Inside the Tony Awards: From Jay-Z’s Lobby Act, an Accidental F-Bomb to Overzealous Ushers, Here’s What You Didn’t See on TV

Angelina Jolie may get the award for most enthusiastic audience member. The A-list star was seated in the front row at the Tony Awards on Sunday and jumped to her feet at every win for “The Outsiders,” a gritty adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel that she produced and got to see crowned as the season’s best musical. And she kept up that energy when cameras weren’t rolling, exchanging pleasantries with Billy Porter and posing for pictures with Idina Menzel during commercial breaks.

Other attendees at New York’s David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, where this year’s ceremony took place, were keen to make the most of the brief, untelevised moments in between awards. Ben Platt chatted with Nick Jonas, Brooke Shields (clad in yellow crocs) caught up with Cynthia Erivo, and Jennifer Hudson schmoozed with Danai Gurira.

More from Variety

Viewers at home witnessed the heartfelt speeches, standing ovation for surprise presenter Hillary Clinton, and rollicking musical performances (yes, it really rained during the rumble in “The Outsiders,” prompting the stage crew to quickly mop the floor during the next commercial break). But there’s plenty that didn’t make the broadcast.

Here’s what you didn’t see on TV at the 2024 Tony Awards, where the play “Stereophonic” was the most decorated show, “Merrily We Roll Along” cemented its triumphant comeback and Daniel Radcliffe, the boy who lived, finally became a Tony winner for his fifth time on Broadway.

“Empire State of Mind” brought down the house, even though Jay-Z wasn’t in the room

In the most electric moment of the evening, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performed “Empire State of Mind” as part of a “Hell’s Kitchen” medley. Except that audience members didn’t actually see Jay-Z rap in person. While Keys was wheeled out via piano to kick off the rousing number, instantly bringing the entire room to its feet, the stage apparently couldn’t contain the entire company of “Hell’s Kitchen” and two megawatt musicians. So Jay-Z and Keys dueted the final verses from the lobby of the David H. Koch Theater, which was projected on the screen behind the musical’s dancers. Concrete jungle where dreams are (sorta) made of?

A little profanity never killed nobody

Don’t feel bad if you missed the first and only bleep of the night. After all, it happened during “Act One” of the ceremony, which aired on the streaming platform Pluto TV. (The main event was broadcast on CBS.) The perpetrator was Cody Spencer of “The Outsiders,” who tearfully accepted the award for musical sound design — and forgot he was on live TV. “I can’t believe I’m crying in front of so many fucking people I know,” he said while accepting the trophy. He realized immediately that he’d be censored, so he charmingly added an “– Oop.” But by then, Pluto TV had already cut the rest of his speech.

Daniel Radcliffe and Erin Darke at The 13th annual Tony's After-Party Hosted by Rick Miramontez and John Gore at the The Carlyle on June 16, 2024 in New York, New York (Photo by Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images)
Daniel Radcliffe and wife Erin Darke arrive at the Carlyle Hotel after party

Pick a theater, already!

There are inevitable growing pains that come with four location changes in four years. Yes, the Tony Awards have traversed the city since 2019, including stops at United Palace in Washington Heights, Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre and Radio City Music Hall. This venue, however, was nowhere near big enough to house Broadway’s biggest night. It had 2,500 seats (not all of which were occupied) — a fraction of the 6,000-person capacity limit at Radio City Music Hall. As a result, several Hollywood stars who weren’t on Broadway this season — but still wanted to attend the ceremony — were turned away. And those who were granted tickets didn’t have the best view. It was so cramped that Anna Wintour had crummy seats in the back of the orchestra while “An Enemy of the People” star Jeremy Strong’s parents watched from the nosebleeds. Even Erivo, Jolie and Sarah Paulson, all of whom were seated in the front row, couldn’t see the stage at times because the camera operators were blocking their sightline. Ushers seemed stressed, too, yelling at people to “put away your phone!” during speeches and performances. But we guess that’s showbiz, baby?

Ariana DeBose entertains the room during commercial breaks

Third-time host Ariana DeBose was M.I.A. during most of the commercial breaks (probably busy with several outfit changes and last-minute dance rehearsals). But she popped out around the second hour to greet the crowd. “I just came out to see how you’re doing. You seemed quiet,” she said before lamenting that she had too much time to kill. “These commercial breaks are so long! Are we even close?” Everyone laughed and cheered as the announcer promised there were only 30 seconds until the show would return. Still, that seemed eternal for DeBose, who bent down and put her hands on her knees to run out the clock. But ever the professional, she immediately sprung into action to welcome back the viewers at home to the telecast.

The Carlyle Hotel remains the place to see and be seen

Anna Wintour and Jeremy Strong were two of the first out the door at Lincoln Center as soon as the final award was handed out — but neither of them headed to the famed afterparty at the Carlyle. Among the early arrivers at the posh Upper East Side hotel were Jim Parsons, a nominee for “Mother Play,” and Billy Eichner, who bumped into each other at the bar. Other Broadway favorites like Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tovah Feldshuh and newly minted Tony winner Kara Young (for “Purlie Victorious”) mixed and mingled over martinis, Moet, teeny-tiny sliders and salty fries. Billy Porter, who received an honorary Tony, showed up around 2 a.m., but he was hardly the last to make an entrance. After hitting up their respective cast parties, “Merrily” co-stars and first-time Tony winners Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Groff, as well as “Cabaret” nominee Eddie Redmayne, kept the party going well into the night.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.