PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 8-14: A Night of Surprises at the Tonys, Macbeth to Sleep No More at Lincoln Center

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 8-14: A Night of Surprises at the Tonys, Macbeth to Sleep No More at Lincoln Center
 
It was entertaining! It was filled with suspense and upsets! The ratings went up! The reviews were good!
Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

It was the strangest Tony Awards ceremony in years.

Theatre fans have become accustomed over the years to the seemingly immovable fact that the Tonys broadcast will be a letdown, that the outcome of the various contests will be predictable, robbing the program of excitement, and that it will get plastered in the ratings by the NBA finals or the finale of some cable series.

Not this year. The surprises began with a startling, sparkling opening number called "Bigger" performed with élan and invention by host Neil Patrick Harris and what seems like the entire population of Broadway, and ended with the upset victory of Kinky Boots over the English juggernaut Matilda as Best Musical.

Along the way, there were other surprises. Tracy Letts won Best Actor in a Play for his performance as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, besting Tom Hanks, the star of Lucky Guy, who was thought to be a shoo-in. Judith Light won Best Featured Actress for the second year in a row for her work in The Assembled Parties.

It was also a historic night. Cyndi Lauper became the first woman to win the Best Score award on her own, and not part of a team. For the first time in more than a decade, both directing awards went to women: Diane Paulus won for Pippin (which won Best Revival of a Musical) and Pam MacKinnon won for Virginia Woolf (which won Best Revival of a Play). And fully half of the acting awards were taken home by African-American performers: Patina Miller was the recipient of the Best Actress in a Musical prize, Cicely Tyson was the victor in the Best Actress in a Play contest, Courtney B. Vance won for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Lucky Guy and Billy Porter, star of Kinky Boots, was named Best Actor in a Musical.

Kinky Boots was the big winner of the evening, earning a total of six awards.

As always, the evening had its repercussions — though, in this case, most of them took the form of good news. Kinky Boots announced it would launch a national tour in Las Vegas in 2014. Manhattan Theatre Club extended The Assembled Parties for a third time, through July 28. And Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony Award for Best Play, extended its Broadway run for a final time through Aug. 25 at the John Golden Theatre.

The quasi-bad news? Next year's Tonys will be the first in a decade that will have to live up to the standard set the year before!

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the new musical based on John Berendt's 1994 best-selling book about the mysterious and eccentric citizens of Savannah, GA, is beginning to take shape.

Rob Ashford
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Playwright Alfred Uhry is adapting the work. And Rob Ashford, who collaborated with Uhry on the acclaimed London production of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse, will direct the musical. The creative team is aiming a fall 2014 out of town try-out, either in the U.S. or London. If all goes smoothly, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil could arrive on Broadway in spring 2015.

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Macbeth seems to be the Hamlet of the moment — that is, the role every actor wants a crack at.

Liev Schreiber portrayed the Thane of Cawdor in 2006. Patrick Stewart played the Scottish king on Broadway five years ago. And we just finished seeing Alan Cumming in his sui generis almost-one-man version. Now, this fall, we're going to get Ethan Hawke's version at the Vivian Beaumont Theater this fall, directed by Jack O'Brien. The two previously collaborated on the LCT productions of The Coast of Utopia and Henry IV at the Beaumont.

The LCT season also includes Act One, the new play by James Lapine based on Moss Hart's timeless showbiz memoir and Domesticated, a new work by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Bruce Norris starring Laurie Metcalf.

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