Best play: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

The two big winners at the 2015 Tony Awards on Sunday were a lesbian-themed musical and a play with a protagonist who’s on the autism spectrum, a clear vote for substance over flash. Both shows won five awards on a raucous telecast hosted by previous Tony winners Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.

"Fun Home" creators Lisa Kron (left) and Jeanine Tesori.
“Fun Home” creators Lisa Kron (left) and Jeanine Tesori.

Fun Home, based on a 2006 coming-of-age memoir by lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, features an eccentric family that runs a funeral home in a small town in Pennsylvania. It won best musical as well as best book of a musical by playwright Lisa Kron (Well, 2.5 Minute Ride), best original score by Kron and Jeanine Tesori (Violet, Caroline, or Change), leading musical actor for Michael Cerveris as the closeted Bechdel patriarch and best direction for Sam Gold.

Kron and Tesori are the first all-female writing team to win a Tony Award for a musical’s score. Ever. During her acceptance speech, Tesori told the crowd that as a young woman she didn’t realize she could have a career in music until she saw a woman conduct on Broadway. Holding up her Tony, she said, “For girls, you have to see it to be it. We stand on the shoulders of other women who have come before us.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a British import based on Mark Haddon’s novel about a teen who appears to be autistic solving a crime in which his father becomes a principal suspect, was named best play and earned Tony awards for leading actor Alex Sharp, who plays the teen; director Marianne Elliott; lighting design for Paule Constable; and scenic designers Bunny Christie and Finn Ross.

Leading actress in a musical: "The King and I's" Kelli O'Hara.
Leading actress in a musical: “The King and I’s” Kelli O’Hara.

Audiences are unlikely to see either show — both are too small — at the Fox Theatre, Atlanta’s Broadway home. But don’t be surprised if either shows up soon in a season at Actor’s Express, Horizon Theatre, Aurora Theatre or another local playhouse. Shows that could potentially find their way to the Fox include a sumptuous revival of The King and I, On the Town and Gigi. Both On the Town and Gigi were shut out of the awards and are playing to relatively light houses on Broadway (76 percent and 64 percent capacity, respectively). Closing notices and national tours might be in their future sooner rather than later. The Visit, the Kander and Ebb revenge musical starring the great Chita Rivera, was also shut out and today announced it will close June 14.

At age 82, this might be the last time we see Rivera, a two-time Tony winner and nine-time nominee, on the Broadway stage, which would be a shame. She won best actress in a musical honors for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and The Rink (1984).

Perhaps one of the night’s most popular winners was Kelli O’Hara, who won for the first time in seven tries. O’Hara (The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, Pajama Game) was named best leading actress in a musical for her work as Anna Leonowens in a Lincoln Center revival of The King and I. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic was named best musical revival and won an award for featured actress Ruthie Ann Miles, who plays the King’s chief wife, Lady Thiang.

The winners are highlighted in bold below:


  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from the Mark Haddon best-seller
  • Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
  • Hand to God by Robert Askins
  • Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2 by Hilary Mantel & Mike Poulton


  • An American in Paris by George & Ira Gershwin, with a new book by Craig Lucas
  • Fun Home by Lisa Kron & Jeanine Tesori and based on the graphic-novel memoir by Alison Bechdel
  • Something Rotten! by Karey Kirkpatrick, John O’Farrell & Wayne Kirkpatrick
  • The Visit by John Kander & Fred Ebb, with a book by Terrence McNally


  • The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance (and starring Bradley Cooper)
  • Skylight by David Hare (with Carey Mulligan & Bill Nighy)
  • This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan
  • You Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman


  • The King and I
  • On the Town 
  • On the Twentieth Century


  • An American in Paris, Craig Lucas
  • Fun Home, Lisa Kron
  • Something Rotten!, Karey Kirkpatrick & John O’Farrell
  • The Visit, Terrence McNally


  • Fun Home, Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron
  • The Last Ship, Sting
  • Something Rotten!, Wayne Kirkpatrick & Karey Kirkpatrick
  • The Visit, John Kander & Fred Ebb


  • Steven Boyer, Hand to God
  • Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
  • Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • Bill Nighy, Skylight
  • Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


  • Geneva Carr, Hand to God
  • Helen Mirren, The Audience
  • Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
  • Carey Mulligan, Skylight
  • Ruth Wilson, Constellations


  • Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
  • Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
  • Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
  • Ken Watanabe, The King and I
  • Tony Yazbeck, On the Town


  • Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
  • Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
  • Beth Malone, Fun Home
  • Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
  • Chita Rivera, The Visit


  • Matthew Beard, Skylight
  • K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
  • Richard McCabe, The Audience
  • Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
  • Nathaniel Park, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play


  • Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
  • Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • Sara Stiles, Hand to God
  • Julie White, Airline Highway


  • Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
  • Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
  • Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
  • Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
  • Max von Essen, An American in Paris


  • Victoria Clark, Gigi
  • Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
  • Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
  • Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
  • Emily Skeggs, Fun Home


  • Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Bob Crowley, Skylight
  • Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • David Rockwell, You Can’t Take It With You


  • Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
  • David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
  • Michael Yeargan, The King and I
  • David Zinn, Fun Home


  • Bob Crowley, The Audience
  • Jane Greenwood, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • David Zinn, Airline Highway


  • Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
  • Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
  • William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
  • Catherine Zuber, The King and I


  • Paule ConstableThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • Natasha Katz, Skylight
  • Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway


  • Donald HolderThe King and I
  • Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
  • Ben Stanton, Fun Home
  • Japhy Weideman, The Visit


  • Stephen DaldrySkylight
  • Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2
  • Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God


  • Sam Gold, Fun Home
  • Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
  • John Rando, On the Town
  • Bartlett Sher, The King and I
  • Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


  • Joshua BergasseOn the Town
  • Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
  • Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
  • Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris


  • Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
  • John Clancy, Fun Home
  • Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
  • Rob Mathes, The Last Ship


Slide-show photo: Sydney Lucas in “Fun Home.”


About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

View all posts by Kathy Janich