*It was perhaps the most diverse Tony Awards telecast in history.
The 68th Annual event held Sunday at Radio City Music Hall opened with Fantasia, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight performing “Sunny Side of the Street” from After Midnight.
By the time the show wrapped more three hours later, A Raisin in the Sun had picked up three Tony Awards, Audra McDonald won her record-breaking sixth Tony, and actor James Monroe Iglehart actually did a “praise shout” after winning for “Aladdin.”
Also, The Shirelles number from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was featured, Samuel L. Jackson (husband of “Raisin in the Sun” nominee LaTanya Richardson) introduced a performance from the Rocky musical, and host Hugh Jackman teamed with LL Cool J and T.I. to deliver a rap remix of the song “Rock Island” from The Music Man.
Also, Jennifer Hudson took the stage to perform a preview of the forthcoming musical production of Finding Neverland, an adaption of the 2004 Peter Pan-themed film.
ACCEPTANCE SPEECH HIGHLIGHTS:
A Raisin in the Sun won Best Revival of a Play…
Best Director for Kenny Leon…
…and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Sophie Okonedo, who made her Broadway debut in the production. The previous Oscar nominee for the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda,” thanked the cast and crew of the play and singled out producer Scott Rudin for choosing a Jewish British actress of Nigerian descent to play the very American role of Ruth Younger. She beat her co-star in the category, previous Tony winner Anika Noni Rose.
Audra McDonald won her record-breaking, sixth competitive Tony Award for her performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She sobbed through a lengthy standing ovation from the audience, and in her emotional acceptance speech listed the late Maya Angelou among the many women upon whose shoulders she now stands. Her biggest praise, however, went to Billie Holiday. “You deserve so much more than you were given when you were on this Earth,” she said. She also thanked her late parents for “not medicating their hyperactive girl” but channeling her energy into theatre. She said she was “overwhelmed” at making history.
James Monroe Iglehart won Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his charismatic performance as the Genie in Aladdin. [Peep the praise shout at the end of this speech.]
Below, the complete list of winners:
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 Musical: Lena Hall, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Best Direction of a Musical: Darko Tresnjak, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.”
Best Direction of a Play: Kenny Leon, “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Best Score: Jason Robert Brown, “The Bridges of Madison County.”
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 Play: Sophie Okonedo, “A Raisin in the Sun.”
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 Play: Bryan Cranston, “All the Way.”
Best Play: “All The Way.”
Best Revival of a Play: “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Neil Patrick Harris, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Best Revival of a Musical: “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 Musical: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”