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Audra McDonald makes Tony history, Cranston wins acting prize


(Reuters) - Actress Audra McDonald made Broadway history on Sunday, winning her sixth Tony as Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" and Bryan Cranston and Neil Patrick Harris nabbed the top acting prizes at the 68th annual Tony Awards.

"A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder," took home the top musical prize and Jessie Mueller was named best actress for her starring role in "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical".

McDonald, with her best actress prize in a play, became the only woman to win a Tony in all four acting categories. She also tied with the late actress Julie Harris, who had six wins, including a special lifetime achievement award.

With tears streaming down her face, a trembling McDonald acknowledged her parents, family and the women who came before her.

"I want to thank all the shoulders of the strong and brave and courageous women that I am standing on," she said. "And most of all Billie Holiday. You deserve so much more than you were given when you were on this earth."

With four awards including Darko Tresnjak's statuette for best director, the musical satire "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" tied with "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" with the most Tonys.

Cranston had been a favorite to win in his Broadway debut as U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in "All the Way," Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's acclaimed play.

"When you can effect emotional change in the audience it's like a powerful drug. It's as strong as blue crystal meth," he said, referring to his Emmy-winning role as a teacher turned ruthless drug kingpin in TV's "Breaking Bad".

Harris was also a main contender for lead actor in a musical as the transgender rock star in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". Lena Hall nabbed her first Tony for her supporting role in the production, which was also named best musical revival.

"Playing Hedwig is an absolute joy.It was a role I was terrified of, in taking it on. It has changed me and challenged me," he said.

Award-winning actor Hugh Jackman hosted the ceremony at Radio City Music Hall for the fourth time. The show included performances by Tony nominee Idina Menzel, music legend Gladys Knight and rock star Sting, who performed a song from his upcoming Broadway debut musical "The Last Ship".

British actor Mark Rylance took home his third Tony, winning for featured actor in a play as the Countess Olivia in the all-male Shakespeare Globe production of "Twelfth Night".

"We would very much like to come back (to Broadway) with some more Shakespeare and we are talking about it but we haven't settled what it will be," said Rylance, who praised the late blacklisted American actor Sam Wanamaker, the force behind the recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

A flustered and surprised Sophie Okonedo accepted the featured actress prize in her Broadway debut, as Denzel Washington's wife, in the revival of "A Raisin in the Sun".

Lorraine Hansberry's acclaimed 1959 work also won the Tony for best revival of a play, and the best directing prize for Kenny Leon.

"That was shocking and stunning, surprising. But I thought the production was well deserving of a Tony Award," Leon said backstage.

James Monroe Iglehart, who plays the larger-than-life genie in "Aladdin," jumped up and shouted to loud audience applause after winning the featured actor prize in a musical.

The Tony Awards are presented by the theater industry association, The Broadway League, and the American Theatre Wing, a not-for-profit organization.

Join the discussion

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ohbeamer June 09 2014 at 6:54 AM

ahhh shmuck schmidt do yourself a favor and let it go. Im a 62 yr old woman and I knew with out a doubt there was going to be a lot of gay PDA on last nights show. But what I saw instead had nothing to do with gay. These people were just the most talented, loving, fun loving people and I enjoyed every minute of the show. Unlike the Hollywood shows that have nothing to do with talent, the back stabbing glaring selfishness, these people were so genuinely happy for each other and it was just a really feel good happy show. You should have watched! You wouldnt be so damned grabby. It was just great and I cant wait to get back to New York to see these shows, I cant decide which one looked the best. Really great!

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4 replies
mannewman2 June 09 2014 at 8:28 AM

Not homophobic but still have a problem of public male kissing and a guy calling another guy his husband.

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19 replies
Madeline Wallace June 09 2014 at 6:54 AM

I think Hugh Jackman was terrific....too bad he did not receive a Tony just for hosting in such a spectacular way.

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5 replies
Billy Rogers June 09 2014 at 6:17 AM

Congratulations to all the Winners, but a special shout-out to Mr. Neil Patrick Harris. You Go, Boy!

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8 replies
CUSACitizen June 09 2014 at 9:04 AM

Our morally declining society honoring the decadent and depraved... where will we end?

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15 replies
hellboy06660 June 09 2014 at 6:56 AM

Well Chuck .. hate to break the news but without homosexuals
.. Broadway would not quite be the same Broadway that you would seem to love .. comes with territory .. so I guess it's OK as long as you don't have watch people thanking the people they love for being part of their lives.

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3 replies
prentissgarner June 09 2014 at 6:27 AM

This was a wonderful production--very entertaining and very well done. Hugh Jackson was at his best!

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1 reply
storsie689 prentissgarner June 09 2014 at 7:38 AM

This by far is the best and most entertaing Awards show, it moves and is mostly New York people or Stage people, they know what to do live on a stage, accept, Clint Eastwood, they could have cut him, the old fool:(

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4 replies
autounionbailout June 09 2014 at 12:33 PM

JERRY SANDUSKY AND MICHAEL JACKSON MUST BE VERY PROUD OF NEIL PATRICK HARRIS

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5 replies
stillwill2 June 09 2014 at 9:14 AM

The best part of the whole show was the opening with the great Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, Fantasia , and that spectacular performance from the cast of After Midnight; now that's a show i would go to see.

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2 replies
Jerry or Shelly stillwill2 June 09 2014 at 1:39 PM

I could of sworn that I saw more of Fantasia's breast (was I imagining nipple?) then usually allowed by the censor. Anyway, great pipes by all 3.

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zenhappyzen stillwill2 June 09 2014 at 2:08 PM

Patti too heavy she's off her diabetic diet sorry to say. Fantasia great voice but she still looks getto,Gladys looked too thin and drawn in the face.

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1 reply
jelun zenhappyzen June 09 2014 at 8:47 PM

Still not getting paid for those wonderful opinions, eh?

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johnnysul64 June 09 2014 at 9:04 AM

There was no need for laxative commercials on this show.....

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2 replies
thundt1775 johnnysul64 June 09 2014 at 9:33 AM

LOL

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3 replies
johnnysul64 johnnysul64 June 09 2014 at 4:35 PM

davenbill are come from behind guys I assume?

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1 reply
thundt1775 johnnysul64 June 09 2014 at 6:19 PM

LOL

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