Once, Clybourne Park, Porgy and Bess, Audra McDonald, Salesman Win 2012 Tony Awards

By Kenneth Jones
June 10, 2012

Clybourne Park, the dark comedy about race and real estate, and Once, the Dublin-set musical that uses actor-musicians to tell its love story, were named Best Play and Best Musical, respectively, at the 2012 Tony Awards ceremony on June 10.



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Check out Part One of the Playbill Photo Call of arriving stars. Here's Part Two.

View photos of the winners.

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The 66th annual awards that celebrate excellence in the Broadway theatre were held at the Beacon Theatre (technically not a Broadway house) on the Upper West Side.

Revivals of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin & Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward & Dorothy Heyward, also won Tonys as Revival of a Play and Revival of a Musical, respectively.

Bruce Norris previously won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Clybourne Park, a play inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (he acknowledged her in his acceptance speech).

The play borrows an incident from Hansberry's groundbreaking 1959 play about an African-American family moving into a white suburb. In Act One of Clybourne Park, the white family selling to that black family gets criticized by neighbors. In Act Two, set in 2009, we see another shift in the same neighborhood, in the same house, leading to a fiery discussion of race, history, property and economic power.

Norris said in his acceptance speech, "I have to thank Lorraine Hansberry, who actually built the neighborhood of Clybourne Park; we just moved in and depressed the property values." The play had its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in 2010; it was also produced in London and Washington, DC. The Broadway company is a reunion of the Horizons cast and creative team, including Tony-nominated director Pam MacKinnon.

Bruce Norris
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Steve Kazee thanked his cast for their support when he accepted the Best Actor (Musical) Tony for Once, in which he plays a sad and lost Dublin singer-songwriter. His mother died on Easter, he told the crowd. He invoked her name in his acceptance speech.

In addition to Best Musical and Best Actor, Once won in the categories of Best Orchestrations (Martin Lowe), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Bob Crowley), Best Direction of a Musical (John Tiffany), Best Book of a Musical (Enda Walsh), Sound Design of a Musical (Clive Goodwin) and Lighting Design of a Musical (Natasha Katz). The show, in which all the scenes play out on the unit set of an Irish pub, is based on the indie film hit of the same name; the score borrows from the soundtrack and interpolates later numbers written by the movie's actor-musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (who were at the Beacon). The Once songwriters were not eligible for the Best Score Tony; more than half of a show's score must be new in order to be considered for the Tonys.

The main competition for the aching, expressionistic Once was thought to be the broad-strokes slice of musical optimism, Disney's Newsies, also based on a film; that show is raking in over a million dollars a week.

Audra McDonald won her first Best Actress Tony for her potent performance as tragic Bess in Porgy and Bess; she is a previous four-time Tony winner in Featured categories. The Revival category win was considered something of an upset for a show that some critics (including composer Stephen Sondheim) took to task for rewriting a classic (it's rebranded, per the Gershwin estate, as The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, and includes cuts and reassignment of some material). In the end, the vivacious, audience-favorite Gershwin show (revisions and all) won out over a revival of Sondheim's Follies, a now-closed limited engagement which was considered the favorite. (Follies took home one Tony — for the Costume Design of Gregg Barnes.)

Audra McDonald
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Mike Nichols won his sixth Tony, out of 18 nominations over the years, for staging Arthur Miller's tragedy Death of a Salesman (using the original 1949 scenic design of Jo Mielziner and music of Alex North, in a move that critics and audiences found both simple refreshing — and a loving remembrance of American theatre history).

In his acceptance speech, Nichols said that he used to go to movies at the Beacon Theatre, when he was a kid, and participated in a pie-eating contest there. He got choked up speaking about his Salesman cast, and gave a special mention to Miller's daughter, Rebecca.

James Corden, the British star who plays a servant of two masters in the Broadway engagement of the London farce One Man, Two Guvnors, beat out Death of a Salesman's Philip Seymour Hoffman (considered the favorite) for the Best Actor (Play) Tony.

Nina Arianda, who was fresh out of NYU when she landed the Off-Broadway job of Vanda in David Ives' sexy dark comedy Venus in Fur in 2010-11, became a critics' darling — praise that stuck up to its Broadway transfer in 2011-12. She won the Tony as Best Actress in a Play.

Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, whose stage scores include Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act, King David and Leap of Faith, won his first Tony Award for Best Score, for Newsies, with lyricist Jack Feldman. (Menken's augmented scores from the films "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" were also heard on Broadway, of course.) Menken and Feldman revised their 1992 flop film score for the new stage version, and added new songs to it. ("Seize the Day," in which the striking 1890s newsboys rally, was performed during the ceremony; Christopher Gattelli, a former Broadway gypsy, won the 2012 Tony for his balletic, athletic choreography).

Judith Light, a theatre and TV favorite who was nominated for the Featured Actress Tony for Lombardi a year ago, won the Featured Actress prize this time around, for her work as alcoholic Aunt Silda in Jon Robin Baitz's drama of family secrets, Other Desert Cities. Among those she thanked: Herb Hamsher, her manager of 36 years. Without him, she said, she would not be winning the Tony.

Christian Borle
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Christian Borle, a previous Tony nominee for his work as Emmett in Legally Blonde the Musical, took home the 2012 Featured Actor (Play) Tony for his lusty, purposely hammy work in the Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher, in which he plays the nascent Captain Hook (here called Black Stache). Borle's national profile was raised this spring when he starred as a Broadway composer in the new TV series "Smash." The series has been picked up for a second season.

Rick Elice's Starcatcher, which is presented on a mostly bare stage, with a trunk, rope and seemingly found objects as props, won Tonys for Costume Design of a Play (Paloma Young), Scenic Design of a Play (Donyale Werle), Sound Design of a Play (Darron L. West) and Lighting Design of a Play (Jeff Croiter).

When she won her 2012 Tony for Featured Actress (Musical), Judy Kaye pointed out her unique relationship with chandeliers over the years. Her first Tony was for playing diva Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera, in which her character has a run-in with a plunging light fixture. In the Gershwin-infused Nice Work If You Can Get It, in which she plays a starchy temperance advocate, she swings on a chandelier after her first encounter with hooch. It gets one of the biggest ovations in the Joe DiPietro-penned musical comedy that seeks to recreate the daffiness of 1920s musicals.

Michael McGrath, the character actor seen in Spamalot (for which he was previously Tony-nommed), won the 2012 Featured Actor for his rambunctious turn as a bootlegger named Cookie McGee in Nice Work. McGrath's next project is playing Ralph in a new stage musical based on the TV show "The Honeymooners."

The 2012 Tony Award winners' tally follows.

Once - 8
Peter and the Starcatcher - 5
Newsies - 2
Nice Work If You Can Get It - 2
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman - 2
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess - 2
Follies- 1
One Man, Two Guvnors - 1
Other Desert Cities - 1
Clybourne Park - 1
Venus in Fur - 1

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The winners and nominees of the 66th Annual Tony Awards follow. Recipients are indicated with an asterisk and boldface.

Best Musical
Leap of Faith
Newsies
Nice Work If You Can Get It
*Once

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell, Follies
*Audra McDonald, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti, Once
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
*Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
*James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
*Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines, Follies

Best Revival of a Musical
Evita
Follies
*The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar

Best Lighting Design of a Play
*Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Brian MacDevitt, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities

Best Play 

*Clybourne Park
Author: Bruce Norris


Other Desert Cities
Author: Jon Robin Baitz

Peter and the Starcatcher
Author: Rick Elice

Venus in Fur
Author: David Ives


Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
*Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical

Best Revival of a Play
*Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Master Class
Wit

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
*Bob Crowley, Once
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark

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

Bonnie & Clyde
Music: Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics: Don Black

*Newsies
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Jack Feldman

One Man, Two Guvnors
Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding

Peter and the Starcatcher
Music: Wayne Barker
Lyrics: Rick Elice

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
*Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
*Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jessie Mueller, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical

Best Costume Design of a Musical
*Gregg Barnes, Follies
ESosa, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
*Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park

Best Costume Design of a Play
William Ivey Long, Don't Dress for Dinner
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
*Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
*Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
*John Tiffany, Once

Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
*Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
David Alan Grier, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
*Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
*Clive Goodwin, Once
Kai Harada, Follies
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don't Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
*Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly

Best Book of a Musical
Lysistrata Jones, Douglas Carter Beane
Newsies, Harvey Fierstein
Nice Work If You Can Get It, Joe DiPietro
*Once, Enda Walsh

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Evita
*Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Orchestrations
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
*Martin Lowe, Once
Danny Troob, Newsies
 

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Neil Patrick Harris
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") returned to host the 66th annual awards ceremony at the Beacon Theatre. CBS-TV aired the main three-hour ceremony starting at 8 PM.

Once, the new musical based on the film of the same name, earned 11 Tony nominations, the most of any production of the season. The two Gershwin musicals, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It, earned 10 nominations apiece.

All four Best Play nominees, including the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Clybourne Park, arrived on Broadway after acclaimed Off-Broadway runs. Venus in Fur and Clybourne Park were first seen by New York audiences in the winter of 2010, while Other Desert Cities and Peter and the Starcatcher debuted in 2011.

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The three-hour program featured performances by Tony-nominated musicals including Evita, featuring Ricky Martin and Elena Roger ("And The Money Kept Rolling In"); Follies, featuring Tony-nominated actor Danny Burstein ("The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues"); a medley of tunes from The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, featuring Tony nominees Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier; Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring Tony nominee Josh Young; Leap of Faith, featuring Raúl Esparza, who will offer "Rise Up"; Newsies, featuring Tony-nominated actor Jeremy Jordan; Nice Work If You Can Get It, featuring Matthew Broderick and Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara; and Once, featuring Tony nominees Steve Kazee, Cristin Milioti and Elizabeth A. Davis. 

The evening also included performances by Tony-nominated plays: End of the Rainbow with Tony-nominated actress Tracie Bennett; One Man, Two Guvnors with Tony-nominated actor James Corden; and Peter and the Starcatcher, featuring Tony nominees Christian Borle and Celia Keenan-Bolger. 

The show featured a performance with Corbin Bleu and the cast of Godspell; Ghost The Musical, featuring Bryce Pinkham, Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman; and a live broadcast from Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas' cast of Hairspray.

Bernadette Peters
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

During the evening, two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters received the Isabelle Stevenson Award, and Special Tony Awards were presented to Actors' Equity Association and to Tony winner Hugh Jackman. Veteran producer Emanuel Azenberg earned a Special Tony for Lifetime Achievement. Peters is being recognized for her charitable work with such organizations as Broadway Barks!, which she co-founded with Mary Tyler Moore as a program to promote the adoption of shelter animals; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; Standing Tall; and Actors Fund of America. Jackman is being honored for his "contributions to the Broadway community, both as a performer and humanitarian; his tireless dedication to charitable works of many types; and his personal generosity of spirit." And, Actors' Equity is being celebrated on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.

The 2012 Tony Awards are presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

The Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards are bestowed annually on theatre professionals for distinguished achievement.

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Emanuel Azenberg

Regional Theatre Award
The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Bernadette Peters

Special Tony Award
Actors’ Equity Association
Hugh Jackman

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
Freddie Gershon
Artie Siccardi
TDF Open Doors

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Tony Nominations by Production
Once - 11
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess - 10
Nice Work If You Can Get It - 10
Peter and the Starcatcher - 9
Follies- 8
Newsies - 8
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman - 7
One Man, Two Guvnors - 7
Other Desert Cities - 5
Clybourne Park - 4
End of the Rainbow - 3
Evita - 3
Ghost the Musical - 3
Bonnie & Clyde - 2
Don't Dress for Dinner - 2
Gore Vidal's The Best Man - 2
Jesus Christ Superstar - 2
Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark - 2
Venus in Fur - 2
Wit - 2
The Columnist - 1
Leap of Faith - 1
The Lyons - 1
Lysistrata Jones - 1
Man and Boy - 1
Master Class - 1
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever - 1
The Road to Mecca - 1
Stick Fly - 1
A Streetcar Named Desire - 1

Browse the Tony Playbills by year below:

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1987 1986
1985 1983 1982 1981 1980 1979 1978 1976
1975 1974 1973 1972 1971 1969 1968 1967

 

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)