'Fun Home' wins musical Tony, 'Curious Incident' named best play

5 Tony wins for 'Fun Home' including best musical.

“Fun Home,” the deeply emotional musical about the richly complex early life of the cartoonist Alison Bechdel and a Tony Award game-changer in terms of its sourcing from a graphic novel, its all-female composing team and the progressive self-actualization of its lesbian protagonist, emerged a big winner at the 69th Annual Tony Awards with five awards, including best musical, best score for composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Lisa Kron, best book for Kron, best leading actor in a musical for Michael Cerveris and best director for Sam Gold.

Director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, a frequent collaborator with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, won a Tony for his widely acclaimed choreography for “An American in Paris,” the new theatrical exploration of the classic 1951 movie with a score by George Gershwin. That dance-fused show, produced by the Chicago-based Stuart Oken, also won Tony Awards for lighting, scenery and orchestrations, but the biggest prize proved elusive.

It was an excellent Sunday night at the Radio City Music Hall in New York for the omnipresent British — there were more British accents at the podiums than you'd hear in the food halls of Harrods — and for the women theater artists of both sides of the Atlantic. But it was a less-than-stellar night for CBS, according to a Variety report; the telecast of the awards show — up against ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals — delivered one of the smallest Tony audiences ever, at 6.35 million viewers.

In the much-discussed race for the Tony for best actress in a musical, Kelli O'Hara, the star of “The King and I” at Lincoln Center, beat out Kristin Chenoweth, the star of “On the Twentieth Century” and a co-host of the Tony Awards with Alan Cumming. Directly after O'Hara's win, the camera cut to the amusingly snarky also-ran.

Marianne Elliott won for her direction of the London import “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” an adaptation by the British playwright Simon Stephens of the young-adult novel by Mark Haddon, which took the Tony Award for best play, as widely expected. In his acceptance speech, Stephens said he has written the play, which is suitable for young audiences and deals with the travails and triumphs of Christopher, an autistic teenager, so that his own children could come to the theater and “see what their father does for a living.”

“We didn't set out ever to make a dime,” Elliott said. “We didn't even think we would find an audience.”

Alex Sharp, the young Juilliard graduate who plays Christopher, won the Tony for best actor in a play, one of the five Tony Awards for “Curious Incident.”

Stephen Daldry's production of David Hare's "Skylight" won best revival of a play.

“The King and I” won the Tony for best revival of a musical, has already found an audience, and surely will dance its way to far more than a dime.

The generally serviceable co-hosts of the award ceremony, Cumming and Chenoweth, generally relied more on their personalities than substantially penned or rehearsed material. The pair's loose opener was striking for its ample use of financial grosses and other Broadway economic data, matter once seen as of interest only in insiders (which may still be true, as ratings may attest). “Smile though your heart is breaking,” the hosts sang at the producer Harvey Weinstein whose big-budget show “Finding Neverland” was shut out, although they unnecessarily undermined their satire by reminding the mogul his show was still making $1 million per week.

At other points in the night, Chenoweth various appeared as E.T. (she said she thought she heard “phone home” instead of “Fun Home”) and a diminutive King of Siam hiding under Cumming's dress. She later compared herself to spaghetti.

Helen Mirren, accepting the Tony for best actress in a play for the dazzling veracity of her performance as Queen Elizabeth II, used the classy coinage “fleet” to describe Peter Morgan's “The Audience.” She also described the Atlantic Ocean as a “little creek you just kind of pop across.” Dames rarely travel in coach.

Larry David, the presenter of the biggest Tony Award of the night and a loser himself, delivered the funniest monologue of the entire show — a meditation on losers.

Richard McCabe, very much the winner for best supporting actor in a play for playing Harold Wilson in “The Audience,” joined the very select club of Tony winners who have dedicated their award to a British prime minister.

An all-American tribute was danced to lifetime achievement Tony winner Tommy Tune, who looked about half his 76 years and said, with one of his trademark smiles, that by heading to Broadway and dancing in the chorus he had achieved the dream of every Texan father for his first-born son.

 

69th Tony Award winners:

Best Musical: "Fun Home" by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron

Best Play: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Simon Stephens

Best Revival of a Musical: "The King and I"

Best Revival of a Play: “Skylight”

Actress in a leading role in a musical: Kelli O’Hara, “The King and I”

Actress in a leading role in a play: Helen Mirren, “The Audience”

Actor in a leading role in a musical: Michael Cerveris, “Fun Home”

Actor in a leading role in a play: Alex Sharp, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Actress in a featured role in a play: Annaleigh Ashford, “You Can’t Take It with You”

Actress in a featured role in a musical: Ruthie Ann Miles, “The King and I”

Actor in a featured role in a musical: Christian Borle, “Something Rotten!”

Actor in a featured role in a play: Richard McCabe, “The Audience

Director of a musical: Sam Gold, “Fun Home”

Director of a play: Marianne Elliott, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Book of a musical: Lisa Kron, “Fun Home”

Score: “Fun Home”: Music by Jeanine Tesori; lyrics by Lisa Kron

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon, “An American in Paris”

Orchestrations: Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, “An American in Paris”

Scenic design of a play: Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Scenic design of a musical: Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, “An American in Paris”

Lighting design of a musical: Natasha Katz, “An American in Paris”

Lighting design of a play: Paule Constable, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

 

Johnny Oleksinski contributed to this report.

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