'The Band's Visit' showered with 10 Tony awards

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Andrew Lloyd Webber was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

But the Tonys also honored one of the biggest brands in popular culture, giving "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", an expensive and ambitious sequel to J.K. Rowling's seven smash-hit novels, the prize for best new play. He said the play is a rejection of bigotry, shame and oppression.

The show also won awards for its luminous lead actress, Katrina Lenk, and its director, book and score, among others. Sasson Gabay, who played the role of Tewfiq in the 2007 film, will reprise his performance in the musical adaptation on Broadway.

It was a fitting highlight to a night that saw The Band's Visit, a lyrical meditation on loneliness and connection, win a near-record breaking 10 awards, including Best Musical.

Jackson, 82, returning to Broadway after 30 years and a lengthy term as a British politician, was named best actress for her tour de force performance in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.

"Next to the passing of my dear parents, the birth of my sons and the reunifying of my theater students on February 14, there has never been a more defining moment in my life", Herzfeld said Sunday.

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Several winners noted that elections are coming in November - among them playwright Tony Kushner, who wrote "Angels in America", which won best revival of a play.

Ms Herzfeld saved 65 lives by barricading students into a small classroom cupboard on Valentine's Day when police say a former student went on a school rampage, killing 17 people.

In his acceptance speech, Moses thanked his colleagues, including Shalhoub, who he said contributed to the "amazing cast".

Actor Robert De Niro speaks before introducing Bruce Springsteen's performance. "Let's not forget that 90 percent of us leave empty-handed tonight".

Sunday night's ceremony was a refreshing antidote to eyerolls that may have greeted the nominations, led by splashy commercial titles like Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. Mendez, who plays millworker Carrie Pipperidge in "Carousel, " said that at the beginning of her career "I was told to change my name from Mendez to Matthews or I wouldn't work". He's a graduate of New York University's Tish drama department.

"It's such a great night", she said on the red carpet before the awards. She concluded: "To all the artists out there, be your true self and the world will take note".