Fun Home Wins Tony Award for Best Musical & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Wins Best Play – Both Score 5 Tonys Each!
By: Patrick Christiano
"Fun Home" is the little engine that could and did at the star- studded 69th Annual Tony Awards held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. "Fun Home," a poignantly honest musical, completed an exciting journey from The Public Theater to Broadway to win the Tony Award for best new musical. The victory that came at the end of Broadway’s biggest night indicated the Tony voters were making artistic choices this year, going with ambitious, sophisticated shows over more commercial entertainment.
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time" won five of the play’s six nominations including Best Play, best director for Sam Gold, best scenic design, best lighting design, and best actor fo
r Alex Sharp, making his Broadway debut fresh out of Julliard. The London import that won a slew of Olivier Awards in 2013 tells the story of an autistic boy who investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog turning his world upside down in the process.
Accepting his Tony for his portrayal of the boy Christopher, Alex Sharp said "This play is about a young person who is different, and who is misunderstood, and I just want to dedicate this to any young person who feels misunderstood and feels different,"
Referring to a poignant moment in the play he added: "And I want to answer that question at the end of the play for you: Does that mean I can do anything? Yes, yes it does."
"Fun Home," the intimate new musical by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, adapted from cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s vivid memoir, is about growing up in a small town and the affect, her coming out as a lesbian, had on her family. The extraordinary musical moved to Broadway late in the season, but picked up steam by getting unanimously glowing reviews and winning 12 nominations equaling the front runner, "An American in Paris," a ballet-loving stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1951 film, with 12 nominations as well.
Then "the little engine" scored the upset to win best new musical along with 4 additional Tony Awards in major categories for best score, best book, best direction for Sam Gold, and best actor in a musical for Michael Cerveris, who played the closeted gay father. This is Mr. Cerveris’ 2nd Tony Award. He previous won best featured actor in a musical for "Assassins."
The emotional power of the story of "Fun Home" and the stylish music address many complex themes. Michael Cerveris, best actor in a musical, said "Our show is about home, it’s about finding who you are," and then he tied the themes of the musical to the same-sex marriage case now pending in Washington, saying, "I hope the Supreme Court can recognize that too."
Best musical revival went to "The King and I," an extravagant Lincoln Center production of the classic favorite that finally brought Kelli O’Hara an overdue Tony Award. Her win for best actress in a musical after five previous Tony Nominations without winning was a highlight of the evening. The victory for the popular Broadway veteran was sweet vindication for her legions of fans.
Ms. O’Hara, who plays the schoolteacher Anna, in "The King and I" looked radiant in a gold embroidered Oscar de la Renta with Jimmy Choo shoes, said "You would think that I would have written something down by now, but I haven’t." Continuing she said "I love what I do and I don’t need this, but now that I have it, I have some things to say."
She went on to thank her parents, "who are sitting next to me for a sixth time. You don’t have to pretend it’s O.K. this time," she said. She also thanked her husband who she said made all this possible. In the press room she said "I completely lost my mind. I don’t know if that was obvious. When they did say my name, I think it just blew me away," said the actress after finally winning her first Tony Award. She was so exuberant that she danced off stage with the award: "That’s called ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo,’ very poorly done in Jimmy Choo shoes," she said in the press room adding, " but when you’re that excited, you lose your mind a bit."
Her Tony came at the expense of much-loved nominees, including one of the evening’s co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth, whose flamboyant performance in "On the Twentieth Century" has cemented her standing as one of Broadway’s great musical comedy stars. Kristin had already won the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award for her performance of the glamorous actress Lilly Garland, but the Tony was denied her, possibly because she already has one.
Women scored Tonys in several categories where they are rarely honored. The composer Jeanine Tesori and the playwright Lisa Kron, of "Fun Home," were the first female team to win a Tony for best score. Ms. Kron also took home a Tony for best book, while Marianne Elliott, a veteran British director, won her second Tony, for "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
Sam Gold, who won for directing "Fun Home," was somewhat of a surprise and a strong indication his show would take home the Tony, when Christopher Wheeldon lost to Mr. Gold in that category, but won the award for choreographing "An American in Paris." He said "Wow this is absolutely an incredible ride."
The awards ceremony concluded a blockbuster season with attendance at a record 13.1 million, according to the Broadway League, with grosses of $1.4 billion. So Broadway has become a tremendous resource for the city, and a challenging business where only about 25 percent of the shows will be successful. Winning a Tony can be a tremendous advantage to box office ticket sales, as well as an indication of how often a play might be staged around the country on the road. Many of the 844 eligible voters, members of the American Theater Wing and the Broadway League, have an invested interest in the nominated shows.
The Tony Awards, now an integral marketing tool for Broadway, opened with its two hosts, Ms. Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, singing a series of jokes about the theater and themselves, while making fun of actors and shows that went without Tony nominations. The two were adorable co-hosts with wonderful chemistry keeping the evening moving with style and fun. They picked on the musical "Finding Neverland" and the show’s producer the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein while acknowledging the strong box office. When Weinstein laughed giving a thumbs up, Ms. Chenoweth said of herself and Mr. Cumming, "We’re both available for movies."
"At very reasonable rates, as you know," Mr. Cumming added.
Helen Mirren won the first Tony of the evening, best actress in a play for playing Queen Elizabeth II in "The Audience." She had previously played the Queen on film winning an Oscar and on stage in Lon
don, where "The Audience" originally opened. "This is a massive, massive honor," Ms. Mirren said from the stage, before looking to her husband, the film director Taylor Hackford, and saying, "Baby, this is for you, and you know why."
Her co-star Richard McCabe won the Tony for best featured actor in a play for his portrayal of Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
The cast of "Something Rotten!" nominated for best new musical performed the first musical number of the evening kicking off the broadcast with an irreverent tribute to musical theater, called "A Musical." Christian Borle, one of the show’s stars won the best featured actor award playing an obsessed William Shakespeare. In all there were 11 musical numbers durning the 3 hour show.
Annaleigh Ashford won for best featured actress in a play for her comic role in "You Can’t Take It With You." She said "I can’t believe I’m standing here right now on the Radio City Music Hall stage for the worst dancing on Broadway."
Before the ceremony on Sunday, Tony administrators announced honors for several theatrical luminaries. Tommy Tune, who has already won nine Tonys over his long career as a performer, choreographer and director, received the annual lifetime achievement award. Stephen Schwartz, the composer of "Godspell," "Pippin" and "Wicked," received the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award.
Photography: Barry Gordin
THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS & NOMINEES
An American in Paris
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Hand to God
Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
The King and I
On the Town
On the Twentieth Century
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
The Elephant Man
This Is Our Youth
You Can’t Take It With You
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town
BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit
BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations
FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Victoria Clarke, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home
FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It With You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town
Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris
BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Craig Lucas, An American in Paris
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Something Rotten!
Terence McNally, The Visit
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Sting, The Last Ship
Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten!
John Kander and Fred Ebb, The Visit
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It with You
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Bob Crowley, The Audience
Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
David Zinn, Airline Highway
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
Catherine Zuber, The King and I
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight
Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship
FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER