"A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder," the musical with no marquee names or obvious marketing hook, won big at the
"All the Way," Robert Schenkkan's three-hour drama about the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, won for best play, demonstrating that audiences can be persuaded to sit through what they slept through in high school social studies if the right actor is in the driver's seat.
The awards telecast, hosted by a game if not always well-deployed
Whether "Gentleman's Guide," which passed through San Diego's Old Globe before arriving on Broadway and claiming the best musical prize, will be able to translate its success on the road is another story. This is a crumpet of a show — cinnamon-y on the outside, a little dry in the middle — in an age in which producers too often feel that they have to sell gooey chain store doughnuts.
Originality wasn't Broadway's strong suit this season. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," which won for best musical revival, featured the season's strongest score, and "A Raisin in the Sun," which won for best play revival, represented the most urgent dramatic vision.
Following suit, the best speeches came from actors in revivals:
Hard as it may be to believe, "Gentleman's Guide" — based on a novel by Roy Horniman that was turned into the 1949 movie
But the creative risk-taking behind "Gentleman's Guide" was rewarded with two other big prizes: former Old Globe artistic director Darko Tresnjak won for his direction and Robert L. Freedman got the nod for his book.
"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" may have been a more emotionally involving show, and though it lost the musical race, it won for lead actress (Jessie Mueller) — which makes sense given that her performance humanized an offering targeted to baby boomers of a more sensitive stripe. (Yes, the jukebox musical appears to be finally growing up.) What's more, "Beautiful" is already a box office juggernaut and doesn't need the top prize to sell tickets when it tours.
This year the Tonys probably should have invented a cross-dressing category to give those in straight duds a fighting chance. In addition to Rylance, whose performance is the one I'll treasure most from this season,
By winning a record sixth competitive Tony,
Kenny Leon, who won for his expert direction of "A Raisin in the Sun," took a moment in his speech to thank theaters across the country (with a special shout out to LATC) that are cultivating tomorrow's talent and bringing live performance to Americans everywhere.