When someone asks, “Do you want a comp to the Tony Awards dress rehearsal?” there’s only one way to respond, and that’s with a resounding, “YES!” And that’s exactly how I responded!
On Sunday, I was up at the crack of dawn (and anyone who knows me knows just how rare it is to find me awake when there’s still dew on the grass) to get my butt to Radio City Music Hall by 9 AM. Basically, the rehearsal was like watching the actual ceremony, except no real winners were announced. In fact, Karen Ziemba and Billy Porter (who were the hosts of the non-televised awards) kept getting yelled at by the director for forgetting to say, “For rehearsal purposes only” before saying, “The Tony Awards goes to…” I was surprised to see all of the performers in full costume and makeup. I know this was supposed to run like the actual televised event, but I figured some of the stars might not want to get into the face paint so early in the morning. Let’s face it, most of them performed a matinee and an evening performance of their own Broadway show on Saturday, and then performed at the Tony rehearsal on Sunday morning, performed their Sunday afternoon show, and then had to give their best performances for television that night. I just thought that maybe Neil Patrick Harris wouldn’t have to get in and out of his Hedwig makeup half a dozen times in a 24 hour timeframe. I was also surprised to see almost all of the celebrity presenters at the dress rehearsal. Clint Eastwood was not present at all (and he sure could have used the rehearsal if you saw all his flubs during the telecast) and two or three celebrities were late, forcing production to re-rehearse their segments (I’m looking at you RuPaul and Orlando Bloom). Pretty much everyone else was there, though. Unlike the performers, the presenters were able to wear their sweatpants and jeans. Another thing that surprised me was how little the performers moved during the musical numbers. The staging was designed much more for television than I had imagined it would be. The camera work makes the performers (even the fast-paced tap dancers) look as if they’re moving across the entire stage, when they barely leave a few-foot radius. In the theatre it looked awkward, but on television it looked natural. Watching the actual telecast later that night, it was interesting to see the same jokes repeated. Basically, any bit that seemed improvised or organic during the telecast was actually scripted and rehearsed. Most of the jokes weren’t as funny the second time around. Maybe it’s just because they felt less authentic. I thoroughly enjoyed getting a little behind-the-scenes taste of the Tony Awards at the dress rehearsal and then enjoyed watching the actual ceremony on television. Based on the performances, there are a few shows I’d like to see, and there are a few shows I’d never willingly purchase a ticket for. …But why get into that?