Last night, Lincoln Center Theater held a Tony awards viewing party at PJ Clarke’s, which for such events essentially serves as the company’s canteen. I walked in the door around 10:15 pm, and you’d think from the pandemonium a bomb had detonated. From the TV screens placed around the restaurant had just come word that The King and I had won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
The sustained whoops and hollers were, I confess, a bit of an annoyance. I wanted to hear what Andre Bishop, LCT’s producing artistic director, had to say in his acceptance speech, and to do so I had to shush the adults around me. Let it be noted that the children in attendance were rapt in attention, as if they would the next morning be quizzed on the content of Bishop’s gracious remarks.
I missed the party’s response to Ruthie Ann Miles’s winning the Featured Actress in a Musical award, but I heard it was equally enthusiastic. (And let’s not forget that Catherine Zuber was recognized with an award for her splendid costumes.) By the time Miles arrived at the party, the fervor was still fundamentalist in intensity. Every child in the cast crowded round her for a picture, reminding me that LCT’s neighbor Juilliard, should it ever revise its drama curriculum, should institute a course called: How To Survive Selfies On Awards Nights.
Conrad Ricamora, leaning on the bar and looking spiffy in spectacles, told me how happy he was for Miles’s win. “I’ve spent most of the past three years working with her” – they were previously together in Here Lies Love, at the Public Theater – “and it couldn’t have happened to someone nicer and more hard-working.”
The King Himself, aka Ken Watanabe, was even more effusive in his appreciation for the victory of his costar, Kelli O’Hara, whose TV acceptance speech was accompanied by more hoots and hollers than even the Best Revival win. “When Kelli won, all of Radio City stood up,” Watanabe said. Hours after the fact, he was still visibly moved by the news.
I cannot say that I stayed at the party long enough to cheer the arrival of O’Hara, who, according to my fashionista friends, had been one of the stars of the red carpet in her Oscar de la Renta gown. I had sat for a while at the kids’ table, chatting with the royal children, and round about midnight a few of them started emitting royal yawns. I was infected by this fatigue, and soon found myself disappearing into the night. The party was still raging – and the cries of joy are probably ringing in the heads of a few actors as you read this.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.