2015 Tony Awards: The Best, Worst and Weirdest Moments

Tony Awards Best Worst Moments

While the Tonys were being handed out Sunday night, TVLine wasn’t just watching the awards, we were deciding the winners — or, in some cases, “winners” — in a few categories of our own invention. So which performers and performances from the black-tie back-slap made the cut — and which should have been cut? Read on, find out and — best of all — hit the comments to weigh in yourself!

CUTEST COUPLE | Leggy Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth were the hosts with the most… chemistry. They had us from the opening medley in which they ribbed each other about their past stage triumphs, and he singled out eventual Best Leading Actress in a Play winner Helen Mirren (The Audience) as the fiercest queen on the Great White Way. “Careful,” Chenoweth warned, “you’re messing with our core audience.”

CHEEKIEST NUMBER | So energetic that it left us pooped just from watching, Brian d’Arcy James and Brad Oscar’s performance of “A Musical” from Something Rotten! mercilessly mocked the sort of dialogue-free song-and-dance shows that leave audiences with no choice but to ask, “Why aren’t they talking?” You know, the kinda shows that leave you miserable. Sorry, misérables.

BEST JOKE IDEA THAT SHOULD ACTUALLY BE IMPLEMENTED | Though Cumming and Chenoweth were kidding when they demonstrated how victors who blathered on too long accepting their awards wouldn’t just be played off the stage but danced off by chorus boys, they needn’t have been — it was a fantabulous notion! (Who could even be miffed about being danced off stage?)

BEST COLOR COORDINATION | Or Worst Communication by Two Presenters’ Stylists? Or was it a joke we didn’t get? You be the judge. Whatever the category you select, Anna Chlumsky and Debra Messing wore pretty much the same dress — and totally the same color dress — to hand out the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play to Richard McCabe (The Audience).

TonysBIGGEST DISTRACTION | Not even presenter Rose Byrne’s daring décolletage could distract the crowd at Radio City Music Hall from Cumming and Chenoweth’s exit after he reprised Kelli O’Hara’s “Getting to Know You” from The King and I — in drag — and his co-host emerged from under his dress in a bald cap. (If ever there was a time to cut away from the presenters, this was it.)

BIGGEST ANNOYANCE | At first, we didn’t mind that Cumming and Chenoweth sang us into so many commercial breaks — who’s gonna complain about hearing those voices? However, we did object to CBS seeming to get name-checked every time. And after about 90 minutes, okay, fine, we were sick of being sung into the breaks.

BUBBLIEST PERFORMANCE | Audrey Hepburn, High School Musical grad Vanessa Hudgens is not. (Is anyone? Rhetorical question.) Yet we couldn’t help getting a little tipsy from the ingénue’s spirited rendition of “The Night They Invented Champagne” with her Gigi castmates. So yes, we will drink to her!

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED | So emotionally open was 11-year-old Sydney Lucas in her performance of “Ring of Keys” from Fun Home that she rendered the narration that bogged down the scene’s opening wholly superfluous.

STRANGEST MOMENT | Immediately after the Fun Home number, Chenoweth joined Cumming on stage in an E.T. costume. “I said Fun Home,” not “Phone home,” he corrected. Odd. Just odd.

MOST MEMORABLE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH | Best Featured Actress in a Musical winner Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) started off endearing — she admitted that she felt like she was being punked. But then she went on for so long that a sound effect was cued up (or was it the orchestra?) that harkened back to the chorus boys that Cumming and Chenoweth had threatened to sick on chatterboxes.

BEST KELSEY GRAMMER IMPERSONATION | Suddenly sporting dark hair and a thick brown beard, Sting looked less like himself than he did the erstwhile Frasier Crane. Runner-up: Grammer himself, volcanic as Captain Hook while performing “Stronger” from Finding Neverland with Glee’s Matthew Morrison. (Speaking of Morrison… What. A. Vocal. Da-amn!)

GRANDEST DAME | Even if you had never heard of Chita Rivera before, the glamorous octogenarian’s riveting performance of “Love and Love Alone” from The Visit would have left no doubt in your mind why she was a legend, much less a Tony nominee.

BOLDEST PREDICTION | Lisa Howard didn’t just raise the roof, she brought down the house with the showstopper “Jenny’s Blues” from It Shoulda Been You. Betcha anything we’ll be seeing her among next year’s Tony contenders.

BEST AD LIB | Yeah, yeah, we know it had to have been rehearsed. Still, it was cute when, before announcing the recipient of the Carnegie Mellon Excellence in Theatre Education Award recipient, Joe Manganiello asked Darren Criss who’d inspired him, and the Glee alum “earnestly” replied, “I’ve seen Magic Mike, so I’ve learned a lot from you, buddy.”

TENSEST MOMENT | Having had some trouble reading the TelePrompter during her introduction of the Finding Neverland number (with Nick Jonas and Kiesza), Jennifer Lopez looked about as relieved when she was done as we imagined she would when she got un-cinched from her tight top at the end of the night.

BradBIGGEST HEAD-TURNERS | Not bad for an Elephant Man — Bradley Cooper cleaned up nice. Soon-to-be Hedwig Taye Diggs looked like… well, Taye Diggs. (In other words, flawless.) And short of Idina Menzel’s Elphaba in Wicked, Best Featured Actress in a Play winner Annaleigh Ashford (You Can’t Take It With You) was the prettiest thing in green we’ve ever seen. However, the award for best-dressed has to go to country singer Jennifer Nettles (Chicago), narrowly beating out golden girl Amanda Seyfried.

BIGGEST NO-BRAINER| After the hoopla surrounding the Broadway League’s decision not to dim the lights of Broadway for the late Joan Rivers — and its subsequent reversal of that decision — was there any doubt that she’d be included in the Tonys’ In Memoriam tribute?

BEST EXIT | Best Leading Actress in a Musical winner Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) concluded her acceptance speech by excitedly announcing, “I’m gonna do the worm!” and dancing off stage (no chorus boys required). Side props to Chenoweth, also nominated in O’Hara’s category: Following her loss, the On the Twentieth Century star playfully feigned bitterness as she threw to the next commercial.

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 Musical
Fun Home

Best Play
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Revival of a Play
Skylight

Best Revival of a Musical
The King and I

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Helen Mirren, The Audience

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Richard McCabe, The Audience

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I

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61 Comments
  1. Margaret says:

    Kelli O’Hara, Kelli O’Hara, Kelli O’Hara, made my night. Finally her time, and she killed it. Also loved Ken Wantanabe’s reaction to her win & Ruthie Ann Miles, so sweet.

    • S. says:

      Yes!!! Kelli O’Hara is glorious. That was the thing I wanted most tonight. So happy for her.

    • Margaret says:

      @TVLine team — Kelli’s “I don’t need this, but now that I have it, I’ve got some things to say!” has got to be among the quotes of the week, so happy to see the 6th time be the charm for Kelli, and she slayed her acceptance speech!

  2. Holli says:

    The Tony Awards need to stop showcasing shows with no nominations and put back the awards they took out of the telecast like Best Book, Score, Lifetime Achievement, Lighting, etc. Oh, and bring back Sound Design. Without these people, there would be NO show!

    • S. says:

      You do know it has nothing to do with the Tonys showcasing jack, right? Not really, however it might get spun. Shows don’t get on for free. They have to pay for it. If someone ponies up the cash, their show appears on the telecast. The whole point of the performances isn’t honoring anybody really although it does have that effect as a bonus. It’s to get ticket sale boosts and promote future tours. That’s why closed shows often don’t get a performance on the Tony Awards. There’s not gonna be a boost in sales for a closed show so they’re just spending money at that point and most financers aren’t going to do that without something like a tour to think about. As for the other awards, I agree. I’d love to see them, esp. examples of the scores. Gotta celebrate the composers, conductors, orchestras, etc. too. It’s no small thing to write a great book of a musical, and whatever they can do to highlight the hard work of the behind the scenes people they should do. It could be used as a chance to show some of the shows (at CBS’s expense, how ’bout it?) and use them as an example for theater education of the home viewer. Show what sound design, scoring a show, writing a book looks like. Maybe do a pre-taped piece on it and run it before the live telecast.

      • S. says:

        Ugh, I know how to spell financiers*. Typed too fast. I wish we were able to edit typos on this thing.

      • holli says:

        My reply doesn’t seem to have posted, so I’ll repost. I’m not speaking of the politics of Broadway. I know shows have to pay for a performance (I’m an investor in a Tony winning show). But I also know, if the producers/directors/Bway League didn’t want to show the performances of non nominated shows, no amount of money would make them. The Tony committee/Bway League discontinued the Sound Design Award this past season. Can you imagine a show without sound? How ridiculous is this not to acknowledge these professionals? And they do pre tape awards like Book, Score, Choreography, etc. If you go to the actual Tony Awards, they give these awards out beforehand, so only those in the venue see it and hear the speeches. They basically lock you in the venue shortly after 7pm while the show doesn’t start till 8pm. They are taped & edited down to little snippets and aired during the actual show. But only a sentence or two (at most) is aired. You don’t see all the nominees or the full speech. My point is, if they stopped airing performances of shows that didn’t get nominated for anything, they would have time to acknowledge the importance of the book writer, lyricist, set designer, etc. And yes, when they announced no further Sound Design awards, the argument was that no one knew how to judge it and were simply voting for their friends. We said the Bway League should educate their voters, rather than pull the category. How do you expect to get the next generation of creatives to Broadway without showing the possibilities?

        • Kathy says:

          Sound award would seem key in a stage production, all of these awards are subjective, so saying they don’t know how to judge it is a lame excuse. Thanks for the inside scoop on how the system works.

    • Laura says:

      Agree!!!

  3. Lori says:

    What do we have to do to just lock in Laura Benanti as host for the 2016 Tony’s? Seriously.

  4. Mary Bucklew says:

    I thought the In Memoriam segment was shot in such a way and so quickly that it was nearly impossible for TV watchers to even recognize the faces that flashed across the screen… And when they panned right and left, it was impossible.

    • Laura says:

      This segment was an abomination. They spent too much time on Josh Groban and others singing than on the people this segment is honoring. The speed with which people were listed and the TV angles made it very difficult to appreciate anything.

    • Kate says:

      I totally agree with you and I think it was disgracefully done altogether. Josh Grobin started off key and was so pitchy, he did a terrible job and was a major distraction to the end goal of honoring tho beloved folks lost this past year. I was totally disgusted.

      • Mike says:

        I so totally agree with you. Groban was awful and took away from what us generally the emotional highlight of the show. Did he understand what he was singing? Not only was he off key, but his phrasing was odd, as well.

        • JK says:

          I noticed he started too low. It happens, but I thought he recovered well towards the middle.
          He admitted he got nervous. He tweeted twice. Once after the live show, he tweeted “Phew!! After a few seconds of nerves I enjoyed every minute of singing on that stage. Thank you to the incredible casts who joined me!!!:

          Then after the West coast feed “Thanks west coast for watching my Tonys song. I was so overcome i literally was like “wait wtf is my first note?!”

      • Me says:

        He is a brilliant singer. You try getting on the Tony stage and doing that. I’m assuming you can sing since you called him pitchy?

    • Jules says:

      EXACTLY! That was just inexcusable. We got a clear picture of Josh Groban, while the people they were supposed to be celebrating were flashing across a tiny screen so fast it was impossible to tell who they were, even if you knew them. I think I saw Charles Keating, but I don’t actually know if it was him.

  5. Tammy says:

    maybe it’s me but all Cummings and Chenoweth did was make me want NPH back…. I thought the opening was cringeworthy until it went into Something Rotten. I love C&C’s voices and have admired so many of their performances so I blame the writers and director.

    • iammusic says:

      The little “sing-offs” before the commercials were ill-timed and cheesy. And by the time we hit the 3rd one I was so bored of it. They were cute, but not as smooth as hosts in the past. Could’ve done way better with someone else.

    • buffalobilly says:

      agreed.
      they were tedious and so yesterday…

    • Larc says:

      I thought Kristin Chenoweth did a good job, but, oh, that cutting nasal voice! I believe it could shatter glass, as it almost does my eardrums.

  6. BetsyBoo says:

    I agree with everything you said Andy. Was so happy for Kelli – was worried that they would give it to Chita based on her shear “broad-ness.” (Not that she wasn’t fantastic.). Debra & Anna dress conundrum was very confusing. How did NO ONE anticipate the clunker of the ET joke in rehearsal??? Esp after the powerful performance of Sydney. Will be re watching the opening number tomorrow! Now have to get to NYC for 20th, Rotten and Hamilton next month. PS I want Kristin’s legs. PPS Broadway actors are dreamy.

  7. Dennis says:

    Chenowith was superb

  8. Kris says:

    The performances from Something Rotten!, The King and I, and An American in Paris were my favorites!

  9. Pablo McFluffington says:

    Did anyone else notice how racist the Tony’s where? They had the only black guy in that one choir that appeared out of the stage in the back middle with no light on him! I could barely see him! If he was not wearing a white sailor hat and suit then I would not have noticed him at all! Also he was the ONLY black person in the choir of 65+ people!

    • Fritz says:

      First of all, there were several black people in the choir, so that statement’s wrong. However, I feel like the real question should be about when ethnic diversity stopped including anyone who isn’t black or white? Because last I checked there were literally dozens of Hispanics and Asians in that choir as well.

  10. Emily M says:

    Your prediction is off, “It shoulda been you” opened in March, it was up for the Tony’s this year and didn’t garner a single nomination

  11. Lysh says:

    I actually thought the phone home thing was hilarious, if not just because KChen is so tiny and that costume looked huge on her.
    I LOVED Ruthie Ann Miles’ speech and facial reactions and I’m so glad Kelli O’hara won.
    It’s been a while since I’ve read Peter Pan, but Hook said a line that was exactly a line from Once Upon A Time and now I’m wondering if it’s from the book. It’s a great line. It was a great show, too. Makes me want to go to New York right now.

  12. CringeWorthy says:

    While I totally agree that Vanessa Hudgens is no Audrey Hepburn, I would have to say after watching that she ain’t no Leslie Caron either….

  13. Cameron says:

    The only really undeserved win tonight was Best Actress in a Play. Carey Mulligan gave an absolutely exquisite and brave performance in Skylight….. they awarded Helen Mirren for no apparent reason than the fact that she’s Helen Mirren. That whole production was duller than a box of rocks (thankfully I didn’t waste my money, a friend had a spare ticket) and is coasting on nothing other than her reputation as a “Great British Actress.” When in truth she hasn’t done surprising work in years.

  14. liiame says:

    What a complete mess. These people have no shame.

  15. ElRae Wells says:

    The camera work during In Memoriam was poor at best. Due to the fact that the cameraman kept experimenting with “fancy” angles and was not face on, only about five of the many names and legible. Sad to miss the opportunity to reconize those who gave so much to the art of theater.

  16. buffalobilly says:

    ashley tisdale was a presenter….
    nuff said. (makes sad face…)

  17. george says:

    “danced off by chorus boys”
    Needs to happen on all award shows. Make it so.

  18. John Bianchi says:

    I enjoyed the excitement of the Tony Shows when Hugh Jackman was the MC these two bored me so much — Chenawith and Cummings

  19. Joan says:

    I was disappointed with the In Memoriam section of the show. It appeared to have technical issues when the tribute shots were delayed and did not start until half way through the song. Then the speed was off. It was presented in a rushed way and did not give the respect to those that we’re being recognized. Then, I was startled when the first notes sung were not on pitch. Although the range of this song is wide, they could have transposed to a higher key. The beginning notes were too low for Josh Groban. The highest notes in the song were not at the top of his range so not sure why they decided to sing in that key. They probably thought that they were playing it safe in the high range, but he totally missed the lower notes at the entrance.

  20. rereader says:

    “Audrey Hepburn, High School Musical grad Vanessa Hudgens is not. (Is anyone? Rhetorical question.)”

    True, Hudgens is not Audrey Hepburn…but it was Leslie Caron who played Gigi in the movie. :)

    • MattH. says:

      Audrey Hepburn was the original Gigi in the first Broadway mounting of the play before it became the Oscar-winning musical. They tried to get Audrey for the movie, but Paramount wouldn’t loan her out to MGM.

      • rereader says:

        Um. Not exactly. The play Gigi was a totally different production, and had nothing to do with the movie aside from being based on the same Colette story. (Source: Alan Jay Lerner’s memoir “The Street Where I Live.”)

      • rereader says:

        Lerner also reported that he did talk to Audrey Hepburn about the role, but she didn’t want to do it.

  21. The show stopper and ear turner for me was the performance of Annaleigh Ashford. I was over C & C after the “ET Incident.” When NPH walked out I shouted, “Come back to us. We need you.” How about Kelli O’Hara for hostess next year? What do you think?
    Also, I don’t want anyone to lose their job, but the “In Memoriam” was just sad and not in a good way.

  22. I thought the ET joke was high-larious! I enjoyed them but then again I am a cheesey person. I enjoyed the whole show. And I am of the team where they should honor ALL the plays and musicals so showing all of them and allowing the musicals still playing to have a moment in the spotlight is very cool IMHO. I also thought (as much as I love Chita) the song did nothing for me to see it. It made no sense. The View. Eh.

  23. CactusRose says:

    “A Musical” from Something Rotten was just so fabulous! Wish I could see the entire play. I totally agree about the annoying “only on CBS” plugs. Yes, CBS, we know what network we were watching but WE DON’T CARE! We would have watched this show no matter what network carried it. I really can’t see Taye Diggs as Hedwig. He seems so boring and laid back, almost scholarly! Good thing he’s gorgeous. Loved Chenowith and especially Alan Cumming. They were the consummate hosts and weren’t afraid to go for the laughs. Truly looked like they were enjoying themselves. Overall, even though I’ve never been to a Broadway play, I loved the show and was very entertained.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      I hope you get to see a show on Broadway someday. They really are glorious. On my next NYC trip I’m bummed that I “only” have time for 10 shows when there are at least 15 I want to see. (Something Rotten is #1 on my list — can’t wait!) In recent years the touring productions of shows have been really great — not scaled back from Bway at all — so hopefully you’ll get to see some of these shows if they come to a city near you.

  24. Joan Olsen says:

    Really upset that the screen that had the in memorium names was not readable all throughout because the camera kept panning to the singers. We knew it was Josh singing so let us see the stars that were lost so we could read their names and titles. The camera should have been focused on the screen so it was readable at home.

  25. D.enise Hans says:

    Kelli O’Har is perfect in every show she has been in. So glad to see her take home the Tony!

  26. Carol says:

    The memorial tribute was nice,but the camera turns were distracting for home viewers.

  27. Daniel Ellis says:

    As a lover of theater & someone who watches theater like most might watch movies I’m appalled that Finding Neverland was not nominated for anything! I’ve seen the show 3 timess & it is flawless! From the score to the choreography, to the acting, to the writing, to the set design it’s a magical piece that hits to subject of our inner child the loss of life that will touch the most hardened heart! Whether you are young or old or whatever background you come from you will be moved!! I it’s a crime for them not to have honored this show, it simply makes no sense. Something is very wrong with the people responsible for choosing who should be nominated & with those that are chosen.

  28. Judy B. says:

    I always watch and enjoy the Tony Awards and I was pleasantly surprised at how well Kristin sings. Alan Cummings is a fine comedian, but, I did not enjoy that he prefaced every male introduction with a comment on having slept with him. I am not homophobic and I understand that gay is in, but, Kristin didn’t make similar comments about the females. I know several people that told me that the show was “too gay” and they turned it off. How sad!

  29. Sheila says:

    I wish they’d have one telecast for people who actually care about Broadway and one for the people who need all of the dumb shtick and TV people as presenters. They cut out Stephen Schwartz and Tommy Tune getting honors? Filming the in memorium sequence at stupid angles so we couldn’t even see the screen? Even my mother said it was like a high school award show!

  30. Ruth says:

    Did anyone else notice a nearly total absence of black faces???

  31. carolyn says:

    I admire Alan Cumming as a serious actor and I watched the Tony award show because I thought he would be good. But I thought he made a fool of himself with mindless chatter and stupid costumes. And I thought the role of Christen Chenoweth and Cummings made no sense in the context of the production.

  32. Kathy says:

    Too many long shots during In Memoriam making it difficult to read the screen, as they included a lot of people it was fast. The end of that segement was great with everyone on stage but during the quick rotation focus should have been on those being remembered, not Josh Groban (who was excellent needless to say). Glad they remembered Joan!

  33. Khay says:

    Chenzel. That’s all I have to say. Please let them host the 2016 Tonys.