The women of the 2012 Tony Awards


5. For all you lesbians who are actually gay men like my girlfriend, I must say that even though End of the Rainbow didn’t win any major awards, it’s about Judy Garland trying to make a comeback near the end of her tragic life and Tracie Bennett sounds like she’s absolutely magnificent in it. Did you know that Judy would have been 90 today and that next week in New York there will be an event to benefit homeless LGBT youth called “A Night of a Thousand Judys“? It’s all so perfect I could just burst?

(Update from my gay-man-lesbian girlfriend during one of the musical numbers: “I love it when people sing different parts at the same time! I love it more than anything, to be honest!”)


6. Once won perhaps the biggest award — at least to us uncultured people — of the evening: Best Musical. (I know several actor-y folk who tell me that musicals aren’t “real theater.” Sorry, actor-y people! I’m sure you probably know what you’re talking about, but my melodramatic soul can’t say no to stories told through song!) Based on the 2006 movie, which is in turn based on music written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova — they have since done several concert tours under the band name The Swell Season — it’s a quiet yet surprisingly moving tale of two musicians in Ireland who are each struggling a bit in their lives. And even if it’s just for a short time, the find solace in each other and the music they create.

While I already had an inkling Once would win big, I knew for sure when they performed their musical number. It was fantastic. I had chills. And while Steve Kazee sang the whole time (he went on to win for Best Actor in a Musical), I felt like it was Cristin Milioti who really contributed to the magic of the scene. She wandered slowly around as Kazee sang from the stage, and as other random musicians popped up all around her with their violins and acoustic guitars, she stared silently at each one, eyes wide with a look of pure, grateful awe, a smile made of solid joy.

After this performance, the camera quickly panned to Glen and Marketa seated in the audience, who shared an overwhelmed smile with one another, and my heart wanted to run around the room yelling “EEEE!” while shaking everyone it met by the shoulders. (My heart can get a little aggressive sometimes.)

Also, Kazee talked about his mom who recently died of cancer in his acceptance speech and cried a lot and it was too much. And also, Cristin Milioti, your dress and your earrings and your adorable little face: yes, yes, yes.

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

7. One of the plays I was most intrigued by throughout the evening was Venus In Fur, for which Nina Arianda won Best Actress in a Play for her role of Vanda. It was described by a presenter as a play that challenged the viewer’s ideas of sex, gender, and power, or something similar to that which alerted the “Hey Jill, you will like this!” trigger in my brain. Arianda was so excited in her acceptance speech, and also described her character as one of the best female roles she had ever heard of. So, you know, if you’re interested in a sexy play with a strong and complex lady in it, seems like Venus in Fur is the one for you.

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images  

8. Candice Bergen ! There are so many patterns going on on your blazer! Also, who wears blazers to award shows? Lesbians, that’s who. (I know, I know, you’re married to a dude.) Also, you are still looking quite lovely, especially considering you survived a stroke a few years ago, and especially considering I already thought of you as an older lady when you were Murphy Brown. You know what was the best? Murphy Brown, am I right?!

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

9. Finally, there was a lady of color up on the stage when the gorgeous Audra McDonald won Best Actress in a Musical for Porgy and Bess. You TV watching folk might recognize her from her role on Private Practice, but McDonald has also been super successful in theater. This award in fact tied her with Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts!) and Julie Harris for most Tony Awards ever for an actress. (They all have five now. Not shabby.) Oh, and she’s also recorded four albums with her pretty pretty voice and occasionally sings opera. No big whoop. 

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

10. While she didn’t win, Cynthia Nixon was nominated for her harrowing and brilliant performance in Wit, a devastating-yet-also-funny play that follows a poet and professor as she goes through cancer treatment. In addition to being recognized for this incredible role, she got to walk the red carpet with her new official wifey, Christine Marinoni, and how awesome is that! And Marinoni wore a tux with a bowtie! Gah! You ladies are so adorable and wonderful.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty

And speaking of ladies on the red carpet, Jessica Chastain arrived not only wearing a nude dress that proclaimed SPARKLES AND BOOBS!, but she also looked pretty chummy with Jess Weixler throughout the evening. Just sayin’.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

And to end, while not exclusively related to the ladies but to all of humanity, my personal favorite acceptance speech of the night was from Daryl Roth, producer of Clybourne Park, Best Play winner. He said:

There are those rare people who can look at the world and see things the rest of us don’t see until they show us. These are the writers. There are the special few who can take that vision and turn it back into a world. These are the directors, the designers. There are fearless beings who can live in that world and show us who we are. These are our actors. There are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much — crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, show me this world. Open me. Change me. These are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say “Yes,” there is theater.

I would venture to say that’s not just an eloquent description of theater, but of all performance art in general. It reminds us just how special it is, how meaningful it is, when so many people work together to make one great thing happen. And when these great things happen, it is spectacular, and as Neil Patrick Harris said, “If life were more like theater, life wouldn’t suck so much.”

So let’s keep saying “Yes!” Let’s keep making life not suck so much. I’ll be waiting in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square in my dreams. See you all there.

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