Tony Awards 2012 - As It Happened

Welcome to the 66th Annual Tony Awards, or as Neil Patrick Harris has just dubbed it, "Fifty Shades of Gay." We will be live blogging all the action with equal parts of fact and fiction: 50% accuracy, 50% commentary, 50% attempted humour.

Read on to relive the blow by blow coverage of the 2012 Tony Awards. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Unless you want to travel back in time!

Host Neil Patrick Harris performs at the Tony Awards.
Host Neil Patrick Harris performs at the Tony Awards. Photo: Reuters

The Big Questions

The Tony Awards are polarising our department more than any other awards. It seems you either love them or HATE them. Which side are you on? Let us know in the comments below.

Why do you watch the Tony Awards? To get a first look at some of the new Broadway shows? To find out who won? Or just to watch Neil Patrick Harris be awesome?


And that is the end from us too. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.


A surprised Judith Light accepts her award for her performance in <i>Other Desert Cities</i>.
A surprised Judith Light accepts her award for her performance in Other Desert CitiesPhoto: Reuters

NPH finishes with a song that he would have sung "If I'd had time..."

Nice referential song, referring to how "I'd mention Once won once then won once more"

Neil Patrick Harris  at the Tony Awards.
Neil Patrick Harris at the Tony Awards. Photo: Reuters

"... but there's no time"

"Oh what a crime that due to certain peoples speeches running long, you'll never get to hear my clever song."

Great way to end "The network has spoken, and telling me clear, that we. Are. Out. Of..."

And it ends.


It's an odd speech in which we are invited to wash down the elixir of theatre with a cold beer. Hmmm.


Funniest part of this speech so far is the intro in which the Voice of Tonys said "the producer will now speak for Once" which sounds better than it reads.


Which leads to the final award.

Best Musical
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get It

And the winner is: Once


Matt Stone and Trey Parker on stage to explain how winning last year's Tony changed them from artists to artistes now speak as "we who are now the Broadway establishment" to the "Young whipper snappers who so desperately want to join our ranks."


Time for one more ad before the final award. Almost like this is the top rating part of the show!


So Bess is the best. (Sorry).

"I was a little girl with a pot belly and puffs, over grown and dramatic and I found the theatre and I found my home."


Plummer takes up with inviting more women to join him on stage with another award.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell - Follies
Audra McDonald - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti - Once
Kelli O'Hara - Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes - Bonnie & Clyde

And the winner is: Audra McDonald - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess


She shouts down the music with a "I might not do this again, hold on!" which gets a laugh.


Nina recalls watching her "first crush" Christopher Plummer blow his whistle in The Sound of Music and gets a big cheer from the crowd and a look that only an 82 year old can pull off from Plummer.


Christopher Plummer who is the darling of all awards after last year's run with Beginners is on stage to present.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda - Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett - End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing - Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin - The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon - Wit

And the winner is: Nina Arianda - Venus in Fur


It's been pointed out that James Corden was the host (forced by producers) to tell Adele to wrap up her acceptance speech last year. No sign of her on stage at the Tonys with a gag.


Getting to the pointy end of the awards now. Only two Actress awards and Best Musical left to come.


A finally profession of love for his girlfriend who gave birth to their son a few days ago and a great, genuinely stunned speech comes to a close.

From the cheer in the auditorium before and after there is no doubt the right man won that award according to the room.


James Corden who is probably for most of us best recognised more as a British comedy actor who was the best friend in Gavin & Stacey is clearly blown away by the people he's been nominated alongside.

"To be on a list with you was enough. Holding this reminds me that there's no such thing as best."

He's a bit emotional and choking up and adds "it's good it's not hot in here innit!" to big whoops from the crowd.


Candice Bergen gets to announce a VERY popular winner now.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden - One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones - Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Frank Langella - Man and Boy
John Lithgow - The Columnist

And the winner is James Corden - One Man, Two Guvnors


Steve Kazee gets very emotional recounting his love for his cast and how they have helped him through some tough times.


Candice Bergen comes on stage and sensibly just gets on with presenting an award because, well how do you top that.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein - Follies
Jeremy Jordan - Newsies
Steve Kazee - Once
Norm Lewis - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines - Follies

And the winner is: Steve Kazee - Once


Hugh says of his rascally wife: "She's never kept a secret in her entire life! I'm just off to the loo' Oh ok, right!"

About ten years ago Jack, Ricky and Glen asked me to host the Tony Awards and I thought they were smoking crack!

Hugh hosted before appearing on Broadway and describes it as something that he treasures "almost as much as anything."

Hugh is charming and humble and thanks Deborah: "My incredible wife and my kids support me. I love you with all my heart. I know how much you hate public speaking and this is probably the greatest thing you've done for me."

He holds her hand as he makes the final statement and the room loves hugh just that little bit more.


Deborah Lee Furness presnets the award to her husband on his first night back from the shoot of Les Miserable the movie.

Being recognised as both a performer and a humanitarian. His Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway show which ran for 10 weeks last year raised more than 2 million dollars for charity.

I'm thrilled to present this speical Tony to a special man. Hugh Jackman.


A quick summary of the OTHER special awards before OUR special award.

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Emanuel Azenberg

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Bernadette Peters

Special Tony Award
Actors' Equity Association

Regional Theatre Award
The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.


Hugh Jackman award is incoming. NPH tells us that we wouldn't want to miss it. We certainly wouldn't!


We're now watching a Hairspray medley as apparently the Tonys have run out of musicals that are nominated, but not slots for musical numbers.


Harvey Fierstein is on stage in a floaty with a drink with an umbrella in it.

Of course he is.

He's talking about shows on boats but... wow.


Broadway royalty takes the stage. Mandy Patinkin andPatti LuPone. They're on stage to present (after a lovely musical introduction) an award:

Best Revival of a Musical
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar

And the winner is: The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess


We have our first Hugh Jackman sighting! He's dancing with the myriad youths now entertaining the crowd.

(No I'm not sure which show they're from!)


Great thing about performing Evita at the Tonys is the moment where they can sing "Tony, Tony, Tony!"


Another revival performance coming now so I look forward to further heated debate in our office where there is a ground swell of opinion that "revival" is not a real thing and shouldn't get an award. Apparently the same as giving awards for retweets.


So while I listen to that, the people in the theatre get Ricky Martin and the cast of Evita.


Nice speech there:

"There are people who say 'Show me this world, open me, change me.' These are our audiences. We say thank you to everyone who says 'yes'"


Look for those plays in your nearest metropolitan theatre company's Season 2013 brochure later this year!


We're now into the last hour of the awards which is why we're getting to the good ones (like Best Play).

Best Play
Clybourne Park - Author: Bruce Norris
Other Desert Cities - Author: Jon Robin Baitz
Peter and the Starcatcher - Author: Rick Elice
Venus in Fur - Author: David Ives

And the winner is: Clybourne Park - Author: Bruce Norris


There's a very interesting slow diorama happening behind Parsons - with silhouetted actors recreating the descriptions he is giving for each of the nominees for Best Play, followed by video clips from the actual productions. An interesting way of giving life to video that the Oscars could easily borrow.


Jim Parsons (yes Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) is on stage to recreate the experience of attending Broadway. It's always incredible to see him in confident 'normal' mode.


A musical for lovers of Mumford & Sons would seem the appropriate pull quote on this one.


Interesting staging as they've installed "audience" on stage facing the performer in a bar style environment, except the "audience" are all also playing instruments.


Josh Grobin introduces the company of Once. Interesting to see how different this is from the film.


Scott Rudin the producer accepts the award, talking to a strange gaggle of his colleagues who are all apparently trying to stand on a very small step off to the side of the theatre.


Tyler Perry on stage, a man who has made oodles of box office smash films that haven't rated a cinema release in Australia. You may make your own racially charaged observations on that.

He's introducting an award:

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Master Class

And the winner is: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


I find it very odd the way that Bio puts an ad for the Tony Awards just before they resume coverage of the Tony Awards, finishing with "up next." Well, yes.


Porgy is a tough musical, very operatic in parts, and they certainly would seem to have brought out that aspect in this production based on that medley.


You don't get more revived than Porgy and Bess and that's what we're hearing from now.


Alan Menken points out the irony of winning a razzie for this show for worst song (which they've now cut) and a Tony for Best Score! Delicious.


Sheryl points out she's just written her first musical score, which is an intriguing proposition before presenting an award:

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bonnie & Clyde - Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Don Black
Newsies - Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Jack Feldman
One Man, Two Guvnors - Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding
Peter and the Starcatcher - Music: Wayne Barker, Lyrics: Rick Elice

And the winner is: Newsies - Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Jack Feldman


And then introduces the next presenter in song, with a spoken Sheryl Crow to cap it off.


And we're back with who else but NPH repeating the quote that "no one leaves the theatre humming the scenery." Which as good a reason as any for him to burst into song.

It's another medley, in which he's cramming as many famous tunes in as little time as possible. WONDERFUL. It's all the tunes you ever left humming.


NPH sends us to the break as he gargles champagne.

And they try so hard to make us think they're normal people like us!


And on walks James Corden from One Man, Two Guvnors to have a conversation with himself that ends with him rolling on the floor. He's nominated tonight and you can see why.

If you'd like to see why at greater length, there is a repeat screening of that play in cinemas in Australia on July 7 and 8 which is well worth catching. Look up NTLive.


And as per the rules outlined in the Book of Tony (chapter 5, verse 17) the brief suggestion of a video montage rapidly turns into a stage medley. Then back to the video for more instant replays.


Time for the accounts statement. 40 new productions this year on Broadway. "Unique" productions and "some unexpected melodies". That's not really a great review.

Now we get a montage of the year in plays.


She also thanks her husband for his knowledge of the "care and support of a diva." Then gives a moving tribute to her recently passed father.


HA! "I guess chandaliers are very good to me" opens Judy, who has won this award once before, for Phantom of the Opera.

I guess that means there's a chandalier in Nice Work If You Can Get It!


NPH is doing vocal warm ups as we return.

And now, an award...

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis - Once
Jayne Houdyshell - Follies
Judy Kaye - Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jessie Mueller - On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da'Vine Joy Randolph - Ghost the Musical

And the winner is: Judy Kaye - Nice Work If You Can Get It


Lovely outro there. Enda Walsh who "won earlier" the Best Book of a Musical Tony for Once explains how surreal it was that he was chosen.

"It's the equivalent of the producers getting the rights to It's A Wonderful Life ... and then getting Charles Manson to write it."


This is proper old school musical number stuff. Stage full of men in white tie, girls in full flapper outfits. Broderick proves he's certainly still got the Broadway chops to carry a show.


This is proving divisive in our office. Someone To Watch Over Me has me swooning and our news editor groaning. What's your take on the Gershwin classic?


Gleeks go wild as Matthew Morrison comes on stage to introduce the performance from Nice Work If You Can Get It.

He introduces Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara with a medley from the show.


"Including some names means excluding others" is Jeremy's excellent rationalisation for not just thanking a list of people while standing on stage, before he starts thanking individuals. Hmmm.


And it's another Hollywood star who is about to conquer Broadway. Jessica Chastain, who was in about ninety five films that came out in 2011 will next year be featuring in The Heiress.

She's presenting an award.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Christian Borle - Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty - End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden - One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos - Clybourne Park

And the winner is: Christian Borle - Peter and the Starcatcher



NPH enters the theatre Tobey Maguire Spider-Man style. Upside down from 'thread'.

"The many concerns I had about this Spider-Man rigging have now been overridden by the searing pain I have in my junk."

He then hangs in the background awkwardly upstaging (read Hysterically Upstaging) the presenters attempting to give you the history of the Tony Awards with as many "leave you hanging" puns as they can.


For those wondering, yes the Mike Nichols who just won the Tony is the very same man who won the Oscar as director of The Graduate.

"There's not a person in this theatre that doesn't know what it is to be a salesman," he finished.


Sentences you never thought you'd say: I think I prefer Jon Stevens to this Tony nominated performer.


Another Best Revival of a Musical performance now, with a spot from Jesus Christ Superstar.

It's one of the "Broadway signs you're getting old" I think, when shows you remember coming out the first time get revivals.

Anyone feeling all youthful now beware, when Lion King gets its revival NEXT YEAR you will all feel my pain.


It faded a bit in quality, ultimately getting played off by music, but that's still probably the best speech so far.


Funny speech alert! Mike Nichols is winning a record sixth Tony for Direction. He points out that the audience cheers have eaten into his 90 seconds. Then recalls a time on this stage when he won a pie eating contest. This apparently is an even better experience.

Wow, he's combined humour and tears in the one speech. Choking up the moment he attempts to thank those most important to him.


Laroquette continues with a second award.

Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner - One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon - Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers - Peter and the Starcatcher

And the winner is: Mike Nichols - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


For those wondering, yes this is an adaptation of the indie movie out of Ireland from a few years ago. A rare film that genuinely would seem to almost beg for a musical adaptation. No word if this is coming to Australia yet.


John Laroquette from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is on stage to present an award:

Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun - Newsies
Kathleen Marshall - Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany - Once

And the winner is: John Tiffany - Once


And we're back with a performance from Ghost the Musical which is coming to Australia, starting in Melbourne in 2013. The number is the signature tune from the movie, a riff on Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers by the lead actress, which morphs into a three part original tune.

Gotta say this is a MUCH better marketing pitch. I want to see this.

No clay on a wheel though. Pity.


For those wondering, the red, raucous and rather grating number was from Follies. It was not a great advertisement for the show, advertisements for other shows on Bio are what we are watching now though.


An ad break, an ad break, thank Heavens for the ad break! That last number has earned me a coffee purely by inspiring various staff members here at Fairfax to leave the editorial floor. (We walk out for a wide variety of reasons round these parts).


My love is fading fast for this number. It feels like it would be somewhat improved if the man on stage was replaced by Bugs Bunny and Elmur Fudd. It's THAT kind of old school. Actually, this guy could BE Elmer Fudd.


This is what I love about the Tonys. The sense that if you've gone five minutes without someone singing, you're doing it wrong. ON stage now are two of the ... well reddest vaudevilians you've ever seen.

This is old school Broadway, near unintelligible lyrics, random high pace / low pace choreography and a girl who comes on stage at intermitent times in complicated ... well, lingerie.


Bernadette Peters is now on stage for Best Revival of a Musical.

Next year, Annie will be a candidate for this award, including Australia's own Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks!


Amanda Seyfried comes back on stage to present the award.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris - Evita
David Alan Grier - The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Michael McGrath - Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young - Jesus Christ Superstar

And the winner is: Michael McGrath - Nice Work If You Can Get It


NPH is now suggesting some film / Broadway musical mash ups:

The Exor-Sister Act
Field of Dreamgirls
Psycho Calcutta

Bridge on the Rive Kwai Baby
My Left Footloose


We return from the ad break to be told Christopher Gattelli won for Best Choreography for Newsies while we were gone.


It's our first nominees performance as the company of Newsies, one of the four Best Musical nominees take the stage.

This is a musical about people working for a newspaper. I feel strangely drawn to this show...


Judith Light is surprised, as measured by the "Oh my God" index on which she rates a three repetitions.

You may recognise Judith as Angela from Who's The Boss?


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden - Don't Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger - Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light - Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad - Stick Fly

And the winner is: Judith Light for Other Desert Cities


Paul Rudd comes to the stage to present the first award. Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.

Like any good high school debate, Paul starts by defining the award he's presenting.

"Audiences will pay to see these passionate performances, sweet as a Tibetan cake," is apparently the measure for this award.


And the moral of that song? If life were more like theatre "life wouldn't suck so hard."


NPH has burst into song with the question of "What if life were more like theatre?"

Apparently if it were you'd run into everyone from Amanda Seyfried to Annie.


NPH tells us this is his third Tonys and like the third film in a saga, this is when it starts to get good.


Now here's Mormon Neil Patrick Harris, which is a fairly ironic notion when you think about it, but his introduction of the Tonys as Fifty Shades of Gay in his first line probably gives us some context to that.


We open with The Book of Mormon, the musical by the writers of South Park, which possibly is a sign of the awards starting as they mean to finish. The cast members of Mormon door knock the dressing rooms of celebrities including Ricky Martin, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones (signing a Darth Vader photo) and Judith Light!