Playbill.com's 2012 Tony Awards Press Room Blog

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10 Jun 2012

Steve Kazee
Steve Kazee
Photo by Joan Marcus

Playbill.com staff writer Adam Hetrick blogged live from the Tony Awards press room June 10. Here is his first-hand account of winners' reactions at the 66th annual ceremony.

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11:55 PM. Audra was the last of the winners to hit the press room. Thanks everyone for reading. Maybe Audra wants to grab a slice. See you all next year.

11:54 PM. Also, McDonald's favorite pizza is, "Pizza that comes to me!" She then revealed, "Domino's thin crust with pepperoni, black olives and sausage!"

11:53 PM. "I'm so hungry!," Audra McDonald laughed walking into the press room. "I don't think it's ever going to hit me," she said of her fifth Tony win. "This is the only thing I've ever wanted to do. It's the only thing I'm good at. Theatre's where I found who I was." McDonald also said she'd also love to do more Shakespeare or even delve into opera.

11:42 PM. Tony winner Steve Kazee spoke about having the audience on stage in the musical pre-show that happens before Once. "Everyone's really friendly…People spill drinks on stage all the time!" He also said that he went to school with Nina Arianda.

11:30 PM. Tony winner Nina Arianda, who closes Venus in Fur next week, told the press, "I want to give this week my all." She also shared advice she learned at NYU: "'Assume that you're brilliant.' That mentality can prepare you to walk into an audition room and not fall to pieces. NYU has given me so much and I'm incredibly grateful to them."

11: 25 PM. The Once producers told the press that their goal was to "strip this show down to the essence of what theatre is – to bring the simplicity of the theatre back. What is simple is often the hardest."

11:10 PM. Don't go anywhere, kids. The winners are still coming to the press room to dish!

11:02 PM. The final award of the evening, Best Musical, goes to Once - the intimate, chamber musical based on the 2006 film of the same title. It leads the pack with eight 2012 Tony Awards.

10:59 PM. Just one award to go, folks. Best Musical, will it be Once, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It or Leap of Faith? Once is leading the pack with seven wins so far. 

10:55 PM. Audra McDonald has won her fifth Tony Award (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Porgy and Bess). She is now in special company with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris, the only other two actreses to hold that honor. 

10:52 PM. Nina Arianda, who was an unknown before she encountered the role of Vanda in David Ives' Venus in Fur Off-Broadway two years ago, just won the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. Read her recent interview with Playbill.com here.

10:49 PM. Hugh Jackman has arrived in the press room. He said a reading of the first act of the Broadway-aimed musical Houdini is just two weeks away. He added that he has four days of filming on the "Les Miserables" film to go and that "Who Am I?" is one of his favorite songs currently.

10:44 PM: In the press room Porgy and Bess producer Jeffrey Richards addressed Stephen Sondheim's letter to the New York Times about his reservations on the new revised production, saying, "He wrote from a place of passion," and that he hoped the composer-lyricist would come to see the production. He added, "We never doubted for a moment that we were coming into New York, despite all the controversy we met."

James Corden
photo by Joan Marcus

10:42 PM. James Corden, who pulled out all the commedia dell'arte stops in One Man, Two Guvnors, just ran away with the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. 

10:35 PM. Once's guitar-toting leading man Steve Kazee has won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. And that's how you nail a Tony speech, people. Read Playbill.com's recent feature with him here.

10:32 PM. Clybourne Park playwright Bruce Norris calls the play's success, "A constant shocking surprise." He also told the press room about his inspiration for the play: "When I was about 12-years-old seeing the movie of 'Raisin' in a social studies class in Houston, TX, and realized the bad guy in the play was the closest person to me... I recognized those people and felt like I cold right about them.

10:23 PM. Someone just crowd surfed to their seat behind Neil Patrick Harris. Anyone else catch that?!

10:17 PM. The revised revival of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess just took the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. This is the second musical revival director Diane Paulus has steered toward a Tony win, also having staged the Tony-winning 2008 revival of Hair.

10:15 PM. "I have about another month with Starcatcher before 'Smash' starts up again," Starcatcher Tony winner Christian Borle told the press. The NBC series resumes shooting mid to late July.

10:10 PM. Peter and the Starcatcher's Jeff Croiter has won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Play. Starcatcher now has five Tony Awards.

10:02 PM. Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park won the Tony Award for Best Play after winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last season.

10:00 PM. Once scenic designer Bob Crowley said that the musical's setting in a pub is "a natural environment for people to fall in love and fall out of love." He added that Once's Tony Awards roll tonight might be a response to excess being out of favor. "It's a story about people who don't have much. Something in the zeitgeist saying less is more. This is a little show that grew rather beautifully."

9:51 PM. Natasha Katz has won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical for Once. She was competing against herself in the category this year, also having been nominated for Follies.

9:50 PM. "It means a hell of a lot," Alan Menken said of finally nabbing a Tony Award with Newsies. "I'm a New Yorker. Born in Manhattan. [I] grew up in theatre."

Judy Kaye
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

9:45 PM. Judy Kaye just told the press that she really looks forward to her nightly "duet" with the chandelier in Nice Work... She laughed, "It's very good for your spine!"

9:44 PM. Death of a Salesman has won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

9:42 PM. Starcatcher scenic designer Donyale Werle revealed that pieces of the set are made from old costumes from the Disney Broadway production of The Little Mermaid.

9:39 PM. Once is leading the pack – now up to five Tony Awards. Scenic designer Bob Crowley earned a Tony Award for creating the pub-setting of the musical.

9:36 PM. Here's the tally for the night so far. Once and Starcatcher are tied at four awards, with two wins for Nice Work, and one award each so far for Other Desert Cities, Newsies, Death of a Salesman and Follies.

9:31 PM. Academy Award winner Alan Menken just won his first Tony Award for the score to Newsies. He collaborated with lyricist Jack Feldman. Menken now has eight Oscars, a Grammy and a Tony to put on his mantel.

9:30 PM. Costume designer Gregg Barnes described the book of Follies as being, "Like a poem. It's very spare." He said, "There's a lot of room for interpretation," and that the structure of the musical allows designers a lot of creativity to help audiences gain understanding of the characters.

9:23 PM. Donyale Werle, who used found objects including wine corks, rubber hoses and childrens' toys to create the world of Peter and the Starcatcher, won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. View Playbill.com's video feature with Donyale here.

9:22 PM. "I'm so glad I worked in a medium that can't be digitalized," Once director John Tiffany told the press room. "As theatremakers we need to explore and exploit that sense of live experience. I like playing with audiences' expectation." He also offered advice to young directors: "Create work that is unique and that can only exist for an audience. Develop a generosity of storytelling and desire to connect."

9:17 PM. Judy Kaye, who plays Duchess Estonia Dulworth in Nice Work If You Can Get It, just earned the second Tony Award of her career.

9:11 PM. Gregg Barnes just won the Tony Award for his lavish costumes for Follies. Playbill did a cool video feature when Barnes first was first designing the costumes for Follies' debut at the Kennedy Center. View it here. You can also check out Barnes' costume sketches for Follies in this Playbill.com gallery.

9:09: Starcatcher costume designer Paloma Young spoke of ther inspiration for the bras in the second act "Mermaid" musical number. "Anything that a 12-year-old boy thinks looks like boobs. That's where that came from!" She said the mustard container bra is a personal favorite from that scene.

9:00 PM. Peter and the Starcatcher and "Smash" star Christian Borle just hooked the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He's giving one of Broadway's most exciting comic performances of the year as Black Stache in Starcatcher.

8:58 PM. Judith Light shared her love for the theatre with the press in the following statement: "We get to be in a moment in time with an audience. We are there together sharing an experience. It's spiritual for me."

8:54 PM. Paloma Young wins the Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for Peter and the Starcatcher.

8:51 PM. Fun and embarrassing Tony-night story: I played Harold Bride opposite Tony nominee Josh Young as Barrett (who is killing it right now in Jesus Christ Superstar) in a summer-stock production of the musical Titanic. It included a remote-control teacart. True story.

8:45 PM. Mike Nichols just nabbed his sixth Tony Award, for directing the revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

8:43 PM. Once now has its fourth Tony of the night. Director John Tiffany just received the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical.

Michael McGrath
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

8:41 PM. Tony winner Michael McGrath confirmed to the press room that he is part of the development of the new musical The Honeymooners. He is playing Ralph, the role made famous by the late Jackie Gleason.

8:35 PM. Peter and the Starcatcher gets a Tony Award! Darron L. West wins for Best Sound Design of a Play.

8:32 PM. That's Kiira Schmidt and Jenifer Foote doing some awesome and hilarious vaudeville work as Margie and Sally, with Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein in "Buddy's Blues" from the revival of Follies.

8:20 PM. Michael McGrath has earned his first Tony Award for playing bootlegger Cookie McGee in the Gershwin musical Nice Work If You Can Get It.

8:24 PM. The first batch of photos from Playbill.com's red carpet arrivals are live. Click here!

8:21 PM. Once has earned its third Tony Award of the evening. Clive Goodwin won the Tony for Best Sound Design of a Musical.

8:14 PM. Judith Light just earned her first Tony Award for playing Silda, the acerbic alcoholic aunt of Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities

8:08 PM. Walsh added that his upcoming projects include a gritty movie musical, titled "The Great White Way," set in New York, which will feature the songs of Rufus Wainwright. 

Enda Walsh
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

8:06 PM. Once book writer Enda Walsh told the press room, "I knew that it was important to make it an ensemble piece. Every character had to have an arc." He said the story of the musical, for him, is like a combination between "Brief Encounter" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

7:58 PM. Emanuel Azenberg told the press room that his favorite productions he produced were Side Show, which he said he was extremely fond of, as well as La Boheme, The Real Thing, The Lion in Winter and Brighton Beach Memoirs. 

7:49 PM. Irish playwright Enda Walsh has won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Once

7:46 PM. Newsies takes the second Tony Award of the evening, for Christopher Gattelli's high-flying choreography. 

7:45 PM. Lowe suggested an overdue Tony Award category for Broadway musical supervisors and musical directors in his speech, saying, "They are as deserving of an award as any of the other creatives who will be honored this evening."

7:43 Martin Lowe, who shaped the fiddle and guitar-driven orchestrations for Once has earned the first Tony Award of the evening. 

Bernadette Peters
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

7:36 PM. Bernadette Peters looks stunning in a plum gown. The two-time Tony winner is being recognized with the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her humanitarian efforts with Broadway Cares and Broadway Barks.

7:32 PM. Veteran producer Emanuel Azenberg received a standing ovation when he walked on stage to collect his Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Azenberg, who appeared as himself on the NBC musical show "Smash," made the following comment regarding the plot of the series: "Nobody ever got the lead in a Broadway musical by sleeping with the producer, after they got the part, maybe, but not before!"

7:25 PM. Four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, who is up for her fifth Tony Award this evening, said her dress was designed by Porgy and Bess costume designer and former "Project Runway" contestant ESosa.

7:22 PM. Fun facts as the night gets underway. Broadway saw 14 musicals this season, 23 plays and 3 special engagements. Broadway also contributed $11.2 billion to New York City's economy this year.

7:16 PM. By the way, you can keep tab on tonight's winners with Playbill's printable Tony Awards ballot! Click here to download it. 

7:00 PM. Special Tony Award recipient Hugh Jackman told NY1 that he'll participate in a reading of the first-act of Houdini "in about a week." He said David Rockwell will design, with Jack O'Brien directing. The musical has a score by Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz and book by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin. A 2013-2014 Broadway arrival was previously announced.

6:58 PM. Hi everyone. Happy Tony Awards night! Before the awards get underway, I'll be bringing you some tidbits from the Tony Awards Red Carpet, which is snaking its way around Amsterdam towards the front of the Beacon Theatre.

The 2012 Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS beginning at 8 PM ET. Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris again hosts.

For more information visit TonyAwards.