In a night that rewarded daring and creative page-to-stage adaptations (while promising an upcoming glimpse of JLo at every commercial break), Fun Home was this year’s big Tony winner, taking the Best Musical prize and delivering the broadcast’s clear highlight, a star-making performance from one badass 11-year-old named Sydney Lucas, crushing her number from the show, “Ring of Keys.” Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel about growing up as a lesbian with a closeted gay dad, the show also won for its score, as well as for direction by Sam Gold, and for leading actor Michael Cerveris.
Hosts Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth made for an offbeat, oddball duo (with Cumming setting a record for the number of suit changes in three hours), and the pair took plenty of opportunities to express their mutual attraction to Bradley Cooper, joke about theatre folks getting passed over for big movie parts, and rib Harvey Weinstein about his snubbed (yet big box-office) first foray into theatre, Finding Neverland, which offered by far the evening’s most bizarre performance (no one looked more confused than JLo).
Broadway put a leg up on Hollywood in celebrating women behind the scenes; Fun Home scribes Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori made history by becoming the first all-female writing team to win a Tony for musical score (with even their source material inked by a female hand). The only female director nominated all evening, Marianne Elliott won for Best Direction of a Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the night’s other big victor, which also took home Best Play for Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel, as well as several design awards for its stunning visuals.
Ms. Lucas wasn’t the only young star to have a thrilling breakout moment — Alex Sharp took the leading actor prize for his incredible turn in Curious Incident, dedicating his award “to any young person who feels misunderstood or who feels different,” assuring them that they can do anything. Some of the night’s other winners took Alex at his word, including Ruthie Ann Miles, who read from her iPhone accepting the win for featured actress in The King and I and delivered the night’s raunchiest pun, and her co-star Kelli O’Hara, who celebrated her first Tony win after six nominations with an all-out victory dance.
While West End import Curious Incident dominated the play categories, other Brits (and folks playing Brits) reigned victorious as well, including Helen Mirren for her turn as Queen Elizabeth in Peter Morgan’s The Audience, her co-star Richard McCabe for filling the shoes of a U.K. P.M., Christian Borle for his Shakespeare-as-Mick Jagger performance in Something Rotten!, and the beautiful production of David Hare’s Skylight, starring Carrey Mulligan, which won Best Revival of a Play for producer Scott Rudin.
John Cameron Mitchell received a special Tony honor for returning to the title role in the Tony-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, urging people to unplug and combine the things they love to come up with something lasting (watch his full speech here). The inaugural special award for excellence in theatre education was also handed out last night. Combined with Lucas’ vivid portrait of a lesbian girl seeing her first butch dyke, and Sharp’s shout-out to kids on the margins, it was an inspiring night to be a young theatre lover glued to the tube.
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (top photos: joan marcus)