Broadway had its big night when the 68th Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, were given out at Radio City Music Hall hosted by the genial and charming Hugh Jackman for the fourth time. One of several of the evening’s surprises was the four minute opening number in which Jackman hopped from the street to the stage to backstage and back on stage again, recreating Bobby Van’s iconic number from the 1953 MGM musical, Small Town Girl, which went unidentified in the course of the evening.
Previously announced musical numbers included Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia, past, current and future stars of After Midnight singing “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and later Tony winner Jessie Mueller who plays Carole King in the biographical musical, Beautiful, singing a duet of “I Feel the Earth Move” with the real Carole King herself. Not to be outdone, Jackson, whose first show was Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, performed the opening song, “Rock Island” as a rap number with rappers LL Cool Jay and T.I.
Aside from high-powered numbers from all of the nominated musicals (aside from The Bridges of Madison County which had already closed), as well as a tribute to the 10th anniversary of Wicked, the evening offered a first by including two shows scheduled to arrive on Broadway next season: Sting and chorus presenting the title song from his first stage musical, The Last Ship, and Jennifer Hudson gave her rendition of a song from Finding Neverland to Sir James Barrie’s four lost boys dressed in pajamas.
The big winners of the evening were The Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (best musical), All theWay (best play) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (best revival of a musical) which were expected and A Raisin in the Sun (best revival of a play) which was not. Raisin beat out The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night, both of which were critical and popular successes. The biggest ovation of the evening came for the enormously gifted and beloved Audra McDonald who made Tony history receiving her sixth acting award for LadyDay at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, making her the most awarded actress in history. Besides this achievement, she is the first person to win in all four acting categories: performance in both a leading role and featured role of a play and for leading role and featured role of a musical. Her win in the category of leading role in a play (as Lady Day is billed as a play with music) shut out Cherry Jones who last fall seemed a shoo-in for her Amanda Wingfield in the revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. McDonald now beats out the late Julie Harris who had five Tonys plus a special Tony for lifetime achievement and Angela Lansbury who also has five awards.
Of the four top acting awards, three of them went to actors playing real people: Bryan Cranston for his bravura role as President Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way, MacDonald as Billie Holiday in Lady
Day, and Jessie Mueller in the title role of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. The fourth award went to Neil Patrick Harris who received his first Tony Award for his transformational transgendered star turn in Hedwig and theAngry Inch (best performance by a leading actor in a musical). This last award had been a toss-up between him and Jefferson Mays for his remarkable eight-character performance in A Gentleman’sGuide for which he won the Drama Desk Award and tied with Harris for the Outer Critics Award.
Two of the four actors who won for best performance in the featured category played cross-dressing characters. British stage star Mark Rylance took home his third Tony Award for his Countess Olivia in the critically acclaimed revival of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Nominated in the same category as two of his fellow actors (Paul Chahidi – also playing a woman – and Stephen Fry), he was additionally nominated this year for best actor in a leading role for his Richard III. Rylance has previously won in the category of leading actor in 2009 for Boeing-Boeing and again in 2011 for Jerusalem. Lena Hall, a surprise winner, took home the featured actress for her playing Yitzhak, Hedwig’s transgendered band partner. The betting was on either Lauren Worsham as the hero’s cousin Phoebe D’Ysquith from A Gentleman’s Guide or Anika Larsen who played Carole King’s mother in Beautiful, both of whom tied for the Drama Desk Award in this category.
(Photo credit: Cylla van Tiedemann) Drama Desk winner James Monroe Iglehart, the over-the-top genie from Aladdin, won for best featured actor in a musical as he was expected to and gave a praise shout to commemorate his victory, while British actress Sophie Okonedo making her Broadway debut as wife Ruth Younger in A Raisin in theSun seemed to take everyone by surprise, even the actress, winning best performance by an actress in a featured role. Ironically, Audra McDonald won her first Tony as featured actress in a play in the same role in the 2004 revival. Though star Denzel Washington was overlooked by the Tonys, there was enough support for this production (which failed to impress the critics) among the Tony voters that director Kenny Leon took home the award in that category. Okonedo beat out Drama Desk winner Celia Keenan-Bolger who played Laura in The Glass Menagerie and Mare Winningham who took home the Outer Critics Circle award as Patrick Page’s wife in Casa Valentina, tying with Andrea Martin (not nominated for the Tony) for her three roles in Act One.
From the reception by the audience, two very popular awards went to composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown for his score and orchestrations of the underrated The Bridges of Madison County, the only Tony Awards won by that musical. Among A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder‘s four wins were best director of a musical (Darko Tresnjak), best book of a musical (Robert L. Freidman) and best costume design of a musical (Linda Cho). Hedwig‘s fourth award of the evening went to Kevin Adams for best lighting of a musical for making the show resemble a rock concert.
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical won its second award for best sound in a musical (Brian Ronan), while best sound design of a play went to Steve Canyon Kennedy for LadyDay at Emerson’s Bar & Grill for making Audra McDonald’s Billie Holiday crystal clear. Twelfth Night’s second award went to best costume design in a play for Jenny Tiramani’s remarkable recreation of historically accurate Elizabethan dress.
Four contenders went home with one award each: Warren Carlyle for his choreography of the Duke Ellington revue, After Midnight; Beowulf Boritt for his three-level revolving set for the Lincoln Center Theater production of Act One (best scenic design of a play), while the award for best scenic design of a musical went to Christopher Barreca for his transforming set for Rocky the
Musical, in which the entire Winter Garden Theatre is turned into a box arena while the audience watches. The Glass Menagerie which had been tied with Twelfth Night for seven nominations, the most for a play this year, went home with the award for best lighting design for Natasha Katz’s magical work.
The Regional Theatre Award given to the Signature Theatre Company, New York City, was the first time that a New York based resident theater has received this award in the very first year that New York theater companies have been made eligible for this category.
Among the thirteen shows awarded the 2014 Tony Awards, seven musicals were honored as well as six plays. Below is the complete list of this year’s winners.
Winners of the 2014 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing
All The Way
Author: Robert Schenkkan
Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Jerry Frankel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Double Gemini Productions, Rebecca Gold, Scott M. Delman, Barbara H. Freitag, Harvey Weinstein, Gene Korf, William Berlind, Caiola Productions, Gutterman Chernoff, Jam Theatricals, Gabrielle Palitz, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Will Trice, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theater
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Producers: Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson, 50 Church Street Productions, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Catherine & Fred Adler, Rhoda Herrick, Kathleen K. Johnson, Megan Savage, ShadowCatcher Entertainment, Ron Simons, True Love Productions, Jamie deRoy, Four Ladies & One Gent, John Arthur Pinckard, Greg Nobile, Stewart Lane & Bonnie Comley, Exeter Capital/Ted Snowdon, Ryan Hugh Mackey, Cricket-CTM Media/Mano-Horn Productions, Dennis Grimaldi/Margot Astrachan, Hello Entertainment/Jamie Bendell, Michael T. Cohen/Joe Sirola, Joseph & Carson Gleberman/William Megevick, Green State Productions, The Hartford Stage, The Old Globe
Best Revival of a Play
A Raisin in the Sun
Producers: Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Eli Bush, Jon B. Platt, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ruth Hendel, Sonia Friedman/Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson
Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Producers: David Binder, Jayne Baron Sherman, Barbara Whitman, Latitude Link, Patrick Catullo, Raise the Roof, Paula Marie Black, Colin Callender, Ruth Hendel, Sharon Karmazin, Martian Entertainment, Stacey Mindich, Eric Schnall, The Shubert Organization
Best Book of a Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Robert L. Freedman
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Best Costume Design of a Play
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Sound Design of a Play
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Brian Ronan, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Best Direction of a Play
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Direction of a Musical
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Jane Greenwood, “for her outstanding work in costume design and her dedication to the theatre”
Regional Theatre Award
Signature Theatre, New York, N.Y.
Isabelle Stevenson Award
Rosie O’Donnell, “for commitment to arts education for New York City’s public school children”
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Joseph P. Benincasa, photographer; Joan Marcus, photographer; Charlotte Wilcox, general manager