2013 Tony Awards Round-Up: Drag Queens, Pioneer Women, and Mike Tyson
BY NAVEEN KUMAR
Prizes were handed out for the 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall last night, in a ceremony that recognized a historic number of leading women behind the scenes, African-American performers, and drag queens of all walks.
Neil Patrick Harris returned to host the ceremony, kicking off the evening with a characteristically charming opening number. The night was packed with musical performances from an encyclopedic array of current Broadway offerings—old and new, nominated and otherwise—including equally bizarre appearances by Mike Tyson and The Phantom of the Opera.
Kinky Boots won the big prize for Best Musical, beating out rival Matilda, which took home wins in other categories including Dennis Kelly for Best Book and Gabriel Ebert (who plays Matilda’s father) for Best Featured Actor. Kinky Boots also took home Best Choreography for director Jerry Mitchell’s heel-raising work with his company of limber queens.
In another big triumph for the show, Cyndi Lauper became the first woman to win Best Score on her own (not as part of a co-ed team) for her original music and lyrics for Kinky Boots. The pop idol was also on hand to sing “True Colors” during the ceremony’s 'In Memoriam' segment.
Billy Porter was one of four African-American actors who won across the eight performance categories, taking home Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his drag turn in Kinky Boots. In a case of may-the-best-queen-win, Porter beat out rival favorite Bertie Carvel from Matilda, also nominated for his drag performance as Miss Trunchbull.
In other musical performance categories, Patina Miller took home the Tony for Best Leading Actress for her role as the Leading Player in Diane Paulus’ production of Pippin (a role usually played by a male actor). Also a favorite to win, Miller’s co-star Andrea Martin took home Best Featured Actress for her performance as Pippin’s high-flying grandmother.
A season favorite, Pippin also won Best Revival of a Musical, and Diane Paulus took home the award for Best Director of a Musical with her third nomination in this category in as many years. With Pam MacKinnon winning Best Director of a Play for her work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, it was the first time in fifteen years that two female directors were recognized in the same season (it happened previously in 1998, with Julie Taymor for The Lion King and Garry Hynes for The Beauty Queen of Leenane).
Non-musical awards were more than unusually spread across different productions, with only MacKinnon’s Virginia Woolf winning multiple awards across major categories, including Best Revival of a Play (the second win for Edward Albee’s play in the last ten years) and Tracy Letts for Best Leading Actor in one of the only surprise wins of the night. Though many went in thinking Letts deserved the prize, Tom Hanks was widely assumed to be a lock for his Broadway debut in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy.
Previously nominated twice in his category, Courtney B. Vance was Ephron’s lucky guy taking home Best Featured Actor for his performance opposite Hanks. Meanwhile Judith Light took home her second Tony in two years for Best Featured Actress in Richard Greenberg’s The Assembled Parties. With by far the most unusual acceptance speech (and wardrobe choice), Cicely Tyson won Best Leading Actress for The Trip to Bountiful, her return to Broadway after thirty years.
The award for Best Play went to Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the playwright’s first Tony nomination after thirty years as a Broadway playwright. Though Durang’s outlandish comedy was favored to win, Best Play was its only award in a season of plays without one big winner across the board.
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos:matthew murphy, AP, )