Tony, Tony, Tony
8:25: Whoopi Goldberg is now sharing the stage with, I shit you not, Adam Duritz. From Counting Crows. And she even says to the audience, "Hey! This is Adam Duritz, from the Counting Crows," in exactly the tone of voice that you would use if you showed up somewhere totally random with Adam Duritz. (Didn't he date Jennifer Aniston for a while? You know she introduced him to everybody exactly that way.) Adam is wearing a light-colored suit and a bow tie, an ensemble that makes him look like an ice-cream man. Whoopi excuses herself, saying she has to pee (seriously! I think I'm enjoying this "Did she take her meds?" approach to Tonys hosting), and Adam introduces the next performance, from nominated musical Passing Strange. It turns out his appearance here isn't so random after all; he's a fan of Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Passing Strange's creators, from way back (in fact, he calls Stew "my roommate"). He's obviously nervous and genuinely thrilled to be introducing Stew and Heidi and the cast, and it's hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm. Let's see how the song works...
8:27: Jumping around with his guitar as the lights come up, Stew knocks his microphone off its stand. Shit! ...Just in time, a stagehand runs out and replaces it. Phew. See? Anything can happen in the theater!
8:30: The number -- "Amsterdam" -- went fine until the people onstage started dancing, and then, as always, the camera operators panicked and the picture on the screen turned into a jumbled mess. "Someone moving over there! Let's cut to it!" "Wait, now there's movement over there! Let's do a close-up!" At least it sounded pretty good. It really looks much better in the theater.
8:35: Yes! Yes!!! After the ads, a flashback to one of my favorite Tony moments of all time: LL Cool J and Carol Channing, rapping "Hello Dolly" together. I shit you not. "I said what up, Harry. I said what up, Louie." LL keeps the beat, and Carol writhes and dances like the living Muppet she is, while I watch in open-mouthed astonishment, and then rewind and watch three more times (just like I did when this happened for the first time a few years back). I'm telling you, moments like this are exactly what I watch the Tonys for. The MTV movie awards have got nothing on this show.
8:37: John Lithgow gives a cutely self-congratulatory spiel about how he has two Tony awards, which he keeps under a spotlight at home. Then he presents the Best Direction of a Musical Tony to...Bartlett Sher, for his work on Lincoln Center's sold-out revival of South Pacific. Sher gives more or less the pompous, self-important speech I was expecting. Maybe it's just that too-long hair giving off a vibe of smugness, but I hate when you can tell the winner assumed he would win.