Every Tony Awards night something magical happens throughout midtown Manhattan. Broadway decks itself in diamonds and evening dresses, suiting up in their finery to attend — what else? — a Tony party.
Of course, all the stars are at the Tony ceremony: Brian Stokes Mitchell, Gary Sinise, Glenn Close et al. But what about the stagehands and dressers, the front-of-house staff, the swings and the chorus? Radio City Music Hall could easily be filled with Broadway's regular employees, but with such a strong public demand for tickets, not everyone working on the Great White Way makes into the theatre ceremony night.
Arising from the days when a Broadway house hosted the Tonys (the largest, the Gershwin, seats only 1,933, while Radio City, by comparison, holds 5,910 eager Tony-goers), Tony parties are a show's way of showing off, celebrating wins and nursing losses together as a theatrical family.
There wasn't much nursing going on at the Bryant Park Grill June 3 while The Producers were partying it up, unless it was nursing drinks. In fact, the opposite was true as the strategically-placed LCD screens broadcast the Tony sweep. More than one person tallied the wins out loud: "nine...ten, we tied Hello, Dolly!, eleven... We BEAT Hello, Dolly!... Twelve! Twelve!" — while they munched on traditional Broadway party noshes (exotic cheeses and vegetable crudite) then rare roast beef, pasta and tiny chocolate pastries. If the Tony wins weren't enough, four fully-stocked bars kept everyone in top party mode, while a 10-piece band played pop and swing tunes.
For The Producers — and any other hit show — the party doesn't really start until after 11 when the big players arrive from the ceremony and post-Tony gala ball. By 11:30, a small crowd gathers at the restaurant entrance to await the stars and be first to offer congratulations, hugs and kisses. This year, the arrival of Susan Stroman and her assistant Warren Carlisle, brought an onslaught of cheers for the director-choreographer who was doubly honored for her work on Producers. Star couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker drifted through the crowd separately and together, accepting congratulations as "Mr. and Mrs. Leo Bloom." Nathan Lane, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft retired together to an outdoor table on the Grill's top floor, where Stroman and others dropped by for a visit.
At 3 AM, in the words of another Tony Award nominee, "The Party's Over." The Bryant Park Grill emptied out slowly, as partygoers weren't sure if the night should end. But end it must. Monday may be a day off (to everyone but the box office staff and press agents, some already in bed, resting for the post-Tony $100,000 ticket-sales-an-hour day), but the show will go on, now as a twelve Tony winner.