The American Theatre Wing's 67th annual Tony Awards were presented tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and it was Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein's "Kinky Boots" that basked in the glow of glitz and glitter, walking out with the most awards on the night.
The nominations leader nabbed six awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Billy Porter) and Best Original Score for Lauper. "I can't say I wasn't practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple of days for this speech," Lauper said after brushing away some tears. "I want to thank Broadway for welcoming me. I understand how hard you work and I've never been a stranger to hard work, but your hard work inspires me." She thanked her mother, admitting, "I wrecked all her albums when I was a kid, the cast albums. That's how I learned to sing."
That leaves the musician an Oscar away from an EGOT. Are you paying attention, Hollywood?
"Matilda: The Musical" and "Pippin" duked it out otherwise throughout the musical categories, but at the end of the day, it was "Kinky Boots" that dominated the spotlight.
Elsewhere, while Douglas Carter Beane's Nathan Lane-starrer "The Nance" won a number of awards throughout the design races, it was Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" that won the Tony for Best Play. That would, however, be the play's only award of the night after landing six nominations. Tony voters seemed more enamored by Pam MacKinnon's revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," which won three awards throughout the play categories
Speaking of which, for only the second time in the ceremony's history, both Tony Awards for direction (of a play and of a musical) went to women. MacKinnon was recognized in the play category while Diane Paulus won the musical honor for "Pippin." Both productions also won top honors for Best Revival in their respective categories.
In 1998, Julie Taymor ("The Lion King") and Garry Hynes ("The Beauty Queen of Leenane") marked the first time the awards were both won by women. Not only that, it was, in fact, the first year a woman won either award.
Tom Hanks made his Broadway debut this year in "Lucky Guy," the Nora Ephron-penned story of New York journalist Mike McAlary. He was nominated for his work, but the two-time Oscar winner didn't add a Tony to his mantle. He was instead nudged out by "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" star (and Broadway staple) Tracy Letts. Letts previously won a Tony in 2008 for writing "August: Osage County," which is getting the Hollywood treatment later this fall from director John Wells.
Hanks's co-star, Courtney B. Vance, however, was recognized for his featured performance. The play ended up winning two awards on the night. And Lauper performed her song "True Colors" during an In Memoriam segment that was lead off by an Ephron remembrance from emcee Neil Patrick Harris.
Faring a bit better on her first Tony nomination was legendary actress Cicely Tyson, whose performance in the revival of Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful" brought her a win in the lead actress category. "When I think of this moment, I cannot help but think of all the thumbprints that have touched this being during the course of her career," she said after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. "My mother and father, my sister and brother, none of whom are here with me. I'm the sole survivor of my immediate family, and I've asked myself over and over again, 'Why?' And now I know why. It's been 30 years since I stood on a stage. I didn't think it would ever happen again in my lifetime, and I was happy with that, except I had this burning desire to do just one more."
It was Harris's fourth time hosting the ceremony, showing all comers how it's done in the process. His opening routine, combining a handful of stage productions in a typical mish-mash, brought the Radio City Music Hall audience to its feet in a standing ovation.
Jokes were aimed at Scott Rudin (ribbing the Broadway and Hollywood producer's ad dressing down New York Times reporter Patrick Healy over a "Testament of Mary" interview) as well as Shia LaBeouf (who abruptly quit the production of nominee "Orphans" in February after feuding with co-star Alec Baldwin and was replaced by Ben Foster). But Hollywood wasn't immune.
Offering a bit of a shot at filmmaker Tom Hooper, director of last year's Oscar nominated musical adaptation "Les Misérables," Harris asked mid-routine, "Can I have my Tom Hooper 'Les Mis' close-up, please?" And as the camera pushed in: "See, on Broadway we don't need extreme close-ups to prove we're singing live."
Performances from the productions of "Matilda," "Bring It On," "Once," "Annie and "The Phantom of the Opera" were featured throughout the ceremony.