When I entered the Tony Awards viewing party, held by Lincoln Center Theater at P.J. Clarke’s restaurant, I looked around and thought: who are these people? What I really meant was: where are the actors? Some people say it’s not a party until someone spills a drink or until someone gets up, none too worse for wear, and belts out songs from Hamilton at the piano. But for me it’s not a party unless I can look across the room and see performers who are professional.
The reason for the lack of actors soon became apparent on the large monitors placed everywhere upstairs and downstairs, at the restaurant: they were performing at Radio City Music Hall, where the Tonys were held this year. The ensemble’s performance, consisting of “The Rain In Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and “Get Me To The Church On Time,” was given early in the broadcast, which meant that the actors, except for those up for Tonys (Harry Hadden-Paton, Lauren Ambrose, Norbert Leo Butz, Diana Rigg) were able to leave the hall and come to P. J. Clarke’s to watch the majority of the proceedings. Those proceedings included Catherine Zuber winning a Tony for best costumes for My Fair Lady.
What was it like to perform at the fabled Art Deco palace known as Radio City? “We had a blast,” said Michael Williams, dance captain and ensemble member, “but our four minutes were over so fast.” “It was a kick,” said ensemble member Paul Slade Smith, “to be backstage there and bump into all your friends as you were waiting to go on.”
Allan Corduner, who portrays Pickering, said that he was impressed by the vastness of the auditorium. “The rows go on and on and on” – or, as Buzz Lightyear says in Toy Story: To infinity and beyond!
Manu Narayan, who is Professor Zoltan Karpathy, said that performing at Radio City “was terrific, but there was a surprise for me.” What’s that? “There was an orchestra pit type of buffer between the stage and the main part of the audience. So we didn’t have much chance to soak up the big celebrities like Springsteen who were in the front rows. Unlike at the Oscars, they are not within reaching distance.”
Back at the P. J. Clarke’s party, most of the revelers stayed within reaching distance of the buffet supper, which included chicken, beef, salmon, with barley and salad side dishes. I tucked in more heartily to the desserts: chocolate-chip cookies, chocolate truffles, and strawberries. I bumped into Diana Rigg – she was part of the late wave arriving, and I was part of the semi-late wave departing – and offered her a berry. “No thanks,” she replied with a little wave of salute, “I need a drink.”
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com