"I'M teen heartthrob Neil Patrick Harris."
Once they heard that opening line, theater fans knew that the 65th Annual Tony Awards, held last night at the Beacon Theater in New York, were going to be fun. Someone finally realized that devoted theater people are a fairly sophisticated, open-minded bunch; told the standards-and-practices people at CBS to relax; and gave us a show that rocked.
Here are some of our favorite moments, in alphabetical order.*
* (Old-fashioned alphabetical order. By last names, not first. Not counting the The's or A's. Take that, Facebook. And the paid ABC theater listings in The New York Times.)
1. "BROTHERHOOD OF MAN"
The show stopper from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" proved that Daniel Radcliffe's not having been nominated was a disgrace. And that Rob Ashford's choreography is better than antidepressants.
2. "DON'T BREAK THE RULES"
This big number from "Catch Me if You Can" is still the best thing about the show. And so is Norbert Leo Butz, who won later in the evening for best featured actor in a musical.
3. DUELING HOSTS
Harris and Hugh Jackman (above) did a number about each man's superiority as an awards-show host that turned into an anything-you-can-do parody/medley. The "A Boy Like That" exchanges were funny, but the dance moves from "A Chorus Line" were priceless. "I only play the big rooms," said Jackman, alluding to the show's move to the intimate Beacon Theater from Radio City Music Hall.
4. SUTTON FOSTER (ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF)
We were happy that Foster turned her performance as Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes" into the award for best lead actress in a musical. But we couldn't have loved her more when she got teary because her dresser was leaving her -- moving to Cape Cod to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.
5. "I BELIEVE"
Andrew Rannells sang to God, the universe and a homicidal, baby-raping African war lord about the joys of blind faith and reminded us just how inspired "The Book of Mormon" was. And why it deserved the nine Tonys it took home.
6. JOEY THE HORSE
He only had a few seconds' stage time, but when Joey, the life-size horse puppet that breathes like a creature with a soul, teasingly head-bumped his human co-star, Seth Numrich, he won our hearts all over again. Those of us who've seen the show wanted to rush back. Those who haven't are begging for tickets already.
7. THE OPENING NUMBER
Surrounded by sailors, nuns, missionaries and stewardesses, Harris rhymed "breeders" with "theater" and sang a welcome to straight people. The theater, the song declared, is "not just for gays anymore."
8. CHRIS ROCK
"This is a waste of time. It's like taking a hooker to dinner," said Rock, who was called on to present the award for best musical, a foregone conclusion. We also enjoyed Rock's comment that he remembered the first Broadway musical he'd ever seen "like it was yesterday, because it was yesterday."
9. BROOKE SHIELDS
She screwed up her part in the opening number, a two-line bit about someone sending her a Twitter picture of his crotch. So when she got up later to present an award, she started out with a self-deprecating remark: "I can do eight shows a week, but I can't read a Teleprompter." Then promptly forgot where she was, tossed out a four-letter word and got bleeped. We love her.
10. "SIDE BY SIDE BY SIDE"
The Philharmonic concert version of "Company," which starred Harris as the quintessential 1970s bachelor, played only three nights. But at least we got to see this one number. Did we mention that Harris's co-stars include Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks, Jon Cryer and Martha Plimpton? And a filmed version is playing at movie theaters, beginning June 15.
WANT MORE THEATERGOSSIP? Scroll to read our Tonys predictions (we got 'em all except Nikki M. James and Mark Rylance). Then search to read about winners, losers and presenters from the season past and beyond, including Lily Rabe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Larry Kramer and Al Pacino.