Legiters love their own, and they love pushing the boundaries of the stage.
That was the clear vibe in the room at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday during the Tony Awards ceremony. It was evident in the roar of excitement that came with every win for musical “Fun Home,” which went all the way to score best musical.
Broadway pros clearly appreciated the show’s originality and its in-the-round immersive staging. There was whooping and ovations when “Fun Home’s” Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori became the first all-female team to win a Tony for best score.
Kron marked the moment when she accepted her award for best book during a commercial break in the CBS telecast. She told the crowd she’d had a recurring dream that she discovers her house has more rooms than she ever knew.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t all go back to the living room, you guys,” Kron said. “Our house is so big.”
And when 11-year-old “Fun Home” trouper Sydney Lucas took to the Radio City Music Hall stage to perform “Ring of Keys,” the hall hushed while her voice soared — and then the roof nearly blew off with applause.
At a time when Hollywood-trained actors and material are increasingly invading the Rialto, there was a palpable sense of legiters rooting for home team stars. Christian Borle got huge applause for his win. Chita Rivera was drowned out by the enthusiastic response for a few seconds when she performed a number from “The Visit.”
Kelli O’Hara’s win for “The King and I” after six nominations and an incredible devotion to theater work drew a standing ovation — and a promise from O’Hara: “I’ll be back on the theater stage!”
Meanwhile, when Ashley Tisdale came out to introduce a number (her fellow “High School Musical” grad Vanessa Hudgens in a tune from “Gigi”) one attendee in the orchestra section was heard asking “What is she doing here?”
Radio City turns into a big clubhouse during commercial breaks, with a surprising amount of movement and milling about among attendees. They always seem to get back to their seats, or at least out of camera range, with split-second timing. Dancing during the final number, “Oh What a Night” from “Jersey Boys,” was spontaneous and not discouraged by production staffers who ran up and down the aisles all night.
Tony hosts Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth didn’t spend as much time entertaining the crowd during commercial breaks as Hugh Jackman did last year when he hosted. But Cumming and Chenoweth were also featured in more set-ups and produced bits than Jackman was. As the show headed into its final half-hour, Cumming let the crowd know that it was almost “drink o’clock.”
One of the sweetest moments of the night was a fleeting glimpse of Jennifer and Joel Grey walking off stage hand in hand when they were already in the shadows. The father and daughter introduced the number from Fun Home, whose storyline mirrors their own experience following Joel Grey’s decision to come out of the closet earlier this year at the age of 82.