NEW YORK — The feel-good musical "Kinky Boots," with songs by pop star and Broadway newcomer Cyndi Lauper, strutted away with a leading six 2013 Tony Awards on Sunday, including best musical, best original score and best leading man.
Christopher Durang's comical "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" won the best play Tony. "Matilda the Musical" and "Pippin" won four awards each and two other shows — "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Nance" — shared three awards each. Tom Hanks left empty-handed, a Broadway newcomer not fated to be a "Lucky Guy."
Neil Patrick Harris was back for his fourth turn as host and was once again crucial to keeping the show funny and smart. He opened with a razzle-dazzle bang amid dozens of dancers and singers — even getting boxer Mike Tyson to hoof — and closed it three hours later by rapping with Audra McDonald to a reworked "Empire State of Mind."
The big, opening number started with Harris simply holding a guitar in a pub like "Once" but quickly morphed into a flashy number that showcased performers from almost a dozen musicals. Harris sang "It's bigger! Tonight it's bigger," jumped through a hoop, vanished from a box and promised a "truly legendary show" before glitter guns went off.
Lauper, who popularized the hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," was part of an impressive group of women who took top honors. Diane Paulus and Pam MacKinnon both won for directing — a rare time women have won directing Tonys for both a musical and a play in the same year. (It happened most recently at the 1998 Tonys.)
It was also a night that celebrated diversity: Of the eight trophies for acting, four went to African-Americans.
"Kinky Boots" — based on a 2005 film about a failing shoe factory that turns to making drag queen boots — also won for choreography and two technical awards, and Billy Porter won for leading man in a musical.
Along the way, Porter had to beat "Kinky Boots" co-star Stark Sands and told him from the stage: "You are my rock, my sword, my shield. Your grace gives me presence. I share this award with you. I'm gonna keep it at my house! But I share it with you."
Durang's play centers on three middle-aged siblings uneasily negotiating with age and hysterically mixes in references to Lindsay Lohan, Maggie Smith and ancient Greek drama.
Paulus won her first Tony for directing the crackling, high-energy, circus-based revival of the musical "Pippin," which also earned the best revival honor and helped Patina Miller earn a best leading actress trophy.
Paulus dedicated her award to her parents, "who gave me the best gift a daughter could ever hope for, the encouragement to do what you love with your life, which for me was the theater."
For Miller, the win caps a whirlwind few years. She was nominated for back-to-back Tonys for her first roles on Broadway and is engaged. "Honey I can't wait to marry you!" she told her fiance.
MacKinnon won for directing the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" a year after earning her first nomination for helming "Clybourne Park." Her revival of Edward Albee's story of marital strife won the best play revival and earned playwright and actor Tracy Letts his first acting Tony. Letts, speaking on behalf of all actors, called what he does "the greatest job on Earth."