Tony Blog: The Tony Awards Press Room

Tony Awards Tony Blog: The Tony Awards Press Room senior editor Andrew Gans blogged live from Radio City Music Hall and gave a first-hand account of all the goings-on in the Tony Awards press room, including interviews with numerous 2008 Tony winners.

11:50 Well, time to call it a night. Thanks to everyone who's been reading. I didn't get to see much of the actual awards show, but I guess I'll watch it when I get home...See 'ya at the 2009 Tonys!

11:35 Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and co-star of the Tony-winning Best Musical In the Heights, said that he cut more than 60 songs from the show during its eight-year journey to the Broadway stage. As for future projects, the talented young writer-actor said, "I have a couple of ideas for [musicals], but I haven't secured the rights for them yet… [but] now I know how long they take. If you had told me originally, it would take eight years, I would have been too scared to continue." Miranda also said that he's currently "talking to Dreamworks about writing some music for some animinated films."

11:30 Paulo Szot, who won his first Tony for his Broadway debut in South Pacific, said, "I'm very surprised, I'm very honored. I can never imagine that this would happen to me for my first musical. You can imagine what I'm feeling inside. I can't believe it!" Szot also noted that today is his mother's birthday, so he was anxious to call her in Brazil and give her the good news. He also said that audiences at the Vivian Beaumont have been terrific: "It's wonderful this contact we have with the audience, particularly in this theatre — we are so close to the audience. We can hear them [singing along] . . . That makes me very happy when I hear them singing. I feel if I forget a word, they will help me."

11:20 Patti LuPone, who won her second Tony Award (for Gypsy) nearly 30 years after her first (for Evita), said, "It's been 29 years. In that course of time, I've worked with incredible companies and people, and I thought if I did get up here, I needed to thank them as well as the [people] I'm working with now…. [Rose] is a huge part. It encompasses everything — comedy, tragedy, singing, shouting, movement. It's a range of emotions…. We go out there, and we do the best we can every single night, eight shows a week."

When asked about whether she thinks the eight-show-a-week theatre schedule should be changed, LuPone said she does not, explaining, "I am built for the theatre. I have the muscle to do eight shows a week. [The down side is I rarely get to] see my husband and my son. That's hard for me not to see my family, but there is something to be said about honoring a contract that requires eight performances a week, and showing up, and not missing, and it's muscle. And if you have it, you should be proud of it." 11:12 Stew, who won the Tony for Best Book of a Musical, said his intention in writing Passing Strange was "to put music on the stage that people actually listen to on subways or when they're at home getting stoned or at a party….I think we achieved that." About bringing the show from Off-Broadway to Broadway he said, "We had the chance to take this show to Broadway. We’re only going to get this chance once. Instead of selling out, we just said no anytime anyone wanted us to change something about the show."

11:05 We're still waiting for the final Tony winners of the evening, so stay tuned for more blogging!

11:03 The final awards tally: South Pacific: 7
August: Osage County: 5
In the Heights: 4
Gypsy: 3
Boeing-Boeing: 2
The 39 Steps: 2
Les Liaisons Dangereuses: 1
Passing Strange: 1
The Seafarer: 1

10:57 In the Heights has been named Best Musical, and there was lots of clapping in the press room.

10:52 Okay, that was the speech of the night. Congrats, Ms. LuPone, you deserved it.

10:49 And the winner for Leading Actress in a Musical is . . . PATTI LuPONE!

10:47 Paulo Szot has won the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his Broadway debut in South Pacific.

10:43 Mark Rylance said his acceptance speech was actually prose, "The Back Country," from the Duluth, Minnesota, poet Lewis Jenkins.

10:40 That Rent sequence looked very moving, but they keep bringing in winners, so I wasn't able to see it...I actually haven't been able to see much of the show tonight...

10:37 Standing upon the stage in the press room, Tony-winning playwright Tracy Letts joked, "I'm blind, you're all at computers. It's kind of like I'm at OTB." Letts said the whole experience has been "surreal. . . . It's fantastic. I think I'm a little in shock. Even when I gave my speech, I think I was in shock…." Letts said that he believes August has "something to say about the state of our nation here and now," although he declined to elaborate.

10:31 How cute that Xanadu has audience members onstage as they do at the Helen Hayes Theatre.

10:26 Best Revival of a Musical Tony goes to South Pacific. Glenn Close, who starred in the TV version, presented the award.

10:14 No Sondheim? That's very disappointing...

10:13 South Pacific and August: Osage County are now tied with five Tony wins a piece.

10:11: Deanna Dunagan, who is now in the press room, had this response when told August had just won the Tony: "Oh, yeeeeaaaah….Heavens, that's wonderful!" Dunagan also seemed to confirm that August is London-bound. "I think we're going to London in November, anyone who wants to go."

10:10: The winner for Best Play is . . . August: Osage County.

10:00: Anna D. Shapiro, Tony winner for Best Direction of a Play for August: Osage County is now in the press room. About accepting her award onstage, Shapiro said, "I thought I was going to faint. Martha Plimpton gave me a beta blocker that didn't work! . . .I was very, very nervous, and I just tried to focus. I just tried to breathe. I feel now like I'm breathing for the first time in 17 hours."

9:56 Deanna Dunagan has won the Best Actress in a Play Tony for her work in August: Osage County.

9:51: Best Actor in a Play is Mark Rylance for Boeing-Boeing. That was some speech. Hopefully Rylance will explain it to us when he gets to the press room!

9:50: Here are the tallies so far according to our webmaster:
South Pacific: 5
In the Heights: 3
August: 3
39 Steps: 2
Gypsy: 2
One each: Passing, Liaisons, Boeing, Seafarer

9:48: Boyd Gaines, now a four-time Tony Award winner, said that his mother actually keeps his Tony Awards. He said he doesn't like to keep them around because they tend to speak to him, asking, "What have you done lately?" He said he'll send this Tony to his manager, who will then forward it to his mom. As for future plans, Gaines said, "I'm going to do Gypsy eight times a week as long as we'll go. Everybody's under contract for a year, so I don't have any immediate plans to do anything else. I am doing a few books on tape."

9:41: Best Director of a Play Tony goes to . . . Anna D. Shapiro for August: Osage County.

9:23 A bit of trivia you may already know. Laura Benanti is the first actress who has played Louise on Broadway to have won the Tony Award for her performance. Past Louises include Sandra Church (1959), Zan Charisse (1974), Crista Moore (1989) and Tammy Blanchard (2003), but only Benanti has nabbed the Tony. When asked why she thinks this is so, Benanti said, "Well, I guess you have to look at who else was in their [Tony] category. And, Arthur Laurents, Patti LuPone and Boyd Gaines — that's probably why."

9:21 Boyd Gaines just won for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Laura Benanti is in the press room and started crying when she heard the news of her Gypsy co-star.

9:10: The revival of Grease has taken a lot of raps, but I though their number came off quite well.

9:08: Laura Benanti just won Best Featured Actress in Musical for her terrific work in Gypsy. Great speech, too!

8:57: Bart Sher, Tony winner for South Pacific's direction said the project was daunting. "Once it was clear we had the job, then any single place I ever went, all I heard was 'That was the greatest musical I'd ever seen.' That continued to be terryifing all the way until the very end… We felt like we could mostly only fail…." The triumph of the revival was "completely overwhelming."

8:54: And, the Tony for Best Score goes to In the Heights' Lin-Manuel Miranda.

8:43: Pretty exciting! Wish they would have shown Patti's reaction after that standing ovation...

8:40: Go Patti!

8:36 Bartlett Sher just won the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for the revival of South Pacific.

8:28: Rondi Reed has arrived, and she said that today was actually her final performance in August: Osage County. Not a bad way to finish: "Today was my last day. I'm going back to Wicked [in Chicago] for awhile to finish out my contract. . . [I will] be back to August at some point in time. We've got some irons in the fire about London with the National Theatre and a potential tour, and so hopefully my hat will be in the ring for that."

8:21 Jim Norton has just won the Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play Tony for his work in The Seafarer.

8:15 It's calming down a little bit in the press room now...for a few minutes it was one award-winning designer after another. Now we're waiting for Rondi Reed to make her entrance.

8:10 It's time for the first musical number from a Tony-nominated show. . . Cry-Baby.

8:05: Well, I missed hearing the opening number, but it looked good...Rondi Reed has just won for her performance in August: Osage County. Love watching her say "Oh my God" as she walked up to accept the award!

8:01: Another winner:

Catherine Zuber, Costume Design of a Musical for South Pacific… "For research [for South Pacific costumes] we looked at a lot of National Geographics of the time….went to a costume house in London. They had the actual clothes from those uniforms, and we used those as samples, and then we manufactured our own uniforms. Lady's bathing suits were taken from search…same with the evening gowns."

8:00 It's Tony time!!

7:56 Catching up on some of the winners' reactions:

Costume designer Katrina Lindsay for Les Liaisons Dangereuses: "I love doing men's costumes….Ben [Daniels] is fantastic. He's a lovely guy. He's got a great spirit, but he's also physically great, and he knows how to work those costumes….It's not hard to make a man look good in that cut."

7:55: The tally so far: South Pacific leads with 4 Tony wins; In the Heights has two Tonys; The 39 Steps also has two; and Passing Strange, Boeing-Boeing, Les Liaisons and August all have one a piece.

7:45 Tony winner Donald Holder (Lighting Design of a Musical for South Pacific) just spoke about working with director Bart Sher: "His vision is very clear...His objective is very clear. He's very trusting. He doesn't micromanage. He's a great leader. He tells you what he thinks . . . but he's experienced enough to know that he had to give us time to develop an idea. He's very supportive."

7:44: Another winner: Best Scenic Design of a Musical goes to Michael Yeargan for South Pacific.

7:42 August: Osage County has just won its first award: Best Scenic Design of a Play for Todd Rosenthal.

7:40: Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler is now in the press room and said that Heights features a mix of styles. "We mashed up every style that landed the moment . . . [but] it's mostly hip hop and salsa." He said that he's going to be doing an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," and then he will be busy with the 9 to 5 musical.

7:38: Sonia Friedman, producer of the Tony-winning Boeing-Boeing, has been brought into the room. She confirmed that she will be producing Kristin Scott Thomas in The Seagull on Broadway next season.

7:37 The Sound Design of a Play Tony Award has gone to Mic Pool for The 39 Steps.

7:35: Two more award winners have been announced...Best Costume Design of a Play Tony went to Katrina Lindsay for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and the Tony for Best Costume Design of a Musical was awarded to Catherine Zuber for South Pacific.

7:30: The first winners of the night have been brought into the press room: In the Heights orchestrators Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman. The 33-year-old Lacamoire said he's going to be doing the dance arrangements for the new musical 9 to 5; fellow In the Heights choreographer Blankenbuehler is also part of that new musical.

7:26: Best Lighting Design of a Musical Tony just went to Donald Holder for South Pacific.

7:25: If anyone cares to e-mail me while I'm blogging, I'm trying to check my work e-mail regularly,

7:24: The Roundabout's production of The 39 Steps just won its first award: Best Lighting Design of a Play for Kevin Adams. So, what's the tally so far? Heights, 2 awards; and 39 Steps, Boeing and Passing Strange, 1 each.

7:23: The Best Revival of a Play Tony was just announced. The winner is Boeing-Boeing. How strange that that award is not part of the regular Tony telecast.

7:22: Passing Strange just broke the Heights winning streak. Stew picked up the Best Book of a Musical Tony. . . And, I'm doing really poorly in our office pool...

7:20: In the Heights has won a second award: Andy Blankenbuehler won for Best Choreography.

7:19: The first competitive award of the evening was just announced. Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman won Best Orchestrations for In the Heights.

7:15 PM I have to admit I have a bit of dog guilt this evening. I was out for most of the day, then came home, showered, put on my tux, and Gilligan (my hyper but cute dachshund) gave me the guilty eyes. I did leave CBS on for him, so at least he'll be able to hear Patti belt out "Everything's Coming Up Roses."

7:13 PM In the Tony room the TV monitors are now showing the NY1 Red Carpet coverage. Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, who will be performing during the Rent number, are currently being interviewed.

7:09 PM ET Just got word from our webmaster that the Tony Awards preshow is beginning! The first winner should be announced shortly...

7:05 PM ET To set the scene a bit, the press room is filled with about 30 tables that seat up to four people each. At present, there are very few press folk here...maybe around 25 people. It will probably get more filled as we approach the 8 PM start of the telecast. I'm sharing the table with Ernio Hernandez, one of our writers and our photo editor; and David Gewirtzman, special projects manager. . . .At the front of the room is a small stage where the Tony winners will eventually speak. There are three microphones set up on the stage, and the backdrop features the CBS and Tony logos.

7:01 PM ET Hello, theatre lovers. Welcome to the 2008 Tony Awards blog and the Tony press room, which is located on the 64th floor of Rockefeller Plaza. Hope everyone's excited about the upcoming awards!

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