‘Kinky Boots’ Wins Musical Tony, Tom Hanks Upset by Letts

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Kyle Taylor Parker, Charlie Sutton, Joey Taranto, Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Kelvin Smith Kirkwood, Paul Canaan and Kyle Post in "Kinky Boots." The musical received 13 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.

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Photographer: Matthew Murphy/O and M Co. via Bloomberg

Kyle Taylor Parker, Charlie Sutton, Joey Taranto, Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Kelvin Smith Kirkwood, Paul Canaan and Kyle Post in "Kinky Boots." The musical received 13 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. Close

Kyle Taylor Parker, Charlie Sutton, Joey Taranto, Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Kelvin Smith Kirkwood, Paul Canaan and... Read More

Photographer: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Billy Porter accepting the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his role in "Kinky Boots." Close

Billy Porter accepting the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his role in "Kinky Boots."

Photographer: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Courtney B. Vance poses with the award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for "Lucky Guy." Close

Courtney B. Vance poses with the award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for "Lucky Guy."

Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

Tom Hanks as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike McAlary, with Courtney B. Vance as Hap Hairston, his editor and friend, in "Lucky Guy." Courtney Vance won a Tony for best supporting actor in a play, Close

Tom Hanks as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike McAlary, with Courtney B. Vance as Hap Hairston, his editor and... Read More

Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

Patina Miller, center, flanked by Anthony Wayne and Andrew Fitch, as The Lead Player, the role made famous by Ben Vereen, in "Pippin." The musical revival is staged by Diane Paulus, with choreography by Chet Walker. Close

Patina Miller, center, flanked by Anthony Wayne and Andrew Fitch, as The Lead Player, the role made famous by Ben... Read More

Photographer: Mary Romano/Bloomberg

Diane Paulus outside of Radio City Music Hall. She won the Best Director award for the circus-themed musical "Pippin" at the Tony Awards. Close

Diane Paulus outside of Radio City Music Hall. She won the Best Director award for the circus-themed musical "Pippin"... Read More

The exuberant “Kinky Boots” won the Tony Award for best new Broadway musical yesterday, in a triumphant night for black actors, women and underdogs.

“Kinky Boots” beat the most anticipated musical of the season, “Matilda,” a dark co-production of the Royal Shakespeare Co. that claimed a record seven Olivier awards on London’s West End.

Cyndi Lauper became the first female solo composer-lyricist to win for score, for “Kinky Boots.” Women swept directing for just the second time: Diane Paulus, for the circus-themed musical “Pippin,” and Pam MacKinnon, for an acclaimed revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” topping a favorite of some prognosticators, George C. Wolfe (“Lucky Guy”).

“Vegas got this one wrong,” MacKinnon said upon accepting her award, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

“Virginia Woolf” was named best play revival. Christopher Durang’s bittersweet Chekhov-inspired comedy, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” won for best new drama and “Pippin” for best musical revival.

Black actors took Tonys in four of the eight acting categories, including Cicely Tyson (“The Trip to Bountiful”) and Courtney Vance (“Lucky Guy.”) “Lucky Guy” star Tom Hanks, a box office draw who many predicted would be rewarded with an acting medallion, was upset by Tracy Letts, who’s also a playwright, in “Virginia Woolf.”

Drag Queen

“Kinky Boots” won for sound design, Stephen Oremus’ orchestrations, Jerry Mitchell’s choreography and lead actor Billy Porter, who plays a drag queen and makeshift boot designer in a struggling English shoe factory.

Among others, Porter thanked co-star Stark Sands.

“I share this award with you, but I’ll keep it at my house,” Porter said.

Tyson plays a woman determined to make a final visit to her childhood home, in Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful.” It’s her first Broadway role in 30 years.

“I cannot help but remember all of the thumb prints that have touched this being during the course of her career,” Tyson said slowly but confidently onstage.

“Matilda,” a $16 million adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel about a brilliant girl with telekinetic powers, was rewarded for Dennis Kelly’s book, set and lighting design and featured actor, Gabriel Ebert, playing Matilda’s nasty dad.

“Pippin” won for featured actress Andrea Martin and lead Patina Miller.

Optioned Film

Daryl Roth, a longtime producer who’s married to Vornado Realty Trust Chairman Steven Roth, saw the film “Kinky Boots” at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and optioned it. The musical was capitalized at $13.5 million.

Roth’s son, Jordan Roth, is president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns and operates five houses, including the Al Hirschfeld, where “Kinky Boots” plays.

Although “Matilda” generally received better reviews, some Tony voters said the English humor didn’t translate.

In newspaper ads, the producers of “Kinky Boots” quoted a line from their show, “You change the world when you change your mind,” directed in part at Tony voters who assumed “Matilda” was a shoo-in.

“The press was not in our court at all,” Daryl Roth said in an interview. “But you can’t discount what people were saying and our sales were huge. We have a lot of heart in our show. ”

‘La Cage’

It’s not the first time that Tony voters sided with the audience rather than critics. In 1984, “La Cage aux Folles” was named best musical over “Sunday in the Park With George,” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. “Sunday” went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

The 67th annual ceremony, broadcast on CBS, was hosted for the fourth year by the television star Neil Patrick Harris. The frenetic opening number included performers in many of the musicals running on Broadway. Adding to the promotion, actors in costume from long-running shows, such as “Chicago” and “Rock of Ages,” later introduced songs from nominated shows.

Some 868 people involved in the theater business -- including producers, directors, actors and tour presenters -- select the winners. The Tonys are a joint venture of the trade association the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

Sales for the Broadway season were little changed from a year earlier, to $1.14 billion, as attendance sank 6 percent to the lowest since 2004-2005. Average ticket prices were about $98, up from $92 a year earlier.

Muse highlights include Mark Beech on music, Manuela Hoelterhoff on music and John Mariani on wine.

To contact the reporter on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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