2011 Tony Awards Wrap Up

The 2011 Tony Awards were handed out last night! It was a great, entertaining broadcast celebrating a terrific year in theatre. All of the winners are deserving of their Tony, with one exception, which I'll note below.
From greeting us by telling us the theatre is not just for gays anymore to ending with an exhilarating rap (excerpted at the end of this post), Neil Patrick Harris proved once again he is a masterful master of ceremonies.

Congratulations to all - not just the winners but all the actors, technicians, designers, directors, composers, writers, et al., who expressed themselves this year. The theatre is alive and well, and I thank Thespis for it every single day!
Without any further ado, the winners, starred and in bold (and my commentary!)

(Note: If I've seen the show, I've linked to my review at its first mention.)

The Musicals:

Best Musical
This was pretty much a no brainer. Although, I did think Chris Rock's intro to the award was inappropriate. Not the bit about the hookers, but the sentiment that this was a foregone conclusion. It was, but I think it was rather rude to say that. Regardless, The Book of Mormon absolutely deserved this award. As I said in my review, we have a hit, ladies and gentlemen!

Best Musical Revival
Yay! We all kind of knew this was going to happen, but until the winner was announced, I was still crossing my fingers. Todd Haimes, the artistic director at Roundabout, has announced that the show will extend even further than previously announced and that a fall tour is in the works.

Leading Actor in a Musical
  • Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me*
  • Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
  • Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
  • Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
I'm really happy for Norbie. As you may recall from my nomination debriefing, I strongly believe that Aaron Tveit should have been nominated in this category. But, all five nominees are deserving of the honor and it was nice to watch Butz pick up his second Tony.

Leading Actress in a Musical
Duh! This was barely a competition. Sorry, that's rude of me to say. Yet, when you watch Sutton do her thing, can you even conceive of someone else winning? My younger cousin sent me a text after the Anything Goes performance and said, "She's incredible - omgosh!!!" Agreed!

Featured Actor in a Musical
  • Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Adam Godley, Anything Goes
  • John Larroquette, How to Succeed*
  • Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon
Boo!!!!! Hiss!!!! For shame! This is reprehensible. Not only should Larroquette not have won, he shouldn't even have been nominated, especially not over talents like Tom Wopat or Joel Grey. Rory should have won this. Frankly, of the five nominees, if any of them except Larroquette had won I would have thought it was deserved. But this? Yuck. Oh well. The lack of a Tony doesn't mean Rory, Colman, Adam or Forrest don't do a phenomenal job. It just means that the voters wanted to give an award to a TV star.

Featured Actress in a Musical
  • Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed
  • Victoria Clark, Sister Act
  • Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon*
  • Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Yay!!!! I'm so happy about this award. Most prognosticators thought Benanti would win. And while she was terrific in Women on the Verge, I was rooting for James. I'm thrilled for her. Plus, she gave a fantastic, passionate speech, noting that bumble bees fly because no one ever told them they couldn't. James then thanked her mom for never telling her she couldn't and look what happened. Congratulations, Nikki!

  • Rob Ashford, How to Succeed
  • Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes*
  • Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
  • Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Yup, this was the right call. The choreography in Anything Goes is stupendous. While all the other nominees are good, this is great.

  • The Book of Mormon, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone*
  • The Scottsboro Boys, Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
  • Sister Act, Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Glenn Slater
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek


  • Doug Besterman, How to Succeed
  • Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon*
  • Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank, Catch Me

  • Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon*
  • David Thompson, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane, Sister Act
I really wanted Alex Timbers to win, though I knew it wouldn't happen. The Book of Mormon does have an excellent book, so there are no hard feelings. I'm actually glad that the book of a traditional book musical was so deservedly recognized.

  • Rob Ashford, How to Succeed
  • Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
  • Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon*
  • Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Excellent choice. (And here's a reminder about this category: From a musical theatre history perspective, this is interesting: All the directors (except for Trey Parker) are director/choreographers, like the pioneer Agnes DeMille (Oklahoma!).)

Lighting Design

  • Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Howell Binkley, How to Succeed
  • Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
  • Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon*
I actually think The Scottsboro Boys gave Mormon a run for its money in this category, but it was Mormon's night.

Scenic Design

  • Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Derek McLane, Anything Goes
  • Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon*
  • Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Like the award for best book, I wanted Bloody Bloody to win this. I love the way Werle's design completely enveloped you the moment you walked in, and how she was able to make a Broadway house feel intimate.

Costume Design

  • Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla*
  • Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
  • Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
  • Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed
I was concerned that Mormon might win this category, you know, with them being on a roll and all, but instead, the visually extraordinary design for Priscilla was rightly honored.

Sound Design

  • Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me
  • Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
  • Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon*

The Plays:

Best Play
I really enjoyed War Horse, but I wanted Jerusalem to win. As Time Out NY's David Cote has pointed out, if you take the visuals away from War Horse, the play is a little skeletal. Jerusalem and Good People are much meatier. So should this award be given based on the script or the production? I think it's interesting that for best new play, the playwright is listed. For best play revival, s/he is not. It doesn't say, Arcadia, written by Tom Stoppard. It just says, Arcadia. This suggests to me that for new play, the writing is meant to be honored whereas for a revival, the production is meant to be honored. What do you think?

Best Play Revival
Woohoo! While I loved Arcadia and thoroughly enjoyed Earnest, I'm very, very excited about this win. This play is every bit of its time (the 80s) as it of now. As producer Daryl Roth noted in her acceptance speech, equal rights are still being fought for, and that makes this play demand our attention more than ever.

Leading Actor in a Play
  • Brian Bedford, Earnest
  • Bobby Cannavale, ...the Hat
  • Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
  • Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
  • Mark Rylance, Jerusalem*
Yes!!! I like to think of this as an award not just for his performance in Jerusalem but also in La Bete. Rylance is a phenomenal actor and though awards seem to be of no concern to him, he so richly deserves this honor. Plus, it gave him another opportunity to recite a poem on air!

Leading Actress in a Play
  • Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
  • Frances McDormand, Good People*
  • Lily Rabe, Merchant
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
  • Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter
McDormand gave a fierce performance in Good People. She certainly deserves this award. But honey, take off the jean jacket! It was clear from her body language that she is uncomfortable with the attention on her when she's not in character. That's fine. But a sun dress? With a jean jacket over it? No, no. Have a little respect for the institution instead of looking like you belong in one.

Featured Actor in a Play
  • Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
  • Billy Crudup, Arcadia
  • John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart*
  • Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger
  • Yul Vazquez, ...the Hat
Absolutely deserved. All the nominees (except Vazquez) gave terrific performances. I would have been thrilled if Moayed won this, but I'm equally tickled that Hickey pick up the Tony.

Featured Actress in a Play
I loved what Barkin said in her acceptance speech: "This play teaches us that one person can make a difference. Larry Kramer picked up his most potent weapon - his pen - and he wrote a play." (I may be paraphrasing.) Indeed, this play proves the power of the theatre and proves you can make a difference without bombs.

  • Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse*
  • Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
  • Anna D. Shapiro, ...the Hat
  • Daniel Sullivan, Merchant
I have to say, as much as The Normal Heart is exceptional, due in no small part to Grey and Wolfe, I think it was Elliott and Morris's vision as directors that make War Horse work. I think all the other plays in other hands have high potential for success. I think War Horse in other hands has high potential for disaster.

Lighting Design
  • Paule Constable, War Horse*
  • David Lander, Bengal Tiger
  • Kenneth Posner, Merchant
  • Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem
I was hoping Jerusalem or Bengal Tiger would take home this award, but I did love the way the lighting design created intense shadows in War Horse. The lighting helped to tell the story.

Scenic Design

  • Todd Rosenthal, ...the Hat
  • Rae Smith, War Horse*
  • Ultz, Jerusalem
  • Mark Wendland, Merchant
I feel strongly that Jerusalem should have won this award, but it seems it was War Horse's night.

Costume Design

  • Jess Goldstein, Merchant
  • Desmond Heeley, Earnest*
  • Mark Thompson, La Bete
  • Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday
Sound Design
  • Acme Sound Partners and Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger
  • Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
  • Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
  • Christopher Shutt, War Horse*

And there you have it, dear readers, the 2011 Tony Awards. It was a great season and I'm so glad we got to celebrate it last night. And now I leave you with some of Neil Patrick Harris's closing rap and some words of wisdom from a 2007 Tony winner.

"And in the final analysis what survives tonight? Theatre, because it's what we live. We changin' some lives tonight and theatre thrives because we live to give it, so to speak. This ain't reality TV, this is eight shows a week. Every chorus member that you saw tonight tappin' had to make miracles happen for a chance to see you clappin' and applaudin' in the audience. What's next? Who knows! Anything goes! Now go see a motherf**king Broadway show!"
-Neil Patrick Harris

"Theatre award season is over! May we all continue to run our shows with commitment and passion 8 times a week."


  1. I greatly appreciated your Tony Awards summary as I, unfortunately, was not able to watch the Tonys this year. I am devastated, though, that Bloody Bloody did not win. I think I may have crossed the line into obsession with the amount I listen to its soundtrack.


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