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Broadway took back the Tonys and staged a real winner

June 13, 2011 |  2:30 pm

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Tony awards neil patrick harris news

After Catherine Zeta-Jones, Denzel Washington and Scarlett Johansson swept the Tony Awards last year, there was a widespread belief that Hollywood had hijacked New York's great theater awards. This year, Broadway wanted them back and Tony voters sent a powerful -– and painful –- message by bypassing a nomination for Daniel Radcliffe ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying") in the race for best musical actor.

Instead, on Sunday night, that award went to longtime Tonys fave Norbert Leo Butz ("Catch Me If You Can"), who previously won for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (2005). Best musical actress went to another Broadway insider, Sutton Foster ("Anything Goes"), who previously won for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (2002). Two Hollywood stars managed to win, but one (Frances McDormand, "Good People") is a veteran stage actress who lives in New York and the other, John Larroquette, won for two reasons: his celeb status and "How to Succeed" needed a consolation prize.

Still, no superstars shone, so the spotlight fell on what everybody's talking about Monday -– those dazzling opening and closing numbers performed by Neil Patrick Harris, who won an Emmy last year for hosting the Tonys in 2009.

New York theater writer Wayman Wong of the New York Daily News sent us this message via email, "I thought that was the best Tonycast in years, and think Harris could pick up another Emmy (as host) … and now producer! I also think the opening song could nab an Emmy nomination; the lyrics are by multiple Emmy winner David Javerbaurm (of 'The Daily Show'); music, Adam Schlesinger."

The opener had such memorable lyrics as "Attention every breeder/ you're invited to the theater/ it's not just for gays any more." See the full lyrics at AfterElton.

Harris' closing wrap rant was impressive since it incorporated references to unscripted events that occurred earlier that night with such lyrics, "Everybody cried for gorgeous Nikki James, the bumblebee ….  Mark Rylance runs at fences." Read the full lyrics at Awards Tracker.

[For the record, 11:32 June 15: An earlier version of this post said "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" ran on Broadway in 2002. It was 2005.)

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Neil Patrick Harris performs the opening number. Credit: Gary Hershorn / Reuters

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