Audra McDonald won her fifth Tony Award on Sunday for her searing performance in "The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess."
It is her first Tony for a lead performance, having previously won the honor for supporting roles in "Carousel"(1994), "Master Class" (1996), "Ragtime" (1998) and "A Raisin in the Sun"(2004).
Although McDonald's work and singing were widely praised, the revival of the famous opera faced several obstacles on its way to the Tony stage. "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" found itself in the middle of a storm of controversy after Stephen Sondheim criticized director Diane Paulus and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks in a letter to The New York Times last summer for tinkering with the text and adding new scenes.
The dean of musical theater also slammed McDonald for being insufficiently respectful of the source material, but took care to label her voice, ""one of the glories of the American theater."
To win her award, McDonald beat out Jan Maxwell in "Follies," Cristin Milioti in "Once ," Kelli O’Hara in "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and Laura Osnes in "Bonnie & Clyde."