This year's 67th annual Tony Awards race boiled down to a hotly contested duel between a homegrown musical about thigh-high footwear, Kinky Boots, and a British import about a contemporary little girl's Dickensian life, Matilda.
When the smoke cleared, Broadway's big winner was Kinky Boots, which, besides being named best musical of the season, took home a total of six awards, including one for best leading actor in a musical Billy Porter – whose jet-propelled acceptance speech left the crowd touched and breathless.
Best play was Christopher Durang's sidesplitting sendup of Chekhov, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which stars David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver.
Also in the winners' circle were best actor in a drama Tracy Letts for the season's best revival of a play, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and perhaps the most popular winners of the evening, Cicely Tyson and Andrea Martin.
Tyson, 88, named best actress for a drama in the revival of Horton Foote's A Trip to Bountiful, told the crowd that, as the sole surviving member of her family, "I cannot help but remember all the thumbprints that have touched this being all through her career."
Martin's featured role as the sprightly granny in Pippin – which, besides being named best musical revival also scored wins for leading actress Patina Miller and director Diane Paulus – has the 66-year-old singing and dangling on a trapeze with a 25-year-old hunk eight times a week.
"You know how marvelous it is for a woman my age to be picked up by a man like that and not be dropped?" Martin said in her acceptance speech.
Matthew Murphy / Landov
Saying she practiced her speech in front of the shower curtain, Lauper thanked the Broadway community for embracing her. "I've never been a stranger to hard work," she said, "but your hard work is an inspiration to me."
For a complete list of winners, click here.
In an evening that emphasized production numbers over handing out awards, presenters included Audra McDonald, Zachary Quinto Jake Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson, Sally Field, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mike Tyson and Matthew Morrison, while scenes from such favorites as Annie and The Phantom of the Opera helped keep the show bouncing for three hours.
Neil Patrick Harris, back for his fourth time as host (he'll also emcee the Emmys later this year), also produced the show, which returned to the Great Stage of Radio City Music Hall and was broadcast live on CBS.
In a poke at Hollywood, during the outstanding opening number, which received a two-minute standing ovation, Harris requested, "Can I have my [film director] Tom Hooper Les Mis close-up, please?"
Once the laughs subsided, Harris, his face filling the TV monitors, said, "See? On Broadway we don't need extreme close-ups to prove we're singing live."