On the third floor of the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, on Pier 66, Intiman donors and employees are passing the time before the live broadcast of the Tony Awards by eating tiny hamburgers and gasping about ticket prices on Broadway. "I wanted to see South Pacific," says Kate, an Intiman subscriber for 35 years, "but tickets cost $300!" Gasps and tut-tuttting, then cold shrimp and cocktail sauce.
We're here to watch a live broadcast of the Tony Awards and see how many South Pacific, directed by Intiman artistic director Bart Sher, will win. It's been nominated for 11, including best director.
Provincial pride is on the line, even though South Pacific owes nothing to Intiman except its agreeing to part with Sher long enough for him to direct it—as well as Awake and Sing! (Lincoln Center, 2006), The Barber of Seville (the Metropolitan Opera, 2006), Roméo et Juliette (the Salzburg Festival, 2008). Persistent and intensifying rumors say Sher will decamp to New York permanently to chase his Broadway star. The people on the third floor of BHICC both desire and fear Sher's triumph tonight. If he wins, they'll savor a little borrowed glory, maybe buy a third glass of chardonnay. But his victory will also confirm their darkest fears: He's too good for us.
The first Tony for South Pacific goes to Donald Holder, the lighting designer. "First of all, I would like to thank Bart Sher," he says. "Who?" an Intiman employee shouts. Self- conscious laughter. After a few hours and advertisements for Vesicare, an incontinence medication ("fewer urges and leaks!"), South Pacific has dominated the Tony Awards, winning 7 of its 11 nominations, including best director. Someone notes, with a hint of hurt, that Sher didn't thank Intiman in his acceptance speech.