Once again, honors for 'Once' at the Tony Awards

Michael McGrath accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical at the 66th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday June 10, 2012, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes /Invision/AP)
Michael McGrath accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical at the 66th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday June 10, 2012, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes /Invision/AP) (CHARLES SYKES/INVISION/AP)
Posted: June 11, 2012

NEW YORK - Once won the Tony Award for best Broadway musical in New York, four years after a number from the $150,000 movie upon which it's based won an Academy Award for best original song.

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris' dark comedy about race set in 1959 and 2009 Chicago, was named best play, supplementing its 2011 Pulitzer Prize. The play, inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun," had a run at Philadelphia's Arden Theatre before this spring before opening on Broadway.

Audra McDonald won the Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical. Considered the favorite for her powerful portrayal of Bess in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, McDonald captured her fifth Tony, but first as a leading actress. Also contending were out Jan Maxwell, Cherry Hill's Cristin Milioti, Kelli O'Hara and Laura Osnes.

Winning best actor in a musical was Steve Kazee for his heartfelt and touching performance in Once. He thanked the cast for supporing him after the death of his mother on Easter Sunday.

He beat out Danny Burstein and Ron Raines, both from "Follies," Jeremy Jordan from "Newsies" and Norm Lewis from "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess." James Corden, who first made his name on stage in The History Boys, took the lead acting award in a play for his clownish turn in the British import One Man, Two Guvnors.

The 33-year-old Corden cowrote the hit comedy series Gavin & Stacey for BBC and wrote the memoir May I Have Your Attention, Please?

He beat Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman, James Earl Jones from Gore Vidal's The Best Man, Frank Langella in Man and Boy and John Lithgow from The Columnist.

Nina Arianda, a rising star who has won over audiences for two seasons in Tony-nominated parts, won the Tony for best leading actress in a play. The 27-year-old actress beat out stiff competition for her portrayal of a preternaturally talented actress determined to land the lead in a new play in the sexy Venus in Fur.

Arianda first made waves when David Ives' play was seen off-Broadway in 2010. She then earned a Tony nomination last season when she made her Broadway debut in "Born Yesterday." Sunday she beat out Tracie Bennett, Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Cynthia Nixon.

The inventive play Peter and the Starcatcher are going head-to-head for the most Tony Awards. Both had four as the night hit its halfway point.

John Tiffany, the British director of Once, won Sunday, making his Broadway debut. The musical also won best orchestration, best sound design, and Enda Walsh took home the award for best book of a musical.

Peter and the Starcatcher won for best costume design, best scenic design and best sound design for a play. Christian Borle, who plays the clumsy, overheated pirate who will be Captain Hook in the Peter Pan prequel, was named best featured actor in a play.

"Thank you for making this so much fun," said Borle, who also stars in the NBC series Smash. He said he was even more pleased that his mother was in the crowd.

Mike Nichols, one of those rare people who have won a Tony, Grammy, Oscar and Emmy, won his ninth Tony for directing Death of a Salesman. He had won six times previously, directing such shows as Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple and Spamalot.

On winning, Nichols said Arthur Miller's 63-year-old play gets truer as time goes by and has a special meaning for actors. "There's not a person in this theater that doesn't know what it is to be a salesman - to be out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine," he said. "As we know, a salesman has got to dream. It goes with the territory."

Judy Kaye won for best actress in a featured role in a musical in "Nice Work If You Can Get It," playing a temperance worker who turns out likes to drink and hangs from a chandelier at one point. It's Kaye's second Tony - she also won for The Phantom of the Opera.

"I guess chandeliers have been very, very good to me," she said to a burst of laughter. She dedicated the award to her father, who died last week.

Judith Light, who plays an acerbic alcoholic in Other Desert Cities, won for for best featured actress in a play. Michael McGrath won for best actor in a featured musical role from Nice Work If You Can Get It.

With no clear, dying-to-see-it front-running musical like last year's juggernaut, The Book of Mormon, the show Sunday at the Beacon Theatre actually began with a nod to the past, with host Neil Patrick Harris joining with the cast of" Mormon for their opening number of "Hello!" from the 2011 musical winner.

He then was surrounded by dancers in tuxes and shimmering dresses for a rousing original number in which he wished that real life was more like theater, complete with backup dancers, rhymes and quick costume changes. He had cameo help from Patti

LuPone, the little red-headed orphan from "Annie" and a flying Mary Poppins.

Christopher Gattelli, who thrillingly combined ballet with bold athletic moves in "Newsies, won the best choreography Tony. It is his first award; he previously was nominated for "South Pacific" in 2008.

Overall, the health of Broadway is good, with shows yielding a record $1.14 billion in grosses this season, and total attendance reaching 12.3 million. The only concern is that audience numbers were flat, meaning higher ticket pricesare pushing the overall box office take.


Winners of the 2012 Tonys

Play

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris

Musical

  Once

Revival of a play

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

Revival of a musical

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

Book of a musical

Once, Enda Walsh

Original score

Newsies, music: Alan Menken; lyrics: Jack Feldman

Best actor/play

James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors

Best actress/play

Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur

Best actor/musical

Steve Kazee, Once

Best actress/musical

 Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess

 Supporting actor/play

Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Supporting actress/play

Judith Light, Other Desert Cities

Supporting actor/musical

Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Supporting actress/musical

Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Scenic design of a play

Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Scenic design/musical

Bob Crowley, Once

Costume design/play

Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher

Costume design/musical

Gregg Barnes, Follies

Lighting design/play

Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher

Lighting design/musical

Natasha Katz, Once

Sound design/play

Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

Sound design/musical

Clive Goodwin, Once

Choreography

Christopher Gattelli, Newsies

Direction/play

Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman

Direction/musical

John Tiffany, Once

Orchestrations

Martin Lowe, Once

Special Tony Award

Actors' Equity Association; Hugh Jackman

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