When you imagine the winners going home on Tony night, you may not have pictured them still in their finery, celebrating into the wee hours atop the sheets at Broadway’s most glamorous hotel. That’s where the night ended for many, in the Empire Suite of New York’s famous Carlyle Hotel, an Art Deco gem that’s served as a low-profile playground for A-listers since JFK was rumored to have rendezvoused there with Marilyn Monroe.
It is the perfect setting for highbrow after hours, with an unmistakable air of old New York chic pervading the building. Their black-tie apparel only slightly unbuttoned, guests were greeted in the immaculate lobby and escorted up the gold-painted elevator to the 28th floor, where the party got started after midnight and continued well into the morning.
Black and white photographs of Manhattan cityscapes line the interior’s wood-paneled walls, glowing in warm light from oversized lampshades. Handsome young men, no doubt actors and models themselves, tended bar and slinked around with hors d’oeuvres in the tightly packed crowd. Sounds from a mellow piano player mixed with the sweet scent of Diptyque candles in every room.
For most, this wasn’t the first stop of the night, with many heading from the Tony ceremony at Radio City Music Hall to the official awards gala at the Plaza, another of the city’s classiest hotel-residences. Some industry insiders hopped between other festivities around town for winning shows before making their late-night entrance here, at the after-after party and real official end to the theatre season.
A gloves-off mix of winners and the happy-to-be-nominated mingled with other artists, producers, agents, publicists and no shortage of journalists and photographers setting off flashbulbs at every entrance. The party was thrown by Broadway publicity firm O&M Co., whose co-founder Rick Miramontez was in the unique position of driving Tony campaigns for every nominee in the night’s biggest category of Best Musical.
In the grand tradition of awards after parties, winners held their Tonys, using their free hand to grab cocktails between rounds of one-armed hugs from well-wishers. A beaming Lena Hall, winner of Best Featured Actress in a musical for her role opposite Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, called out “Harvey!” for one such embrace from Mr. Fierstein, the gravely-voiced nominee for his play Casa Valentina, about straight male transvestites. Several of the play’s cross-dressing actors were also on hand, including nominee Reed Birney and co-star Patrick Page.
The shoulder-to-shoulder entryway saw many such meetings between the night’s talent, among them winner for Best Actress in a Musical Jessie Mueller, whose awesome performance as Carole King and endearing acceptance speech also seemed to win her the evening’s Miss Congeniality. On her way to the bar, the newly minted star stopped to smile for a selfie with a fan in the parlor’s entrance.
Hollywood crossover Zachary Quinto, whose performance in The Glass Menagerie was overlooked, wasn’t deterred from getting in the late night mix with his nominated co-star Celia Keenan-Bolger. Meanwhile Broadway’s original high-flying Spider-man Reeve Carney chatted with Hedwig lyricist Stephen Trask, whose show won the prize for Best Musical Revival. Best Choreography winner for After Midnight, Warren Carlyle stood back-to-back with Barney’s New York maven Simon Doonan while Best Director winner Darko Tresnjak inched behind them into the room.
In one of two bedrooms atop the suite’s spiral staircase, producers of newly crowned Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder lounged happily Tonys-in-hand, while in the next room cast members of nominated musical After Midnight, looked out over a sweeping nighttime view of Central Park.
As it started to rain, the heat of the crowd finally seemed to break. With the frenzied lead-up to the awards finally catching up, for some it was time to crash—or at least take five. A photographer settled into the couch for a quick rest before the next round of starry revelers arrived.
And on the way out, the party seemed to be just getting started. An actor from After Midnight took to the mic at the hotel’s famed Bemelmans piano bar as onlookers settled into dim, rounded booths—listening for the big thing.