Aussies Cate Blanchett, Tim Minchin miss out at Tonys
BETTE Midler stole the show at the Tony Awards where she finally got a gong, but she refused to leave the stage as debate erupted over why she didn't perform.
While Australian nominees Cate Blanchett and Tim Minchin missed out, popular favourite Bette Midler took home her first acting Tony at a razzle dazzle ceremony at New York's iconic Radio Music Hall on Monday.
Midler, who first performed on Broadway in 1967, won best lead actor in a musical for Hello, Dolly! which she described as "the ride of my life.”
"I can't remember when I had so much smoke blown up my arse. It's full. This is it. It's the icing on the cake!” she said in an acceptance speech that went on so long it silenced the "time up” orchestra.
She refused to leave the stage as the orchestra began playing her off.
"I'd like to thank all the Tony voters - many of whom I've actually dated,” Midler joked. She called the role "the greatest professional experience of my life”. Midler kept talking as the orchestra attempted wind her up and get her off stage as the show was running over.
"Shut that crap off!” Midler said.
When the music stopped, Midler continued, by saying: "I just want to say that 'revival' is an interesting word. It means something was near death and was brought back to life. Hello, Dolly! never really went away. It's in our DNA. It's optimism. It's democracy. It's colour. It's hilarity. This is a classic: come and see it. It's not just me. This thing has the ability to life your spirits in these terrible times.”
Midler had previously been awarded a special Tony in 1974 for "adding lustre to the Broadway season” that year for Clams On the Half Shell Revue. This was her first Tony for acting.
Hello, Dolly! also won best revival on the night.
But many viewers were disappointed Midler took the stage only as a presenter, not as a performer.
The New York Times reports that she did not sing as Hello, Dolly's producers wanted the cast to perform its opening number remotely, on their own stage at the Shubert Theater, instead of at Radio City Musical Hall where the Tonys took place.
"They argued that the different configuration of the stage at Radio City - and, in particular, its passerelle - could pose a risk to leaping dancers and would not do the song justice,” the NYT reports.
Midler's co-star David Hyde Pierce performed the song 'Penny in My Pocket.' But social media fans weren't happy.
Later on, Tony Awards host Kevin Spacey emerged in his character of Frank Underwood from House of Cards, with his co-star Robin Wright by his side.
He told the audience: "I want to get the hell out of here before Bette Midler thanks anyone else.”
Evan Hansen star Ben Platt, who is just 23, won best lead actor in a musical.
The unlikely crowd-pleaser about teen suicide took home a swag of awards including best musical and best supporting actor (Rachel Bay Jones).
Australian singer-songwriter-composer Tim Minchin was one of the casualties of Dear Evan Hansen's awards sweep.
Nominated for best original score for Groundhog Day the Musical, he lost out to Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Australian producers Stuart Thompson (best play Sweat and best revival of a play Six Degrees of Separation) and duo Rodney Rigby and Sam Levy (best musical Come From Away) also missed out.
Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf won best lead actor in a play for A Doll's House Part 2, over a competitive field that included Sally Field (The Glass Menagerie) Jennifer Ehle (Oslo), Laura Linney (The Little Foxes) and Blanchett (The Present), the only nominee not to attend the ceremony.
Ahead of the awards, Blanchett was photographed in Sydney with son Roman. T he Present, husband Andrew Upton's adaptation of Chekhov's Platonov, marked the actress's Broadway debut.
Kevin Kline won his third Tony - for best actor in a play - for Present Laughter.
Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon won best supporting actor in a play for Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes.
"Thanks to the great Laura Linney for thinking outside the box and for thinking of me when she did it,” she said.
The two actresses alternated the lead and supporting roles in the well-received revival of Hellman's play, which Nixon described as "eerily prescient.”
It was Nixon's second Tony - she won in 2006 for Rabbit Hole, later made into a film with Nicole Kidman.
Host Kevin Spacey launched the ceremony with a self-deprecating opening routine in which he made fun of himself as a Johnny-come-lately to the often thankless role, getting advice from seasoned pros Whoopi Goldberg (live) and Billy Crystal (taped.)
Crystal appeared with some advice: "If all else fails, put on a dress.”
Spacey then appeared dressed as Norma Desmond, who Glenn Close plays in Broadway's current Sunset Boulevard revival.
Spacey told the audience: "I'm coming out,” before stopping himself.
"No, wait, no ...” he said, as viewers wondering if he was referring to his sexuality, which he has been deeply private about in previous years.
He performed adapted set pieces from each of the four shows nominated for best musical - Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 and the 9/11-themed show Come From Away - and trotted out a series of impersonations (including Glenn Close and Johnny Carson). He also impersonated former US President Bill Clinton.
Spacey also introduced the two representatives of Tony accounting firm Grant Thornton on camera in a dig at the Oscars fiasco involving rival company Price Waterhouse Coopers.