Archives For The Tony Awards

Some news and notes from my fourth consecutive Tony Awards red carpet:

– There was a major scene change this year as the biggest night on Broadway moved uptown from 6th Avenue to… Broadway! The Tony’s were held at the venerable Beacon Theatre, the sister-venue of previous host Radio City Music Hall. Both buildings are managed by the Madison Square Garden Company. Instead of wrapping around the venue, this year’s red carpet simply stretched down two blocks from the front entrance of the theatre.

– It didn’t matter if you were Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. or the guy in charge of lighting… if you were a part of the hit musical “Hamilton,” everyone wanted to talk to you. The production nabbed 16 nominations in 13 categories and took home 11 trophies. Tickets are impossible to come by unless you’re willing to refinance your house. Alex Lacamoire, who won the Tony for Best Orchestrations thanks to the musical based on Alexander Hamilton, smiled when I asked about the amount of ticket requests he has received.
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“That’s wonderful because that means people want to see our show,” he said, in perhaps one of the bigger understatements of the evening. “So hey, no complaints.”

– Certainly Odom Jr. had zero complaints as he beat out his co-star Miranda for the Lead Actor in a Musical category. When I asked Odom if he and Miranda made a friendly wager over the Tony prior to the award show, he found the question so hilarious that he nearly spit out the water he was sipping.

– This was a first: two reporters next to me were hungry, so they decided to walk to a pizzeria, pick up a pie and bring the entire box, paper plates included, back to the red carpet. At least they shared (I did not indulge but they were very kind to offer).

– Neil Patrick Harris shouted, “Work!” when I asked him what inspired his new, shorter haircut. I was tempted to simply tell you that I asked him what his favorite Rihanna song was.

– Nice to see Sara Bareilles on the carpet; she said hello to me before her publicist dragged her inside so she wouldn’t miss the award ceremony. It has been a wonderful Broadway debut for the pop star: her musical “Waitress” nabbed four Tony nods including Best Musical and Best Original Score, which of course was penned by Bareilles herself.

– Of course, there are a lot of artists from all genres of entertainment on and/or involved with Broadway these days. The great Andrew Lloyd Webber offered an interesting response when I asked him about this.

“Providing that you’ve got the right people for the right roles, if that’s what you’re asking me, and they’re cast for the right reasons… that’s great,” the seven-time Tony Award winner, whose musical adaptation of “School of Rock” received multiple nominations, told me. “It really doesn’t matter who you have in a show. Like, ‘School of Rock’ doesn’t have a star, but at the same time it easily could. I mean, James Corden wouldn’t be bad in ‘School of Rock,’ would he?”

Former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is interested in contributing to the show’s final season, set for next year.

“I feel like it’s my baby; I brought it over here (from England),” he told “Ralphie Tonight” on Sunday at the Tony Awards red carpet. “But I don’t know what egos are involved right now.”

Lythgoe produced “Idol” for 11 years, from its start in 2002 to 2013 when both he and fellow EP Ken Warwick were replaced. In a statement following his departure, the TV vet said that he was looking forward to focusing more on his other baby – “So You Think You Can Dance.” That show is currently in its 12th season with a pair of new judges alongside Lythgoe: Jason Derulo and former “Idol” panelist Paula Abdul.
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“A panel of judges isn’t about the individual,” he explained. “It’s about how you sit together. You know, looking at something like ‘The Voice’; it’s fantastic how Blake (Sheldon) and Adam (Levine) really made that work, and anyone that comes in to it now feels very comfortable.

“We’ve three have just got to make it work for ourselves now, and I think over the series we’ll certainly do that.”

“Dance” airs Monday’s at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva talked about a trend she saw on the red carpet of The Tony Awards – pleats.

Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”

Photo: https://instagram.com/ashleytisdale/

Photo: https://instagram.com/ashleytisdale/

It’s big business – billion dollar business, to be exact. Perhaps that explains why so many big stars from across entertainment continue to flock to Broadway for producing and/or starring roles. But as evidenced in last Sunday night’s “Tony Awards” broadcast, there is obviously more to the boom than just dollars and cents.

“I think people love live theater,” James Monroe Iglehart told me outside of Radio City Music Hall in New York City on the red carpet. Iglehart took home a “Tony” last year for his current role as “The Genie” in “Aladdin: The Musical.” “There’s something about watching people doing it right in front of you… they are not lip-syncing, there are no special effects, they are just singing and acting and dancing in front of you. There’s an energy to it that cannot be matched.”

That was Iglehart’s way of not only explaining Broadway’s identity, but also its success. Box office revenues climbed to over $1.3 billion this past season.

The earnest seen on stage is clearly admired by all entertainers, including multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban.

“To me this is such a pinnacle, to be in this theater world, to be up there on the Tony’s stage,” he remarked prior to the show. The American Theater Wing and The Broadway League tapped Groban to perform during the “In Memoriam” portion of the broadcast. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in the theatrical world.”

Others, like TV producer and “So You Think You Can Dance” creator/judge Nigel Lythgoe actually began their careers on the stage.

“I started off as a West End Dancer,” Lythgoe responded when I asked him why he became involved in the revival of “On The Town.” The production earned four nominations, including “Best Revival Of A Musical,” but lost to “The King and I.” “So just being a part of Broadway feels like I’ve sort of come full circle.”

Speaking of full circle, when the topic of “American Idol” was mentioned, Lythgoe reiterated that he would like to take part in the show’s final season next year. The producer, who brought the competition to the States from across the pond, added that he doesn’t know, “what egos are involved.”
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And that is another interesting thing about the red carpet of “The Tony Awards”: egos seem to be checked at the door. Kelsey Grammer, who performed on Broadway long before he came known as “Frasier,” told me that he was lured back to the stage because in his opinion, “Finding Neverland” is “the best show I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“It’s just one of my favorite stories,” said Grammer, who performed on the telecast as his character, Captain Hook. “I was invited to come and seen the out-of-town tryout basically, and I just thought it was breathtaking.”

“Neverland” did not receive a “Tony” nomination, but at least the snub isn’t reflected in the box office numbers; in the week leading up to the award show, the musical tallied over a million dollars in ticket sales. With an influx of theatergoers on the horizon thanks to warmer weather and tourist season, “The Tony’s” may have come and gone, but for the foreseeable future the business is here to stay.

In this edition of “Weekend Scoop,” Hello! Magazine.com Lifestyle Editor Jordi Lippe called in to talk about George Clooney, Rumer Willis and the upcoming Tony Awards. Clooney recently took his wife Amal back to where he grew up in Kentucky, while Willis spoke with the media outlet and Bennett was spotted at the musical, “An American In Paris,” before the weekend.

Photo: twitter.com/whatupitsusan

Photo: twitter.com/whatupitsusan


“Late Night” and “The Tonight Show” have elevated The Roots to a whole new level of fame, but the Philadelphia-born band has been around since 1987. Its influence reaches far beyond television. Look no further than… well, Joel and Benji Madden, the twin brothers that comprised a very popular pop rock band from Baltimore.

“We did a show once in D.C., and the cats from Good Charlotte told me the same thing, and I couldn’t believe it,” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson told me on the red carpet of The Tony Awards earlier this month. I had just informed him that the band’s 1995 release “Do You Want More?!!!??!” inspired my camera man, Dan Mulqueen, to play drums and join a band.

“They’re like, ‘Yo dude, we saw you at the 9:30 Club and then we went home and were like, “Yo, let’s start a band,”’ Quest continued. “I’m like, ‘Wait, you’re trying to tell me, that you guys weren’t a band before seeing The Roots and you saw The Roots one night and then you decided, “We’re gonna start a band called Good Charlotte.”’”

The Madden Brothers (a name which they now also record under as a pop rock duo) confirmed this again to the drummer. While he has a hard time believing it, Quest thinks it’s both cool but a bit weird.

“Hip hop is leery to celebrate age,” he explained. “Hip hop is like the only culture in which it’s youth-obsessed.”

Jay Z is changing this in my opinion, and Quest agreed but noted he is accomplishing this by staying relevant. You could make a similar argument for Thompson, but he believes that in addition to wearing his age (43) proudly, it is his expansion outside of the genre that has afforded him the opportunity to become an elder statesman of sorts that is not looked at necessarily as elder.

“I’m working on three plays right now that will probably wind up on Broadway in 2016,” he revealed. “It’s hip hop’s turn.”

Quest told the story of how he even ended up at The Tony’s: A few weeks prior, award show host Hugh Jackman was on “The Tonight Show.” He pitched Quest on the idea that “The Music Man” was actually a hip hop play. The musician bought in to it, and agreed to help produce the rap that Jackman did during the show along side LL Cool J and T.I.

It is one of Questlove’s many skills that has come to light since Jimmy Fallon’s rise up the rankings of late night TV. And it is a ride that The Roots seem to be enjoying quite a bit.

“This is the coolest job ever,” he said simply of his position with “The Tonight Show.” We’re a bunch of 14 year-olds in the bodies of 40 year-olds.”

But it seems now, that “youth-obsessed” culture is simply looking at that age as just a number.

I caught up with celebrities arriving at Radio City Music Hall in New York for the 68th Annual Tony Awards. Check out my interviews with Questlove, Wayne Brady, Fantasia, T.I., and more below.

The 67th annual Tony Awards enjoyed some added star power this year. Tom Hanks, Steven Van Zandt, Cyndi Lauper, Scarlett Johansson, and Jake Gyllenhaal were in attendance, all either returning to or making their Broadway debut in some capacity this past season. The show, hosted again by actor Neil Patrick Harris, saw its highest ratings since 2009.