2014 Tony Awards: The Best and Worst (and Wiggiest) Moments

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If you thought the Tonys ended when A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder walked off with the telecast’s last award (for Best Musical), boy, are you in for a surprise. Now, the fun really begins, as TVLine names its own winners — and losers — in a variety of, shall we say, “alternative” categories. And the nonexistent statuettes go to…

MOST TIRELESS PERFORMER | Four-time host Hugh Jackman bounced up and down – literally bounced up and down – for nearly five minutes to open the show and hardly slowed down after that. When he wasn’t flirting with the audience, he was jumping into the After Midnight dance routine, singing introductions or doing a Music Man rap with LL Cool J and T.I. All of which means we can skip our cardio this week, right? Right?

NEXT BEST THING TO A VH1 DIVAS LIVE CONCERT | There were more amazing pipes on display when After Midnight’s Fantasia Barrino, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle teamed up to sing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” than you’d see at a plumber’s convention. But later, after Looking leading man/Broadway babe Jonathan Groff teased us with a Travolta-skewering introduction of “the Wicked-ly talented” Idina Menzel, she outbelted ‘em all during her performance of “Always Starting Over” from If/Then.

WORST PRESENTER | We’ll give Clint Eastwood credit for poking fun at his ill-fated chair bit from the Republican National Convention during a peek backstage, but aside from that, Dirty Harry was a stammering mess. It wasn’t even until he was finished with his first of two (two!) spiels that he realized he could have been reading off the TelePrompter the whole time!

BEST DORIAN GRAY IMPRESSION | When Sting came on and sang the title song from his musical, The Last Ship, how many of you had to check your calendars to make sure it wasn’t, say, 1990? Show of hands? The dude never seems to age. At all. (See also: presenter Judith Light.)

STRANGEST PERFORMANCE FROM A SHOW THAT ISN’T NOMINATED | The boxing match that Rocky staged was impressive and all, but it wasn’t the kinda thing that gets a tune stuck in your head. In other words, without a hit, the champ just didn’t, ahem, pack a punch.

MOST GRACEFUL UNDER PRESSURE | Current Wicked stars Christine Dwyer and Jenni Barber had to know that no one wanted to see them duet on “For Good” to honor the show’s 10th anniversary. We wanted Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, of course. Yet they did a lovely job of filling the Broadway legends’ iconic tiara and pointy black hat.

PERFORMANCE LIKELIEST TO BE CALLED LEGEN… WAIT FOR IT… DARY | As “killer” as the quick-witted love (triangle) song from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was, it was always gonna be Neil Patrick Harris’ turn in a Farrah wig and miniskirt that got everybody talking. And, though the eventual Best Lead Actor in a Musical victor is no John Cameron Mitchell (who is?), he ensured that his rockin’ rendition of “Sugar Daddy” would be memorable by taking to the audience to – and this is a partial list! – give Sting a lap dance, steal Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off of his face and plant a big kiss on real-life hubba-hubba hubby David Burtka.

BEST PERFORMANCE FROM A SHOW THAT ISN’T ON BROADWAY, MUCH LESS NOMINATED, BY SOMEONE WHO ISN’T IN THAT SHOW, ANYWAY | Jennifer Hudson raised the roof with a “preview” song from Finding Neverland. But couldn’t it have waited until the show had come to Broadway – or at least NYC – and then, maybe shone this spotlight on whomever sings it in the show?

OK, your turn. What did you think of the Tonys? What alterna-categories did we miss? Hit the comments. (And see below for a list of the major winners.)

Best Play
All the Way

Best Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Revival of a Play
A Raisin in the Sun

Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Book of a Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Bridges of Madison County

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Bryan Cranston, All the Way

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Audra McDonald, Lady Day

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful — The Carole King Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight

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93 Comments
  1. Margaret says:

    instead of spotlighting a show that hasn’t premiered yet, why not showcase (yes it’s closed) Bridges of Madison County, since it won best score AND best orchestrations?!!

    • Marianne says:

      The producers of the shows pay to be included. I guess they didn’t want to put down any more money despite the wins.

      • Margaret says:

        I know, it’s just a bummer that people who couldn’t make it to NYC during the run but love the Tonys didn’t get to see the cast perform. so happy for Jason’s wins, that score is luscious.

      • S. says:

        Nobody puts on a Tony performance on a closed show just because they think they might win an award, you just go up, get the award, and pay no more money. You don’t generally see producers pay for Tony performances for shows that have closed. There’s no point. The expense of doing a Tony performance is generally done with the idea of getting to see what amounts to a trailer for why you should go buy tickets. It’s harder for a closed show to get in for awards partly for ‘what have you done for me lately’ and it indicates less popular support or the show might still be open, but say they do get in, it’s just not financially feasible to put on a musical number just so we get to appreciate something. Our entertainment matters up until the point where someone’s taking money out of their pocket with every expectation that it’s going down a hole and no more Broadway show to show for it. They’re willing to risk that when there’s a show to put on because there’s a chance to make money back. Here, almost no chance. I don’t know anybody clamoring for the cast album of “Bridges.” I doubt they would be after seeing a Tony performance however good. Most people who were gonna buy it would’ve done that already.

        • Ann VerWiebe says:

          They won’t spend money unless they are planning to tour the show or think it has legs to sell to the regionals. I’m actually surprised they aren’t going to tour it – love story with decent score and known story seems like it would have legs.

          • KevyB says:

            That’s EXACTLY right. The corniness which pretty much kept people away on Broadway would be an asset on much of a National Tour.

    • nicademus11 says:

      YES!

  2. Kiki says:

    Can someone explain what in the world the bouncing was about? I think there was a tiny film clip in the opening that might have explained it but I missed it.

  3. Christina says:

    Actually Andy Karl, the actor in Rocky, was nominated for featured actor and the show had six or seven and won for set design…

  4. Kate says:

    So happy for NPH and Audra! The J.Hud thing was really weird.

    • S. says:

      Yeah I was actually kind of offended which may sound weird, but I agreed with the comment that now some person is gonna be asked to sing that song and make it their own in the face of JHud’s Tony performance. Let that person own that role without somebody else showing their face first. What if Meryl Streep did a scene from a movie and then said ‘this is what you’ll see actress X do next year’? I guess they figure if they get nominated they won’t do this number, but it just felt weird and loud. I was too busy being distracted by the tone to appreciate what the heck was happening. Those kids were really trying to sell it, I’ll give’em that.

      • wordsmith says:

        Also, did anybody else catch it was SYTYCD’s Melanie Moore as Peter Pan? I wonder if she was another ringer or if she’s actually in the show.

  5. Jen M says:

    Ramin Karimloo’s sleeping son stole the show for me. Adorable!

    • Elizabeth says:

      That was easily the sweetest moment of the night. It just made my heart melt.

    • Jazz says:

      Is there any video of this? Because I missed the show, and people keep talking about it, but I can only find screencaps, not video…?

  6. Carlie says:

    Idina always wins everything no matter what! Amazing. Never fails to move me.

  7. jr. says:

    Hugh Jackman hardly hosted the show at all. I guess he didn’t even try to compete with Neil Patrick Harris performance as last years Tony host. What was with all the stupid hoping?

    • wordsmith says:

      I don’t think anybody could blame Hugh for not working hard enough during that show. He was all over the place – even all of those carefully timed and staged backstage bits. And serenading the nominees for some of the awards while reading the nominations. Hadn’t seen that before.

    • TV Gord says:

      I agree. I was surprised to read that the writer of this story thought he was the most tireless performer on the show! I thought he did the barest minimum of what a Tony host should do! I am a Jackman fan, but I expected more. I guess NPH just raised the bar too high last year.

    • Eli says:

      It was a homage to the 1953 movie “Small Town Girl” which featured Bobby Van doing an incredible hopping number.

  8. kelly says:

    I wish there had been more Ramin Karimloo.

  9. Anna says:

    Kelli O’Hara was unbelievably fantastic in The Bridges of Madison County. I wish she would have won (although Jesse was very good too)

    • Nellie says:

      I like Jessie Mueller, but Kelli O’Hara deserved that Tony! And so did Steven Pasquale! Too bad he wasn’t even nominated for some ridiculous reason. If the show had at least stayed open until after the award season ended, then I think Kelli would’ve had a real shot at winning.

  10. Sarah says:

    Best Gracious Loser……Chris O’Dowd, for handling his loss of Best Leading Actor in a Play to Bryan Cranston by immediately drinking from a flask!

  11. Sarah says:

    Ramin Karimloo was robbed! He is an insanely gifted performer who has more than paid his fuse, and this should have been a moment for him.

    Also, the only thing I heard about yet another revival of A Raisin in the Sun before tonight was yes, we still aren’t nominating movie stars (looking at you Denzel). All of a sudden, it won supporting actress, director and revival, when all the buzz I heard/ saw was Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night. What gives?!

  12. Arlene says:

    I just think it so amazing that nobody in the theater community died this year!

  13. BetsyBoo says:

    Worst performance by a nip*ple: Fantasia. Because I’m pretty sure I saw it. Gack.

    Audra was sublime. Idina- powerhouse. Hugh: swoooon.

    • JoMarch says:

      I don’t think that was a nippple; I think it was a tatoo. It was too far over on the side to be her nipple.

  14. Jeff says:

    Personally, I had a hard time watching Adele Dazeem make faces at the TV. I mean, in a single performance, she have Lon Chaney a run for his money. (Star of the early silent screen, he was known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces”)

  15. Jenna says:

    Most adorable winner was Lena Hall. Loved her acceptance speech!

  16. Jill says:

    Idina Menzel SLAAAAAYYYED. To give that Tony to anyone else tonight was ca-razy. She was robbed!

  17. Cassandra says:

    Loved Alan Cumming’s Cabaret performance. I feel all sorts of wrong for the feelings he was giving me tonight.

  18. C says:

    The rap take on the Music Man was great. One of my favorite bits.

  19. baddog says:

    NPH was good – but just like when David Hyde Pierce won it wasn’t the best performance – that was Jefferson Mays by far. NPH won because of his Tony history – not because it was the BEST…

    • S. says:

      Which happens a LOT so I ain’t hatin’ here. Tony politics is always an issue so no point in getting frustrated about this one win. Plus JM has a Tony already. I’m sure people were like ‘NPH deserves this.’ He’s really good, but the goodwill he got from last year especially just made it hard not to award him.

  20. analog says:

    That Hedwig performance was horrible. Jefferson Mays was robbed.

  21. annehedonia says:

    Sting is forever hot. Yes, I noticed. Must be the yoga.

  22. ninergrl6 says:

    Jeremy Jordan (Tony nominee in 2012) tweeted that his character sings that song in Finding Neverland. Surely HE could’ve performed it tonight…or they should’ve waited til next year’s broadcast.

  23. Barb C says:

    I thought the duet with Carol King and Jessie Mueller was great !! Carol still has the pipes !!

  24. qj201 says:

    Thanks for DVR FF viewing.

  25. msuehale says:

    Did not watch the Tony’s last night or any year.

  26. tired says:

    I can’t STAND the over rated Neil Patrick Harris

    • Heidi says:

      In any other performance, I love NPH. But I thought the face grind was a bit too much with kids there. So many performers want children to come and experience Broadway. NPH’s was not one I’d want them to see. He could have throttled back for the mixed audience, IMO.

  27. Heather says:

    Idina was amazing!! I caught If/Then this weekend and LOVED it.

  28. Linda says:

    The entire show was a treat for everyone. Hugh Jackson did a terrific job at hosting.

  29. It jarred me a bit that Jennifer Hudson was singing a song that was obviously supposed to be sung by James Barrie. Last I looked, James Barrie wasn’t an African-American woman. :-)

    I agree that the Rocky bit could have been done better…if you’ve got a musical full of new songs by one of Broadway’s most accomplished performers, shouldn’t you want to, I dunno, SPOTLIGHT one or two of those songs?!

    Must give If/Then a listen. Ditto with Gentleman’s Guide.

    I’m a little peeved that they didn’t show the In Memoriam bit for reasons of time. Look, what’s more important, paying tribute to musical theatre talents who’ve left us, or showcasing a rap based on The Music Man?!

    And that shot of Ramin Karimloo trying to shush the crowds so they wouldn’t wake his son…right in the feels…

  30. Alex says:

    I like Hugh Jackman, but the bouncing was really stupid.

    • Eli says:

      It was brilliant. It was a homage to the 1953 Bobby Van movie Small Town Girl.

      • Alex says:

        It made sense in the movie. In the Tonys, it went on waaaaay too long and was pointless. Major FAIL and a stinker of a decision. Hugh Jackman should not be wasted on such stupidity.

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  32. wordsmith says:

    I could have sworn that NPH licked Samuel L Jackson’s glasses before putting them back on his face. Bold move.

  33. Anne says:

    I was on the EW live blog site during the Tony’s and let me tell you it was a tough room. The complaints were about it being too TV and not enough Theatre. Well, it WAS on TV and there had to be a SHOW. I thought it was a good show all the way through. I loved LLCoolJ and TI rapping with an inexhaustible Hugh Jackman. I’m sorry they aired the in memoriam segment during a commercial break and I was a little confused about the JHud/Peter Pan moment. She sang wonderfully but huh? And about performances of shows not yet on Broadway? It’s called PROMOTION for next season.

  34. queerbec says:

    Did you catch the camera on the beaming Harvey Weinstein after the “Finding Neverland” number? Apparently Harvey was upset that “The Last Ship” was getting a promo on the show and essentially demanded that the show include a number from his upcoming show “Finding Neverland” (on his dime, of course), so that’s how the number got in. And that is apparently how the Estefans got to introduce Sting in order to promo their show. Gee, if Kenny Leon didn’t win for Best Director of a play, I guess there would have been no promo for “Holler If You Need Me.” The Tony producers and CBS could have tried to attract Tupac fans with a number. Have you noticed how award shows are becoming more like the Grammy’s?

  35. TV Gord says:

    This is the first that I’ve heard about shows having to pay to be included in the broadcast. I’m skeptical.

    • Teffer says:

      If it will help convince you, Monday’s coverage of the Tonys in the New York Times detailed such costs (5 to 6 figure payouts) as they explained why “Bridges…” did not have a production number.

  36. KevyB says:

    Let me just disagree and say that the whole Jennifer Hudson thing was ATROCIOUS! The song was the same dreck put into about 90% of Broadway shows. What exactly was happening in the scene presented? Was she playing Peter Pan? JM Barrie? The nurse dog? That whole thing was just dreadful and ensured I won’t be attending a performance of that sure-to-close-quickly show in the future.

  37. Rocky says:

    still an A for this awesome presentation of Rocky, and for the musical itself of course. It’s such a great new musical with good actors, nice songs and first of all this stage design is great. In Germany where i visited Rocky (its an export to broadway) you can sit near the ring with special tickets. So i like the film and the musical, i had that feeling that they are “belong together” like book and film sometimes, and thats rare. If you can, you should give Rocky another chance after all these years :-)

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