News Column

'Kinky Boots' Walks Off With Tonys

June 10, 2013

YellowBrix

By ROBERT FELDBERG

"Kinky Boots," once considered a long shot, has won the Tony Award for best new musical of the 2012-13 Broadway season. It also led the way in number of awards, in Sunday night's ceremonies at Radio City Music Hall, with six.

The crowd-pleasing show, based on a film about a strait-laced young shoe-factory owner who teams up with a drag queen to save his struggling company, came on strong in recent weeks to beat out "Matilda," the British musical that was the longtime presumed front runner.

In the night's biggest upset -- and it was huge -- film star Tom Hanks, considered a shoo-in for his Broadway-debut performance as a raffish tabloid columnist in "Lucky Guy," was beaten out for best actor in a play by Tracy Letts, who gave a gripping performance as a misery-ridden husband in Edward Albee's drama "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" a production that won the Tony for best play revival.

"[I dedicate] this award," said an obviously touched Letts, "to ... everyone who does this crazy, intense, frustrating [acting] job - - the greatest job on earth."

The winner for best score, for "Kinky Boots," was Cyndi Lauper, the 1980s pop queen, who was making her theater songwriting debut.

Wearing a flaming red "fauxhawk" hairstyle, Lauper admitted she'd prepared in case she won.

"I can't say I wasn't practicin' in front of the shower curtain," she said, in the earthy tones of her native Queens.

"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," a freewheeling comedy by Christopher Durang that places Chekhovian characters in a modern- day setting, won for best play. It's the Montclair-born playwright's first Tony in a career spanning nearly 40 years.

"Pippin," an energized remounting -- with circus acts -- of the 1972 parable about a young man's search for a meaningful life, won the award for musical revival.

The 66-year-old actress-comedian Andrea Martin, who effectively won her featured-actress Tony by doing an acrobatic turn in "Pippin," accepted her award by saying, "Do you know what it's like for a woman of my age to be held by a man like that and never dropped?"

Notably, both Tony directing awards went to women, underlining their greatly increased numbers among directors in recent years. Diane Paulus won for "Pippin" and Pam MacKinnon for "Virginia Woolf."

Cicely Tyson (whose age is 79 or 88, depending on your source) won the Tony Award for actress in a play for her acclaimed performance in the revival of "The Trip to Bountiful," 54 years after making her Broadway debut.

In a long and eloquent speech, Tyson said, "I'm the sole surviving member of my immediate family, and I've asked over and over again why. I now know why," adding she hadn't considered she'd act again. "I was pretty comfortable with that, but, not to be greedy, I wanted one more great part."

Patina Miller won the Tony for actress in a musical for her performance as the Leading Player in "Pippin."

Billy Porter received the actor in a musical Tony for his portrayal of the cross-dressing co-hero of "Kinky Boots."

Porter beat "Kinky Boots" co-star Stark Sands and told him from the stage: "You are my rock, my sword, my shield. Your grace gives me presence. I share this award with you. I'm gonna keep it at my house! But I share it with you."

Among the Bergen County residents who were Tony nominees were Rob McClure of New Milford, who starred in "Chaplin" and lost to Porter for actor in a musical; John Gromada, who grew up in Wyckoff and Glen Rock, and was a contender for sound design for "The Trip To Bountiful"; and Carolee Carmello, a Leonia resident who received her nomination for best actress for the musical "Scandalous."

Neil Patrick Harris was back for his fourth turn as emcee and led a show featuring talented children and pulse-pounding musical numbers.

The big opening number started with Harris simply holding a guitar in a pub like "Once" but quickly morphed into a flashy razzle- dazzle number that showcased performers from almost a dozen musicals -- and even ex-boxer Mike Tyson dancing. Harris sang "It's bigger! Tonight it's bigger," jumped through a hoop, vanished from a box and promised a "truly legendary show" before glitter guns went off.

This article contains material from The Associated Press.

Sidebar:

Winners at Sunday night's 2013 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards:

Play: "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."

Musical: "Kinky Boots."

Book of a musical: Dennis Kelly, "Matilda The Musical."

Original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theatre: Cindi Lauper, "Kinky Boots."

Revival of a play: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Revival of a musical: "Pippin."

Performance by an actor in a leading role in a play: Tracy Letts, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Performance by an actress in leading role in a play: Cicely Tyson, "The Trip to Bountiful."

Performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical: Billy Porter, "Kinky Boots."

Performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical: Patina Miller, "Pippin."

Performance by an actor in a featured role in a play: Courtney B. Vance, "Lucky Guy."

Performance by an actress in a featured role in a play: Judith Light, "The Assembled Parties."

Performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical: Gabriel Ebert, "Matilda The Musical."

Performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical: Andrea Martin, "Pippin."

Scenic design of a play: John Lee Beatty, "The Nance."

Scenic design of a musical: Rob Howell, "Matilda The Musical."

Costume design of a play: Ann Roth, "The Nance."

Costume design of a musical: William Ivey Long, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella."

Lighting design of a play: Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, "Lucky Guy."

Lighting design of a musical: Hugh Vanstone, "Matilda The Musical."

Sound design of a play: Leon Rothenberg, "The Nance."

Sound design of a musical: John Shivers, "Kinky Boots."

Direction of a play: Pam MacKinnon, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Direction of a musical: Diane Paulus, "Pippin."

Choreography: Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots."

Orchestrations: Stephen Oremus, "Kinky Boots."

Originally published by This article contains material from The Associated Press..

(c) 2013 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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