Spamalot didn't get a lot. Monty Python's Spamalot, an irreverent romp inspired by the British film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, led all plays and musicals at the Tony Awards with 14 nominations but took away only three prizes Sunday. It won the one that mattered, though--best musical. Doubt, John Patrick Shanley's drama about the innocence--or guilt--of a popular parish priest, was named best play, while The Light in the Piazza, a lushly romantic tale set in Italy, had the night's biggest haul with six awards.
Mike Nichols, who won for best musical director for Spamalot, said after the ceremony that he was nervous when the hit musical lost several early technical awards to Piazza before Sara Ramirez took the prize for featured actress. "I sat there thinking, We are in the toilet. This is backlash big-time," Nichols said. "But then it turned out OK." Doubt, the season's most honored play, already had picked up the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and several other top play prizes. "Happy. Joy. Fleeting," Shanley began his acceptance speech, adding: "I want to thank the Sisters of Charity for teaching me how to read and write. I want to thank the Irish Christian Brothers for throwing me out of high school."
Doubt also collected two acting Tonys--for out star Cherry Jones and for featured performer Adriane Lenox--while Doug Hughes was named best director. Hughes later told reporters, "It's nice to see us thriving with a play populated by stage actors.... These are people who understand what this craft is really about."
Billy Crystal won the award for special theatrical event--an autobiographical one-man show titled 700 Sundays--and cracked: "I want to thank everybody in behalf of the entire cast." Bill Irwin took the actor/play prize for his portrayal of the browbeaten husband in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Norbert Leo Butz captured the prize for actor/musical for his role as a French Riviera con man in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.Piazza won for its star, Victoria Clark, who plays a Southern matron shepherding her mentally challenged daughter on a European tour. Its other prizes were for score, sets, costumes, lighting, and orchestrations. One of the year's surprise musical hits, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, took two awards: best book of a musical and best featured actor for Dan Fogler, who plays a nasally challenged and full-figured speller in the show. The actor thanked his parents for their support--and "the DNA." He said later that he had difficulty finding a tuxedo in time for the ceremony, joking that he wants to start a "slightly chubby nominee fund" for actors who are built like him.
The choreography prize was taken by openly gay Jerry Mitchell for the athletic dances he created for the revival of La Cage aux Folles, which also won the prize for musical revival. The play revival award went to a production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. Producer Jeffrey Richards said after the ceremony that he shared his award with Mamet: "This is his first Tony too." Liev Schreiber took the featured actor/play prize for his portrayal of a sleazy real estate salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross.
A special lifetime achievement Tony was given to out playwright Albee, who, besides Woolf, has written such plays as A Delicate Balance and The Goat, which won the Tony for best play in 2002. He dedicated his honor to the memory of his partner of 35 years, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, who died in May after battling cancer: "He made me a happy playwright. And you have made me a happy playwright tonight."
Crystal walked out to open the show at Radio City Music Hall and launched into a monologue as if he were hosting instead of the real host, Hugh Jackman. "I too am head over heels in love with Katie Holmes," Crystal said, poking fun at Tom Cruise's recent appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which he professed his love for his actress girlfriend. The fun didn't end there. Another surprise guest--former Democratic presidential candidate the Reverend Al Sharpton--stunned the crowd by appearing as a speller in a musical number from the cast of Spelling Bee. And Christina Applegate, star of Sweet Charity, took a pretend spill when she came out to present an award--a send-up of the actress's real fall during previews that left her with a broken foot and nearly derailed the show. (Justin Bergman, via AP)
Here is a complete list of winners from the 2005 Tony Awards:
Best Play: Doubt
Best Musical: Monty Python's Spamalot
Best Book of a Musical: Rachel Sheinkin, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: Adam Guettel, The Light in the Piazza
Best Revival of a Play: Glengarry Glen Ross
Best Revival of a Musical: La Cage aux Folles
Best Special Theatrical Event: Billy Crystal, 700 Sundays
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: Bill Irwin, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play: Cherry Jones, Doubt
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: Victoria Clark, The Light in the Piazza
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: Liev Schreiber, Glengarry Glen Ross
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: Adriane Lenox, Doubt
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Dan Fogler, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Sara Ramirez, Monty Python's Spamalot
Best Scenic Design of a Play: Scott Pask, The Pillowman
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Michael Yeargan, The Light in the Piazza
Best Costume Design of a Play: Jess Goldstein, The Rivals
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Catherine Zuber, The Light in the Piazza
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Brian MacDevitt, The Pillowman
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Christopher Akerlind, The Light in the Piazza
Best Direction of a Play: Doug Hughes, Doubt
Best Direction of a Musical: Mike Nichols, Monty Python's Spamalot
Best Choreography: Jerry Mitchell, La Cage aux Folles
Best Orchestrations: Ted Sperling, Adam Guettel, and Bruce Coughlin, The Light in the Piazza
Regional Theatre Tony Award: Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Minneapolis
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Edward Albee