NEW YORK (AP) — Two veteran Broadway stars — Michael Cerveris of “Fun Home” and Kelli O’Hara of “The King and I” — took home Tony Awards on Sunday, while a young man who just last year graduated from drama school won a Tony for best actor in a play.
Cerveris won his second Tony for playing the closeted and suicidal father at the heart of the moving musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir.
O’Hara got her first Tony after six nominations, winning for her role as the English school teacher in a revival of the classic 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I.”
Helen Mirren, who starred this season in a familiar and regal role, has won her first Tony Award.
Mirren won for playing a sly and polished Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s “The Audience.” She beat out Geneva Carr in “Hand to God,” Elisabeth Moss from “The Heidi Chronicles,” Carey Mulligan in “Skylight” and Ruth Wilson of “Constellations.”
The “Prime Suspect” star was initially reluctant to play the queen since she’d already portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the movie “The Queen,” another Morgan-written story set after the 1997 death of Princess Diana.
That changed somewhat when she read Morgan’s clever script for “The Audience,” which imagines the private weekly meetings between the monarch and Britain’s prime ministers over her six-decade reign.
The London-born actor Alex Sharp won for the best lead actor in a play award for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” beating out Bradley Cooper and Bill Nighy.
“This time last year I was picked up my diploma graduating from Julliard, so to be holding this is insane. Thank you so, so much for this,” he said.
His win was part of a huge haul for the adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel. It also won best play, lighting, scenic design and earned its director Marianne Elliott a Tony, too.
The British were having a big night, with “Skylight” winning for best revival, and Helen Mirren nabbing her first Tony for playing Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s “The Audience.” She already won an Oscar for played the monarch in the movie “The Queen.”
“An American in Paris” and “Fun Home” were each leading the race for most-decorated musical.
“An American in Paris” had four technical awards, while “Fun Home” won for best score, book and direction. Its songwriters Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron became the first female writing team to nab a Tony for musical score. Sam Gold, the director of “Fun Home,” took home his first Tony.
Co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming opened the show with a low-key medley of jokes and songs that displayed their playful, daffy chemistry. Their costume quick-changes included Cumming in a hoop skirt and Chenoweth as E.T.
One of the show’s highlights was watching Joel Grey, who recently announced he was gay, introducing “Fun Home” with his daughter, Jennifer Grey. She joked that the show was about a “brilliant and complicated father.” Joel Grey acknowledged that was something his daughter “knew something about.”
The telecast on CBS at Radio City Music Hall featured appearances by Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Jim Parsons, Amanda Seyfried, Kiefer Sutherland, Bryan Cranston, Sutton Foster, Jennifer Nettles, Taye Diggs and Ashley Tisdale, among many others. Some non-theater celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Monica Lewinsky and Anna Wintour were also in the audience.
Two Broadway favorites — Annaleigh Ashford and Christian Borle — won for best featured roles. He plays a sexy William Shakespeare in “Something Rotten!” and she played an incompetent ballet dancer in “You Can’t Take It With You.” It was her first and his second.
“I can’t believe I am standing here right now for the worst dancing that ever happened on Broadway,” Ashford said.
“The King and I” was crowned the best musical revival and it won for best musical costumes. One of its stars, Ruthie Ann Miles, won in her Broadway debut as best featured actress in a musical.
She read her speech off her phone and thanked, among many others, her husband. “Thank you for agreeing to come on this crazy ride. Where are you? There you are. There’s a lot of people here.”
Before the telecast, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” won for best lighting design of a play, while “An American in Paris” won the best lighting award for a musical. Tommy Tune also accepted a special Tony with a high-kick step.
Josh Groban led a moving “In Memoriam” section when he sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel,” backed by the casts of all the shows appearing on the telecast, some 175 people.
The nominated musicals “On the Twentieth Century,” ”Something Rotten!” ”The Visit,” ”The King and I,” ”On the Town,” ”Fun Home” and “An American in Paris” has songs performed.
A few other non-nominated shows, including like Vanessa Hudgens’ “Gigi” and Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer with “Finding Neverland,” also got spots. The best play nominees were showcased in video clips.
A total of 37 shows opened during the season and box offices reported a record total gross of $1.36 billion — up from $1.27 billion from the previous season.
Select winners for the 2015 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards:
Best Musical: “Fun Home”
Best Play: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”
Best Book of a Musical: “Fun Home”
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: “Fun Home”
Best Revival of a Play: “Skylight”
Best Revival of a Musical: “The King and I”
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 Play: Helen Mirren, “The Audience”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Michael Cerveris, “Fun Home”
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 Featured Role in a Play: Richard McCabe, “The Audience”
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 Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Ruthie Ann Miles, “The King and I”