NEW YORK CITY: For the folks watching the Tony Awards at home, the commercial breaks are a great time to compare ballots and reprise dance sequences in the living room. But at Radio City Music Hall, where the 69th annual Tonys show took place June 7, the show goes on: Sets are flown in, actors are put in place and, of course, a raft of awards not deemed worthy of national TV broadcast are presented.
Hosted by 2014 Tony winners Jessie Mueller and James Monroe Iglehart, the pre-show and in-between segments gave out special Tonys, Creative Arts Awards, among others.
About some of these, there was no suspense; the Regional Tony, announced weeks before, went to the Cleveland Play House. In her acceptance speech, Laura Kepley—who accepted the award with managing director Kevin Moore—said, “At age 100, we are determined as ever to tell stories that matter, to nurture artists at every stage of their career, to create thrilling, bold and necessary new work and to develop innovative education programs that help our young people grow and prosper.”
Another pre-announced award went dancer/director/choreographer and 10-time Tony-winner Tommy Tune, who got the Lifetime Achievement Award. Greeted by a line of dancers performing his choreography from Grand Hotel, Tune responded with an impressive high kick of his own and said, “Right now, I am thinking about Texas in the ’50s. You see, my father’s great dream for me was the same as every Texas father’s dream for their first-born son—they wanted us all to leave Texas, go to New York and dance in the chorus of a Broadway show.”
A slideshow of photos of John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig, both from the original Jane Street production and from his recent turn in the role on Broadway, were shown as the writer/performer accepted a Special Tony for his contribution in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. His advice to the next generation of theatremakers: “I say turn off the Internet, combine all the things you love in the world—take some time and you might come up with something special that’s lasting.”
Corey Mitchell was the first recipient of a new honor, the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, presented by Carnegie Mellon University in association with American Theatre Wing. Mitchell, who was briefly acknowledged on the TV broadcast and cited in Fun Home Tony winner Michael Cerveris’s acceptance speech, said, “I don’t accept this just for me—I accept this on behalf of every theatre teacher and every young student out there who aspires to this stage and to Broadway.” A moving filmed tribute was then shown of Mitchell, who teaches at an inner city school in Charlotte, N.C., showing him in the classroom working with students at the Northwest School of the Arts.
A few of the competitive awards weren’t broadcasted, either. Prior to the taping, as per tradition, the design awards were doled out (though not, ahem, a sound design award). Mysteriously, in the first of Fun Home‘s awards sweep for the night, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori made history as the first all-female musical writing team, winning for both the score and book of that pathbreaking show—but their speeches weren’t televised.
“I didn’t realize that a career in music was available to women until 1981, when I saw the magnificent Linda Twine in The Lady and Her Music with Lena Horne,” said Tesori. “That was my ‘Ring of Keys’ moment—which, by the way, is not a song of love but a song of identification. Because for girls, you have to see it to be it,” she said as she raised her spinning Tony.
Throughout 11 commercial breaks, a crowd of nominees and theatre professionals scurried across the sea of red velvet seats at Radio City Music Hall to greet one another after these awards. Then, with the resounding cue from the God mike, ticketholders and seat-fillers prepared for another bit from cohosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in resumption of the televised ceremony.
The many performances and snippets of shows that made the cut for the broadcast were indeed spectacular—but the individuals who garnered recognition while the world was watching commercials all deserve a bit more attention. You can view all the speeches you missed here.
Below is the complete list of Tony winners:
Best Revival of a Musical
The King and I
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Best Revival of a Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: Lisa Kron
Best Book of a Musical
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky and Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Best Costume Design of a Play
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Catherine Zuber, The King and I