Entertainment & Arts

Audra McDonald wins record sixth Tony Award

Audra McDonald Image copyright Theo Wargo
Image caption McDonald paid tribute to Billy Holiday in her acceptance speech

US actress Audra McDonald has won a record sixth Tony award, at a star-studded ceremony in New York.

McDonald cried as she accepted the best dramatic actress award for her role as jazz singer Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill.

Her latest win matched the record of late actress Julie Harris, who also won six Tonys, including a special lifetime achievement award.

Bryan Cranston won best dramatic actor for his Broadway debut in All the Way.

The Breaking Bad star played US President Lyndon B Johnson in the production, which was also named best play.

McDonald is the first person to win a Tony in each of the four acting categories.

In a tearful acceptance speech, she said: "I want to thank all the shoulders of the strong and brave and courageous women that I am standing on," she said.

"And most of all Billie Holiday. You deserve so much more than you were given when you were on this earth."

Cranston alluded to his role as a drug dealer in hit TV drama Breaking Bad in his speech: "When you can effect emotional change in the audience it's like a powerful drug. It's as strong as blue crystal meth."

Satire A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder tied with rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch for the most awards, each winning four Tonys.

A Gentleman's Guide... is about a poor man who manages to eliminate the eight heirs ahead of him for a title.

Darko Tresnjak was honoured as best director, while the production won best musical, against stiff competition from Disney's Aladdin and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Jessie Mueller was named best actress for her title role in the latter.

Mark Rylance won his third Tony for playing the countess Olivia in Twelfth Night.

"It means a lot to me to be appreciated for my Shakespeare work, " he told the BBC. "I've loved him since I first came across the plays."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cranston had been the favourite to win his category
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It was a first win for British actress Sophie Okonedo

Kenny Leon won his first Tony for directing the revival of A Raisin in the Sun, and one of the play's stars, Sophie Okonedo, was named best featured actress in a play.

She thanked producer Scott Rudin for believing that a "Jewish, Nigerian Brit" could play the iconic role of Ruth Younger.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, about a glam rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer, saw How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris win his first Tony - best actor in a musical.

Hugh Jackman hosted the ceremony at New York's Radio City Music Hall for the fourth time.

The show included performances by Tony nominee Idina Menzel, Gladys Knight and Sting, who performed a song from his upcoming Broadway debut musical, The Last Ship.

Tony voters include voting members of The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

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