Dance News

In case you missed the best night on TV—a.k.a the live broadcast of the Tony Awards—Dance Spirit's got your back. Here's a rundown of the show's highlights, a couple of its more cringe-worthy moments, and some of our favorite (and least-favorite) red carpet outfits.

Hugh Jackman with the cast of After Midnight
(photo Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

The Highlights: 

–Hugh Jackman as host. It's great to see Wolverine back on the Radio City Music Hall Stage, singing and dancing with the stars of Broadway. He even cut a rug with Dulé Hill and the fabulous cast of After Midnight. Sure, his opening number (with all that awkward hopping) wasn't as fabulous as NPH's extravaganza last year, but his serenading of the female best actress nominees—in both the play and musical categories—stole my heart.

Bryce Pinkham (center) and the cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
(photo Heather Wines/CBS)

–The performances, obv. After Midnight, Aladdin and Bullets Over Broadway were especially impressive—so. much. tap. dancing.  And here's to genie James Monroe Iglehart's win for best featured actor in a musical. But I was especially enamored with the performance from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder—the Tony winner for best musical. In case you chose to take your bathroom break during the number, you can re-watch it here. There's not much movement, but the witty trio really brought down the house.

–The crazy Music Man rap. My viewing party went pretty nuts when Hugh Jackman busted some rhymes from The Music Man—and then even more nuts when LL Cool J and T.I. joined in. The beats—commemorating the song "Rock Island" from 1957's The Music Man, supposedly the first-ever rap—came courtesy of Questlove of The Roots. (Pretty cool.) Here's the song in the 1962 film; compare it to the Tony Award shenanigans here.

Melanie Moore with Jennifer Hudson in Finding Neverland. (photo Heather Wines/CBS)

–Melanie Moore as Peter Pan. When Finding Neverland hits the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, this summer, "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 8 winner (and DS cover star) Melanie Moore will get the opportunity to work with Mia Michaels again: Mama Mia will be choreographing the new musical. The full cast has been announced (helloooo, Jeremy Jordan!). Unfortunately, Jennifer Hudson, who sang in last night's preview, is not in the show.

Jessie Mueller (left) with Carole King. (photo Heather Wines/CBS)

–Jessie Mueller and Carole King together (again) on one stage. I certainly felt the Earth move under my feet during this performance. Jessie Mueller is fantastic as the iconic singer/songwriter Carole King in Beautiful, and I suspect she'll be fantastic in roles to come. Congrats on your Tony for best leading actress in a musical, Jessie!

–The dreamy Matthew Bomer announcing a new Tony Awards partnership with his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. Next year the Tonys will celebrate one elementary, middle or high school theater teacher who really makes a difference. Know someone who you think deserves special recognition? Read about the new award here.

Jenni Barber (left) and Christine Dwyer (photo Heather Wines/CBS)

The Missed Opportunities:

–Wicked's 10th anniversary performance. Yes, Christine Dwyer and Jenni Barber sang an amazing rendition of "For Good." But weren't you just a little disappointed that Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth didn't pop out to sing a line or two? I mean, we know Idina was there—she sang something from her new musical If/Then. Lame, Tony Awards. Lame.

–The absent-from-TV award for best choreography. Remember last year, when we got to see Jerry Mitchell accept his choreography award on TV? Apparently the producers forgot about that precedent, and After Midnight's Warren Carlyle received his award for best choreography during a commercial break. Boooooo! Maybe if we give his acceptance speech video a ton of online views, the producers will get the point for next year.

The Best Dressed:

The history-making Audra McDonald, who took home her sixth Tony Award. She also became the first performer to win in all four acting categories (featured musical, featured play, leading musical and leading play). Yeah, she's legendary—and stylish to boot, in this pretty printed gown. (photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)

The always effortlessly gorgeous Sutton Foster. She didn't leave with a win, but her performance for Violet was strong.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)

And the Worst:

The flashy Fran Drescher. She may be on Broadway in Cinderella, but believe it or not, this over-the-top tangerine dress is not a costume.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)

The weighed-down Kate Mara. This dress just looks heavy. Here's hoping Netflix turns "House of Cards" into a musical so Kate can redeem her look as a Tonys presenter next year.
(photo Walter McBride/Broadway World)

What did you think of the telecast? Which performance was your favorite, and who did you think was best dressed? Was any show or artist robbed of an award? We want to hear what you have to say!

Dance News

16 days until this year's Tony Awards!

We can hardly wait, so we've been making some predictions to pass the time. Sure, we've spent some time debating which nominee will take home the Tony for our favorite category, Best Choreography. (Will it be Bullets Over Broadway, Rocky, Aladdin, or After Midnight???) But what we really care about is the ceremony itself. I mean, no one knows how to put on a spectacular awards show quite like a room full of Broadway's brightest. We're dying to know: Who's gonna open the ceremony? What excerpts will the nominated shows choose to perform? What other celebs can we expect to see up on that stage?

Well just this morning, Michael Riedel of The New York Post filled us in on some of the deets:

After Midnight will open the show—a coveted honor.

Virgil "Lil' O" Gadson (center) and Karine Plantadit (right) dance it out in After Midnight (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Jessie Mueller of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will perform a song from the musical. (Hopeful rumors suggest Carole King will join her.)

Jessie Mueller in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (photo by AP)

And Sting will preview a couple of songs from his upcoming musical The Last Ship.

(Photo by Frank Ockenfels)

We still have so many questions, though. Most importantly, will we get to see "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin? (Please, Disney, please!)

Plus, there's rumor of some sort of mega-finale, featuring the casts of all the nominated musicals. Not sure what that's about, but we have high hopes!

Make sure to tune in to the 68th Annual Tony Awards—airing June 8 on CBS at 8pm EST—to see what other surprises are in store.

Dance News

OK, so you've actually already "met" him—several times. He's the Tony-winning choreographer responsible for Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé's epic musical number at the 81st Academy Awards (which earned him an Emmy, making him a Tony- and Emmy-winning choreographer). He's also the man behind last year's dance-tastic Oscars ceremony and NBC's The Sound of Music Live!...

It's Rob Ashford!

Rob Ashford accepts his Tony for best choreography in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002 (photo via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

This guy's known for getting non-dancers to shake it. (Exhibit A: He had Daniel Radcliffe pirouetting in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.) So just imagine what he can do with a fellow dance aficionado like Ellen!

Unfortunately, when it comes to spilling the deets on this evening's performances, Ashford's keeping his lips sealed. Sigh. Suppose we'll just have to tune in tonight to find out!

In the meantime, here's a clip of Ashford's Emmy-winning choreography from the 2009 Oscars to tide us over:

 

Who caught the Tony Awards yesterday? It was an interesting night at the Beacon Theater, with lots of surprises when it came to the winners, for sure. But I'd like to begin this recap by establishing that Neil Patrick Harris is a national treasure. If he could host everything, ever—maybe with an occasional cameo by Hugh Jackman—the world would be a happier place.

Let's run down the highlights of the show, shall we? To simplify this a bit, I've decided to rate Tony 2012's top moments by jazz hands, from one (meh) to five (YES!).

1. The Book of Mormon introduction. OK, the idea of starting out with the BofM cast members ringing famous Broadway stars' doorbells was cute. But this show had its big moment last year, and the number itself lacked...something. (Maybe the hundreds of obscenities that pepper the rest of the production's songs?)

Rating: Two jazz hands

2. Neil Patrick Harris's opener. "What if life were more like theater?" NPH asks, and thus begins a cute musical number that pays tribute to beloved theater traditions while also poking gentle fun at them. It would basically have been impossible to top last year's insane opening number, but the "preventermission" and the Annie cameo brought it pretty close.

Rating: Four jazz hands

3. Movie-musical hybrids. "The Towering Inferno No Nannette. The Exorcister Act. Field of Dreamgirls. My Left Footloose. (Think of the dance numbers!)" Cute.

Rating: Two jazz hands

4. The Newsies performance. Yes, yes, yes!! Love all these boys. Way to wake up the audience with Christopher Gattelli's high-octane moves. (And Newsies fans: Stay tuned for July/August issue!)

Rating: Four jazz hands

5. Christopher Gattelli winning for Best Choreography—during a commercial break. So well-deserved. But really? Hiding the presentation away during the commercials? Choreographers are people too, Tonys!

Rating: Five jazz hands (the award); zero jazz hands (the timing)

6. NPH's Spiderman stunt. "Any concerns I had about this Spiderman rig failing have been overshadowed by the searing pain in my junk." [Cut to Andrew Garfield.]

Rating: Three jazz hands

7. The Lion King guy sitting in the audience in full costume. I'm sorry, what??

Rating: Zero jazz hands

8. The Porgy and Bess performance. Oh, man, I could listen to Audra McDonald sing "Summertime" all day. Which is why I was a little bummed that they performed a confusing medley of songs instead of just letting her do her thing. Though it's also a treat to see Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier up there, so...

Rating: Three jazz hands

(Side note: McDonald's engaged to Will Swenson?? Where have I been??)

9. The Tony-Award winning composer medley. NPH sings a (pretty awesome) song mash-up commemorating all of the composers who've won for best score...and the whole thing is an introduction for Sheryl Crow? I'm a little confused (though I did laugh out loud at "Hello 12, hello 13, hello—where is love?").

Rating: Two jazz hands

10. The Once performance. "Gold" is a beautiful song, but I was hoping they'd do "Falling Slowly," which is just gorgeous. Also, it would've been nice to hear Cristin Milioti sing a bit.

Rating: Three jazz hands

11. Hugh Jackman's surprise face. Jackman knew he was getting a special Tony Award last night—but he didn't know that his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, would be presenting it. That is real surprise right there, and it is adorable.

Rating: Three jazz hands

12. "I just got terrible news: The cast of Hairspray has been taken over by pirates...of Penzance." Nerdy theater jokes! Yay!

Rating: Two jazz hands

13. The Leap of Faith performance. I'm sad this show closed before I got a chance to see it, because the cast's performance was unexpectedly amazing. That is some serious choreography!

Rating: Four jazz hands

14. The closing recap. The best. And the ending was perfect. Just watch and appreciate all that is Neil Patrick Harris.

Rating: Five very enthusiastic jazz hands

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