Sean Hayes both hosted the Tony Awards Sunday night and was a nominee for his performance in “Promises, Promises,” but he also was a sassy lightning rod for politics. Hayes made the least news ever last March when, just before his Broadway debut opened, he officially came out as gay. (In other news, the sun set last night.)
Hayes was then the target of a weird thinkpiece in Newsweek (by a gay author, no less!) who claimed that when gay actors come out, they ruin the illusion that they could be straight for audiences; Hayes was singled out as not convincingly playing a hetero man in the musical. His co-star, Kristin Chenoweth — who also has appeared on “Glee,” another target of the article — was vocal in her disdain for the piece.
Without addressing the article directly, Hayes began his hosting duties with a Tipper-and-Al-style prolonged lip-lock with Chenoweth that seemed to establish, for home audiences, that kisses look real when the actors are good. Despite my criticism of the cast recording, these actors are good.
Funnily enough, much of the rest of the night was spent joking about the gay stuff. Despite the straightest selection of new musical nominees imaginable — three are rock musicals: “Million Dollar Quartet,” about the roots of rockabilly; “Memphis,” about segregation is the music business; and “American Idiot,” about Green Day — Hayes compared the Tonys to the World Cup (in soccer, someone scores and they yell, “Goal!” while at the Tonys someone wins and they yell “Girl!”) and jokes that even he might be tempted by Scarlett Johansson (who won for her debut in “A View from the Bridge”). Later, he came out in crotch-accenting Capezios that sent audience member Nathan Lane into a tizzy of laughs and in a red dress as Little Orphan Annie.
The revival of “La Cage aux Folles” gave middle America a great look at drag queens and, in a Hobson’s choice, it won best direction of a musical over gay dance icon Bill T. Jones for “Fela!”, who did win for choreography. I interviewed Bill here and Rich Lopez interviewed him here. “La Cage” also won for revival of a musical and actor.
The gay-themed play “Next Fall,” which tells the relationship between two gay men when one falls sick, lost best play to gay playwright John Logan’s “Red.”
Gay musician (and my Facebook friend) Levi Kreis won for his Broadway debut, too, for appearing in “Million Dollar Quartet.” He beat out Robin DeJesus from “La Cage.” Lots of people won for their debuts, actually: Catherine Zeta-Jones for “A Little Night Music,” Eddie Redmayne for “Red,” Scarlett Johansson for “A View from the Bridge”; Douglas Hodge for “La Cage”; and the composer of “Memphis,” which won book, score, orchestrations and best musical
Viola Davis, whom I interviewed last year when she was up for an Oscar for “Doubt,” won the best actress in a play beside fellow winner Denzel Washington for “Fences.”
Another local connection: Rob Kaplowitz, who won for sound design of a musical for “Fela!,” is also the sound designer for DTC’s new version of “It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman,” which begins previews on Friday.
That’s about as gay as I can be at one time. Night everyone!