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.
8:40: First cutaway shot of Mandy Patinkin (drink!), and he's sporting a Tevye beard. Oh, Mandy! You're so nutty!
8:42: Speaking of eccentric, reportedly difficult-to-manage stage stars: Patti LuPone, everybody! Tonight, singing with the Tonys orchestra, she's staying solidly on pitch, so there's a bet I lost. Gosh, maybe it really is Patti's night! As always, it's pretty difficult to make out what she's saying -- but then, if you don't already know the lyrics to "Everything's Coming Up Roses," what are you doing watching the Tonys?
8:45: Did you know The Phantom of the Opera is still running on Broadway, after 20 years? This little reminder -- a Phantom number featuring Whoopi -- will wipe the memory of that glorious Gypsy moment right out of your mind.