Cyndi Lauper arriving on the red carpet before the 2013 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY on Sunday, June 9, 2013. Photo by Todd Plitt, USA TODAY
Girls and drag queens just wanted to have fun at the 67th annual Tony Awards.
The musical Kinky Boots led the Tonys with six awards, including wins for best musical, leading actor Billy Porter and composer - and 1980s rock star - Cyndi Lauper, while a revival of Stephen Schwartz's musical Pippin picked up four Tonys and Cicely Tyson won her first ever.
"I can't say I wasn't practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple days for this speech," said Lauper, honored for best score. "All right, I gotta thank my mom for sharing all that wonderful music. I wrecked all her Broadway musicals when I was a kid, the cast albums. That's how I learned how to sing, and I want to thank her for sharing the music with me.
"And I want to thank Harvey Fierstein for calling me up. I'm so glad I was done with the dishes and I answered the phone."
Porter, who plays a drag queen helping out a struggling shoe-factory owner in Boots, was also overwhelmed with excitement. "Shakespeare said 'To thine own self be true,' " he said. "When I was 11 years old, my journey to truth began when I discovered the Tony Awards washing dishes in my kitchen, and the performance of Jennifer Holliday and the cast of Dreamgirls on the Tony Awards took my breath away. That moment changed my life."
Boots' Jerry Mitchell was honored for choreography, John Shivers won for best sound design, and the honor for best orchestrations went to Stephen Oremus, who spoke about seeing Lauper perform in 1984, when he was 13: "It blows my mind to this day knowing that I collaborate with her."
Pippin won four Tonys, including best revival and lead actress in a musical for star Patina Miller, who told the crowd "this is a childhood dream come true" for the South Carolina native.
"When you get it right, it makes for extraordinary theater," said Pippin producer Barry Weisler. "We got it right this time."
Andrea Martin, who plays Pippin's perky grandma, hoisted the Tony for featured actress, and Diane Paulus picked up the trophy for best director of a musical. She dedicated the first of three Pippin wins to her family: "To my parents who gave me the best gift a daughter could ever hope for: the encouragement to do what you want with your life, which for me was the theater, and I can only hope to be as good a mother to my two daughters, Natalie and Katharine, who are at home watching. This is for you, you are my joy."
The Trip to Bountiful star Tyson was honored with a Tony - her first - for lead actress in a play to mark her return to Broadway after three decades.
She didn't think she would ever get back. "I had a burning desire to do one more great role. I didn't want to be greedy. Just one more," Tyson said.
"You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years, and now I can go home with a Tony."
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?took home the top play honors at the Tony Awards.
Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia, a family comedy starring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce, won for best play.
"I wrote my first play in second grade in 1958. It is now 2013. It's been a long road but I'm very happy to be here," Durang said. "My mother died when I was 30, and I feel she wants to thank you tonight as well."
Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee's classic play about a middle-aged couple's dissolving marriage, won for best revival, star Tracy Letts topped the leading-actor race (which included Oscar winner Tom Hanks), and Pam MacKinnon took home honors for best director, her second consecutive nomination and first Tony. She gave a shout-out to Albee "for his fantastic play and for giving my career a shape, for giving my career a spine."
Matilda the Musical also had four wins: first-time nominee Gabriel Ebert for featured actor in a musical, Hugh Vanstone for lighting designs, Rob Howell for scenic design and Dennis Kelly for best book of the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's story of a 5-year-old girl who discovers she has telekinetic abilities.
It was the Matilda creative team who "trusted and allowed me to step into their immaculate vision with my crazy alligator-skin shoes," Ebert said. "To be in this room with these paragons of men, I'm so honored and humbled and grateful and slightly freaked out."
The Assembled Parties star Judith Light received the award for featured actress in a play, her second in a row - she also won last year for Other Desert Cities.
"I want to thank every woman that I am in this category nominated with. You have made this a celebration, not a competition," Light said.
She also thanked "all of you in this community for your discipline and your devotion and your dedication. You lift your culture with your dedication and your artistry. You inspire me, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be a part of you and call you my family."
A two-time Tony nominee, Courtney B. Vance won featured actor in a play for his role in Nora Ephron's posthumous Lucky Guy, which also scored a win for Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer for lighting design.
"Mommy, this one's for you. Which way do I go?" Vance said.
Broadway veteran William Ivey Long won best costume design of a musical for his work on Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, while Ann Roth was awarded for her costumes for the play The Nance, a tragicomic study of a gay burlesque performer.The Nance also won for sound design (Leon Rothenberg) and scenic design (John Lee Beatty).
In her speech, Roth saluted the show's star, a nominee for leading actor: "I don't know if a man can be a muse, but Nathan Lane is my main guy. I think he's the best actor in the whole wide world. I mean it."
In a pre-show ceremony hosted by Jane Krakowski and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, lifetime achievement awards were given to Bernard Gersten, the 90-year-old executive producer of Lincoln Center Theater since 1985; Paul Libin, president of Circle in the Square Theatre School; and Ming Cho Lee, a Chinese-born American theatrical set designer and a longtime professor at the Yale School of Drama.
"I share this Tony Award with everyone who made it possible," Libin said.
"It takes a lifetime to get from there to here," Gersten said in his acceptance speech, in which he also thanked his wife, daughters and four grandchildren. "This beloved family has been my lifetime achievement."
Lee joked that he holds "the unbroken record of being a total failure in Broadway theater. I have more flaws than anyone can count.
"I never thought I'd be 82," he added, "and here I am. Old age is not for sissies."
Contributing: Donna Freydkin, Elysa Gardner