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Vulture’s Behind-the-Scenes Timeline of the Tonys (and the After-Parties)

Actors Andrew Garfield and Philip Seymour Hoffman attend the 66th Annual Tony Awards
Andrew Garfield and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be an awards show without a sweep (Once), a few upsets (Philip Seymour Hoffman!), some high fashion, and, finally, a behind-the-scenes timeline from Vulture. Herewith, everything we observed and overheard over the course of the 66th annual Tony Awards, starting with rehearsals and ending at an after-after-party hosted by O&M. Enjoy!

9:30 a.m. The line to get inside the Beacon Theater for rehearsals wraps around the block. Overheard: “I feel like I’m going to the slaughterhouse.”

10:30 a.m. Rehearsals for the broadcast start.

10:35 a.m. Neil Patrick Harris tries a joke about this being his third time hosting the Tonys. “You know what they say about the third time — three’s a crowd. Three sheets to the wind. Three strikes, and you’re out. Third time’s a charm. There it is!”

10:36 a.m. Harvey Fierstein is the first celeb in the gifting suite. “This is America,” he says. “I be lovin’ it.”

10:45 a.m. Patti LuPone is the next to show up at the gifting suite. She chats with Post gossip doyenne and longtime friend Cindy Adams.

10:54 a.m. Neil Patrick Harris tries out his ideas for movie-musical mashups on the rehearsal audience, taking notes on which jokes get the most laughs. (Just one reason he’s a good host.)

11 a.m. Bernadette Peters walks into the gifting suite wearing curlers in her hair.

11:39 a.m. During a rehearsals lull, someone from the balcony yells out a request: “Magic trick!” “My mind just went to a very dark place,” Neil laughed. “I don’t have anything up my … sleeve.” Then he consulted the attendees on whether he should wear a bow tie or a straight tie. “Straight tie!” people yelled. “But then when I hang upside down as Spider-Man, it would go like this,” he said, demonstrating. “Maybe if I tuck it in?”

11:45 a.m.Mandy Patinkin visits the Men’s Wearhouse charity booth in the gifting suite and picks out a Calvin Klein charcoal suit with a light gray shirt and red Tommy Hilfiger tie. His note to the person who will receive it reads, “Looking good, PEACE!!

11:56 a.m. Neil Patrick Harris looks like he’s deep in thought and then guesses, “Six of diamonds?” as if he were completing that aforementioned magic trick. (Callbacks: another reason he makes a good host.)

12:43 p.m. Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone sing their presentation speech, but Mandy interrupts her to go, “Wait — you got the wrong key!”

12:58 p.m. A stand-in plays the part of Hugh Jackman’s wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, during rehearsals, without giving away that Deborra will be in the show later. They call her “Ashley Schafer” instead.

1:16 p.m. Christopher Plummer is given the wrong index card: He’s supposed to rehearse presenting for actresses, but all the names are male actors. “Jeremy Jordan,” he starts to read. “Who made this up? Is this a bunch of lesbians?”

1:27 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris rehearses the recap song, but there are still parts to fill in: “I confess the last verse is a mess, but this just for the dress rehearsal,” he sings.

6 p.m. The red carpet starts and the stars begin to arrive at the Beacon Theater.

6:05 p.m. John Tiffany and Enda Walsh, the director and writer of Once, stop to chat on the carpet. What will they do with their presumably large cache of Tonys to come? “Lick them?” Walsh suggested. “I’ll make a dress out of them,” Tiffany laughed.

6:10 p.m. Kathy Najimy complements our cleavage: “That’s a great gown! Your boobs look great.”

6:30 p.m. Nice Work If You Can Get It writer Joe DiPietrio suggests a lyric for the recap song: “Matthew Broderick made the audience laugh their ass off/He should have been nominated instead of being cast off.”

6:35 p.m. Newsies director Jeff Calhoun reveals that he invited Christian Bale to the show’s opening night, but the offer was declined.

6:40 p.m. Mandy Patinkin is on the carpet and is wavering about doing his bit with Patti LuPone as a song. “It’s tricky to find the note because we were doing it a cappella.” We encourage him to sing it anyway. “Maybe we will.”

6:45 p.m. John Lithgow has a suggestion for Neil Patrick Harris’ recap song: “I would appreciate it if he would rhyme the word ‘Lithgow’ so then maybe people would learn to pronounce it properly. Like with rainbow. Like, ‘From The End of the Rainbow to the great John Lithgow.’”

7ish Jessica Chastain is on the carpet and talks with Vulture about giving Andrew Garfield the Tony for the rehearsal version of the show. “‘It’s a strange thing, when you say, ‘And the winner is Andrew Garfield, for this rehearsal only.’ They shouldn’t say someone’s name, because I would be afraid that would jinx it. You should just say Elmer Fudd. I should have just said that, ‘The award tonight just for the rehearsal would be for Elmer Fudd.’”

7:15 p.m. Last chance to get in the Beacon, which threatens no entry to late arrivals. Wanna bet that if Matthew Broderick were late, they would let him in?

7:49 p.m. Enda Walsh wins best book for a musical for Once — luckily for the censors, it’s in the pre-telecast, since his first words are, “Holy shit!”

8:05 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris axes his first joke of the evening: Gone is a series of quips about what comes in threes that he used in rehearsal (referring to his third time hosting the Tonys). Instead, he gives this line: “Just like with movie sequels, the third one’s where you start seeing quality.”

8:09 p.m. A stagehand walks backstage with a lawn mower and stows it in the holding area to the confusion of one of the production team members: “Why is there a lawn mower here?” “It was for Patti’s number.”

8:12 p.m. When Paul Rudd jokes that he must have lost his index cards in a bodega, he might be serious: He’s giving a completely different speech than what was read by his stand-in from a teleprompter during rehearsal.

8:15 p.m. A scruffier than usual Jesse Tyler Ferguson poses for photos with a young girl who is working for the Tony Awards. She immediately types away on her phone, presumably updating her Facebook profile picture.

8:23 p.m. Judith Light exits the stage doors with her Tony clutched tightly in her hand. She poses for a photo with Paul Rudd and then asks to be pointed to the gifting suite. She adorably says “Congratulations” when a Tonys employee says to her, “Congratulations.” Still in shock!

8:56 p.m. As Neil Patrick Harris hangs upside down in a Spider-Man pose, Andrew Garfield laughs and shakes his head. As the bit continues, he starts slapping his knee in laughter.

9:15 p.m. Nudity! Porgy and Bess dancer Trevon Davis strips down to his boxers for a quick costume change backstage. No one seems to notice because all eyes are on the ridiculously adorable James Marsden, who is being photographed.

9:26 p.m. Smells like cigarette smoke backstage. Indeed, someone has lit a cigarette. Curious — and irritated — Tonys personnel scan the room looking for the culprit. It’s John Larroquette. No one says a word.

9:42 p.m. Christian Borle is asked to plié for a photo. He does.

9:50 p.m. The Tony production team scramble to figure out which ensemble has just taken over the holding area for warm ups. “You know it’s a boring year on Broadway when you can’t tell the difference between Evita, Newsies, Once, or Jesus Christ Superstar,” one says.

9:53 p.m. Turns out this group of fourties villagers is from Evita.

9:54 p.m. Phillip Seymour Hoffman weaves through them.

10:15ish Perhaps thanks to Vulture’s urging, Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone keep their presenter speech as a song. Really, what would they have done anyway?

10:36 p.m. Backstage, Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, kiss on demand for the photographers.

10:40ish During “Leap of Faith,” Emma Stone appears to console Andrew Garfield over Philip Seymour Hoffman’s loss (or perhaps his own?) He keeps looking over to Philip, perhaps to make sure he’s okay. Once she’s got him calmed down, she rocks out in her chair a little bit.

10:54 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris does the closing recap number, but only a little bit has changed since the dress rehearsal rendition — so it’s not as improvised as it might seem.

11:09 p.m. The cast and crew pass around Champagne for a toast backstage. Someone asks Neil Patrick Harris where his Champagne is, to which he responds, “Where’s my Laphroaig?” He then toasts with the single malt scotch instead.

11:30 p.m. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are still trapped near the stage. Emma sits on the steps and chats with a few folks while they wait for the venue to clear out.

11:45 p.m. Once won eight Tony Awards in all, so the cast and crew are celebrating with a little shindig at the Museum of Arts and Design. But it’s not just a Tony party — it’s also a birthday party for set designer Bob Crowley (Aida, Mary Poppins), who turned 60 today. To commemorate both, there is a huge cake made by Cute As Cake designed to look like the Once set, with huge walls to give it a theater feel and then a stage with little instruments leaning up against a bar and a piano. It looks too good to eat, but that hasn’t stopped people from sneaking a bite of the marzipan tiles that comprise the “floor.” Marketa Irglova from Once the movie mimes grabbing a chunk of the “wall” and shoving it in her mouth. But we’re supposed to wait for Steve Kazee so everybody can sing “Happy Birthday.”

11:54 p.m. Christian Borle arrives at the Tonys gala at the Plaza. He’s surrounded by people congratulating him, but tells them while holding up his phone: “I need to call my mom.”

12:00 a.m. At the Once party, three adorable 8-year-olds who’ve played Ivanka in the show — McKayla Twiggs, Ripley Sobo, and Clare Candela — are up past their bedtime waiting for Steve Kazee.

12:30 a.m. Glen Hansard, who has also been hanging around the elevators, just realizes that there is a cake designed like the stage show on a table next to him. “It’s so beautiful!” He’s tempted to eat a guitar, but tries a barstool instead and discovers it’s actually wood and not edible. “I’ll eat the floor,” he says, nibbling a marzipan tile, while he tells Vulture he was sitting behind Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who accused him of photo-bombing them. “[Trey] was taking a photograph of him and his buddies, and I was in the back of them, and when Once was winning, we were jumping up and cheering. And he was like, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘Me and Mar were in the film.’ And then after that, every time we won, they were like, ‘Congratulations.’”

1:10 a.m. Once director John Tiffany pretends to bitchslap Cristin Milioti. Then he lets Vulture hold his Tony. “There it is,” he offers. It’s got real heft. The top part spins! “I’ll probably give it my mum,” he says.

1:15 a.m. Steve Kazee finally arrives to Once party. Now people can eat the cake, and the little girls can go to bed.

1:25 a.m. Back at the gala, the house band covers “Call Me Maybe,” and the dance floor erupts with excited lip-syncers.

1:30 a.m. Mare Winningham is wearing fuzzy slippers at the O&M party at the Carlyle Hotel. Is she one of the residents? “It looks like I live here, right? But no, my friend gave me these and they are just so comfy!”

1:45 a.m. Harvey Fierstein, who is hanging out under the stairs, tells Vulture how he loves all the crying at the Tonys, because “there’s too much Botox” at beauty pageants, so they can’t show as much emotion anymore. The tears this year seemed motivated by a lot of recent deaths. “There’s a plague on parents this year,” he notes. If you’re the mom or dad of someone on Broadway, watch out!

2:00 a.m. Jesse Tyler Ferguson has arrived to the Carlyle, and in case Neil Patrick Harris still needs an understudy, he’s willing to fill in anytime. “I think Neil is so talented, but I really want to host the show,” he laughs. “Maybe he’ll take a year off and let me do it. I’m always willing and able to come out to New York and do that, if they’ll have me.”

2:45 a.m. Christian Borle and Laura Bell Bundy have a Legally Blonde: The Musical reunion upstairs.

3:00 a.m. A man in a Carlyle Hotel bathrobe and slippers shows up, and depending who asks, he’s either there to make a noise complaint or to party crash. Can’t it be both? Turned away, he goes back to his room on the twelfth floor, while we finally go home.

Vulture Goes Behind the Scenes at the Tonys