew early on there was something different in this Durang work, a warmth and a hopefulness. I think the best part of the party though was watching two young women follow around Billy Magnussen ten steps behind.
By the time I headed to the Kinky Boots party, it was already thinning out, so I didn't even go inside. I was impressed to see Cyndi Lauper outside of the gathering signing autographs for fans (who were not dressed for any Tony party). I heard throughout this spring that Lauper, and librettist Harvey Fierstein, frequently could be found outside the theater, signing autographs and posing for pictures. I have no doubt that factored partially into Kinky Boots' win. It was nice to see that on her big night, when multiple people were trying to put her in a car, she was still spending the time to be nice to her supporters.
The final party of the night for me was the popular O&M Co. party at Cafe Carlyle. This gathering was basically everyone I had seen throughout the night (including Magnussen and one of his stalkers) plus another hundred people. O&M had a great Tony night -- they represented both Kinky Boots and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The "M" in O&M, Rick Miramontez, had been telling me all week that Kinky Boots would win, but I refused to believe it. And I continued to be in denial for most of the evening, in spite of the many investors who hugged me. (All credit to Rick and O&M's Molly Barnett for helping make that win happen.) The party was full of very excited Kinky Boots folks -- including winners Lauper and Billy Porter, both of whom I was happy for -- and someone from almost every other Broadway show as well. There were also some people who haven't been on Broadway this season (ex: Darren Criss), some people whose season ended early (ex: Patti LuPone) and some people who have yet to be on Broadway ever (ex: Zachary Quinto, who is coming this fall). I loved seeing Alan Cumming's reaction when a drunk producer said to him: "You did nuts so well." Also, I want to give a special shout out to Laura Osnes, who I had never previously met -- she was all smiles and kind words to everyone, despite her (I believe narrow) defeat earlier in the evening.
It's always great to see how nice people are to each other at these gatherings. All the politics and the fighting are over, at least for about 24 hours, everyone is dressed up and toasting. I know friendships are formed and collaborations are born on these nights. It's Broadway at its best. I am always happy to be a part of it.