Red, Memphis, La Cage aux Folles, Fences Win 2010 Tony Awards
By Kenneth Jones
Red, John Logan's portrait of abstract-expressionist artist Mark Rothko, and Memphis, the story of showbiz aspirations and forbidden love in the Civil Rights era, were named Best Play and Best Musical, respectively, at the 2010 Tony Awards ceremony June 13 at Radio City Music Hall.
In other production categories, the Tony for Best Revival of a Play went to the late August Wilson's drama Fences starring Denzel Washington (who won the Best Actor Tony) and Viola Davis (who was Tony-blessed as Best Actress in a Play), and Best Revival of a Musical went to La Cage aux Folles starring British actor Douglas Hodge (who won the Tony as Best Actor in a Musical) and Kelsey Grammer.
Sean Hayes, a 2010 Best Actor nominee currently starring in Broadway's Promises, Promises, hosted the 64th Annual Tony Awards, which celebrate the best of Broadway's 2009-10 season.
The revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's La Cage aux Folles originated (with Hodge as Albin/Zaza) at the tiny Menier Chocolate Factory in London and has been hailed by critics. Director Terry Johnson (who won the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical) reinvented the title's drag club not as a lavish Vegas-style venue but as a grittier, vest-pocket neighborhood joint. He also set the 1984 musical in the late '70s, before AIDS-era modern gay expression surfaced, making the Jerry Herman anthem "The Best of Times" more poignant than ever. Except for Hodge and one featured dancer (Nicholas Cunningham) from the U.K., the Broadway cast of La Cage is made up of American performers.
American playwright John Logan got the idea for his play Red when he viewed Rothko paintings in London while he was working there on the film of "Sweeney Todd."
Young British actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays Ken — a fictional assistant to artist Mark Rothko in Red — won the Tony as Best Featured Actor in a Play. His character brings out the best and worst in Rothko, illuminating the life of the passionate, troubled artist. Redmayne previously won the Olivier Award for his work after the play's debut at London's Donmar Warehouse.
Michael Grandage, Donmar's artistic director, won in the category of Best Direction of a Play for Red (he was a previous Tony direction nominee for Frost/Nixon). Grandage's entire design team (lights, set and sound) won 2010 Tonys. The play is set in Rothko's grubby-gray industrial art studio, where the color of the world is not only Rothko's scarlet canvases but the two vivid men who dwell there.
Lyricist-librettist Joe DiPietro, who has been writing for the theatre for more than 15 years, won Tony for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score (sharing the latter with composer-lyricist David Bryan, the rocker of the band Bon Jovi). DiPietro may be best known for his international hit musical I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.
Memphis, the tale of a white DJ who promotes and falls for a black singer in the Jim Crow South, has been in development for seven years, and was seen in readings, workshops and an out-of-town tryout co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle before coming to Broadway. The producers and creative team remained loyal to its stars Montego Glover and Chad Kimball from the beginning. The Tony win is a sweet victory for lead producers and the show's longtime shepherds Sue Frost and Randy Adams of Junkyard Dog Productions.
The one award for the musical Million Dollar Quartet — about the fateful 1950s recording-studio meeting of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley — went to Best Featured Actor in a Musical Levi Kreis for his fiery turn as Lewis. He and his castmates originated their roles in Chicago for a long run before the work transferred to Broadway.
The one award for the new revival of A Little Night Music went to Catherine Zeta-Jones as Best Actress in a Musical. The show goes on hiatus June 20 before Bernadette Peters steps into Zeta-Jones' shoes in July (with Elaine Stritch taking the role created by Angela Lansbury).
Bill T. Jones won the Tony for Best Choreography for the expressionistic musical Fela!, about the late Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti.
Katie Finneran is on stage in the new revival of Promises, Promises for only about 15 minutes, but critics and audiences went wild for her performance as a tipsy one-song character named Marge MacDougall. Tony voters loved her, too: She won the Tony as Featured Actress in a Musical. It's her second featured-actress Tony after winning in 2002 for a revival of Noises Off
Film star Scarlett Johansson, for her Broadway debut as a niece struggling to grow beyond the grasp of her uncle, in A View From the Bridge, won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She thanked her mom for helping her pound the pavement when she was a child actress. Like her co-stars in the Arthur Miller play, glamorous Johannson disappeared behind a Brooklyn accent and embraced the clouds of working-class hardship that shrouded the acclaimed revival.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient playwright Ayckbourn thanked two major New York supporters of his work in recent years — Lynne Meadow, artistic director of Manhattan Theatre Club, and Off-Broadway's 59E59 Theaters and its leaders Peter Tear and Elysabeth Kleinhans. This is the first Tony won by the author of such plays as Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce and The Norman Conquests. He noted that this was a special Tony, and that he hoped to win in a competitive category one day. "If not, and it's my last, what a helluva good way to finish," he said.
When she accepted her Special Tony for Lifetime Achievement, Marian Seldes walked to the microphone, put her hand to her cheek and wordlessly made a stunned expression before exiting (slowly, grandly) into the wings.
The final tally of winners follows:
Nominees and recipients of the 64th Annual Tony Awards follow, with recipients marked in bold and with an asterisk.
Million Dollar Quartet
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow
Best Revival of a Musical
*La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Time Stands Still
Best Revival of a Play
Lend Me a Tenor
7 The Royal Family
A View From the Bridge
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Jude Law, Hamlet
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
*Viola Davis, Fences
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Best Direction of a Play
*Michael Grandage, Red
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
David Alan Grier, Race
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
*Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Hamlet
Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Best Costume Design of a Play
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Best Book of a Musical
Million Dollar Quartet
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Addams Family
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
The 2010 Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre were presented to playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn, and Tony Award-winning actress Marian Seldes.
The recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award is Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce. The Isabelle Stevenson Award recognizes an individual from the theatre community "who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre.
This year's Tony Honors are presented to The Alliance of Resident Theatres New York, B.H. Barry and BC/EFA executive director Tom Viola.
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, is the recipient of the 2010 Tony Award for Regional Theatre.
Playbill.com blogged from the Tony ceremony press room throughout the evening. Playbill magazine editor Blake Ross tweeted from her seat in Radio City Music Hall to give theatre fans a view of the ceremony from the audience's perspective, including what's not captured on camera in the auditorium. Join Twitter and follow her at twitter.com/PlaybillBlake. Playbill staffers tweeted on Twitter throughout the evening, too. Join Twitter and follow twitter.com/Playbill. We'll also share Tony news on Facebook. Join Facebook and follow Playbill.
The new musical Fela!, which began life Off-Broadway, and the revival of La Cage aux Folles, earned 11 nominations a piece, the most of any production of the season.
The 2010 Tonys are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Paul Libin is chairman, and Charlotte St. Martin is executive director. At the American Theatre Wing, Theodore S. Chapin is chairman, and Howard Sherman is executive director. For Tony Award Productions, Alan Wasser and Allan Williams of Alan Wasser Associates are the general managers.
Send questions and comments to the Webmaster
Copyright © 2014 Playbill, Inc. All Rights Reserved.