British actors Helen Mirren and Richard McCabe were early winners at the 69th Tony Awards on Sunday night amid high expectations for UK artists.
Mirren won her first Tony Award, for Leading Actress, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's The Audience. McCabe won his for Featured Actor for his performance in the same play, as the late Harold Wilson.
“Given that nobody here has heard of the British Prime Minster I play, I am very pleased,” said McCabe. “I think Harold Wilson would be tickled.”
Mirren beat Geneva Carr in Hand to God, Elisabeth Moss from The Heidi Chronicles, Carey Mulligan in Skylight and Ruth Wilson of Constellations.
The event in New York was hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cummin. The show opened with them singing a medley of standards, zoomed through the season's musicals and was due to end three hours later with the current cast of Jersey Boys singing Oh, What a Night.
The event at Radio City Music Hall was due to feature appearances by Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Jim Parsons, Amanda Seyfried, Kiefer Sutherland, Bryan Cranston, Sutton Foster, Jennifer Nettles, Taye Diggs and Ashley Tisdale, the Associated Press said.
Reports said that during the three hour event Josh Groban was to lead an “In Memoriam” section when he was to sing 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.
In all, there were scheduled to be 11 musical performances and 24 competitive Tonys were to be handed out, some tucked in during commercial breaks. The best play nominees were being showcased in video clips.
Producers said in advance that they were hoping to beat last year's average of 7.02m viewers. But as happened last year, the Tonys were having 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 $1.36bn — up from $1.27 bn from the previous season.
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