Supporters of the Actors Fund got the jump on fellow Angelenos by securing a live feed of the Tony Awards for the 17th annual Tony Awards viewing party in Hollywood.
So while much of L.A. waited for Sunday's tape-delayed broadcast at 8 p.m. Pacific time, more than 400 theater lovers began their Tony viewing at 5 p.m. on a movie-size screen at the Taglyan Cultural Complex.
Dressed in his signature red suit, nine-time Tony Award-winner Tommy Tune sang, danced and hosted the shindig, which honored Broadway's leading ladies. They included Marissa Jaret Winokur of "Hairspray"; gymnast Cathy Rigby of "Peter Pan"; Nancy Dussault of "The Sound of Music"; June Lockhart, a 1948 Tony winner for "For Love or Money"; Charlotte Rae of "Li'l Abner"; and Millicent Martin of "The Boy Friend."
Tune also gave a special salute to Anne Jeffreys, whom he called the "ghostess with the mostest," referencing her role in the classic 1950s series "Topper." The elegant actress turned 90 in January.
In a feat of impeccable timing, the tributes and live entertainment in Hollywood took place before, after and in between the television segments, in other words, during the time allotted for commercials.
"It's like bringing the Titanic into a berth for a speedboat," said David Rambo, the show's writer and producer. Rambo is a writer and co-executive producer of TV's "Revolution."
In an audience packed with 400 veteran actors and entertainment professionals, it was not surprising to see shouts of approval for Tony winners, comments on those accepting awards and great appreciation for performers in the TV broadcast.
"Wow! Who knew?" Tune declared, after Jane Lynch belted out "Little Girls" as Miss Hannigan in Broadway's "Annie."
"I knew [Lynch] could sing," said Iqbal Theba, "but I didn't know she could sing that well -- she was awesome." Theba plays Principal Figgins to Lynch's Sue Sylvester in "Glee."
Among others in the crowd were the legendary Mickey Rooney, champion ice skater Tai Babilonia, actors Loni Anderson, Stefanie Powers, Mitzi Gaynor, Kate Linder and Ruta Lee; newscasters Wendy Burch and George Pennachio; producers Martin Massman, Nancy Malone, David Michaels and Kate Edelman Johnson; and Actors Fund representatives John Holly, Jomarie Ward, Keith McNutt and Louie Anchondo
Frances Fisher of "Titanic" and Davis Gaines of "Phantom of the Opera" participated in ceremonies, which ended with a grand finale, complete with balloons, confetti, all seven honorees onstage and Marc Cherry there to serenade them. Cherry created "Desperate Housewives" and the upcoming "Devious Maids."
"Who better to bring them up for a final bow than the man every actress in town wants to work for?" said Tune. Cherry then sang Stephen Sondheim's "Beautiful Girls."
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