Jordan Kai Burnett, show tunes radio show producer, (Standing Room Only, WERS 88.9 if you’re in Boston—but they stream it so you can listen via computer on Saturday 10-2, Sunday 12-2) got us tickets for the dress rehearsal. It was fabulous. First of all Radio City is absolutely grand. And happily, when they did the restoration they left some of the old touches in place. Like in the women’s room, in order to start the hand dryer you have to step on the pump on the floor. Needless to say, there were a whole lot of people walking around with wet hands because they couldn’t figure it out.
When we arrived we were immediately put into the wrong line by the crack security people. By the time we figured out we were in the wrong place the correct line was backed around from 5th Ave to 51st Street. But the kids found someone they knew who was already in the line and no one objected when we inserted ourselves. Our tickets were general admission but we found great seats in the mezzanine. We sat in the grandeur of the theater for about a half hour before the rehearsal started and it was beyond pleasant. Everyone seemed grateful to be there. I love to be in an audience that really wants to be a part of the show. And believe it or not, not one cell phone went off. (Which has happened all too frequently in the last few shows I was lucky enough to attend.)
The show started with Norbert Leo Butz and Victoria Clark announcing ‘less important’ awards. Of course no award is unimportant to theater people but to the network watching public, some are not as interesting as others. But the presenters were terrific. All the stars, with the exception of Joe Pesci, Oprah Winfrey, and Julia Roberts, showed up to run through their lines. Including Harry (Day-o!) Belafonte, Julie Andrews Patricia Neal and Janis Paige). They were all in work clothes (It’s the theater so they were not overalls) but very low key. The two best parts, however were the people who pretended to win the TONY’s. I don’t know where they came from but they were a hoot. For example, one guy pretending to be the winner of the best supporting actor gave a speech about how he was the logical choice because his competition gave “lackluster performances”. Men played the parts of women and via versa which made it even more hilarious. The second best part was the intermission entertainment. Someone named Seth Rudowsky (I think) took us back to places no one ever goes and additionally they showed the best clips from Broadway shows ever. Things no one sees unless they watch PBS non stop. The announcements of the winners were also interesting because they had to say “And the winner for this rehearsal is…” Just so no one would think they had inside information. And when the forgot to do that an admonishing voice from the vast darkness made sure it was understood.
The performances for best musicals were also wonderful. The entire cast of every nominated show appeared (including Harry Connick, and yes, he is divine). We’re rooting for a Michael Cerveris win (for Sweeney) but he has a special place in our hearts. But what a joy to see the others, Color Purple, Jersey Boys, Drowsy Chaperone, Wedding Singer, Sweeney Todd, and Three Penny Opera (they said the F word but you won’t see that tonight). I have seen all the shows and although I think Drowsy Chaperone will win for original show, I think Color Purple should. Needless to say, I think Sweeney should win for revival because the direction is so different than the original—and the cast is magnificent. Pajama Game, while wonderful is exactly the same as the original with a different cast. Are you bored yet? All I can say is, it’s a good show, and if the thank you’s don’t go on and on, it will be worth watching, even if it’s on TV. We had a great time at the almost TONY’s. We’re just sayin…