NEW YORK - "Red," the anguished two-man drama about painter Mark Rothko and the timeless tug of war between art and commerce, was a big winner last night at the 2010 Tony Awards, receiving the best play prize and five other honors.
The play picked up prizes for Michael Grandage, who won for best director of a play, and Eddie Redmayne, who won featured performance by an actor in a play as the increasingly disillusioned assistant to Rothko, the abstract expressionist who agonizes over whether to accept a lucrative commission for the Four Seasons restaurant.
"Red" starred Alfred Molina as Rothko.
"Memphis," an interracial romance set against the backdrop of the 1950s rhythm 'n' blues explosion, won the 2010 Tony Award for best musical.
The show of soulful sounds and a parade of engaging characters beat out "Fela!" - the innovative Afro-beat biography of Nigerian superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti; Green Day's rock musical "American Idiot"; and "Million Dollar Quartet," a fictional re-creation of a jam session of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis in a Memphis recording studio.
"Fences," a revival of August Wilson's deeply personal drama about family, won for best revival of a play and its two stars, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, won for best actors in a play.
Best direction for a musical went to first-time nominee Terry Johnson of "La Cage Aux Folles." Scarlett Johansson won for best featured performance as an actress in a play for her Broadway debut, the object of her uncle's lust in Arthur Miller's "A View From a Bridge."
"Fela!" and "La Cage aux Folles" were the dominant nominees at the star-laden Tonys.
The ceremony, from Radio City Music Hall and telecast on CBS, was hosted by Sean Hayes, who didn't win as lead actor in a musical for "Promises, Promises," but did put on a memorable show of song, jokes and costumes, dressing up as everyone from Spiderman to Little Orphan Annie.
One of Hayes' co-stars in "Promises, Promises," scene-stealing Katie Finneran, won for best featured actress in a musical. Best featured actor in a musical went to Levi Kreis as rock 'n' roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in "Million Dollar Quartet."