If Broadway isn't your scene, chances are you hardly noticed the Tony Awards were happening last night. But while you were watching "The Best of Mike Myers" or reruns of CSI, my fellow theater geeks and I were glued to CBS for the Tonys telecast. Allow me to guide you through our world: a world with its own red carpet, its own rumor mill, its own galaxy of fame. A world where Audra McDonald is the biggest star in the cast of Private Practice. A world where everyone's talking about something called Passing Strange, and some other thing called In the Heights, and some other thing called August: Osage County. A world where you might see a few faces you recognize (is that Lt. Van Buren?), if pause in your channel-surfing. And Broadway's producers would really love it if you would! Although the Tony Awards are ostensibly given to honor the best shows and performances of the Broadway season, the producers of the Tonys telecast see it as a three-hour advertisement for Broadway. They want to convince all you people out there in TV land to come to New York and blow a lot of cash on a Broadway show. Did you watch? Let's relive the highlights together. Did you and Dad opt to watch the Celtics instead? Here's what you missed...
7:55: Well, the broadcast hasn't started yet, but you've already missed the presentation of the first twelve Tonys (what they call "the Creative Arts Awards"). CBS generously granted the Tonys another hour of airtime a few years ago -- they used to squeeze the whole thing into a paltry two hours, which inevitably resulted in embarrassing acceptance-speech cutoffs (I'm still nursing a grudge on Elaine Stritch's behalf) and an increasingly rushed pace ("And the winner is The Lion King goodnight folks!"). But if you thought they'd use that extra time to honor the costume designers and choreographers on live TV, you obviously haven't been watching the Tonys for very long.
8:00: This year's show opens with the "Circle of Life" number from The Lion King. The show, once groundbreaking, now an institution, is celebrating its tenth year on Broadway, and its appearance here is a clue that tonight we'll be advertising all of Broadway's (musical) offerings, not just the ones that opened this season. There's so much to spend your money on, America! Why, in just a few weeks there will be two, count 'em, two shows on Broadway with music by that master of the form, Elton John! Talk about cultural riches!