The 2014 Tony Awards are over, and what a night it was. There were more musical performances than ever, plus some emotional acceptance speeches that brought home just what the awards mean. As well, history was made, with one actress setting a record for most Tonys won by a performer. Here are seven unforgettable moments from the 2014 Tony Awards in New York City.
“Friend Like Me” is the showstopper in Aladdin on Broadway, so it’s no surprise that Disney chose to stage this number at the Tonys. Genie James Monroe Iglehart did his song and dance alongside Aladdin, Adam Jacobs, surrounded by a cast of dancers. As the energetic performance wrapped up, Iglehart and Jacobs ascended a staircase and fireworks blasted behind them on stage.
Jefferson Mays’ Quick Changes
While introducing a performance from eventual Best Musical Tony winner A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, star Jefferson Mays gave a sample of the quick costume changes he undergoes every performance while playing eight members of the D’Ysquith family. Entering as Lady Salome D’Ysquith Pumphrey, Mays then transformed in seconds to other members of the family, including Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith and Lord Asquith D’Ysquith Sr., with the help of some quick-moving dressers. It’s no wonder the show’s costume designer Linda Cho took home an award as well.
Hugh Jackman, LL Cool J and T.I. are Rapping Music Men
Host Hugh Jackman did some performing throughout the night, serenading the Lead Actress in a Play and Musical nominees, dancing along with the cast of After Midnight. But in an unexpected moment, Jackman did a rapid-fire, multi-character rendition of the opening number from The Music Man. Maybe that wasn’t so unexpected (Jackson is a song and dance man at heart), but then he welcomed LL Cool J and T.I. to the stage to do a hip-hop rendition of the number. Not what the audience in the theater — or at home — were anticipating at all.
Audra McDonald Makes History Times Two
Audra McDonald went into the Tonys as a five-time winner, tying with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris. And she walked away with a record sixth for her vulnerable portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. It isn’t just the number of Tonys that she has won that is notable, though. McDonald has now won a Tony in all four acting categories (Best Actress and Featured Actress in a Musical as well as Best Actress and Featured Actress in a Play). Her heartfelt acceptance speech was one of the night’s most memorable, with the actress thanking her parents “for not medicating their hyperactive little girl and finding out what she was into instead.”
Carole and Jessie Duet
Carole King herself introduced a performance from Beautiful, the show based on the singer/songwriter’s rise to fame. She then stepped offstage, allowing stars Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein to take center stage in a scene where they are writing “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and passing it on to The Shirelles. But then Mueller moved to the piano for a solo performance of “I Feel the Earth Move,” which is when King reappeared for a duet that brought the audience to its feet.
Neil Patrick Harris Descends on the Audience
Hedwig and the Angry Inch had a big night at the Tonys, taking home three of the top Musical Awards: Best Revival of a Musical as well as Best Actor in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Lena Hall. And when the cast took to the stage, the whole energy of the room changed, especially when Harris left the stage and entered the audience. In full drag, his blond wig flowing, Harris gyrated above Orlando Bloom, gave Sting a lap dance, licked Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses, and collapsed onto Kevin Bacon’s lap. He then returned to the stage, but crawled back to the edge to land a passionate smooch on husband David Burtka.
James Monroe Iglehart’s Praise Shout
Anyone who has seen Aladdin (or even just the show’s performance earlier in the night) knows that Iglehart has energy to spare. And his acceptance speech did not disappoint. The actor ended his thank-yous by apologizing that he needed a “Praise Shout” before performing some spin moves and exclamations in what was most definitely the most exuberant speech of the night.