Helen Mirren, 'Fun Home' 'Curious Incident' Among Winners at 2015 Tony Awards

LOS ANGELES - Helen Mirren won the first major award of the 2015 Tony Awards, taking the trophy for leading actress in a play for her performance as the Queen of England in "The Audience." Given her Oscar-winning track record with the role, she'd...

LOS ANGELES -  Helen Mirren  won the first major award of the 2015 Tony Awards, taking the trophy for leading actress in a play for her performance as the Queen of England in " The Audience ." Given her  Oscar -winning track record with the role, she'd largely been considered a sure thing for the Tony. Soon thereafter, her co-star,  Richard McCabe , took the award for featured actor in a play.

"Fun Home," one of the frontrunners in the season's new musical race, took three major creative awards within the first hour of the telecast: score ( Jeanine Tesori  and  Lisa Kron ), book (Kron) and director ( Sam Gold ). Winning for book (in an untelevised award handed out during a commercial break), Kron gave a witty, heartfelt speech about "Fun Home" as the first steps to a more diverse Broadway. She described a recurring she dream she has about discovering and maze of rooms in her apartment that she'd never known were there.

"I've been thinking about that dream as I think about this amazing Broadway season," she said. "We've all been sitting in the same one or two rooms, and this season, the lights got turned on in a few other rooms. Wouldn't it be great if, after this season, we didn't all just go back into the living room?"

The other new musical frontrunner, " An American in Paris ," was no slouch with awards, either, but most of its early honors went untelevised, handed out either prior to broadcast or during commercial breaks. That show won for choreography ( Christopher Wheeldon ), lights ( Natasha Katz ), sets ( Bob Crowley  and 59 Prods.) and orchestrations ( Christopher AustinDon SebeskyBill Elliott ).

Among plays, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" -- a Tony favorite since it opened in the fall -- had bite, winning best play, director of a play ( Marianne Elliott ), sets (Bunny Christie and Finn Ross) and lighting (Paule Constable). " Skylight ," producer  Scott Rudin 's revival of the David Hare play, took the award for play revival.


"For me, producing plays in this city has always started with David Hare," Rudin said from the podium. "I hope that I'm lucky enough to finish with the plays of David Hare."

In one of the surprises of the evening,  Ruthie Ann Miles  took the award for featured actress in  a musical  for her turn in " The King and I ." She earned strong reviews for her performance as one of the king's wives in the Rodgers and Hammerstein revival, but that award had largely been expected to go to  Judy Kuhn  or possibly  Sydney Lucas  of "Fun Home."

Whereas other Tony broadcasts have more blatantly sought to play up Broadway's pop-culture connections in an effort to heighten the interest of general audiences, this one embraced its inner theater nerd from the start. The strategy was signaled in the weeks running up to the show with the choice of co-hosts,  Kristin Chenoweth  and  Alan Cumming , who don't have the celebrity status of last year's host  Hugh Jackman  but are much-loved Broadway favorites, each with a sense of humor and the Tony-winning chops to carry the ceremony's song-and-dance chores.

The telecast's opening sequence -- a loose, goofball affair in Chenoweth and Cumming's hands -- went so inside-baseball that the co-hosts cracked jokes about revival paychecks and  Harvey Weinstein  before segueing into " A Musical ," the evening's performance segment from nominated show "Something Rotten!" That tune, a spoofy ode to musical theater with plenty of fan service, is a spot-the-reference game for theater lovers that, in one of its biggest punchlines, mocks recitative.

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