Two namesake champions – Cicely and Mike Tyson – walked into the Radio City Music Hall venue recently in order to share the successes of the Great White Way during the 67th annual Tony Awards but only one left carrying theater’s highest and most coveted honor – the Antoinette Perry Award.
The Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominated Tyson for the first time in her storied history beat out her competition — Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Kristine Nielsen and Holland Taylor — to win the best leading actress in a play category on the night Broadway celebrated a year of musical and dramatic productions.
The former world heavyweight boxing champion who already proved he can fight, bite and act, sang and danced the opening number to the three-hour telecast but he was neither nominated nor scored any victories for his premiere, Broadway, performance of his one-man, life-story titled “The Undisputed truth.”
“I had this burning desire for just one more,” the 79-year-old actress said in accepting her award, “one more great role, I said, I didn’t want to be greedy. I just wanted one more.”
It had been three decades since Tyson entertained from a Broadway stage therefore she concluded “I really didn’t think it would happen again in my lifetime.”
“It’s been 30 years since I stood on this stage,” Tyson explained, “when I think of the moment where I stand before, this moment, I cannot help but remember all of the thumbprints that have touched this being during the course of her career –my m 1other and father, my sister and brother, none of whom are here with me. I’m the sole surviving member of my immediate family and I’ve asked over and over again, why? I now know why.”
During what has since been described as one of the highlights of the telecast, Tyson thanked Ben Ramsey, Hallie Foote, Michael, Bill Haber and the entire Haber family who she said ‘nurtured’ her throughout the last 40 years.
She also doled out kudos to “M.J. who has paid the greatest price for my success and the American Theatre Wing for welcoming me home.”
“Thou are the potter, I’m only the clay,” she added.
From the podium she had never ever spoken previously, Tyson used up all 75-seconds allotted to winners to express the gratitude she apparently felt. When show producers beckoned for her to wind up the speech, she humored them saying “Please wrap it up, it says. Well that’s exactly what you did with me. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years. Now I can go home with a Tony. God Bless you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
For that heartfelt message she was also given a standing ovation by her peers.
A satin, purple fashion statement punctuated her appearance and also shaped the anatomy that throughout a lifetime delivered Tyson’s second major award win.
She previously won two primetime Emmys for television performances in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”
She was also nominated for her role in the miniseries “Roots.”
In 1973 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the movie “Sounder.”
In Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” Tyson portrays a widow in 1953 whose only desire is to revisit her old home in a remote town named Bountiful. Her one desire is to recapture the purpose she lost when she left that beloved place to live with her son in Houston, Texas.
Co-starring Cuba Gooding, Vanessa Williams and Condola Rashad, the play delivered her the highest accolades from theater.
She has appeared in such memorable Broadway productions as “Trumpets of the Lord” and “The Corn Is Green.”
Other winners included: Courtney B. Vance won Best Featured Actor in a Play for “Lucky Guy,” Billy Porter took home Best Leading Actor in a Musical for “Kinky Boots,” and Patina Miller nabbed Best Leading Actress in a Musical for “Pippin.”
LIST OF 2013 TOP TONY AWARDS WINNERS
Best Play: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
Best Musical: “Kinky Boots.”
Best Book of a Musical: “Matilda the Musical.”
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: “Kinky Boots.”
Best Revival of a Play: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Best Revival of a Musical: “Pippin.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Tracy Letts, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Cicely Tyson, “The Trip to Bountiful.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Billy Porter, “Kinky Boots.”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Patina Miller, “Pippin.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Courtney B. Vance, “Lucky Guy.”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Judith Light, “The Assembled Parties.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Gabriel Ebert, “Matilda the Musical.”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Andrea Martin, “Pippin.”
Catch You On The Inside!