NEW YORK -
an interracial romance set against the backdrop of the 1950s rhythm 'n' blues explosion, won four Tony Awards, including best musical, and
, an anguished two-man drama about painter Mark Rothko and the timeless tug-of-war between art and commerce, was an even bigger winner Sunday at the 2010 Tony Awards, taking the best play prize and five other honors.
"This to me is the moment of my lifetime," Red playwright John Logan said.
The play picked up prizes for Michael Grandage, as best director of a play; and Eddie Redmayne, for featured performance by an actor in a play as the increasingly disillusioned assistant to Rothko, the abstract expressionist.
"This is the stuff dreams are made of. Wow," Redmayne said.
Red, starring Alfred Molina as Rothko, was also awarded Tonys for best lighting design, best sound design, and best scenic design.
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. Even their acceptance speeches seemed to complement each other.
"My mother always says, 'Man gives the award, God gives the reward.' I guess I got both tonight," Washington said after winning for his performance as the sanitation man who might have been a baseball star. It was his first Tony Award and first nomination.
"I don't believe in luck or happenstance. I absolutely believe in the presence of God in my life," said Davis, honored for playing Washington's all-sacrificing wife. "It feels like such a divine experience eight times a week."
Memphis, a tale of segregation and integration in the South, also won for best orchestration, best original score, and best book of a musical. Fela! won for Bill T. Jones' choreography, best costume design of a musical, and best sound design of a musical.
Best direction for a musical went to first-time nominee Terry Johnson of La Cage aux Folles. Douglas Hodge, who co-stars with Kelsey Grammar in the revival, won best actor in a musical. Scarlett Johansson won for best featured performance as an actress in a play for her Broadway debut, playing the object of her uncle's lust in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge. "Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be on Broadway, and here I am," she said.
Fela! and La Cage aux Folles were the dominant nominees. The innovative Afro-beat biography of Nigerian superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the revival of the classic Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical farce had 11 nominations.
They were followed by Fences, with 10 nominations, and Memphis, with eight.
The ceremony at Radio City Music Hall was telecast on CBS and hosted by Sean Hayes. He was up for leading actor in a musical for his portrayal of Chuck Baxter, the insecure company man who lends his bachelor apartment to his firm's executives for extramarital romantic dalliances, in a revival of Promises, Promises, inspired by Billy Wilder's Academy Award-winning film The Apartment.
"I have actually managed to combine a good chance of losing with a good chance of bombing," he joked during his opening monologue, which was widely applauded.
One of Hayes' co-stars, 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.
Historically, Tony-nominated hosts have fared well. Hugh Jackman won a trophy in 2004 for his portrayal of Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. Nathan Lane won twice while at the helm: in 1996, when he won lead actor in a musical for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; and in 2001, when he shared duties with Matthew Broderick and won a Tony for The Producers.
Hayes began with a playful piano medley circling around "Give My Regards to Broadway," then stepped up the beat and segued into a stomping "Blue Suede Shoes," as performed by cast members from Million Dollar Quartet. Segments from Promises, Promises, Come Fly With Me, and others followed, capped and stolen by a shouting medley from Green Day.
Five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, a nominee Sunday, was named the first honorary chairman of the American Theatre Wing. Special Tony Awards for lifetime achievement were given to playwright Alan Ayckbourn (The Norman Conquests, a trilogy that won the play-revival Tony last year), and actress Marian Seldes (A Delicate Balance, Equus, Deathtrap, Three Tall Women).
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., received the Regional Theater Award.
Book of a Musical
Memphis Joe DiPietro
Memphis Music: David Bryan Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan
Revival of a Play Fences
Revival of a Musical
La Cage aux Folles
Denzel Washington, Fences
Viola Davis, Fences
Douglas Hodge, La Cage
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Scarlett Johansson, A View From the Bridge
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Katie Finneran,Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Christopher Oram, Red
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Neil Austin, Red
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Adam Cork, Red
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Michael Grandage, Red
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Regional Theatre Tony Award
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Conn.