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Triumphs for Women and British Plays in the 2015 Tony Awards

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Though they supplied banter and a couple of odd gags here and there, hosts Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth were not really the stars of this year’s Tonys. While previous hosts like Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman have used the platform as an opportunity to show off their song-and-dance chops, Cumming and Chenoweth, perhaps because they are such practiced Broadway veterans, mostly filled the breaks in between numerous performances (some of which, from non-nominated musicals seemed unnecessary) with non-sequiturs. The most random of them all? Chenoweth emerging in an E.T. costume, seemingly having mistaken Fun Home for “phone home.”

Cumming and Chenoweth’s mostly unobtrusive hosting duties meant that the focal point of the evening landed on the shows and performers being honored, and Fun Home was the most triumphant. The show, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about her lesbian identity and her closeted father’s suicide, won the Best Musical prize, and its leading man Michael Cerveris won in his category. Fun Home‘s success in the musical categories also meant a history-making moment for women at these awards as Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s win in the Best Original Score category was the first for an writing team made up solely of women. CBS didn’t air their speech in its entirety, but Tesori spoke about realizing that a “career in music was available to women” and described that as her own “‘Ring of Keys’ moment,” referencing the Fun Home song that was performed on the telecast by the young nominee Sydney Lucas. The song, she said, “is not a song of love it’s a song of identification, because for girls you have to see it to be it.”

In another exciting moment for women during the show, Marianne Elliott won Best Direction of a Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which dominated the play categories. Elliott, who has won previously for co-directing War Horse, said backstage, according to The Hollywood Reporter: “When I was growing up, I didn’t know any female directors, I assumed you had to be a man… It’s getting better in Britain now, but its still quite unusual. But I feel pretty good about it.”

Speaking of Britain, it was a good night for plays that, like Curious Incident, originated in the U.K.: Skylight took home the revival award, and Helen Mirren and Richard McCabe both won trophies (leading actress and featured actor, respectively) for their performances as the Queen and one of her prime ministers in The Audience. (The two also both won Olivier Awards in 2013.) It’s worth noting, however, that recent Juilliard-grad Alex Sharp, who won for best leading actor in a play, was new to Curious Incident for its Broadway run.

Perhaps the most joyful moment of the evening came when Kelli O’Hara, the beloved performer who had never won a Tony despite many nominations, finally got hers for her work in The King and I. O’Hara’s win was met by a standing ovation. She also gave the show its most GIF-able moment, as she announced, “I’m going to do the worm,” and danced off stage.

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