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Update, 11:20: And here are the tallies: Most Tony Awards for a musical: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder (four, including best musical) and Hedwig And The Angry Inch (including best musical revival). For a play: A Raisin in The Sun (including best revival of a play). The night’s biggest losers: Bullets Over Broadway (six nominations, no awards); The Cripple of Inishmaan (six nominations, no awards) Les Miserables (three nominations, no awards).
Update, 10:54: Jessie Mueller wins for Best Actress in a Musical for Beautiful, and we’re in the home stretch, folks.
Update, 10:43: Another non-suprise: The Tony for Best Musical Revival goes to Hedwig And The Angry Inch.
Update, 10:31: The real Carole King does an emotional pitch for Beautiful and Jessie Mueller performs Will You Love Me Tomorrow – the best number and the best moment from that show. Then CK joins her for a bluesy I Feel The Earth Move. And, no surprise, Neil Patrick Harris wins for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, for Hedwig.
Update, 10:00: Here’s Sting singing a number from his upcoming show, The Last Ship. A little earlier: Tony has always had trouble making the non-musicals look good on TV. This year’s solution was to have Kenneth Branagh, currently appearing in a spectacular production of Macbeth, introduce the authors of each nominated play, and then a brief montage of clips from their show. Not perfect, but very effective. Then Sutton Foster and the gospel-singing cast of the low-key Violet made a big sell for that terrific musical, sort of the anti-Aladdin.
Update, 9:50: All The Way wins Best Play, making it a huge night for producer Jeffrey Richards, also represented with Lady Day.
Update, 9:34: Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony, for Best Performance By A Leading Actress in a Play for her knockout performance as Billie Holliday in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill. And, no surprise, Bryan Cranston takes Best Leading Actor in a Play for All The Way. And here is Neil Patrick Harris, introduced by no less than RuPaul in iridescent pink, doing a big number from Hedwig. Uh-oh — is Sting really grimacing when NPH bounces on his knee?
Update, 9:15: Sophie Okonedo wins for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her wonderful performance in A Raisin in The Sun, the show’s second win and the night’s best acceptance speech so far, when she thanked producer Scott Rudin for believing that “a Jewish Nigerian Brit could come over the pond and play one of the American theater’s iconic roles.”
Update, 5:50: Clint Eastwood, even hairier than Hugh, announces Best Director of a Musical, which goes to Darko Tresnjak, giving A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder its first Tony. Then Best Director of a Play, which goes to Kenny Leon, for A Raisin in The Sun. Leon says: “Denzel, Denzel, Denzel.”
Update, 5:30: The Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical goes to Lena Hall, of Hedwig And The Angry Inch. Hugely emotional thank yous, crying, excitement, great! Her sister did her hair!
Update, 5:25: Well, Hugh opened the show with a few soft barbs at the audience least likely to be watching, saluting the cross-dressing straight men of Best Play nominee Casa Valentina, whose tribulations he compared to the difference between “people who are against same-sex marriage and people who mind their own business.”
The show swung to a start with a long number from Musical nominee After Midnight, launching with Fantasia, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle singing On The Sunny Side Of The Street. A few minutes later, Les Miz got a spot that was almost unlistenable.
Update, 5:16: Welcome to the 68th Annual Tony Awards, being broadcast live by CBS from New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
Mark Rylance won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as a Countess in Twelfth Night. In his speech, rather than the weird poems of his wins past, Rylance saluted the late American actor Sam Wannamaker for raising the funds for Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which brought the all-male production to Broadway last fall.
The show started outside the hall, with heavily hirsute Hugh Jackman doffing his dinner jacket and hopping through the stage door and backstage past the casts of Bullets Over Broadway, to a relaxed Sting with guitar, jumped rope with Rocky, danced with the harem girls from Aladdin, got into an elevator with a similarly attired Neil Patrick Harris and a fake-grim-looking Clint Eastwood (whose film of mega-hit Jersey Boys is about to open).