Sunday, June 13, 2010

I was at the Tony Awards!

As this post should begin...

I'd like to thank Playhouse Square (Stephanie Eames) for offering and arranging the trip; Gina Vernaci for the congratulatory call right before I left the hotel room to start this fantastic evening; the as-to-be anonymous gentleman who passed me a copy of the Playbill so I could have a tangible proof of my participation; the New York City Police Officer who was kind enough to take this tourist's picture with said playbill as I was leaving Radio City.

I've used the "(giddy laughter)" notation in several posts, but generally I'm able to restrain my actual giddy laughter to the privacy of my own home. Tonight, leaving the awards, I couldn't restrain myself: I giddily laughed, out loud, and in public. I think the people around me might have thought I was having a breakdown of some kind.

"If a civilian fills an empty seat next to you, please treat them as a member of your guild or union...or with respect. It is just temporary."

I was a seat filler: As seats emptied because talent was on stage -- or getting ready to be on stage -- they maneuvered us into position to make it appear that there was a full house for television audiences. Based on what little I had read I was prepared to be standing for most of the show. As luck would have it, I was assigned to the center section which meant I got a seat -- slightly obstructed view with television, lighting, and sound equipment directly in front of me (including both of the main cameras and the jib that took most of the flying shots) but a seat, center of the house no less.

When I was called to do my duty you couldn't have asked for a much better seat: Remember Leiv Schriber? I was in his seat, first row on the house center-left aisle for a fairly long time--I can't really remember what happened during that time, but once I watch the DVR of it I'll be more specific. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith were directly across the aisle from me... I remember seeing him do some toe-tapping. I also almost tripped Scarlett Johansson not once but twice (Sorry!) The house was [of course] full of celebrities -- including a fairly loud Jay-Z (one of the producers of Fela!)

One of PlayhouseSquare's marketing tags for the upcoming season is "There's No Substitute for The Real Thing", one of the presenters (this may have been before the telecast began) equivocated on how a performance on film is captured at 24 frames per second and repeatable infinitely, where as every performance in live theatre is unique ("A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a play is worth a thousand pictures"). Both of these sentiments I've long held -- stemming from my involvement in theater in high school where I saw how much variation performances of the same play could have based on the audience, props misfiring [there are no retakes], or actors "trying something a little different".

But tonight, with seeing the Tony Awards first-hand I can say that there is genuinely no substitute for seeing it live. I'm sure the CBS telecast was great -- and since you at home were probably not blinded by the intense strobe lights for Green Day's American Idiot, you may want to think that it was better. No: The energy in Radio City, the kensisis between audience and presenter the sheer wave of joy (or disappointment) that slid through each company's group as a winner was announced: You can't possibly feel that through a television set.

I fly home tomorrow; already this afternoon feels a million years away. This evening I hope will stick with me for a little while.

Update (June 15): I figured out that, assuming I have my celebs correct, the amazingly beautiful person I was seated next to for nearly an hour was none other than Ms. Naiomi Watts. (facepalm).