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Live coverage: the Tony Awards from New York

June 13, 2010 |  2:46 pm
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8:20 p.m.:  “Memphis” took home the award for best new musical at the 64th annual Tony Awards, bringing its total wins to four for the evening. The production, which had a staging at the La Jolla Playhouse before moving to Broadway, was the only musical nominated in the category to feature an original score.

Blog_Photo330 The musical also won for book of a musical, original score and orchestrations. Christopher Ashley, artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse, directed “Memphis,” but he lost the Tony to Terry Johnson for “La Cage aux Folles.”

This year’s top Tony winners were “Red” (six), “Memphis” (four), “La Cage aux Folles” (three) and “Fences” (three).

“Fela!” was nominated for 11 Tonys and received awards for Bill T. Jones’ choreography , sound design and costume design.

8:08 p.m Hollywood continued its winning streak at the Tonys when Catherine Zeta-Jones scooped up the award for lead actress in a musical for the revival of “A Little Night Music.”

“I’m losing my voice, but I’ll be on stage Tuesday,” said the Oscar-winning Welsh-born actress. “What a joy for me to be doing this eight times a week.” She also paid tribute to co-star Angela Lansbury, saying that “I could never have imagined having a co-star of her caliber.”

Zeta-Jones thanked her husband, actor Michael Douglas, her children and her parents, who had traveled from Wales to attend the ceremony. “I’d like to thank them for making me the person I am today. And of course, I do forgive you,” she said.

Douglas Hodge won for leading actor in a musical for the revival of “La Cage aux Folles.” The actor gave special thanks to his co-star Kelsey Grammer, joking about Grammer’s well-known political affiliation.
“La Cage aux Folles” also won for a revival of a musical. The production was staged at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London before transferring to Broadway.

Earlier, “Glee” stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele took to the stage to show off their live singing and dancing skills. Morrison is a familiar face to Broadway audiences, having starred in Lincoln Center’s production of “South Pacific” and in “The Light in the Piazza.” Michele’s Broadway credits include the musicals “Spring Awakening” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

7:44 p.m.
John Logan’s “Red” won the Tony for best play, bringing its wins for the evening to six statuettes. The play was produced by London’s Donmar Warehouse before opening this spring on Broadway.

“I wrote my first play almost 30 years ago, so this to me is the moment of my lifetime,” said Logan, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the films “The Aviator” and “Gladiator.” His other film credits include “Sweeney Todd”  and the upcoming “Coriolanus” and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”

Logan thanked the cast of “Red” as well as his representatives at CAA “ for keeping me employed for the last 15 years.” He also thanked his parents, “who taught me that a life in pursuit of art is worthwhile.”
“Fences” won for revival of a play. Producers Scott Rudin and Carole Shorenstein Hays accepted the award, with the latter delivering a rambling and emotionally incoherent speech.

“Fela!” received its first major Tony of the evening when Bill T. Jones won for his choreography. This is Jones’ second Tony Award – he won for his choreography of “Spring Awakening” in 2007.

“Everybody say yeah-yeah!” said Jones, echoing a refrain from “Fela!” He gave a special thanks to his company, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which is at the end of a tour in Italy. 

Fences7:10 p.m. Tickets to “Fences” at the Cort Theatre on Broadway were difficult to get before Sunday, and now they are likely to be impossible to snag thanks to Tony wins for its lead stars -- Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

Washington won his first Tony as lead actor in a play for his role as Troy Maxson in the revival of August Wilson’s 1983 drama. “I knew I should’ve written something down,” said the two-time Oscar winner. The actor thanked his wife, Pauletta, and told his two kids at home to go to bed. He also thanked director Kenny Leon and producers Scott Rudin and Carole Shorenstein Hays.

The lead actor in a play category was heavy with film actors this year. The other nominees were Alfred Molina, Jude Law, Liev Schreiber and Christopher Walken.

Davis won for actress in a play for her performance as Rose – Troy’s long-suffering wife -- in “Fences.” This is the actress’ second Tony award – she won for featured actress in a play for “King Hedley II” in 2001.

“I don’t believe in luck … but I absolutely believe in the presence of God in my life,” said Davis, who fought back tears during her acceptance speech. The actress, Oscar nominated in 2009 for “Doubt,” described performing in “Fences” as a “divine experience eight times a week.”

In addition to her appearance in “Fences,” Davis also appeared this spring in a recurring role in the Showtime series “The United States of Tara.”

6:45 p.m. Kristen Chenoweth didn’t land a nomination this year for “Promises, Promises,” and she’s clearly OK with it.

LeviThe diminutive blond Broadway star spoofed her own lack of a nomination by launching into a faux acceptance speech during a bit of in-between-award banter. 

 “But Kristin, you didn’t win an award,” said co-star Hayes. “You weren’t even nominated.” With that, Chenoweth pretended to faint but quickly recovered when Hayes assured her that her paycheck would remain unaffected by the absence of Tony glitter.

For featured actor in a musical, Levi Kreis won for his performance as Jerry Lee Lewis in “Million Dollar Quartet.” The actor is the only member of the “Million Dollar Quartet” cast to receive a nomination this year, and he thanked his fellow ensemble members.

Earlier in the ceremony, the American Theatre Wing announced that Angela Lansbury has been named as its first ever honorary chairman. “We talk about a person becoming a star overnight. It really doesn’t happen that way,” said the 84-year-old actress.

6:30 p.m.: Katie Finneran has been stealing the show each night in the revival of “Promises, Promises,” and now she’s won a Tony as featured actress in a musical for her comic turn as Marge MacDougall, a vampish barfly.

KateThe actress gave a tearful acceptance speech in which she thanked co-star Hayes and her other co-star Kristin Chenoweth, “who loaned me her eyelashes tonight.”

Finneran directly addressed all of the “kids at home watching,” saying that she once watched the ceremony on television when she was a kid. She also delivered a heartfelt tribute to her fiancé, actor Darren Goldstein.

In a recent interview with The Times, Finneran says that since her character doesn’t appear until the second half of “Promises, Promises,” she sometimes watches her co-stars from a discreet place in a balcony seat that she can access from her dressing room.

6:03 p.m.  “Red” continued its winning streak with an award for director Michael Grandage, who staged the John Logan play in London before bringing it to Broadway. Grandage barely made eye contact with the audience and delivered his acceptance speech staring fixedly at his just-claimed statuette.

Terry Johnson won for directing the revival of “La Cage aux Folles,” starring Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge. The musical production, which also originated in London, has been a critical and audience darling and is favored to win in the musical revival category later this evening.  

5: 49 p.m.:
Actor Eddie Redmayne won for featured actor in a play for his performance in John Logan’s “Red.” The 28-year-old British actor won an Olivier award this season for the play’s London staging, produced by the Donmar Warehouse.

“The arts matter … and I’ve never felt that more keenly in this extraordinary city,” said Redmayne.

The actor thanked director Michael Grandage, who also directed the London production, and his co-star Alfred Molina, whom Redmayne called “a king amongst men.”

Scarlett Redmayne is rumored to have been cast in the lead role in Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of the play “War Horse.”

5:30 p.m. Scarlett Johansson won for featured actress in a play for the revival of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.” It was the 25-year-old film actress’ first Broadway production.

“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be on Broadway, and here I am,” said Johansson.

She thanked her fellow cast members, especially Liev Schreiber and co-nominee Jessica Hecht. The actress  also thanked her representatives at Creative Artists Agency, who, she said, asked her in the middle of “Iron Man 2” to “do this play for two months – it would be a good thing.”

Johansson gave a special thanks to her husband, Ryan Reynolds, whom she called a “theater widower” and  described as “the Canadian I live with, Ryan.”
She dedicated her award to the late Miller.

5:23 p.m.: Hayes tackled the Newsweek gay-actor controversy head-on by sharing a long on-stage smooch with “Promises, Promises” co-star Chenoweth.

“I know what you’re thinking. She’s too short for me,” he said. Hayes was one of the subjects of a recent Newsweek commentary that questioned whether openly gay actors could play characters who are heterosexual.

Hayes called the Tonys “the world cup of show tunes” and gave a special shout-out  to “closeted right-wing politicians watching this evening.”

5: 21 p.m.: Broadway cynics are fond of saying that the Tony Awards broadcast is a glorified three-hour commercial for the Great White Way.  This year’s opening number proved that the perennial adage carries a lot of truth.
Host Sean Hayes kicked off the ceremony with a solo piano medley of Broadway and classical tunes before being joined on-stage by the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet,” the Tony-nominated jukebox musical .

Green Day Chad Kimball came out on stage in his character from the musical “Memphis,”  followed by Kristin Chenoweth from “Promises, Promises.”  They were followed by brief excerpts from “Come Fly Away,” “Everyday Rapture,” “Fela!,” “La Cage aux Folles” and “American Idiot.”

Speaking of “American Idiot,” members of the band Green Day performed two of their hit numbers to crowd-pleasing effect.  Ratings ploy? Is the sky blue?

5:02 p.m.:
“Memphis” and “Red” took the early lead at the Tonys, winning three creative and technical awards each.

A musical about rock ‘n’ roll and race relations during the ‘50s, “Memphis” garnered awards for original score (David Bryan, Joe DiPietro), book of a musical (DiPietro) and orchestrations (Daryl Waters and Bryan). The production, staged at the La Jolla Playhouse before opening to tepid reviews on Broadway in October, is the only nominee in the musical category to feature an original score.

Accepting the award for book, Joe DiPietro of “Memphis” quipped that “The New York Times never thought we’d be here tonight. “

“Red,” John Logan’s account of abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko  and his assistant, won for  scenic design (Christopher Oram), lighting and sound design (Adam Cork).

“American Idiot” won for lighting (Kevin Adams) and set design (Christine Jones). The musical, which features songs by the punk band Green Day, originated at Berkeley Repertory Theatre before opening on Broadway this spring.

“Fela!” also received two technical awards for costumes (Marina Draghici) and sound design (Robert Kaplowitz).

The revival of “The Royal Family” won the award for costume design in a play (Catherine Zuber).

4:35 p.m.: Once again, the organizers of the Tony Awards have decided that most of America doesn’t care about the technical and so-called creative categories – set design, book of a musical, etc. – and have relegated them to a Web-broadcast ceremony.

But we at Culture Monster do care about these categories and believe that Broadway’s designers and writers deserve as much attention as the celebrities.  Tony winners Karen Olivo (walking in crutches) and Gregory Jbara presented the awards.

First were the pre-announced awards. The award for regional theater went to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn. The company has nurtured such notable plays and musicals such as “Avenue Q,” “Nine” and a number of dramas by August Wilson. “Thank you for recognizing  the importance of development to the quality of the future of American theater,” said Preston Whiteway, the company’s executive director.
TonysBlog_Photo330
Playwright Alan Ayckbourn received a special lifetime achievement award for his body or work. The British dramatist thanked Lynn Meadow at the Manhattan Theatre Club as well as the off-Broadway 59E59 theater complex.

Marian Seldes accepted a lifetime award for her career. The actress gave what is surely the shortest acceptance appearance in Tonys history: She looked into the audience and simply walked off the stage without saying a word.

Tony winner David Hyde Pierce accepted a special award for his humanitarian award for his work on Alzheimer’s Disease. The actor said he is working on a London production of La Bete by David Hirson.

4:15 p.m.:  Check out the celebrity-jammed red carpet in the photo gallery right.

2:46 p.m.: The Tony Awards -- Broadway's glitzy parade of pomp and mutual admiration -- takes place today and Culture Monster will be here to cover all of the action, from the tearful acceptance speeches to the unscripted bursts of showbiz candor. (We're hoping there will be more of the latter than the former.)

We'll be live blogging throughout the ceremony, so check back often to get the latest updates from the show. First up, the technical awards will be announced in a pre-broadcast ceremony that will be hosted by Tony winners Karen Olivo and Gregory Jbara. After that, the main awards will kick off at 5 p.m. Pacific time from Radio City Music Hall in New York.

This year's ceremony will include performances from some of the season's biggest musicals and plays, including "American Idiot," "Memphis," "Fela!" and many more. Emmy-winner (and Tony nominee for "Promises, Promises") Sean Hayes is hosting the main broadcast.

Over the course of the  season, we've talked to some of the stars of Broadway's biggest productions, including Alfred Molina in "Red"; Scarlett Johansson in "A View From the Bridge"; Kristin Chenoweth in "Promises, Promises"; Stark Sands in "American Idiot"; and Sherie Rene Scott in "Everyday Rapture."

Also, be sure to check out Times critic Charles McNulty's reviews of some of this season's nominated productions -- "Fences," "Enron," "Sondheim on Sondheim," "Promises, Promises," "Hamlet" and "Fela!

And feel free to share your feelings about the show below.

-- David Ng

Photos and credits: Presenter Billie Joe Armstrong/Reuters. Tony winners and "Fences" stars Viola Davis and Denzel Washington: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images. Levi Kreis: Associated Press. Kate Finneran: AP Photo/David Goldman. Scarlett Johansson and her husband Ryan Reynolds/Reuters. Green Day: Associated Press

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