That’s what most everyone seated at the massive dais could talk about when greeting the guests at the 76th Annual Drama League luncheon (May 21). Alfred Molina thought it was “great.” Sean Hayes thought it was “the best of the 12 other chicken dinners I’ve had today” and Tony Shalhoub didn’t eat it. “I’m allergic.”
Of course, there were some wonderful things being said about things other than the chicken. Most prominently, something almost every actor up there mentioned: the importance of the cast as a whole. As Viola Davis put it: “You’re only as good as your ensemble.” (Which begs the question we here at Playbill have been asking for a long time: Why there still isn’t a Best Ensemble Tony Award?) But, that’s for another time.
Hosts Vanessa Williams and Michael Urie kicked off the ceremony with their own rendition of Gypsy’s “Together, Wherever We Go,” with Urie begging to keep going wherever Williams is going, because, as he put it, his show, The Temperamentals is closing (May 30, by the way…see it, it’s great! Free plug!).
The best speech award goes to the inimitable Nathan Lane, who was given the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award. To the members of the Drama League, Lane said, “It’s a good thing you decided to honor me before the reviews for The Addams Family came out, otherwise, this award would probably be going to Bernadette Peters.” And about those reviews? Lane laughed, “Good thing most of America doesn’t read.” He ended his speech with some words of wisdom to his colleagues. “Good luck at the Tonys. Or as we call it in my house: Passover.”
David Alan Grier, while nominated for his acting in David Mamet’s Race, decided to sing his speech. “It’s Tony time, there are a lot of voters here, and I just wanted to take this moment to say," before breaking into song. "I’m the greatest actor in the woooooooooooorld!” To which, Jan Maxwell replied: “I wanted to use my time to thank David Alan Grier for lending his wonderful voice to my song.”
Hugh Jackman was there representing both him and his A Steady Rain co-star, Daniel Craig. “They left it up to me to tell him [about today],” Jackman said. “He just shows up in his free Dunhill suits and his baby blues, and I thought, ‘He’s had enough’ so I’m going to take his free gift bag home with me,” he joked.
Scarlett Johansson had some sensory recall moments while riding the big, glass elevators at the Marriott Marquis. “I remember when I was eight or nine, riding those glass elevators after an audition. And then I’d go to Howard Johnson’s for some French onion soup.”
Distinguished Director winner, Kenny Leon, did a brilliant job summing up why everyone was there. “Film is art. Theatre is life. And TV is furniture!”
Alfred Molina had the last spot of the day, taking home the award for Distinguished Performance for his role in Red. “My wife told me not to go 'English' if I won this. She said ‘You’re in America. Take your time and enjoy it.'”
And with a little fist pump, he whispered, “Yes!”
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="John Gallagher, Jr."][/caption]
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Alfred Molina"][/caption]
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Nathan Lane"][/caption]