The Jakarta Post
The Tony Awards kicked off Sunday night with Helen Mirren winning for a familiar role and the songwriters of "Fun Home" making history ' but during a commercial break.
Mirren won her first Tony for playing a sly and polished Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's "The Audience." The "Prime Suspect" star already won an Oscar for played the monarch in the movie "The Queen." Richard McCabe also won a featured actor trophy for playing one of the prime ministers in the show.
During a commercial break, "Fun Home" songwriters Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron became the first female writing team to nab a Tony for musical score. Kron also won for best book of a musical.
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. He dressed in shorts and a suit and she in black tuxedo jacket mini dress, sang snippets from "It Takes Two," ''There's Nothing Like a Dame" and "Willkommen" from "Cabaret," in which Cumming recently finished a year on Broadway.
"This is the last time I'll ever sing this song," he crooned. She replied: "'Till a revival paycheck comes along." Later he mocked "The King and I" by wearing a huge hoop skirt.
The telecast on CBS at Radio City Music Hall will feature 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.
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 Tine also accepted his special Tony with a high-kick step.
Josh Groban will lead 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.
For the record, there will be 11 musical performances and 24 competitive Tonys will be handed out, some tucked in during commercial breaks. The best play nominees will be showcased in video clips.
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" will have songs performed. A few other non-nominated shows, including like Vanessa Hudgens' "Gigi" and Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer with "Finding Neverland," also will get spots. The cast of "Jersey Boys" will end the show with "Oh What a Night."
Producers are hoping to beat last year's average of 7.02 million viewers. But as happened last year, the Tonys will have to compete against Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which starts at the same time.
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.
Online: http://www.tonyawards.com (***)
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