It’s always a visually energetic experience

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Tony day began early for me when I took the #1 train downtown to Rockefeller Center. I was sheduled to attend the dress rehesal at 10:00, but I wanted to get there early to draw outside. It was fun walking around midtown Manhattan early on a Sunday — the streets were relatively empty, street vendors were putting up their umbrellas. Near Rockefeller Center, NYPD police were gathering in different groups.

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Man on the subway as I headed downtown.

Once inside Rockefeller Center, the dress rehearsal lobby was full of invited guests — they were nothing if not enthusiastic theater people. The added benefit of attending a dress rehearsal is the off-script quips from actors, particularly from James Cordon. Plus, you get to see what some celebs wear when they are not all dressed up and in tons of makeup. The downside is not all celebrities come to the dress rehearsal.

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Judith Light got a special award!
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During the dress rehearsal, I was not supposed to share the opening number, but now I can! Here it is, it was wonderful:

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With the rehearsal over, I dashed back to my apartment to change clothes for the evening ahead. The press is instructed to wear black tie for the red carpet, so I did my best to put together a fancy outfit. I couldn’t find my dangly fake-diamond earings, so on my way to Rockefeller Center I bought some diamond-like studds. And also on the way, I bought a triple espresso iced coffee #3, to go.

The length of the red carpet was short (but sweet), spanning about a block along Sixth Avenue. Traffic continued to go by, and theater fans who were there to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars were across the street, held back by silver baracades.

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James Cordon paused to acknowledge fans as he exited the red carpet area
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As the Tony cartoonist, I was given free range to wander amongst the press. I found a spot as my home base right at the end of the carpet, in a corner area. Soon, I found that I was adjacent to James Cordon’s parents who were there to interview people. It was so fun to watch them, they seem to be delightful people who love to laugh. Suprise, surprise!

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James Cordon’s parents were right next to me and intereviewing guests and celebs.

The carpet wall was decorated with hundreds of roses, painted so that there was a look of the pride flag: multi colored.

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Last minute touch-up stuff

The gerenal air was full of anticipation and celebration. There is a less-tense feeling at the Tonys than the Oscars; in other words, the Oscars are like the Tonys on steroids. People were happy, friendly and, well, sort of chummy.

Even the numerous dogs there for security seemed to enjoy themselves.

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Because of where I was standing, I got very close to a number of stars, such as these:

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After the red carpet, I walked up to 51st street where the media gathered to watch the show and write their stories. The pool room is where I was stationed, and those of us in the room were priviledged to hear the award winners answer questions from the press. When they would arrive in the room there was always a cheer of appreciation from the assemble press.

So I watched the show and drew what I could capture.

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A ramp was installed for Ali to enter the Press room. A member of the press remarked how wonderful that was, and that it should stay forever.
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It was a really fun. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to chronicle such an iconic event as the Tonys, to play a small part in the history of this wonderful art form, Broadway theater. And in my beloved hometown as well.

It was an exhausting day. But probably not as exhausing as it was for the performers!

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Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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