The bittersweet musical "Once" captured eight Tony Awards on Sunday, including best musical direction, best lead actor in a musical and the top musical prize itself.
The inventive play "Peter and the Starcatcher" was next with five awards. Audra McDonald was named best lead actress in a musical, and her "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" was named best musical revival.
Nina Arianda, a rising star, won best leading actress in a play, beating stiff competition from Tracie Bennett, Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Cynthia Nixon.
In perhaps the biggest shock of the night, James Corden nabbed the lead acting Tony Award in a play for his clownish turn in the British import "One Man, Two Guvnors." He beat out the favorite, Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Death of a Salesman."
John Tiffany, the British director of "Once," won Sunday, making his Broadway debut. The musical also won best orchestration and best sound design, and Enda Walsh took home the award for best book of a musical.
Mike Nichols, one of those rare people who have won a Tony, Grammy, Oscar and Emmy, won his ninth Tony for directing "Death of a Salesman." He had won six times previously, directing such shows as "Barefoot in the Park," "The Odd Couple" and "Spamalot."
On winning, Nichols said Arthur Miller's 63-year-old play gets truer as time goes by and has a special meaning for actors. "There's not a person in this theater that doesn't know what it is to be a salesman -- to be out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine," he said. "As we know, a salesman has got to dream. It goes with the territory."
"Peter and the Starcatcher" won for best costume design and best sound design for a play. Christian Borle, who plays the clumsy, overheated pirate who will be Captain Hook in the Peter Pan prequel, was named best featured actor in a play.
"Thank you for making this so much fun," said Borle, who also stars in the NBC series "Smash." He said he was even more pleased that his mother was in the crowd.
Judith Light, who plays an acerbic alcoholic in "Other Desert Cities," won for for best featured actress in a play. Michael McGrath won for best actor in a featured musical role from "Nice Work If You Can Get It."
With no clear, dying-to-see-it front-running musical like last year's juggernaut, "The Book of Mormon," the show Sunday in the Beacon Theatre began with a nod to the past, with host Neil Patrick Harris joining with the cast of "Mormon" for their opening number of "Hello!" from the 2011 musical winner.
He then was surrounded by dancers in tuxes and shimmering dresses for a rousing original number in which he wished that real life was more like theater, complete with backup dancers, rhymes and quick costume changes. He had cameo help from Patti LuPone, the little red-headed orphan from "Annie" and a flying Mary Poppins.
Christopher Gattelli, who thrillingly combined ballet with bold athletic moves in "Newsies," won the best choreography Tony. His work included a sequence of synchronized dancing on real newspapers and carved out of a few moments for each young dancer to spotlight his talents. It is his first award; he previously was nominated for "South Pacific" in 2008.
The three-hour telecast was packed with stars and performances from musicals, plays and revivals. The explosion of performances was an attempt to showcase as much on Broadway as possible. One performance wasn't even nearby -- the song from "Hairspray" was performed from a cruise ship in the Caribbean Sea.