By Patrick Christiano
Cyndi Lauper’s Broadway musical KINKY BOOTS beat back stiff competition from the British import MATILDA THE MUSICAL to win the coveted Best Musical Award at the 67th Annual Tony Awards celebration televised live on ABC-TV from Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night. KINKY BOOTS picked up 6 Tony medallions in all including Best Score for pop icon Cyndi Lauper making her Broadway debut, and Best Actor in a Musical which went to Billy Porter, who walked away with the Tony for playing the sassy Lola at the center of the crowd pleasing musical. The musical also won Best Choreography for Jerry Mitchell, orchestrations and sound design.
KINKY BOOTS based on a 2005 film about a drag queen, who helps save a Northampton shoe factory, went head to head in 11 categories with the darker MATILADA based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s about a little girl overcoming the evil adults dominating her world. MATILDA, however, took home 4 awards including Best Book of a Musical for Dennis Kelly and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Gabriel Ebert. The musical PIPPIN won 4 Tonys as well scoring for Best Musical Revival, Best Director Diane Paulus, Best Actress in a Musical Patina Miller and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Andrea Martin, who stops the show nightly.
Christopher Durang won the Best Play Award, his first ever Tony, for his witty riff on Chekov, VANYA and SONIA and MASHA and SPIKE, in an evening that saw the awards spilt rather evenly between six shows.
Hometown girl Lauper become the first female composer to win the Best Score Award for writing both the music and lyrics for KINKY BOOTS. In the past women had to settle for sharing the prize with male companions. The evening was also only the second time in history that women have won the Best Direction honors for a musical and a play with Pan MacKinnon winning the latter for the revival of WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, WOOLF also scored Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor for Tracy Letts, who surprised the film star and favorite Ton Hanks making his Broadway debut in one of the season’s biggest hits, LUCKY GUY by the late Nora Ephron.
The evening, a big one for African American artists, who won 4 of the 8 acting awards in highly competitive races, saw Courtney B. Vance win the evening’s first award, Best Featured Actor in a Play, for his portrayal of newspaper man Hap Harrison in LUCKY GUY. The 79 year old actress Cicely Tyson , however, received the night’s longest ovation and took home the award for Best Actress in a Play making her return to the stage after a 30 year absence to star in THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL by Horton Foote.
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