2012 Tony Awards

The biggest event in the theatrical calendar occurred last night in New Yorkas the 66nd Annual Tony Awards took place at the Beacon Theatre. The star studded ceremony was once again hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and was attended by the glitterati of the world theatre scene. In a year of mixed opinions the competition for the top categories seemed wide open after the nominations were revealed last month, and a number of unlikely winners took home the awards in what was a particularly more subdued and dignified ceremony than the past few years.

The biggest winner of the night was the simplistic screen-to-stage musical Once which took home eight awards across many of the big categories including Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical (John Tiffany) and Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Steve Kazee), just falling shy of the previous year’s winner The Book of Mormon which last year managed to scoop up nine; the cast of which were back to introduce the ceremony with their opening number ‘Hello’. The latest offering from Disney Theatricals Newsies took home two awards – Best Score for Alan Menken and Best Choreography for Christopher Gattelli. Their phenomenal performance of ‘Seize the Day’ more than justified these accolades, especially the work of the ensemble who brought Gattelli’s choreography to life. Embarrassingly Alan Menken’s second musical of the season Leap of Faith (which closed after just 20 regular performances) was nominated for Best Musical and did perform despite being one of the biggest turkeys of the year.

James Cordon took home the award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors that has delighted audience in both the West End and Broadway alike. In an emotional speech, outsider Cordon thanked the other actors in his category which included John Laroquette, Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Earl Jones (who embarrassingly only heard the first name when the winner was announced and looked shocked to have won, before being told otherwise). Fellow Brit Tracie Bennett sadly lost out in the Best Actress in a Play award to Nina Ariadna for Venus in Fur although the Lancastrian was delighted to have been nominated for her honest portrayal of Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow. Christian Borle took home one of Peter and the Starcatcher’s five awards for Best Featured Actor in a Play which also won a host of technical awards including Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. The Best Play title went to the production that almost didn’t happen, Clybourne Park which had similar success in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 2010. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman took home the prize for Best Play Revival, beating off stiff competition which included Wit starring Cynthia Nixon.

Performances from all musicals nominated for Best New Musical and Best Musical Revival helped move the evening along, with British writer Andrew Lloyd Webber being represented by new productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Both failed to take home any awards, but offered solid performances, especially from Rob Ashford’s production of Evita which was originally seen at the Adelphi Theatre in London back in 2006 starring Elena Rodger. Sondheim’s magnificent Follies took home only one award for Best Costume Design, despite a wonderful performance by the nominated Danny Burtsein. The Best Actress in a Musical award went to four times Tony Award winner Audra McDonald for her role in The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, giving the Broadway diva her first Leading Lady award for this stirring performance. In a tough category, that included Jan Maxwell (Follies), Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work if You Can Get it) and Laura Osnes (Bonnie and Clyde) Audra came out top, thanking her soon to be husband Will Swenson and her daughter.

The awards were shown live on CBS and acted as a real advertisement of the Broadway theatre industry. With such wide differences between the current box office grosses of some shows it is hoped the awards will give some a much needed boost to get through the summer season. Neil Patrick Harris hosted the ceremony with his usual tongue in cheek humour, poking casual fun as shows such as Ghost and Spiderman that failed to create any awards hype. His round up of the evening sent everyone home in good spirits, looking forward to next year’s ceremony where ‘little girls’ are sure to reign as Matilda the Musical and Annie open next season. For full information on this years winners and previous years, check out the official Tony Awards website.

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