Tony Awards 2014! Winners and losers on Broadway’s biggest night

Who went home with the gold and who was robbed? Also, why was Hugh Jackman rapping with LL Cool J?

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Another year, another Tony Awards telecast. In general, the gold went to the most deserving of the season: Few would carp about Bryan Cranston or Neil Patrick Harris nabbing top honors, and relative newcomers (Sophie Okenedo and Lena Hall) were recognized too. Prior to the ceremony, there was little consensus about what was a shoo-in for Best Musical; the wealth was spread over the book, score and acting categories, but A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder ended the evening bloody victorious. More thoughts on the night:

Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway

Biggest head-scratchers

So yeah, host Hugh Jackman started the ceremony, er, hopping from the red carpet to the Radio City Music Hall stage. Why? This seems to be the inspiration. Moving on… It’s hard enough for most viewers to keep track of the nominated musicals and revivals, but they must have been doubly confused when Sting showed up to croon about “the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers.” That’s what the Tonys have become: an infomercial for next season. Sting was flogging his fall Broadway debut, The Last Ship. (And no, he is not actually in the show.) Toward the end of the night, we saw Jennifer Hudson singing to a bunch of British kids in pajamas…and Peter Pan? That was from Finding Neverland, which will have out-of-town tryouts in Boston this summer before aiming for Broadway. (And no, she is not actually in the show.) Lastly, why was Hugh rapping about The Music Man with LL Cool J and T.I.? Our best explanation is here.

A Raisin in the Sun

Biggest upset

Of the 26 categories this year, we correctly predicted 22, or 85 percent. Not too shabby! Had we been part of the tally over at GoldDerby.com, we would have tied for first place with three other prognosticators. (The worst Tony pundit, by the way, is New York Post columnist Michael Riedel.) All of us got the same four categories wrong: Best Sound Design of a Musical (which went to Beautiful instead of Hedwig) and…all three wins for A Raisin in the Sun. The strong showing for Raisin was a shock in a Best Revival of a Play race that many people had expected to come down to Twelfth Night and The Glass Menagerie—both of which, in hindsight, had the disadvantage of opening in the fall and closing months ago.

The Bridges of Madison County

Best offscreen jibe

The show that won for Best Score and Best Orchestrations, The Bridges of Madison County, didn’t perform a number on the telecast because it wasn’t nominated for Best Musical. (But hey, who needs music anyhow, right?) “I hope you enjoyed the play-on,” the show's famously prickly composer, Jason Robert Brown, reportedly joshed while accepting his Best Score award. “That’s all the music from The Bridges of Madison you get to hear tonight.”

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

Best acceptance speech(es)

It’s a tie between Audra McDonald—henceforth to be identified as record-breaking six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald—and first-timer Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). McDonald, powering through tears and radiating fierce love all over the room, talked about standing on the shoulders of great African-American women—Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, the late Maya Angelou and, naturally, Billie Holiday. It was classy, deeply felt and inspiring. Hall, meanwhile, did the adorable hyperventilation thing—she looked like she was about to pass out from joy and lack of oxygen. (Side note to Lena’s sister, Calli: Nice job on the hair!)

If/Then

Most successful musical numbers

As we’ve noted before, the paradox about holding the Tonys at the cavernous Radio City Music Hall is that solos or small numbers, which can be captured well on camera, are often more effective than bigger production numbers, which often get spread too thin. That’s one reason Idina Menzel’s solo from If/Then popped so well. (The other reason: It was Idina Menzel.) Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Beautiful also benefited from relatively tight framing. But a few of the bigger numbers—notably Aladdin and Bullets Over Broadway, both putting their best material forward—managed to make a good impression despite the large house.

Rocky

Least successful musical numbers

Although Rocky’s boxing-ring finale kills at the Winter Garden Theatre, it was a confusing dud out of context (not to mention a massive spoiler). The Les Misérables revival’s “One Day More” was a textbook illustration of the Radio City Music Hall pitfall; the diffuseness of the number’s staging, already a problem, was exacerbated on the telecast, with the camera often failing to take in the whole picture. (Compare it with the original production’s “One Day More” on the 1987 Tonys to see what we mean.) A similar fate befell the beginning of the amusingly frantic trio from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; unless you were watching in widescreen, the camera often failed to capture the whole stage picture, which damaged the number’s farcical energy. (The intro with a quick-changing Jefferson Mays, however, was genius.)

Most creative solution

Each year the Tony telecast finds a new way to make the nominated plays look stodgy, pretentious or just plain boring. One year (in a low point), actors declaimed lines from their shows, bewilderingly out of context. Crisp, well-edited video, music and graphics is the way to go, but it’s rare to see a montage as effective as something you’d see on the Oscars. Last night brought a novel approach: The playwrights themselves pitched their work with a short blurb before cutting to a video clip. On the one hand, it seemed sadistic: Writers are solitary creatures; don’t turn them into dancing monkeys for the cameras! On the other hand, it was recognition of the centrality of the author: It honored them and made them visible. So let’s give a standing O to James Lapine, Robert Schenkkan, Harvey Fierstein, Terrence McNally and John Patrick Shanley: Take a bow, you matinee idols.



Here are the winners of the 68th Annual Tony Awards:

Best Play

Act One
All The Way WINNER
Casa Valentina
Mothers and Sons
Outside Mullingar

Best Musical

After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and MurderWINNER

Best Revival of a Play

The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the SunWINNER
Twelfth Night

Best Revival of a Musical

Hedwig and the Angry InchWINNER
Les Misérables 
Violet

Best Actor in a Play

Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston, All the Way WINNER
Chris O'Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, Richard III
Tony Shalhoub, Act One

Best Actress in a Play

Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & BarWINNER
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn

Best Actor in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch WINNER
Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Best Actress in a Musical

Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical WINNER
Kelli O'Hara, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Director of a Play

Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun WINNER
John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie

Best Director of a Musical

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder WINNER

Best Book of a Musical

Aladdin
Chad Beguelin
Beautiful-The Carole King Musical
Douglas McGrath
Bullets Over Broadway
Woody Allen
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Robert L. Freedman WINNER

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Aladdin
Music: Alan Menken 
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin
The Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown WINNER
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Music: Steven Lutvak 
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak
If/Then
Music: Tom Kitt 
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night WINNER
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun WINNER
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin WINNER
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Linda Emond, Cabaret
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch WINNER
Anika Larsen, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt, Act One WINNER
Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin, Machinal
Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Christopher Barreca, Rocky WINNER
Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, Act One
Michael Krass, Machinal
Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night WINNER

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder WINNER
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox, Machinal
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie WINNER
Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch WINNER
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Sound Design of a Play

Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill WINNER
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
Tim O'Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter, Les Misérables
Brian Ronan, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical WINNER

Best Choreography

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight WINNER
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Orchestrations

Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County WINNER
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful-The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder


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