"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" won the Tony for new musical, providing a happy ending to the macabre comedy that had already crisscrossed the country before landing last fall on Broadway.
The musical, which ran last year at San Diego's Old Globe and the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, took home a total of four awards, including wins for director, book of a musical and costume design.
The evening's largesse was spread out fairly evenly, with "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" also taking four awards and "A Raisin in the Sun" three. The productions won awards for revival of a musical and play, respectively.
"All the Way," a historical drama about Lyndon B. Johnson, won awards for new play and for Bryan Cranston's lead performance.
Another big winner of the evening was Audra McDonald, who won her sixth Tony for her performance as Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill."
Hugh Jackman concluded the awards show, which went into overtime by several minutes, with a group rendition of the song "On Broadway," featuring the evening's winners gathered together onstage.
The 68th Tony Awards took place on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall in New York. See below for a recap of more of Broadway's big night.
8:05 p.m.: How many hip-hop fans can also count themselves as theater buffs?
LL Cool J and rapper T.I., who probably don't fit neatly with the Tonys' key viewer demographic, presented a hip-hop version of the opening number from the musical "The Music Man," with Hugh Jackman joining in for good measure.
What was the purpose of this revisionist trio? Perhaps it had something to do with the new Tupac-inspired musical, "Holler If Ya Hear Me," which opens later this month at New York's Palace Theatre.
Jessie Mueller and Neil Patrick Harris took home lead acting awards in the musical categories for "Beautiful -- the Carole King Musical" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," respectively. It was the first Tony wins for both actors.
7:12 p.m.: Who are Neil Patrick Harris' sugar daddies?
The versatile actor brought a surge of unconventional sexual energy to the Tonys with his rendition of the song "Sugar Daddy" from the musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Clad in his transsexual character's blond tresses and rocker outfit, Harris took to the audience to humorously serenade some prominent male performers.
His "sugar daddies" included Samuel L. Jackson, who looked equally stunned and amused when Harris/Hedwig licked his glasses; Sting, who seemed to enjoy Harris' rock vibes; and Kevin Bacon, whose lap served as Hedwig's crash pad.
Sting later took to the stage to perform a song from his coming stage musical, "The Last Ship," which is scheduled to open in Chicago this month, followed by a planned Broadway run starting in September.
6:50 p.m.: Audra McDonald and Bryan Cranston took home Tony Awards for their lead performances in the plays "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" and "All the Way," respectively. The win marks McDonald's sixth Tony, a record for any actress on Broadway. (The late Julie Harris was also the recipient of six Tonys, but one was an honorary award.)
McDonald, who plays singer Billie Holiday, received an enthusiastic ovation from the audience at Radio City Music Hall. She delivered an emotional acceptance speech, much of it on the verge of tears, in which she thanked her extended family and her artistic influences, including Holiday.
Cranston took a more humorous angle to the art of the acceptance speech, recounting that his first Broadway experience was sneaking into the second act of the musical "Hair."
"To this day, I still haven't seen the first act," he said.
This is the first Tony win for the "Breaking Bad" actor, who is playing President Lyndon B. Johnson in the historical drama by playwright Robert Schenkkan.
6:37 p.m.: As the Tonys ceremony entered its second hour, the acting awards started to accrue, with prizes going to Sophie Okonedo for "A Raisin in the Sun," James Monroe Iglehart for the Disney musical "Aladdin" and Lena Hall for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
Okonedo, a previous Oscar nominee for the 2004 movie "Hotel Rwanda," thanked the cast and crew of the play and singled out producer Scott Rudin for choosing a Jewish British actress of Nigerian descent to play the very American role of Ruth Younger. She beat out costar Anika Noni Rose, a Tony winner for the 2004 musical "Caroline, or Change." Iglehart, who plays the jinni in "Aladdin," concluded his effusive speech with a brief solo dance.
Among the craft and technical awards handed out during commercial breaks was one for "Twelfth Night," for costume design in a play. That win meant yet another loss for Jane Greenwood, who has received 16 Tony nominations for costume design, and who was nominated this year for the play "Act One." But Greenwood is taking home a special Tony tonight for career achievement.
6:03 p.m.: Actor Jonathan Groff poked fun at John Travolta's Oscar gaffe when he introduced Idina Menzel -- not Adele Dazeem -- who performed a song from the Tony-nominated musical "If/Then." Groff paid mocking tribute to Travolta by introducing Menzel as " 'Wicked'-ly talented"; but unlike Travolta, he pronounced Menzel's name correctly.
Somewhat less elegant in his presenting duties, Clint Eastwood stumbled and mumbled his way though the directing awards, which went to Darko Tresnjak for "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" and Kenny Leon for "A Raisin in the Sun." Eastwood was nominally present at the Tonys to plug his upcoming movie version of the musical "Jersey Boys," which opens nationwide June 20. The Oscar-winning director appeared to be in good humor and managed to be marginally more coherent than he was two years ago in his bizarre speech at the National Republican Convention, during which he addressed an empty chair.
5:40 p.m.: A bouncing Hugh Jackman kicked off the Tony Awards by hopping his way through the backstage labyrinth of Radio City Music Hall, traveling past the ensemble casts of some of the evening's nominated shows. (Jackman's bouncing was a rather obscure reference to the 1953 movie "Small Town Girl," a clip from which flashed briefly in the background.)
The actor also had an elevator encounter with previous Tony host Neil Patrick Harris, nominated this year for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." The two exchanged awkward chit-chat before Jackman bounced his way to the stage.
The first acting award of the evening went to Mark Rylance for Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." The British actor is a previous Tony winner who has extensively quoted Minnesota poet Louis Jenkins in previous acceptance speeches. This year, Rylance paid simple tribute to American actor-director Sam Wanamaker, who was blacklisted from Hollywood during the McCarthy era and moved to England, where he helped found Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London.
5:07 p.m.: The Tony Awards relegates many of the technical honors to off-air time, which is either an indignity to the artists and engineers being honored or an efficient time-saver/ratings-maximizer for CBS. Or both.
In any case, the first awards for the evening were announced before the official CBS telecast began. The honors included the musical "Rocky" for its scenic design -- a rotating boxing ring is one of the show's highlights; the play "Act One" for scenic design; "Beautiful -- the Carole King Musical" for sound design; the musical "The Bridges of Madison County" for orchestration; the play "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" for sound design.
5:01 p.m.: On the red carpet at the Tony Awards, the theater community collides, sometimes even smoothly, with other facets of the entertainment world.
Emmy and Golden Globe winner Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" arrived with his wife, Robin Dearden. The actor, who is up for an award for playing Lyndon B. Johnson in "All the Way," described how being nominated for a Tony is different than being nominated for -- and winning -- screen acting honors.
"When you're an actor, the first opportunity you have to work as an actor is usually onstage," he said. "So that kind of sets the tone and plants a seed in you of thinking, 'God, I wonder if one day I might... No.' Then you talk yourself out of it, and then you hope yourself into it, and then you talk yourself out of it. And here we are. It's possible, it's credible, and who knows? It would be a delight [to win]."
Although Kenny Leon's revival of "Raisin in the Sun" was up for awards in the directing, revival and two in lead actress in a play categories, the play’s director was still a bit miffed that the play's star Denzel Washington was overlooked this year.
"Denzel was snubbed," Leon said. "He has two Oscars and a Tony. Maybe things were just close and they slipped up. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. But it's about the work. One side of me knows, 'Ah, it's going to go to other people, but the competitive part of me -- of course, I want to win. I'm competitive."
Meanwhile, Rosie O'Donnell motored past a slew of reporters (save for one from Howard Stern), and Zach Braff talked up his "Bullets Over Broadway" co-star Nick Cordero.
Inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City, a series of colorful characters made the rounds -- it wouldn't be the Tonys if Richard Kind wasn't wandering through the lobby, seemingly deep in thought -- shortly before the show.
At 7 p.m. Eastern time, the Tonys' creative arts awards and lifetime achievement prizes began to be handed out.
O'Donnell was given the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her nonprofit organization that offers theater training and mentoring to children. As she took the stage, she said, "I was very thrilled when they called to tell me I was being given an honorary Tony, but the main question was: 'Did it look like a real Tony?' Because in 10 years, when people come to my house, I can say 'best featured actress in a musical; where the...have you been?"
She added, "This part will never be on TV. So I can curse; I can do whatever I want."
Veteran costume designer Jane Greenwood got in her own bons mots when accepting a special Tony for lifetime achievement in theater. "Young designers ask, 'How do you get you first Broadway show?'," said Greenwood, whose husband is Broadway mainstay Ben Edward. "And it's simple: 'Marry the producer.'"
Times staff writers Alana Semuels, Steve Zeitchik and Nardine Saad contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times