The hosts, the Greys, the locked box

Ex­u­ber­ance, pointed words, self-dep­re­ca­tion keep it lively

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Deb­o­rah Vankin deb­o­rah.vankin @la­

Mem­o­rable mo­ments from an evening of many, in­clud­ing Neil Pa­trick Har­ris’ Os­cars call­back.

Like any of life’s ex­treme events, awards shows bring out the best and worst in their play­ers. Here are some of the most mem­o­rable mo­ments from the 69th Tony Awards: Tran­scen­dent hu­mor: Co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cum­ming — she in a tuxedo mini-dress, he in pur­ple shorts and a tie — opened the Tonys with a top­i­cal zinger. “Good evening, ladies and gen­tle­men — and those who don’t iden­tify as ei­ther!” Cum­ming quipped. Dance of ac­cep­tance: In her ac­cep­tance speech for fea­tured actress in a play, for “You Can’t Take It With You,” An­naleigh Ash­ford — in a fit­ted emer­ald green dress — joked: “I can’t be­lieve I’m stand­ing on a stage at Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall for the worst danc­ing that ever hap­pened on Broad­way!” Then she thanked: “… ev­ery friend I’ve ever had, ev­ery teacher I’ve ever had — ev­ery per­son I’ve ever met!” OK. Way to cover your bases. Fam­ily poignancy: Fatherdaugh­ter duo Joel and Jen­nifer Grey in­tro­duced a mu­si­cal num­ber from nom­i­nee “Fun Home,” which Jen­nifer Grey called “uni­ver­sally res­o­nant.” No doubt an as­pect of the mu­si­cal, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic mem­oir about her clos­eted gay fa­ther and strug­gling with be­ing gay her­self — res­onated per­son­ally as well for the Greys. Joel Grey came out ear­lier this year. Big­gest win we didn’t see: Jea­nine Te­sori and Lisa Kron, song­writ­ers for “Fun Home,” made his­tory as the first fe­male writ­ing team to win a Tony for mu­si­cal score. But we missed most of the mo­ment, as it took place dur­ing a com­mer­cial break. Dur­ing the snip­pet of their ac­cep­tance speech that was later broad­cast, Kron joked: “It’s sta­tis­ti­cally 10% bet­ter” than it used to be for women on Broad­way. “It’s un­ac­cept­ably low, but it seems that per­haps we’re mak­ing some progress,” she said. The King and iPhone: It was her Broad­way de­but, but Ruthie Ann Miles still scored the Tony for fea­tured actress in a mu­si­cal. And she didn’t waste any time us­ing the plat­form to fur­ther a cause. Her first words at the podium? “Re­cy­cle,” she said, hold­ing up her iPhone to an ap­plaud­ing crowd. Most G-rated mo­ment: Ac­cept­ing the best play award for “The Cu­ri­ous In­ci­dent of the Dog in the Night-Time,” play­wright Simon Stephens thanked his young chil­dren for inspiring him to cre­ate a play, adapted from the novel, with­out swear words or vi­o­lence. Grad­u­ated to Broad­way: Alex Sharp snagged lead ac­tor in a play for “The Cu­ri­ous In­ci­dent of the Dog in the Night-Time.” “Sooo crazy,” said the 26-year-old Broad­way new­comer, wear­ing a cream tux ac­cen­tu­ated by a crooked bow tie, as if dressed for his bar mitz­vah. “This time last year I picked up my [di­ploma] af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Juil­liard; now I’m hold­ing this. So crazy!” Then Sharp ded­i­cated his award to “any young per­son out there who feels mis­un­der­stood or dif­fer­ent. And to an­swer the ques­tion: ‘Does that mean I can do any­thing?’ Yes, it does!” Un­lock­ing the joke: Neil Pa­trick Har­ris made the best come­back of the night by re­vis­it­ing his “locked box” joke, which didn’t play well when he hosted the Os­cars ear­lier this year. The Tonys crowd was more for­giv­ing, and this time the joke was met with warm ap­plause. Ex­plains the snub: In­tro­duc­ing the best mu­si­cal cat­e­gory, Larry David let his hall­mark comic bit­ter­ness come to the fore. His play “Fish in the Dark” was not nom­i­nated, and he felt sure he knew why. “They couldn’t put aside their anti-Semitism,” he joked. “For me or Har­vey We­in­stein.”

Charles Sykes Invision / AP

IN A CUTE MO­MENT, lead actress in a mu­si­cal win­ner Kelli O’Hara per­forms with some of her young cast mates from “The King and I.”

ALEX SHARP, who re­ceives his award for lead ac­tor in a play from Ju­dith Light for “The Cu­ri­ous In­ci­dent of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is a year out of Juil­liard.

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