June 14, 2010 / 1:17 AM / 9 years ago

"Memphis," "Red" early winners at Tony Awards

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Memphis,” a romp that discovers the roots of rock’n’roll and “Red,” a play about artist Mark Rothko picked up early Tony Awards for the past Broadway season at a star-studded ceremony held on Sunday at Radio City Musical Hall.

Eddie Redmayne accepts his award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his work in "Red" at the American Theatre Wing's 64th annual Tony Awards ceremony in New York, June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

“Memphis” an original musical loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, picked up early behind-the-scenes awards including for best original score and best book in a musical while “Red,” also won several early awards including best scenic design and best director of a play.

Hundreds of fans lined the streets in light rain to catch glimpses of Hollywood names nominated for the 64th Tony Awards that include Denzel Washington, Scarlett Johansson, Jude Law, Laura Linney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Johansson was the first big Hollywood name to win an award for best featured actress in a play for her performance in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.

“Being welcomed in this community has been an absolute dream come true,” she said.

English actor Eddie Redmayne won the best featured actor in a play for “Red,” and said “this is the stuff that dreams are made of,” before commending Alfred Molina, who plays Rothko in the production that was transferred from London.

“Will & Grace” actor Sean Hayes hosted the awards and shared the stage with punk rock band Green Day who performed songs from their album turned musical “American Idiot” in front of well-known figures who attended including Cate Blanchett, Will Smith and Antonio Banderas.

The Tony Awards, which do not consider off-Broadway productions, are voted on by about 700 producers, actors and writers. They were established in 1947 and are named for actress, stage director and philanthropist Antoinette Perry, whose nickname was Toni.

Other categories are hotly contested, including the best actor in a play showing a tight race between Molina and Denzel Washington, who has edged ahead for his starring role in a revival of the August Wilson play “Fences.” Liev Schreiber, Christopher Walken and Jude Law are also nominated.

Unlike previous years, competition for the best new musical award is fiercest, with “Fela!” a dance musical telling of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti favored along with “Memphis,” and at lesser odds, Green Day’s musical “American Idiot.”

Additional reporting by Kati Wiessner, Editing by Sandra Maler

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