The boys – David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish – who share the title role in the tuner "Billy Elliot" made Tony Awards history twice tonight with their lead actor win. They are the youngest winners of a lead acting prize at the Tony Awards, and they are the first co-nominees in a musical to win. This talented trio beat out Gavin Creel ("Hair"), Brian d'Arcy James ("Shrek"), Constantine Maroulis ("Rock of Ages") and J. Robert Spencer ("Next to Normal").
Trent Kowalik is 14, and David Alvarez and Kiril Kulish are both 15. While they are the youngest lead acting winners, two other tykes hold the overall record. Frankie Michaels was six weeks shy of turning 11 in 1966 when he won featured actor in a musical for playing young Patrick in "Mame." And Daisy Eagan was 11 years, 7 months when she won the featured actress in a musical prize for "The Secret Garden" in 1991.
However, the Billys are the first musical co-nominees to win. The first instance of the Tonys spreading the wealth around is also the oddest. In 1960, Lauri Peters — playing Liesl in "The Sound of Music" — shared her supporting actress nod with the other six Von Trapp children, including the two boys! This singing septet lost to costar Patricia Neway, who played the Reverend Mother and trilled the show-stopping "Climb Every Mountain." (By the way, that role was played in the 1965 Oscar-winning best picture by Peggy Wood, who lost her supporting actress bid to Shelley Winters for "A Patch of Blue.")
The other three times a Tony nod was shared were just between a pair of performers. In 1966, Donal Donnelly and Patrick Bedford — who played the private and public Gar in "Philadelphia Here I Come" — lost their joint best actor in a play bid to Hal Holbrook for his one-man show "Mark Twain Tonight." In 1975, John Kani and Winston Ntshona won best actor in a play for "Sizwe Banzi Is Dead" and "The Island," two one-acts in which they appeared together. And in 1998, Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley earned a best actress in a musical nod for playing real-life Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in "Side Show" but lost to Natasha Richardson for the revival of "Cabaret."