Helen Mirren, 'Fun Home' composers are early Tony winners

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming kicked off the Tony Awards on Sunday night with a low-key medley of jokes and songs that displayed their playful, daffy chemistry. The first big award of the night went to Helen Mirren in a familiar role, and history was made during a commercial.

Mirren won her first Tony for playing a sly and polished Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's "The Audience." The "Prime Suspect" star already played the queen in the movie "The Queen."

During a commercial break, "Fun Home" songwriters Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron became the first female writing team to nab a Tony for musical score.

Chenoweth and Cumming, he dressed in shorts and a suit and she in black tuxedo jacket mini dress, sang snippets from "It Takes Two," ''There's Nothing Like a Dame" and "Willkommen" from "Cabaret," in which Cumming recently finished a year on Broadway.

"This is the last time I'll ever sing this song," he crooned. She replied: "'Till a revival paycheck comes along."

She, in turn, laughed that one of her first shows, "Wicked," was still going strong, and they both gently mocked film and stage producer Harvey Weinstein, whose show "Finding Neverland" earned no nominations but who sat in one of the front seats.

The telecast on CBS at Radio City Music Hall will feature appearances by Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Jim Parsons, Amanda Seyfried, Kiefer Sutherland, Bryan Cranston, Sutton Foster, Jennifer Nettles, Taye Diggs and Ashley Tisdale, among many others.

Before the telecast, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" won for best lighting design of a play, while "An American in Paris" won the best lighting award for a musical. Tommy Tine also accepted his special Tony with a high-kick step.

Josh Groban will lead a moving "In Memoriam" section when he sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel," backed by the casts of all the shows appearing on the telecast, some 175 people.

For the record, there will be 11 musical performances and 24 competitive Tonys will be handed out, some tucked in during commercial breaks. The best play nominees will be showcased in video clips.

The nominated musicals "On the Twentieth Century," ''Something Rotten!" ''The Visit," ''The King and I," ''On the Town," ''Fun Home" and "An American in Paris" will have songs performed. A few other non-nominated shows, including like Vanessa Hudgens' "Gigi" and Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer with "Finding Neverland," also will get spots. The cast of "Jersey Boys" will end the show with "Oh What a Night."

Producers are hoping to beat last year's average of 7.02 million viewers. But as happened last year, the Tonys will have to compete against Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which starts at the same time.

A total of 37 shows opened during the season and box offices reported a record total gross of $1.36 billion — up from $1.27 billion from the previous season.


Online: http://www.tonyawards.com