NEW YORK — Shows with Seattle ties have grabbed a little glory in the first half of the Tony Awards.
“All the Way,” penned by Seattle playwright Robert Schenkkan, won best new play, and Bryan Cranston won a Tony for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play for his turn as Lyndon Johnson in Schenkkan’s drama. “All the Way” was commissioned, developed and premiered by Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Seattle Repertory Theatre has co-commissioned Schenkkan’s sequel to the play, “The Great Society,” with OSF and will premiere the drama this this summer. Both LBJ plays will be staged at Seattle Rep this fall, with Jack Willis as Johnson.
“Aladdin,” which had a pre-Broadway tryout at the 5th Avenue Theatre, was nominated for five Tonys, including best new musical. ”Aladdin’s” first award of the night so far has gone to James Monroe Iglehart, for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical. Iglehart, who plays the Genie, also appeared in the show during its Seattle stint, and Seattle audiences will recognize him from the local production of “Memphis.”
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The first award of the night was for best featured actor in a play and it went to Mark Rylance, who won his third Tony for playing the countess Olivia in “Twelfth Night.” Rylance, who previously won for “Jerusalem” and “Boeing-Boeing,” is also nominated for best lead actor honors for his evil title character in “Richard III.”
The best featured actress in a musical Tony went to Lena Hall in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” playing a woman who dresses as a man and plays Neil Patrick Harris’ boyfriend. Harris later won best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical for playing the lead in “Hedwig.”
Darko Tresnjak won for directing the musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and thanked his mother, a skydiver during World War II now too frail to be there. Kenny Leon won his first Tony for directing the revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.” He thanked, among other, his star Denzel Washington, and the women in his life. He even managed to plug his next work, “Holler If Ya Hear Me.”
Audra McDonald has become the Tony Awards’ most decorated actress, winning her sixth Tony for portraying Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” putting her ahead of five-time winners Angela Lansbury and the late Julie Harris for the most competitive wins by an actress.
Jackman has lost none of his style, affability and humor in the nine years since he last hosted. He will be singing several songs — including all the parts from the first song in “The Music Man.”
Stars helping present awards included Bradley Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Clint Eastwood, Leighton Meester, Kenneth Branagh, Kate Mara, Emmy Rossum, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Zachary Quinto. Overall viewership may be tested by Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Some 870 Tony voters — members of professional groups such as the Wing, the League, Actors’ Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society — decided the final 26 competitive awards. Only Broadway shows that opened in the 12 months ending April 24 are eligible.
A music-heavy lineup included all the best new musical nominees — “Aladdin,” “After Midnight,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” — and some overlooked ones, including “Rocky,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” and Idina Menzel’s show “If/Then.”
“After Midnight,” a musical celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club nightclub, was the first to be featured with Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia singing “On Sunny Side of the Street” and then the group number.
Three revivals — “Les Miserables,” “Violet” and “Cabaret” — was also featured. “Wicked,” which is celebrating a decade on Broadway, will have its current Glinda and Elphaba sing “For Good,” and Sting performed from his musical “The Last Ship” and Jennifer Hudson sang from “Finding Neverland,” the musical about Peter Pan.
For best play candidates, the playwrights of “Act One,” “All The Way,” “Casa Valentina,” “Mothers and Sons” and “Outside Mullingar” each took turns introducing video snippets of their works.
This year, Broadway producers have a reason to party. The season’s box offices hit a record total gross of $1.27 billion — up from $1.13 billion the previous season — and attendance was up 5.6 percent to 12.2 million.