NEW YORK — The bittersweet musical “Once” captured eight Tony Awards on Sunday, including best musical direction, best lead actor in a musical and the top musical prize itself.
The inventive play “Peter and the Starcatcher” was next with five awards. Audra McDonald was named best lead actress in a musical and her “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” was named best musical revival.
Nina Arianda, a rising star, won best leading actress in a play, beating stiff competition from Tracie Bennett, Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Cynthia Nixon.
In perhaps the biggest shock of the night, James Corden nabbed the lead acting Tony Award in a play for his clownish turn in the British import “One Man, Two Guvnors.”
He beat out the favorite, Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman.”
Considered the favorite for her powerful portrayal of Bess in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which won the Tony Award for best musical revival, McDonald captured her fifth Tony, but first as a leading actress.
Raised in Fresno, Calif., and trained at The Juilliard School, she won three Tony Awards before the age of 30 — for “Carousel,” “Master Class” and “Ragtime” — and a fourth in 2004 for “A Raisin in the Sun.”
She has two Grammy Awards, four albums and thinking of a fifth and two Emmy Award nominations. McDonald, a fierce advocate for gay marriage rights, has a daughter and recently was engaged.
She beat out Jan Maxwell, Cristin Milioti, Kelli O’Hara and Laura Osnes.
“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” opened in January starring McDonald, David Alan Grier and Norm Lewis.
Diane Paulus, the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, adapted the Gershwin opera for the Broadway stage with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and Obie Award-winning composer Diedre Murray.
The team condensed the four-hour opera into a two-and-one-half-hour musical, eliminated a lot of the repetitiveness and tried to deepen the characters. Their effort generated headlines when purists including Stephen Sondheim complained that a musical treasure was being corrupted.
Theater audiences disagreed, with fans cheering the new work, which featured songs such as “Summertime” and “Bess, You Is My Woman Now.”
The bittersweet romantic musical “Once” won the best musical prize.
The musical is based on the documentary-style 2006 film about an unlikely love affair between a Czech flower seller and an Irish street musician in Dublin.
Both the film and musical use songs by Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, including the sublime, 2007 Oscar-winning song, “Falling Slowly.” It stars Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti.
It beat out “Newsies,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Leap of Faith.”
Steve Kazee won the award for best lead actor in a musical for his heartfelt and touching performance in “Once.”
Kazee plays an Irish street musician and vacuum cleaner repairman in Dublin who falls in love with a Czech flower seller.
A 36-year-old rising star and guitar player with matinee idol looks, Kazee has gone from replacement parts in “Spamalot” to an understudy role in “Seascape” to starring in “110 in the Shade.” He also starred on CMT’s series “Working Class.”
He beat out Danny Burstein and Ron Raines, both from “Follies,” Jeremy Jordan from “Newsies” and Lewis from “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”
Nina Arianda, a rising star who has won over audiences for two seasons in Tony-nominated parts, won for best leading actress in a play.
The 27-year-old actress beat out stiff competition for her portrayal of a preternaturally talented actress determined to land the lead in a new play in the sexy “Venus in Fur.”
Arianda first made waves when David Ives’ play was seen off-Broadway in 2010. She then earned a Tony nomination last season when she made her Broadway debut in “Born Yesterday.”
Her films include “Shadows & Lies” with James Franco, “Higher Ground” with Vera Farmiga, the Ben Stiller action comedy “Tower Heist” and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”
She beat out Tracie Bennett, Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Cynthia Nixon.
James Corden, who first made his name on stage in “The History Boys,” won the lead acting award in a play for his clownish turn in the British import “One Man, Two Guvnors.”
The play is a slapstick farce about a simpleminded guy who juggles errands for two underworld bosses in an English seaside town in the 1960s. It had hit runs at the National Theatre and the West End.
The 33-year-old Corden co-wrote the hit comedy series “Gavin & Stacey” for BBC and wrote the memoir “May I Have Your Attention, Please?”
He beat Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman,” James Earl Jones from “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man,” Frank Langella in “Man and Boy” and John Lithgow from “The Columnist.”
“Clybourne Park,” the remarkably perceptive Pulitzer Prize-winning play about race and real estate, won the Tony Award for best play.
Bruce Norris’ work riffs off Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama “A Raisin in the Sun,” and is set in the same house in one Chicago neighborhood. The first act takes place in 1959 and the second is set in 2009.