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SOUND OFF Special Edition: 2015 Tony Awards In Review - A Spectacular Show Packed With Shocks & Surprises

Tonight we recount the highs, lows and most memorable moments of the 2015 Tony Awards, which was once again presented at NYC landmark Radio City Music Hall and was hosted by fellow Tony Award winners Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. Besides the fabulous festivities we have come to expect from Broadway's biggest night - the fashion, the showstoppers, the stars, the excitement and overall incredible electricity - there were quite a few surprises for fans both viewing at home and live in person, insofar as category upsets and also unexpected performances. Let's take a look at the top ten most noteworthy examples of what made this telecast stand out from the pack.

1. "A Musical". The biggest showstopper of the season kicked off the Tony Awards telecast proper (as far as nominated musicals were represented) in a grand and gob-smacking manner, introducing the SOMETHING ROTTEN! gem to a national audience in its first time being presented on TV. It was certainly worth the wait, as fellow nominees Brad Oscar and Brian D'Arcy James began the night with vivacious verve.

2. Sydney Lucas of "Fun Home". In an unprecedented moment for TV, Sydney Lucas recreated her impossibly moving and tender ballad from the Best Score recipient, giving glorious voice to Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's magnetic character number, "Ring Of Keys". An 11-year-old girl singing about her sexual awakening, ostensibly all about a butch delivery woman at a luncheonette in the 1970s? Groundbreaking - and ingeniously played. Brava.

3. Josh Groban leads all the nominees in a stupendous and tasteful In Memoriam sequence. The trickiest and most problematic of all segments in any awards show is always the tribute to those that we have lost over the year since last year's show and for once the In Memoriam sequence was a highlight of the night and not a cringe-worthy or head-scratching experience. Joined by the entire company of 2015 nominees, this was a performance for the record books - and a standout example of how to do this kind of thing right. Right on.

4. Chita Rivera gives a musical theatre masterclass. The greatest living legend as far as Broadway triple-threats are concerned, Chita Rivera joined with the company of THE VISIT for a stirring, searing and soulful rendition of a medley of tunes from the iconic score by her frequent collaborators, the legendary Tony Award-winning team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. The best, especially at 82.

5. Christian Borle proves that it might be "Hard To Be The Bard" but it is extremely easy to walk away with a well-earned Tony for Best Featured Actor In A Musical when the musical is more or less all about William Shakespeare and you are playing the Bard himself - particularly in an attention-grabbing, Prince-esque manner and with so much sass and swagger as he does in SOMETHING ROTTEN! eight times a week. Rockstar.

6. Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth prove affable, game and affectionate hosts. The palpable rapport between the appealing twosome was amply apparent to witness throughout the evening, with Cumming's edgy and fiercely unique demeanor playing excellently off of Chenoweth's sweet and saucy sides - such as in the cuddly, nudge-nudge spoken/sung medley that introduced the telecast. A perfect pair to fete Antoinette.

7. Tommy Tune takes home Tony Award #10. The only person to win Tony Awards being a performer as well as director and choreographer - and the only individual to take home trophies for both of the latter two categories in consecutive seasons - Broadway legend Tommy Tune reminded us all why he is as good as it gets with his appearance on the telecast. Tops in taps - not only that, but total tops, period!

8. Best Actress In A Musical. Without a doubt the absolute toughest category of all in a night packed with nail-biters, it could have gone any which way - FUN HOME's emotional centerpiece (Beth Malone), THE VISIT's legendary leading lady (Chita Rivera), THE KING AND I's six-time nominee (Kelli O'Hara), AN AMERICAN IN PARIS's balletic bombshell (Leanne Cope) or ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY's incomparable superstar (Kristin Chenoweth). In the end, though, the prize went to the most deserving of them all - and after that many nominations, the time finally arrived for Ms. O'Hara, who danced away with the prize.

9. Lisa Howard from IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU steals the show. Social media exploded following Howard's superb and utterly jaw-dropping performance from the altogether non-nominated new musical. Although the box office has been dangerously low the last several weeks, this single showstopper could do a lot of good to improve the prospects for the small-scale musical comedy. Time will tell, but either way, Lisa Howard is the name on everybody's lips after tonight.

10. FUN HOME claims Best Musical. While it was a foregone conclusion for some astute prognosticators and wizened Broadway babies heading into tonight's show that the big prize this season would go to AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, which was tied with FUN HOME with an astounding 12 Tony nominations, the trophy ultimately went to the touching and unmistakably adult memory play-esque musical about a teenage lesbian, her closeted gay father and their lives at a meticulously preserved funeral home in the 1970s, bringing the unusually engrossing telecast full-circle to its conclusion - or, should I say, full-ring.

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)