By Anna Sekula Posted June 14, 2011, 5:34 PM EDT
Although the American Theatre Wing's Antoinette Perry Tony Awards had to downsize the venue for its ceremony this year—moving from the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall, which had been its home for more than a decade, to the 2,894-seat Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side—the Great White Way's biggest night certainly didn't shrink the size of its gala. The post-award presentation event took over more than 40,000 square feet in the storied Plaza hotel, a layout spread across three floors and so large, the organizers created a map to help guests find their way.
Handling the production of the affair, which started immediately after the ceremony on Sunday night and ran until 3 a.m., was longtime Broadway event producer Suzanne Tobak, who now heads the event division of Broadway ad agency Serino/Coyne. Tobak worked alongside the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, coordinating with four different entities to secure the 100-year-old property's grand ballroom, Terrace Room, Palm Court, retail space, and lower-level food hall and ensure some 1,700 attendees were transported from the ceremony to the gala site.
With such a large footprint spread throughout the hotel, the production team looked to tie the spaces together with a simple but sophisticated decor scheme. Floral arrangements, linen overlays, and lighting in rosy shades with metallic accents complemented the venue's existing decor, while not distracting guests from a bountiful spread of food. Not only did CPS Events supply eye-popping buffets of dishes, but the stations in the Plaza Food Hall by Todd English served pizzas, burgers, fresh seafood, and sweets, and François Payard provided an endless selection of macaroons from inside his FC Chocolate Bar.
However, each area wasn't designed to be identical, and musical entertainment helped create different tones for different sections. For instance, in the Palm Court—the first room the guests entered—a pianist played classics from the Great American Songbook, while in the Terrace Room, a three-piece group performed jazz standards.