*Black pride was on display at the American Theatre Wing’s 64th Annual Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards that were broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS on Sunday, June 13, 2010.
Broadway’s biggest and starriest night marked the first time in Tony Award history that Black performers won the top acting awards during the same theater season. Hollywood star Sean Hayes — who makes his successful Broadway debut in “Promises, Promises” receiving a Tony nomination — rocked as host of the show.
“I don’t believe in luck,” said Viola Davis choking back tears in her heartfelt acceptance speech for winning the prestigious Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play award for her poignant role as the long-suffering wife in August Wilson’s Broadway hit play “Fences.”
“I believe in the presence of God in my life. I was born into circumstances where I couldn’t see it with my eyes, I couldn’t touch it with my hands and so I had to believe it in my heart,” added Davis who also won a Tony in 2002 for her role in Wilson’s “King Hedley II.”
Her co-star Denzel Washington also won as Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play marking the two-time Oscar winner’s first ever Tony award. “My mother always said man gives you the award and God gives you the reward. I guess I got both tonight,” said the handsome leading man. “Fences” also picked up Tony Awards for its producers Carole Shorenstein Hays and Scott Rudin for Best Revival of a Play. “I’m especially proud of this award as it honors the entire cast,” stated Washington.
Another big win African American winner was Bill T. Jones as Best Choreographer for his amazing choreography in “Fela!” The hit musical about Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti that was produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, among others, also won Best Costume Design of a Musical (Marina Draghici) and Best Sound Design of a Musical (Robert Kaplowitz).
However it was the hot musical “Memphis” — a show about music and race during the 1950s — that won the most awards in the musical category including the plum Best Musical award; and Best Book of a Musical (Joe DiPietro), Best Orchestrations (Daryl Waters & David Bryan) and Best Original Score (David Bryan and Joe DiPietro).
High voltage Hollywood wins included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (“A Little Night Music”), and Scarlett Johansson, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (“A View From the Bridge”).
Other big winners of the evening included: Best Play: “Red”; Best Revival of a Musical: “La Cage aux Folles”; Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: Douglas Hodge, “La Cage aux Folles”; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: Eddie Redmayne, “Red”; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Levi Kreis, “Million Dolar Quartet”; Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Katie Finneran, “Promises, Promises”; Best Direction of a Play: Michael Grandage, “Red”; Best Direction of a Musical: Terry Johnson, “La Cage aux Folles”; Best Scenic Design of a Play: Christopher Oram, “Red”; Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Christine Jones, “American Idiot”; Best Costume Design of a Play: Catherine Zuber, “The Royal Family”; Best Lighting Design of a Play: Neil Austin, “Red”; Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Kevin Adams, “American Idiot”; and Best Sound Design of a Play: Adam Cork, “Red.”
Special Tony Awards were also handed out. Lifetime Achievement in the Theater: Alan Ayckbourn and Marian Seldes; Regional Theater Tony Award: The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, CT; Isabelle Stevenson Award: David Hyde Pierce; and Tony honors for Excellence in the Theater: B.H. Barry and Tim Viola. (See Beacon On The Scene for Tony Awards picture spread.) (Photo Credits: Ronnie Wright, Walter McBride & Getty Images)
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.