• Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

The Big ‘Outsiders’ Upset and Chic After-parties

The Big ‘Outsiders’ Upset and Chic After-parties

The 77th Annual Tony Awards - Show

Daniel Radcliffe won his first Tony.
Photo: Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro

Not to cast any doubt about the prognosticating powers behind our 100 percent accurate Tonys predictions, but as it turns out, the Tony voters really loved The Outsiders! Maybe love is too strong a word, but they certainly gravitated toward the YA adaptation strongly enough to award it Best Musical and a prize for Danya Taymor’s direction — perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, since she was up against Merrily’s resuscitator Maria Friedman. (You could notice how Friedman’s sister, producer Sonia, gave her the space to talk during their Best Revival speech.)

Watching the Tonys from my perch in the third balcony of the David H. Koch Theater, I felt the momentum start to shift toward The Outsiders around 7:30 p.m., when Cody Spencer won the award for Best Sound Design in a Musical. It’s the kind of category where voters tend to default to assuming their favorite show sounds the best (I’d expected Hell’s Kitchen), and that felt like an early hand tilt in the direction of Tulsa (that and the deafening cheers of enthusiasm whenever the show was mentioned from the sizable pro-Outsiders portion of the audience). As a bonus, inside the theater you could actually hear Spencer announce, “I can’t believe I’m crying in front of so many fucking people I know” in his speech before the profanity got bleeped out on Pluto TV.

The rationale behind The Outsiders’s win, in retrospect, isn’t hard to follow: Even if the book and score aren’t stellar (and the Tonys for both went to Suffs’s Shaina Taub), it’s a grand inky spectacle that’s not a jukebox (maybe an Achilles’ heel for Hell’s Kitchen) and is crucially already selling well. Also, that rain fight plays like gangbusters — and seemed to win over my less theater-familiar Vulture colleagues watching on TV — even if it required a whole crew of men and a mini-Zamboni to mop up the stage of the theater during a commercial break.

Talk about an Outsiders sweep!
Photo: Jackson McHenry

That victory came hand in hand with my other favorite event to observe behind the scenes: the herding of the co-producers. For reasons of space and decorum, this year the Tonys had tried to be strict about how many people could come onstage to accept an award for Best Musical/Play/Revival, because at this point each show has a list of co-pros in the dozens; they’re people who don’t have significant creative input but contribute some of the millions that make these shows possible. That’s much to the chagrin of the co-pros themselves, who insist their fundraising is crucial to the success of a show. (Also, I’m sure they want the Instagram photos of themselves onstage; rich people getting photos of themselves winning awards is half of what makes commercial theater possible.)

This time around, the solution was to put together a photo opportunity in the lobby of the Koch Theater for the co-pros, where they could stand on risers for a live feed that would play behind the lead producers and talent accepting on the actual stage of the theater and then also briefly wave to their friends back home when the television feed cut to them for a few seconds. From friends who watched on CBS, I’ve gathered that the cuts to a whole group of other people smiling and waving during an acceptance speech went unexplained. As the Best Musical prize was being announced, I figured I had to go watch the co-pros in action as they all stood in groups under paper signs for their musicals, cheered for their productions, and then raced to the risers as soon as their show won.

The glamour of theater!
Photo: Jackson McHenry

After the awards themselves, there’s the annual ritual of hopping around the after-parties circuit. This year, the official gala event (tickets available for purchase for a couple hundred dollars, or if you just ask the PR people nicely) was right across the Lincoln Center Plaza at the David Geffen Hall, where there was risotto on tap, free portable phone chargers, and enough Fiji water to fill the Nile (meanwhile, I paid $5 for a bottle in the theater itself). It’s where you see winners and nominees in their first shell-shocked moments after their stops at the press room, and I spotted Kelli O’Hara catching up with Alex Edelman, Andrew Rannells in line for a Shake Shack burger (minutes after I discovered he’s not in Tammy Faye after all), and Shaina Taub figuring out how to manage toting around two awards. From there, I headed off to P.J. Clarke’s across the street, where Stereophonic was celebrating with Caesar salads, roast beef, and rock classics on the sound system. Newly minted winner Will Brill was letting people spin his statuette, and there were appropriately chic rumors (unconfirmed, which makes them even more chic) that Wes Anderson was somewhere in attendance.

Finally, I sped off to the Carlyle Hotel, where O&M’s Rick Miramontez hosts the big after-after-party that tends to collect everyone back together in a big, brackish, tidal estuary where Hollywood and Broadway, business networking and drunk messiness, all overlap. There, after slipping past a producer outside who was reciting her credits to a bouncer to insist she was in fact on the list, I saw the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and her very tall beau; Kara Young looking incredible posing for photos; and Kecia Lewis holding court at a table in the midst of a throng of people all moving in circles trying to spot other people (shout-out to the Stage Whisperer reader who asked me if I had seen Sarah Pidgeon; I’m sorry I hadn’t!).

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was at one table greeting stars from Appropriate (“Ella Beatty! What are we doing here!?”). By the time I got to the Carlyle around 2 a.m., the party had just started a late-night breakfast offering omelets and French fries upstairs next to a dance floor, where I saw a few other Broadway reporters and we all traded stories about the other after-parties; the Hell’s Kitchen bash was apparently the most lavish, though the vibe was off given no Best Musical win. Near 4 a.m., the crowds started to dissipate, and I could catch a glimpse of Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Groff taking selfies in a blob of admirers at the bar before the lights went on and I figured it was time to get back to Brooklyn. By that point, a few committed partiers were heading off to suites upstairs, but most ended up at the taxi line, where I could see Sonia Friedman and Stereophonic’s Juliana Canfield among those waiting for black cars at the same time.

Happy end of the 2023–24 season! I’m popping several aspirin and downing a Gatorade or two before napping for the rest of the day. Hope you all do the same!

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