Lesbian coming of age story and Helen Mirren win Tony Awards

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Fun Home, a musical about a young lesbian cartoonist grappling with the death of her father, was named the best new Broadway musical at the Tony Awards and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time won for best new play.

Fun Home took five trophies including awards to Michael Cerveris for his role as the tortured father, Lisa Kron for the book and Kron and Jeanine Tesori for best original score, the first time an all-woman team won for the category.

"People take chances on men based on their potential, and they take chances on women based on their accomplishments," Kron said in the press room after her win on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall in New York. "I hope this award will make them look at women based on their accomplishments."

Fun Home beat the favourite to win, An American In Paris, an old-fashioned musical about a young American soldier who falls for a French woman just after World War II. The show, which incorporates ballet, won awards for choreography, lighting design, scenic design and orchestrations.

Lincoln Center Theater's production of The King And I won for best musical revival. Kelli O'Hara, who plays a British 1860s schoolteacher to the King of Siam's children in the production, won best lead actress in a musical.

"I'll be back, maybe not here but on the theatre stage," O'Hara joked while accepting her award, her first in six nominations.

She beat Tony co-host Kristin Chenoweth, nominated for her role in On The Twentieth Century, in what was considered one of the hotly contested categories.

Helen Mirren took the honour for lead actress in a play for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's drama The Audience. "The foundation of this award is an elegant and fleet play by Peter Morgan," Mirren said on stage. "This is an unbelievable honour."

Alex Sharp won best lead actor in Curious Incident, a coming-of-age drama transfered from London's National Theatre.

David Hare's 1996 work Skylight, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, took the trophy for revival of a Broadway play.

The 69th annual ceremony, broadcast on CBS, was hosted by Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, who had starred in the recent revival of Cabaret on Broadway.

After Cumming described Mirren as the "fiercest queen on Broadway", Chenoweth got huge laughs with her riposte: "Careful, you're messing with our core audience."

The evening's opening number was A Musical from Something Rotten that referenced other famous Broadway shows.

Other women nominees also had a good night, with Marianne Elliott winning for direction of a play with Curious Incident. Another London import, the Royal Shakespeare Company's Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, based on Hilary Mantel's books Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, which centered on the court of King Henry VIII, won an award for costume.

The slapstick Elizabethan musical comedy, Something Rotten, won featured actor in a musical for Christian Borle, who plays William Shakespeare as a self-absorbed rock star with six-pack abs. Annaleigh Ashford won for featured actress in a play for You Can't Take It With You. Tommy Tune was given a lifetime achievement award for his body of work as a dancer, choreographer, director and nine-time Tony winner.

More than 800 people involved in the theater business - including producers, directors, actors and tour presenters - select the winners. The Tonys are a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

Sales and attendance for the 2014-2015 Broadway season hit records, to US$1.37 billion (S$1.77 billion) and 13 million patrons, up 7.6 per cent and 7.3 per cent, respectively, from the prior year, according to the Broadway League, a trade group.