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A.R.T. Sweeps Tonys With ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess’ and ‘Once’

Cristin Milioti, left, and Steve Kazee perform in a scene from 'Once' at the 66th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday in New York. (AP)

BOSTON — The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge enjoyed a sweep at the 2012 Tony Awards Sunday night in New York, with both “Once” and “The Gerswhins’ Porgy and Bess” taking home awards.

“Porgy and Bess” won for the best revival of a musical and best lead actress. On stage, Audra McDonald wept as she accepted the statue for her performance as Bess.

“I’m so grateful to be a part of this company,” McDonald said, then listed off the names of people who made “Porgy and Bess” a reality, including director Diane Paulus.

To prepare for her role in this re-working of the classic opera, McDonald spent countless hours with Paulus developing “Porgy and Bess” at the A.R.T. in Cambridge before taking the show to Broadway.

Julie Hennrikus of Stage Source, a nonprofit group dedicated to New England’s theater community, said it’s a thrilling win for the A.R.T., “and for Diane Paulus, and for Harvard University, and for Boston theater, in that it shines a light on the area’s vibrant theater scene.”

When asked if it was an unusually strong take for the A.R.T., Hennrikus replied, “I don’t know that it’s unusually strong because I think stuff that we send to New York is good stuff.”

That would include the bittersweet bar room musical, “Once,” which took home eight Tonys — among them best musical. It was also nurtured at the A.R.T.

John Tiffany won for best director of a musical for “Once,” beating out Paulus.

Still, Hennrikus said “Porgy and Bess’” other Tonys are clear proof of Paulus’ agility and skill as a director.

“They’re the captain of the ship, and she brought it in,” Hennrikus said. “So I think and would imagine that she’s as proud as if she’d won.”

All in all, Hennrikus said this year’s A.R.T. sweep at the Tony’s is a boost to Boston’s reputation as a theater incubator on every level — from the large regional stages to the fringe.

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