Theater legend Audra McDonald set two records at the Tonys last night by becoming the first performer to win all four acting categories and receiving the highest number of acting prizes in the awards’ history.
McDonald’s Best Actress (Play) trophy for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill joins her wins for Best Lead Actress (Musical) in Porgy and Bess, Best Featured Actress (Musical) in Carousel and Ragtime, and Best Featured Actress (Play) in Master Class and A Raisin in the Sun (2004).
At the end of her teary, emotional speech, McDonald thanked her African-American predecessors Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee and Billie Holiday.
In the musical categories, Jessie Mueller clinched the Lead Actress honor for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Lena Hall the Featured Actress honor for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun garnered the Best Revival award, as well as a Featured Actress win for British actress Sophie Okonedo in her Broadway debut. Okonedo thanked Scott Rudin for having the vision that a “Jewish Nigerian Brit” could play “one of America’s most iconic parts.”
Rosie O’Donnell was presented with the Isabelle Stevenson Award “for her commitment to arts education for New York City’s public school children.” She joked that when she received the phone call about receiving the honorary Tony, her only concern was whether it looked just like the real thing:
Aside from a few technical awards, women were completely locked out of the major non-acting categories. Composer and librettist Jason Robert Brown, who received an award for Original Score for The Bridges of Madison County, ended his speech with a hopeful message for women in theater: “May you be well and better represented in future seasons.”
A list of the female winners are below:
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
“A Raisin in the Sun”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Sophie Okonedo, “A Raisin in the Sun”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Lena Hall, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Jenny Tiramani, “Twelfth Night”
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Linda Cho, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Natasha Katz, “The Glass Menagerie”
RECIPIENTS OF AWARDS AND HONORS IN NON-COMPETITIVE CATEGORIES
SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE
ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD
TONY HONORS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATRE