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Letts wins a Tony Award for Best Actor ; 1-30-4 Tonys 0610 headline jump to D2

June 10, 2013

YellowBrix

By JAMES D WATTS JR

Tulsa native Tracy Letts won the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Play at Sunday's award ceremony, becoming only the third person to win Tony Awards in two categories.

And "Pippin," which includes Tulsa's Square 1 Theatrics among its pantheon of producers, took home four awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Larry Payton, founder of Tulsa's Celebrity Attractions, was among the theatrical dignitaries honored during the awards show's "In Memoriam" segment.

Letts, who won the 2008 Tony for Best Play for his "August: Osage County," was honored for his performance as George in the 50th anniversary production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" The production also won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play and for director Pam McKinnon.

"This is for my mom and dad," Letts said, referring to novelist Billie Letts and the late Dennis Letts, who was part of the Broadway cast of "August: Osage County." "They encouraged a love of the arts and an appreciation for the written word that has enriched my life beyond measure."

Letts also acknowledged his fellow nominees, which included Tom Hanks, Nathan Lane, David Hyde Pierce and Tom Sturridge, saying, "You are not my competition. You are my peers and I am proud to be in your company."

He also recognized his "Woolf" co-stars, Amy Morton, Carrie Coon and "the criminally undersung Madison Dirks." Dirks was the only cast member not nominated for a Tony.

Letts also said he shared the award "with all the actors in this theater and in storefronts, who do this crazy, frustrating job."

The re-imagined "Pippin," which set composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz's fable in a circus world, earned awards for Patina Miller, who won Best Actress for her role as The Leading Player, for Andrea Martin, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and Diane Paulus, for Best Director of a Musical.

"Kinky Boots," about a shoe factory that finds success when it begins making outrageous footwear for drag queens, was the big winner of the evening, earning six Tonys including Best Musical, for pop star Cyndi Lauper's score and lyrics, and for leading actor Billy Porter.

Cecily Tyson won the Best Actress in a Play award for her performance as Carrie Watts in Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful." It was the first Tony Award for the 79-year-old actress.

Tyson dedicated the win to her mother, father, brother and sister, saying, "I am the sole surviving member of my immediate family. And I ask why. This is why."

She added that it had been 30 years since she had last stood on stage, yet she had "a burning desire to do just one more great role. I didn't want to be greedy - I just wanted one more. And it came to me with no effort on my part."

The Best Play award went to Christopher Durang for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," a modern send-up of Chekhovian themes and characters. It was the only award the show won out of six nominations.

"I wrote my first play when I was in the second grade, in 1958, so it's been a long road to here," Durang said. "Also, my mother died when I was 30, and I feel she would want to thank you, too."

The British import "Matilda: The Musical," which at one point was considered a shoo-in for Best Musical, earned four awards, including Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Gabriel Ebert and Best Book of a Musical for writer Dennis Kelly.

Kelly said that when he began working on the show, "I didn't know how to write a musical, so this award is a ringing endorsement for ignorance and stupidity."

Two actors best known for their work on television won the award for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Play. Courtney B. Vance took the award for "Lucky Guy," while Judith Light won her second consecutive Tony Award for "The Assembled Parties."

Neil Patrick Harris served as host for the fourth year, performing an opening number that satirized everything from Mike Tyson's one-man show to the pint-sized casts of such musicals as "Annie," "A Christmas Story" and "Matilda" that made this year's Broadway season seem like "Chuck E. Cheese's."

He also led fellow actors Andrew Rannells, Megan Hilty and Laura Benanti in a rant against the lure of Hollywood and television, and engaged in what almost turned into a make-out scene with the dog who plays Sandy in the Broadway production of "Annie."

But maybe his best line of the evening was in the opening number, when Harris lampooned the film version of "Les Miserables."

"We don't need extreme close ups to prove we're singing live," Harris said. "We sing live eight shows a week."

The evening also included a tribute to "The Phantom of the Opera," which marked in 25th anniversary this year. Producer Harold Prince read off a number of statistics from the run, including the fact that the musical has played to 150 million people in 29 countries, in 13 languages. But the statistic that pleased him the most, he said, was that "Phantom" employs 28 instrumentalists in its pit, "the largest orchestra on Broadway." Top 2013 Tony Awards winners

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

Best Musical: "Kinky Boots."

Best Book of a Musical: "Matilda the Musical."

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: "Kinky Boots."

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

Best Revival of a Musical: "Pippin."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Tracy Letts, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Cicely Tyson, "The Trip to Bountiful."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Billy Porter, "Kinky Boots."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Patina Miller, "Pippin."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Courtney B. Vance, "Lucky Guy."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Judith Light, "The Assembled Parties."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Gabriel Ebert, "Matilda the Musical."

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Andrea Martin, "Pippin."

James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478

james.watts@tulsaworld.com

Originally published by JAMES D. WATTS JR World Scene Writer.

(c) 2013 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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