EW's Jason Clark on the 60th annual ceremony: Julia Roberts lays on the compliments, Oprah makes a surprising announcement, and more

By Jason Clark
Updated June 12, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Julia Roberts: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Even without a host, the 60th Annual Tony Awards proved to be fairly smooth affair: spirited performances, mostly deserving winners, polished and from-the-heart speeches. Here are some more awards they didn’t give out on the CBS telecast:

BIGGEST SHOCKER In the Best Leading Actress in a Musical category, Patti LuPone’s loss to The Color Purple‘s LaChanze, who snuck up from behind to defeat Sweeney Todd‘s tuba-wielding diva supreme. (Though this victory was personally predicted by yours truly three months ago. Okay, I’ll stop gloating now.)

BIGGEST SHOCKER (RUNNER-UP) Jersey Boys‘ terrific Christian Hoff bested the favored Jim Dale (The Threepenny Opera) as featured actor, a victory forecasted only by EW’s Melissa Rose Bernardo.

BEST SPEECH There were emotional speeches (breathless Drowsy Chaperone featured actress Beth Leavel, choked-up Jersey Boys star John Lloyd Young), but personally, Ian McDiarmid’s simple, uncluttered acceptance for Faith Healer was a highlight. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s got class.

MOST IN NEED OF BETTER EYEWEAR Three Days of Rain star Paul Rudd, who even ad-libbed that he needed LASIK while struggling mightily to read the TelePrompTer. (He’s actually in luck. Among the $35,000 worth of booty given to presenters: a certificate for LASIK surgery.)

HOTTEST OVER-50 WOMAN EVER Is it me, or is Cyndi Lauper turning back time? In her Threepenny Opera performance with Alan Cumming, I couldn’t help but notice that she still looks like the girl on the cover of She’s So Unusual.

BEST QUIP Presenting an award with Avenue Q‘s proud Red State puppet Rod (accompanied by John Tartaglia), Christine Ebersole retorted: ”A Republican puppet. That rings a bell!”

THE ”WAIT, IS OLIVER PLATT WEARING…?” AWARD Yes, sneakers. White ones. Comfort is everything.

MOST SURPRISING CAMEO Introducing the Jersey Boys performance, the now-famously reclusive Joe Pesci emerged with the remaining Four Seasons — looking surprisingly svelte, I might add. (For the uninitiated, Pesci appears as a character in the Tony-winning Best Musical, and one of the Seasons — smart-mouthed hood Tommy DeVito — now serves as Pesci’s driver.)

THE ”NEVER HEARD OF THAT ACTRESS BEFORE” AWARD 1947 Tony winner Patricia Neal, announcing that ”Phisilia Rashad” was once a Tony Award winner.

THE ”WHAT DIED ON YOUR HEAD?” AWARD Hal Holbrook’s unfortunate rug, though the actor told an amusing story about being mistaken for dead. He’s very much alive, but what’s on his noggin these days, I’m not so sure.

BIGGEST SUCK-UP In presenting best actor in a play mere moments after Cynthia Nixon won best actress — the very category she was snubbed in — Julia Roberts deemed all the attendees ”insanely talented people,” ensuring that Broadway folks wouldn’t forget her next time.

BIGGEST (PRESHOW) REVELATION Oprah Winfrey revealed to news channel NY1 that she is actively pursuing a role that will bring her to the Great White Way. Is there any arena this woman won’t claim?

BEST IDEA FOR NEXT YEAR’S SHOW Please, please bring back the PBS tech awards hour before the show! The fact that theater lovers cannot witness these awards (unless they’ve got a webcast) is a crime, since they are so vital to a show’s success. Julia Roberts may sell the tickets, but these hardworking costume, lighting, and set designers (not to mention orchestrators!) give the theater world its backbone.

The complete winners:

Play: The History Boys
Musical: Jersey Boys
Book (Musical): The Drowsy Chaperone, Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics): The Drowsy Chaperone, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Revival (Play): Awake and Sing!
Revival (Musical): The Pajama Game
Actor (Play): Richard Griffiths, The History Boys
Actress (Play): Cynthia Nixon, Rabbit Hole
Actor (Musical): John Lloyd Young, Jersey Boys
Actress (Musical): LaChanze, The Color Purple
Featured Actor (Play): Ian McDiarmid, Faith Healer
Featured Actress (Play): Frances de la Tour, The History Boys
Featured Actor (Musical): Christian Hoff, Jersey Boys
Featured Actress (Musical): Beth Leavel, The Drowsy Chaperone
Direction (Play): Nicholas Hytner, The History Boys
Direction (Musical): John Doyle, Sweeney Todd
Choreography: Kathleen Marshall, The Pajama Game
Orchestrations: Sarah Travis, Sweeney Todd
Scenic Design (Play): Bob Crowley, The History Boys
Scenic Design (Musical): David Gallo, The Drowsy Chaperone
Costume Design (Play): Catherine Zuber, Awake and Sing!
Costume Design (Musical): Gregg Barnes, The Drowsy Chaperone
Lighting Design (Play): Mark Henderson, The History Boys
Lighting Design (Musical): Howell Binkley, Jersey Boys
Regional Theater Tony Award: Intiman Theatre, Seattle
Special Tony Award: Sarah Jones, Bridge and Tunnel
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater: Harold Prince