Broadway’s Big Night

06.11.12

Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman & 12 Buzziest Moments From 2012 Tony Awards (VIDEOS)

Neil Patrick Harris is a third-time charmer, ‘Once’ wins big, and Hugh Jackman gets a special surprise. Shannon Donnelly on the buzziest moments from Broadway’s big night.

Tony Awards Episode LXVI: Return of ‘The Book of Mormon’

The Book of Mormon, the big winner from last year’s Tonys, returned to kick off the night with a troupe of hopeful missionaries soliciting conversions from Judith Light, Matthew Broderick, and James Earl Jones, who took time away from autographing pictures of Darth Vader to appear.

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‘Fifty Shades of Gay’

OK, we’re calling it: Neil Patrick Harris officially can do no wrong. He welcomed audience to the Tony Awards, “or, as we call it, Fifty Shades of Gay,” before launching into a star-studded musical number that imagined what real life would be like if it was a Broadway musical—you know, dramatically breaking up with your girlfriend Amanda Seyfried, watching your neighbor Patti LuPone sing while mowing the lawn, and getting your understudy Jesse Tyler Ferguson to fill in for you if you just don’t feel like doing anything that day.

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Judith Lights Up the Room

The incandescent Judith Light took home her first Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Other Desert Cities, saying she felt like “the luckiest girl in New York tonight.”

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‘Jesus’ Rises to the Occasion

A strong spate of musical revivals delivered some of the evening’s most electrifying numbers, including the title song from Jesus Christ Superstar, performed with great aplomb by newcomer Josh Young.

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Christian Catches a Tony

Though he’s risen to national prominence thanks to his role on NBC’s Smash, Christian Borle has long been known to Broadway fans as a massively talented workhorse who was previously nominated for a Tony for his role in Legally Blonde. In keeping with the ensemble spirit of his play, Peter and the Starcatcher, Borle thanked the cast and creative team as a whole—hey, that’s one way to sidestep the possibility of forgetting someone.

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NPH’s Musical-Mashup Extravaganza

Yet another gift from Neil Patrick Harris to the theater community: a mashup of musical numbers that will fuel trivia nights for years to come. Whoever can correctly identify every song and which show it came from drinks free for the rest of the night!

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Menken Is the King of New York

Despite his important role in the musical canon—you can thank him for the scores of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas, among others—Alan Menken had never snagged a Tony until now, when he won alongside Jack Feldman for their Newsies score.

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Ricky Martin Is High Flying, Adored

Evita has peppier musical numbers than “And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)” that might have made for a bit more pop on the telecast, but you certainly can’t fault Ricky Martin, who turned in a charismatic performance as Che Guevara opposite Elena Roger’s Eva.

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Surprise!

The Tonys not only honored Hugh Jackman with a special award for his charity work—Jackman raised a record-breaking $1,789,580 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS—it also surprised him with a special presenter: Deborra-Lee Furness, his wife. Furness apparently told Jackman she was “just off to the loo” before reappearing on stage to hand him his award.

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Who Doesn’t Love Captain von Trapp?

Relative newcomer Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur) beat out Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin, Cynthia Nixon, and Tracie Bennett to take home the trophy for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. Once on stage, she admitted to presenter Christopher Plummer that he was her first crush. “When that whistle was blown in The Sound of Music, you made my day,” Arianda gushed.

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‘I Found My Home’

Though she has previously won four Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Audra McDonald brought home her first Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her performance in Porgy and Bess. “I was a little girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and over-dramatic, and I found the theater and I found my home ... To think that the theater would be so good to me is mind-blowing,” McDonald said.

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And the Winner Is…

Quiet charmer Once may be a small musical, but it won big, taking home awards for Best Direction, Best Book of a Musical, and the big award of the night, Best Musical, beating out Leap of FaithNewsies, and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

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