Prince — yes, Prince, the Purple One — capped off the hottest Tony Award night in about 20 years. He showed up unannounced at the Hudson Terrace on West 46th St. where, ‘four Broadway shows were having Tony Award after parties. He sported a long diamond studded walking stick and several burly bodyguards. He had no idea it was Tony night, knew none of the shows and didn’t care. He’s Prince. West Side Story? Feh.

Still, it was a great night for the Tonys. The opening number featured dozens of shows and looked like it had been rehearsed for weeks. Nope — just one soundcheck, yesterday afternoon. Amazing.

The show played very well in Radio City. During commercials,’ a watch company raffled off two expensive time pieces. Host Neil Patrick Harris (pictured) Neil Patrick Harrisdid magic tricks, and was far funnier than when the cameras were on.

It was the first time in years when yours truly didn’t want to leave the audience and hang out backstage. The show was actually entertaining. And the winners were all good choices, from Geoffrey Rush to Angela Lansbury to 10 awards for “Billy Elliott.” It’s the most number of Tonys ever for a British import. And Rush now has an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe.

Harris, buttoned up most of the night, ended the show with his own song, using “Tonight” from “West Side Story” to sum up all the winners and foibles of the night. He took a nice swipe at the Golden Globes.

After the Tonys, many of the shows repaired to their own parties. “Billy Elliott” took over Bar American on West 52nd St where Elton John and Stephen Daldry each made speeches. Then Elton, cheated out of a best score award, flew home to London where he has a show on Tuesday. He lost, strangely, the best score award to “Next to Normal.” Try singing one of those songs, I ask you.

Many stars filled up the two-story Hudson Terrace including Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Matt Cavenaugh from “West Side Story,” and Jane Fonda. Prince, growing tired of this fairly conventional spectacle, finally left for parts unknown.

More on Monday afternoon…

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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