NEW YORK (AP) - "Memphis" and "Red" each picked up three early victories Sunday at the 2010 Tony Awards, while "American Idiot" and "Fela!" won two apiece.
"Memphis," the rhythm 'n' blues musical set in the 1950s, was cited for best orchestration, original score and best book of a musical, twice beating out "Fela!," which won for best costume design of a musical and best sound design of a musical. "Red," the anguished two-man drama about painter Mark Rothko, was awarded a Tony for best lighting design of a play, best sound design and best scenic design.
"American Idiot," the Green Day musical, won best scenic design of a musical and best lighting design of a musical. The announcements were made off-camera, before the ceremony got underway.
Two strikingly different musicals, "Fela!" and "La Cage aux Folles," were the dominant nominees at Sunday's star-laden Tonys. "Fela!" - the innovative Afro-beat biography of Nigerian superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti - and "La Cage aux Folles" - a revival of the classic Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical farce - had 11 nominations.
They were followed by the revival of August Wilson's "Fences," with 10 nominations and "Memphis," with eight. The ceremony, from Radio City Music Hall and telecast on CBS, begins at 8 p.m. EDT and will be hosted by Sean Hayes, who is up for leading actor in a musical for his portrayal of Chuck Baxter, the insecure company man who lends out his bachelor apartment for extramarital, romantic dalliances by its executives, in a revival of "Promises, Promises."
Historically, Tony-nominated hosts have fared well. Hugh Jackman brought won a trophy in 2004 for his portrayal of Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz."
Nathan Lane won twice while at the helm: in 1996, when he won lead actor in a musical for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"; and in 2001, when he shared duties with Matthew Broderick and won a Tony for "The Producers."
Musical performances from "La Cage aux Folles" with Kelsey Grammer and "A Little Night Music" with Catherine Zeta-Jones are on the bill.
The telecast will also feature a special presentation of Tony Washington and Viola Davis from "Fences," Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Johansson from "A View from the Bridge," and more.
Also on hand: "Glee" cast members Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison; Katie Holmes and Daniel Radcliffe; Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith; and the punk-rock band Green Day, whose 2004 best-selling album "American Idiot" was adapted into one of this year's Tony-nominated musicals.
Special Tony Awards for lifetime achievement will be given to playwright Alan Ayckbourn ("The Norman Conquests," a trilogy that won the play-revival Tony last year), and actress Marian Seldes ("A Delicate Balance," "Equus," "Deathtrap," "Three Tall Women").
Seldes accepted her honor wordlessly, waving at the audience and leaving the stage. The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., will receive the regional theater award.