to the future -- and to its past -- at the 2008 Tony
Awards with In the Heights, the best musical
winner, and August: Osage County, the best
play, sharing the spotlight with a nearly 60-year-old
Heights, a salsa and rap-flavored look at the
Latino immigrant experience in Upper Manhattan, and
August, a brutal dissection of a backbiting
Oklahoma family, were written by artists making their
Yet it was
Lincoln Center Theater's lush, lavish revival of the Rodgers
and Hammerstein classic that took more awards -- seven --
than any other show Sunday at Radio City Music Hall.
Besides winning the musical-revival prize, it
collected awards for debonair leading man Paulo Szot, who
plays the French plantation owner Emile de Becque;
director Bartlett Sher; and the designers of its sets,
costumes, lighting, and sound.
Sher, in his
acceptance speech, thanked not only the men who wrote the
show's music and lyrics, but its original director, Joshua
Logan, and James Michener, who wrote the World War II
short stories on which the musical (which won nine
Tonys back in 1950) is based.
"They were kind
of incredible men, because they seem to teach me
particularly that in a way I wasn't only an artist but I was
also a citizen," Sher said. "And the work that we do
in these musicals or in any of these plays is not only
important in terms of entertaining people, but that
our country was really a pretty great place, and that
perhaps it could be a little better, and perhaps, in fact,
we could change."
Miranda, who wrote the Tony-winning score for In the
Heights, rapped his acceptance speech and later
proclaimed, "It is like the best prom ever, dude. I have
several more musicals inside my head, and I want to write
them." The show, which was first seen off-Broadway
last season before moving to Broadway this year, also
won awards for choreography and orchestrations.
August playwright Tracy Letts, whose previous
work in New York was seen only off-Broadway, said, "Writing
is better than acting. You get to use your words and
you don't need to be there eight days a week."
And in thanking
his producers, Letts took a swipe at Broadway shows that
cast movie stars and winners from TV reality shows by
saying, "They did an amazing thing: They decided to
produce an American play on Broadway with theater
Two of his
August actors, Deanna Dunagan and Rondi Reed,
and the play's director, Anna D. Shapiro, also won Tonys for
their work in the show, which began life last summer at
Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Said Dunagan, who
portrays the bilious matriarch in the play: "This is
so overwhelming. This whole year has been entirely
unexpected and astonishing. ... After 34 years in
regional theater, I never thought about it [the
Tonys]. I watched it on television like everybody
the musical revival prize to South Pacific,Gypsy monopolized the musical performance
prizes, taking three of the four awards.
The most dramatic
was Patti LuPone's win for her portrayal of Rose, the
ultimate stage mother. Her rendition of "Everything's Coming
Up Roses" during the show got the cheering audience to
"It's such a
wonderful gift to be an actor who makes her living on
the Broadway stage and then every 30 years or so picks up
one of these," said an exuberant LuPone, who last won
a Tony in 1980 for Evita. ''I was afraid to write a
speech, because I had written a couple before and they
never made it out of my purse. So I'm going to use one
of the old ones and add a few names."
Her costar Boyd
Gaines did even better. He collected his fourth Tony,
winning for his portrayal of Rose's gentlemanly
candy-salesman suitor, Herbie. And Laura Benanti, who
plays the ugly duckling daughter who blossoms into
Gypsy Rose Lee in the show, received the featured-actress
Boeing-Boeing, a 1960s sex farce awash in
slammed doors and split-second timing, took the play revival
prize. Its lead, Mark Rylance, who portrays a nerdy
visitor to Paris, won the top acting prize. He gave
the night's most bewildering acceptance speech,
riffing about wearing clothing appropriate to your vocation
might appear that you don't know what you're doing,
that you're just wandering the earth, no particular reason
for being here, no particular place to go," he said.
"Thanks very much for this."
Passing Strange, which had been expected to
give In the Heights the stiffest competition,
managed to take only one award -- book of a musical -- for
its star and creator, Stew, another Broadway newcomer.
He said the
intention of Passing Strange, a young black
man's journey through sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, was to
stay "true to the music that people actually listen to ...
on subways or when they're at home getting stoned or
when they're at parties." (AP)