Playbill.com Tony Blog: The Tony Awards Press Room

Tony Awards   Playbill.com Tony Blog: The Tony Awards Press Room Playbill.com senior editor Andrew Gans will blog live from Radio City Music Hall beginning at 7 PM ET and give a first-hand account of all the goings-on in the Tony Awards press room.

11:49 PM Well, another Tony night has come and gone. Thanks for reading...See 'ya next year!

11:30 PM Lee Hall, newly minted Tony winner for Best Book of a Musical for his work on Billy Elliot, announced in the press room that he will be returning to Broadway next March with his London success, The Pitmen Painters, another piece about British miners. This one, however, is the story of a group of miners who take a painting course and wind up as artists of note. Hall said the theatre has not yet been chosen, but the production will open on Broadway.

11:26 PM The Billys have arrived! "I couldn't believe that it was even real. It seemed like a dream when I was up there. Even now I'm speechless," said Kiril Kulish. David Alvarez added, "It's a dream come true. Trust me, I didn't expect this at all."

11:18 PM Elton John is now in the press room. The award-winning composer said this was the first Tony Awards he has attended and said the Tonys are "a lot more enjoyable than the Oscars because you're entertained from start to finish." John said he has no new stage projects currently in the works.

11:11 PM Ripley's in the room. When asked who she has drawn on to play the role of Diana, Alice Ripley said, "I draw on myself, but I like to think that I've grown an inch beyond where Diana is at the end of the show." She also added, "I understand that I'm very fortunate that I'm playing a role that would be recognized by the Tony Awards. . . .It feels completely otherworldly and a dream come true [to win the Tony] and also completely natural that if I ever had the right role where I could reveal myself to the audience [that I might win]." 11 PM What a great way to end the show with Neil Patrick Harris' hilarious song! But stay tuned, more to come from the Tony press room.

10:59 PM Don't turn off the TV after the last award. . . there is reportedly a surprise still to come.

10:58 PM The last award of the evening . . . the winner for Best Musical is Billy Elliot!

10:54 PM The cast of The Norman Conquests — Best Revival of a Play — is now in the press room. About the difference between London and U.S. audiences, they say American are much more vocal: "They gasp, they ooh, they aah!"

10:45 PM The winners for Best Actor in a Musical are the young leads of Billy Elliot, Trent Kowalik, David Alvarez and Kiril Kulish.

10:45 PM The winner for Best Actress in a Musical is Alice Ripley for Next to Normal. Woo-hoo!!

10:41 PM Jerry Herman is now in the press room. About his late mother, the Tony-winning composer said, "She believed in me when other members of my family did not. She actually arranged a meeting between Frank Loesser and myself through a friend of a friend of a hairdresser. That afternoon changed my life because Frank was just darling to me and asked if he could call my parents. And he said [to them], 'If he stays with it and you give him support, he's going to make it in this business.' That's why I'm here because of mom and Frank Loesser." Herman said he is not working on any new projects, just enjoying his life and homes.

10:37 PM The winner for Best Revival of a Musical is Hair!

10:35 PM Hair cast just rocked the house, didn't they?!

10:30 PM Gregory Jbara, winner as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for playing the title character's conflicted father in Billy Elliot, was close to tears when discussing his Tony win. "I'm 47 years old," he said, "and I'm sure I pretended to make this speech back when I was a junior high school student." He said the emotional marathon of Billy Elliot doesn't leave him exhausted, but is "quite healing. I can show up wiped and tired…but after the show, I'm ready to run a mile or two."

10:28 PM How perfect that Lansbury should win a Tony the night Jerry Herman (who penned Mame, one of Lansbury's biggest successes) is honored with his Lifetime Achievement Award.

10:22 PM Commercial-break shout out to my mom, who's watching the Tonys in New Jersey; Peter, who's watching in Queens; Tod, who's watching in Philly; my dog, who may be watching in my apartment (I left the TV on); and everyone else enjoying this year's awards.

10:20 PM More from Geoffrey Rush: Rush said he has enjoyed the "amazing generosity" of the Broadway community and would "love to try to establish a stronger bond for the original work coming out of the Australian theatres."

10:19 PM A visibly moved Gregory Jbara is now in the press room.

10:18 PM The winner for Best Play is God of Carnage.

10:16 PM The winner for Best Revival of a Play is The Norman Conquests. Lots of people on the stage!

10:05 PM More from Tony winner Karen Olivo: Despite some controversy over a few West Side Story scenes acted/sung in Spanish, the young triple threat feels, "It's so much easier to be Anita [in those scenes]. When I speak in Spanish, it is my Anita because no one has ever done it that way before."

10:01 PM Best Actor in a Play Tony winner Geoffrey Rush is now speaking in the press room. Rush said he would definitely like to come back to Broadway within the next few years. About the difference between winning an Oscar and a Tony, Rush said, "With a film award it's something you've done a few months before . . . our curtain came down at 5:20 this afternoon. . .you're really rolling in the thick of it...."

9:59 PM The Best Actress in a Play Tony Award goes to . . . Marcia Gay Harden for God of Carnage.

9:51 PM "I am completely surprised [by winning]," West Side Story Tony winner Karen Olivo said in the press room. "I guess I read the wrong [Tony polls]." About playing the role of Anita, Olivo said she likes "the full journey. I like that I start as one person, and I end as a different person. It's kind of like the best workout." She also said director Arthur Laurents is "an incredibly generous and helpful human being. . . His work is the most important thing. . . .He says what he needs to to get the performance he needs." Olivo said "the most rewarding thing [about the role] is I've become a dancer. . . This forced me to jump into an arena I wasn't comfortable with. . . .That was hard, and I wanted to quit all the time, but because of that it made the entire experience richer."

9:47 PM So glad that the tragic death of the gloriously talented Natasha Richardson and the many others we lost this year were noted.

9:45 PM And the winner for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to Geoffrey Rush for Exit the King.

9:43 PM Yes, I know you want some Liza. . . here 'ya go: Asked about a New York Times article published the morning of the Tonys that called her a "cultural icon," Minnelli said, "I don't understand it. To me, I'm just a gypsy. I love to rehearse, to get up and go to work and go to dance class. I'm startled, and thrilled and grateful... and all that jazz!' It seemed like a perfect exit line, but she stopped for a moment and mused, "An icon…hmmm.…a gay icon. I love it!"

9:35 PM Wow, that Next to Normal scene was powerful, and I have to agree with the [title of show] folk: Alice Ripley is fierce . . . and extremely moving. And, Aaron Tveit has such a beautiful voice.

9:31 PM The winner for Best Featured Actress in a Musical is Karen Olivo for West Side Story — it's the first win of the evening for West Side. I love emotional acceptance speeches.

9:30 PM Liza's in the press room!

9:28 PM The winner for Best Featured Actor in a Musical is Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot, the Musical.

9:17 PM Power problems in the press room...sound problems onstage...Bravo to Tituss Burgess for continuing without a beat when he was handed the hand-held mic.

9:12 PM Woo-hoo Liza Minnelli! Minnelli's Liza's at the Palace won the Tony for Best Special Theatrical Event. Minnelli thanked her parents for the best gift they ever gave her: Kay Thompson (Minnelli re-created Thompson's famed cabaret act in the second half of Liza's at the Palace.)

9:10 PM Matthew Warchus, Best Director of a Play, was asked about his two Tony nominations. "I did figure they could cancel each other out," Warchus said. "I actually am surprised that God of Carnage got it because Norman Conquests is three plays. Usually directors get nominated for huge things . . . and when all you're doing is orchestrating emotions on the stage [as in God of Carnage], I figured bigger [Conquests] would get it."

9:01 Next to Normal composer/lyricist Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey reiterated how honored they were to be in the company of Elton John and Dolly Parton and were surprised by their win.

9 PM More from Lansbury earlier in the evening in the press room: Lansbury said she would be happy to try for a sixth Tony Award, adding that she wouldn't mind working with God of Carnage actor James Gandolfini on a project. "I go where the work is," she said. "There are some roles I can still play." She also said she used no choreographer for her nightly prancing in Blithe Spirit, just whatever moves her each night to help conjure spirits in the role of medium Madame Arcati. She said she does it "for a bit of applause. I'm no different from anybody else." And, is it just me or does Lansbury's Arcati give a brief idea of what her Norma Desmond might have looked like had Sondheim penned the Sunset Boulevard musical as once had been planned?

8:59 PM The Tony for Best Director of a Musical goes to Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliot, the Musical.

8:57 PM Best line of the night so far from the twice-nominated Warchus: "I was hoping for another tie actually."

8:56 PM And, the Tony Award for Best Director of a Play goes to Matthew Warchus for God of Carnage.

8:54 PM So, the awards tally for "multiple winners" so far: Billy: 6; Next to Normal, 2; Joe Turner's Come and Gone, 2.

8:48 PM A bit more from Joe Turner's Roger Robinson: Asked what it was like to perform this historic drama before President Barack Obama, Robinson said he was struck by the irony that the President's first visit to a Broadway show occurred at the century-old Belasco, a theatre that was built with a separate entrance for African-Americans: "I appreciate the irony, and I think [playwright] August Wilson would have appreciated the irony . . . . Only in this wonderful country could that happen."

8:45 PM Next to Normal just won its second Tony Award — Best Score of a Musical for Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey.

8:43 PM The legendary Lansbury has just entered the room. She said she feels "about two feet off the ground at this point." Lansbury added, "I never believed in my wildest dreams that I would have the opportunity to get another Tony, so this is such a thrill and surprise to me to be allowed to come to back to Broadway at this point in my life and do good work."

8:30 PM How amazing for Lansbury. She's now only one of two actors to have five Tony Awards for acting — Julie Harris is the other. Hard to imagine what it must feel like to tie that record and to do so in one's eighties! (BTW, Harris does have a sixth Tony, a Lifetime Achievement Award).

8:29 PM And the winner for Best Featured Actress in a Play is Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit. Yay!!

8:28 PM Roger Robinson, Joe Turner Tony winner, is now taking the press room stage.

8:19 PM BTW, I'm checking my e-mail periodically, so if you'd like to send any thoughts or comments, you can e-mail me at agans@playbill.com.

8:15 PM And the winner for Best Featured Actor in a Play is Roger Robinson for Joe Turner's Come and Gone!

8:11: PM Earlier in the press room, Lee Hall, Tony winner for Best Book of a Musical for Billy Elliot, recalled that he thought up the story while soaking in the bathtub. He also said he and composer Elton John are in "serious" talks about making Billy Elliot back into a film again, but said they were still considering how it would be presented as a movie musical. . . . Also, Shirley Herz, winner of a Tony Honor for Excellence, recalled that her "most outrageous" press stunt was sending a cast member of Oh! Calcutta to New York's City Hall in the 1970s to protest plans to impose a tax on theatre tickets. Both were arrested, but there is still today no such tax.

Hair. Quite exciting opening number, perhaps the best in years, and very inclusive of all the musicals!

8:04 PM That was a fun opening number...great way to see snippets of all the different musicals....I do have one question though....What was the subtext for Vera Simpson of Pal Joey singing to Gabe in Next to Normal?

8:00 PM Here we go....Enjoy the Tonys everyone!

7:56 PM Special Tony winner, press agent Shirley Herz was asked: "Who's the most difficult client you've ever worked with?" Herz laughed and said, "I'm still working, and I don't care to answer that!"

7:53 PM Best Choreography Tony winner Peter Darling (Billy Elliot) said he creates different dances for different Billys, depending on their strengths as a dancer.

7:50 PM It seems to be the quiet before the storm...So, anything on TV tonight? ...Actually, following the Tonys, theatre lovers might want to tune in to BBC America for the finale of "Any Dream Will Do" (the search for a London Joseph) from 11 PM-1 AM and the American cable network debut of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" (the search for a London Maria von Trapp) at 1 AM.

7:47 PM When asked about the six wins so far for Billy Elliot the Musical, Best Orchestrations winner Martin Koch said, "It's been five years getting here, continually under development. It feels absolutely great."

7:45 PM Tony-winning Best Lighting Designer of a Musical, Rick Fisher said he's been involved with Billy Elliot for about five years. "I've been lucky enough to work with Stephen [Daldry] for about 20 years....He's always open to any member of the creative team...He's very good about bringing out the best of us all."

7:40 PM Tim Hatley, Tony winner for Best Costume Design of a Musical for Shrek, said the last thing he wanted to do was to copy the movie. "Let's do our own thing," he said. He said he especially enjoyed creating the design for Farquaad.

7:37 PM Brian MacDevitt was the first Tony winner brought into the press room. Now, Derek McLane, Tony-winning set designer for 33 Variations, is speaking about his creations for the Moises Kaufman play.

7:35 PM So, the tally thus far: Billy Elliot, 6; everyone else (33 Variations, Mary Stuart, Shrek, Joe Turner, Equus and Next to Normal), 1 each.

7:34 PM Change that to six Tonys: Billy Elliot won for Best Book of a Musical for Lee Hall.

7:33 PM Make that five for Billy: the winner for Best Choreography is Peter Darling, Billy Elliot, The Musical.

7:32 PM Billy Elliot just won its fourth award of the evening, and the CBS broadcast has yet to begin: Best Sound Design of a Musical for Paul Arditti.

7:30 PM Equus just won its first award of the evening: Sound Design of a Play for Gregory Clarke.

7:29 PM Moises Kaufman just revealed on NY1 that there are currently discussions for a London production of 33 Variations.

7:27 PM The Scenic Design Awards have just been announced. Derek McLane won Best Scenic Design of a Play Tony Award for 33 Variations, and Billy Elliot's Ian MacNeil won the Tony for Best Scenic Design of a Musical.

7:23 PM Ahhh, still more power problems, but we now seem to be up. Let me catch you up a bit in the winners thus far. First, for Best Orchestrations, there was a rare tie between Next to Normal and Billy Elliot. Best Lighting Design for a Play was awarded to Joe Turner's Come and Gone; Best Costume Design for a Play went to Mary Stuart; Best Costume Design for a Musical went to Shrek; and Best Lighting Design for a musical went to Billy Elliot.

7:15 PM Hello, theatre lovers. We're a little late tonight because they're still having power problems in the press room....Anyway, happy Tony night.

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What happens to Tony Award winners after they claim their trophies and make their acceptance speeches? Well, they don't return to their seats.

Playbill.com senior editor Andrew Gans will blog live from Radio City Music Hall June 7 and give a first-hand account of all the goings-on in the Tony Awards press room. Check out his 2008 Tony Awards Blog.

Blogging will begin at approximately 7 PM ET. This page will be the blog, so those interested should bookmark this space now.

The 63rd Annual Tony Awards will be presented at Radio City Music Hall; Neil Patrick Harris hosts. CBS-TV will begin broadcasting the event live at 8 PM.

For more information visit www.tonyawards.com.

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Playbill Magazine editor Blake Ross will Twitter from her seat in Radio City Music Hall to give theatre fans a view of the ceremony from the audience's perspective, including what happens in the auditorium not captured on camera. Join Twitter and follow us at http://twitter.com/playbillmag.