How I ended up accidentally crashing the Tonys
And I have not seen a single play or musical this year
I have not seen a single play or musical this year, and yet here I was at the Tony Awards.
On June 12 Heat Street sent me, through a connection, to report on the Tony Award’s red carpet. It started off very blasé, with me casually doing three or four struts up and down the red carpet. It ended up with me chilling next to Jane Krakowski whilst waiting for my Uber.
The red carpet was a casual affair with a vast majority of stars floating by without any acknowledgement of my existence. Shoutout to Justin Guarini and Ali Stroker for being awesomely down to earth. And to Savion Glover (for the selfie) who came with his son, who was more excited about the possibility of seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger than being at the Tonys themselves.
Après the Red Carpet, my priorities in order, I headed over to the press area to stock up on food. I casually rode a few floors with two Tony winners, Howell Binkley (lighting design for Hamilton) and Paul Tazewell (costumes for Hamilton).
Realizing that my presence in the press room wasn’t necessary I thought it was time to call it a night and walked out heading past the chaos on 75th street. Originally I only stopped by hoping there would be a plug to charge my phone. What appeared to be just a normal door turned out to be the backstage entrance into the Beacon Theatre.
Not realizing that I wasn’t allowed into the actual ceremony, I waltzed right into the main seating area, awkwardly trying to avoid the cameras.
I was still desperately searching for a plug to charge my phone which inevitably caused me to gravitate towards the middle section of the theatre where all the photographers were stationed. Two minutes of awkwardly shuffling my feet in 150mm platform heels earned me enough courage to ask if I could use one of their outlets.
The camerawoman obliged. By this point my Snapchat was full of 360 views of the stage including Lin Manuel Miranda’s beautiful acceptance speech. I was in the room to finally realize what the fuss was all about with Hamilton – after seeing a sneak peek during the awards ceremony.
Being in a room full of people that I have seen on the big screen, on stage and on TV was incredible. As much as I tried not to be, I was starstruck. It was bad. In front of me was a theatre full of some of the most talented and influential people in the world. (Love you Claire Danes!)
I witnessed the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal, Sean Hayes and James Corden singing ‘A Whole New World.’ Fast forward to 40 percent iPhone battery charge and I was standing next to Corden’s publicist who was determined to evade those enforcing the, ‘you must sit’ rule (which somehow didn’t include me). He was making sure that the ushers knew that he was indeed none other than James Corden’s assistant.
Meanwhile next to him, my new elevator buddy Tony winner Howell Binkley and his wife, were quietly standing waiting to get their seats back from, who I later found out was, a “seat filler.”
Meanwhile, I was just getting started.
Returning to the main seating area was a bit difficult because no one was allowed back until the next commercial break. Luckily for me in this short period I witnessed Zac Posen and Jourdan Dunn (who is by the way really tall) trying to slip out unnoticed. I called someone, ‘antisocial’ for being on their phone, and that someone turned out to be Mark Strong, who lost to Frank Langella for best actor.
The highlight of the evening was by far towards the end of the show when I accidentally became a “seat filler.” Seat fillers are people who producers employ to fill empty seats whenever a celebrity guest goes to schmooze with friends by the bar or to use the restroom.
These people are there to play a celebrity game of musical chairs. No surprise I was mistaken for one, having randomly grabbed a seat in the audience.
It did not take long for the young lady next to me ask me about, what she assumed was, a long standing career in serious seat filling. At this point I felt like I had to indulge her. I consequently made up a story about tough online selection process and all the of the various challenges that seat fillers face on a daily basis.
Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, I turned to leave with the masses pouring out of the front door. I was surrounded by artists. On my left, pals Busy Philips and Michelle Williams were discussing the prospect of Shake Shack before the afterparty (so they do eat!). Behind me was Allison Williams eagerly recalling her favorite parts of the show to friends.
My elbow accidentally brushed against a lady too consumed in her phone to notice anything around her – oh hey there Anna Wintour! Glenn Close, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jessica Lange, and Diane Lane were all in close proximity.
Standing outside, I was so high from the positive energy of the show that didn’t even notice Jane Krakowski standing next to me with her mum. I broke. I had to get a photo. Nervously, I asked her publicist who nudged me in her direction.
The most interesting part is that despite it all I don’t think I will remember this as the night I got to ‘mingle with famous people,’ but rather as the night that I got to be in an environment with people who truly love what they do and excel in their craft (while at the same time subconsciously constantly avoiding being kicked out altogether from the show).
Perhaps I am part of the Broadway community after all.