NEW YORK - Billy Elliot dominated last night's Tonys, collecting 10 awards, including best musical, director of a musical, book of a musical, choreography and an unprecedented shared-by-three best actor/musical award for the trio of boys who played Billy.
It was upset, however, in the best-score category when composer Elton John lost to Next to Normal's composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Brian Yorkey. The shows tied for best orchestration.
The audience for the show, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris at Radio City Music Hall, gave a huge hand when Next to Normal's Alice Ripley was named leading actress in a musical.
God of Carnage, the satiric comedy by French playwright Yasmina Reza, took the best-play prize. Reza, who previously won a best-play Tony for Art, said: "Maybe you missed my accent; you wanted to hear it again. I'm very grateful for all the people who gave their best for the production."
The play about the clash between two liberal, middle-class couples whose children get into a fight, stars James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis. Harden won the actress/play award, and the production's director, Matthew Warchus, also was honored.
The director/musical award went to Stephen Daldry of Billy Elliot, who said the award belonged to everyone connected to the show and especially to "three great gifts of Broadway, our three little Billys" - David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish.
Billy also received prizes for featured actor, sets, lighting (by Havertown native Rick Fisher) and sound.
Geoffrey Rush's extravagant portrait of a dying monarch in Ionesco's Exit the King took the top-actor prize. Said the first-time Tony winner, "I want to thank Manhattan audiences for proving that French existential absurdist tragicomedy rocks."
Angela Lansbury received her fifth Tony, this time for her performance as the dotty medium Madame Arcati in a revival of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. Her win in the featured-actress category tied the record held by Julie Harris, who has five plus a special lifetime achievement award given in 2002.
"Who would have thought," the 83-year-old Lansbury began, drowned out by a standing ovation. "Who knew [at] this time in my life that I should be presented with this lovely, lovely award? I feel deeply grateful."
An emotional Liza Minnelli accepted the prize for special theatrical event for her show Liza's at the Palace. "This is exquisite," she said, asking for a list of people to thank because she didn't expect to win.
Roger Robinson's portrayal of a mystical shamanlike character in Joe Turner's Come and Gone was honored with the featured-acting prize.
"It has taken me 46 years to come from that seat, up these steps, to this microphone," said Robinson, thanking his 98-year-old mother."
The Public Theater's Hair was best musical revival, and Alan Ayckbourne's The Norman Conquests was best revival of a play.
Brett Michaels, star of the reality show Rock of Love, was injured when struck by scenery after he and his hair-metal band performed in show's opening production number with a song from Rock of Ages. The extent of his injury was not immediately known.