*Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted a diversity-filled Tony Awards ceremony Sunday night that included Mike Tyson dancing in the opening number and Audra McDonald belting the chorus of closing number “Empire State of Mind,” which was altered with lyrics written during the show to reflect the evening’s highlights.
In the three hours between, Courtney B. Vance won Best Featured Actor in a Play for Lucky Guy, Billy Porter took home Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Kinky Boots, Patina Miller nabbed Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Pippin, and Cicely Tyson of The Trip to Bountiful got a standing ovation from the Radio City Music Hall audience when her name was called for Best Leading Actress in a Play.
Tyson then had folks emotional by expressing her simple gratitude for living long enough to act one more time in a great role on Broadway.
Below, read the full acceptance speeches from Vance, Porter, Miller and Tyson. Scroll down to watch highlights from the ceremony.
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy, Best Featured Actor in a Play:
WHAT?! Thank you very much. I’d like to thank the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League. I’d like to thank my wife who gave me the nod, Angela Bassett, to do this role. I’d like to thank my children Broman and Slater, my Lucky Guy family, Tom Hanks, cast and crew, George C. Wolfe. I’d like to thank my manager, Steven Siebert and the Gersch Agency who pushed me real hard to come to NY to do this. And I would finally like to thank my sister, Cecile, and my mother. Mom, this one’s for you.
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots, Best Leading Actor in a Musical:
OOOOH MY GODDDD!!!! OH MY GOD! Ok, ok, so, um, I’m going to put this on the ground. Ok, so… Shakespeare said, “To thyne own self be true.” When I was 11 years old, my journey to truth began when I discovered the Tony Awards washing dishes in my kitchen, and the performance of Jennifer Holiday and the cast of Dreamgirls at the Tony Awards took my breath away. That moment changed my life. And I am here today. I want to thank my family, the best sister that a brother could ever have, Mary Martha Ford, my mother at home in Pittsburgh…. You are the personification of true Christianity, your willingness to embrace that which you don’t understand with unconditional love is a template that the world could benefit from employing. Your courage gives me life and I love you. To my Kinky Boots family. To the amazing cast and crew and everybody at the Al Hishfield Theatre. Our producers, Hal Luftig and Daryl Roth. To Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, who created the template that allows me to express the journey of forgiveness and acceptance, and ultimately a necessary healing for my soul. To Jerry Mitchell for reaching back, lifting up an old friend and giving me a space to soar. To my co-star, Stark Sands. You are my rock, my sword, my shield, your grace gives me presence. I share this award with you. I’m gonna keep it at my house, but I share it with you. To my glam squad, who keeps Ms. Lola fierce every day, I love you. To my patrons, Susy Deans, George C. Wolfe, Tracy Brigdon, Bill Butler, my manager of 22 years, and everybody, God bless you. I love you, I love you, I love you.
Patina Miller, Pippin, Best Leading Actress in a Musical:
OHHHH God, Oh my God, this is an honor of a lifetime! This is a childhood dream come true for me. From a little southern girl in South Carolina with a big dream of wanting to come to this big city and be a part of this thing, this Broadway community and to be standing on stage in front of so many people I admire. So much in this room to the women in my category. You guys are inspiring, and I just am so in awe of all of you. I just want to say thank you to my cast. The most amazing cast in New York City right now, who knows? Um, you guys, I cannot do without you. This has been an ensemble effort and I love each and every one of you. To our amazing crew at the Music Box Theatre. To the creative team. Diane Paulus. Oh my God. You visionary. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and believing in me. Chet Walker, for giving me the gift of Fosse. Gypsy Snider for giving me the circus. To our amazing producers. Please wrap it up. The Voicelers and the Kagans and everyone else. Thank you so much. To my mom, who has been my inspiration. Thank you so much for believing in me and telling me that I could do anything I wanted to do. And to my step dad, Tim, who we almost lost a week ago. I just want you to know I love you so much and I cannot wait to be with you tomorrow and I know you can’t see me, but I know you can hear me right now, and I just want you to know I love you. And finally, to my management, Jeremy Kats, Chris Highland, my vocal coach, Liz Caplan. But most of all, my honey, my fiance who I love so much. I cannot wait to marry you and you have made me the happiest girl in the world. Thank you to the American Theatre Wing. Oh My God!
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful, Best Leading Actress in a Play:
Thou are the potter, I’m only the clay. When I think of the moment where I stand before, this moment, I cannot help but remember all of the thumbprints that have touched this being during the course of her career. My mother and father, my sister and brother, none of whom are here with me. I’m the sole surviving member of my immediate family and I’ve asked over and over again, why? I now know why. It’s been 30 years since I stood on this stage. I really didn’t think it would happen again in my lifetime and I was pretty comfortable with that. Except that I had this burning desire for just one more. One more great role, I said, I didn’t want to be greedy. I just wanted one more. And it came to me through no effort on my part. Ben Ramsey, Hallie Foote, Michael, Bill Haber and the entire Haber family who have nurtured me for the last 40 years, M.J. who has paid the greatest price for my success. The American Theatre Wing for welcoming me home. Please wrap it up, it says. Well that’s exactly what you did with me. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years. Now I can go home with a Tony. God Bless you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. [Watch below.]
Below, musical highlights from the show, beginning with the closing number – which recapped the entire night to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.”