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'Hairspray' commands Tonys

| Monday, June 9, 2003

NEW YORK -- "Hairspray" took hold of the 2003 Tony Awards on Sunday, winning five, including best book, score and direction.

A production of Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece"Long Day's Journey Into Night" was named best revival.

"If anyone cuts me off, there's a virtual orchestra at 'Hairspray' on Tuesday," composer Marc Shaiman joked, referring to the short musicians strike that shut down Broadway musicals in March. Virtual, computer-driven orchestras were an issue in the dispute.

Shaiman shared the award with co-lyricist Scott Wittman, with whom he's been partners for 25 years and to whom he declared his continued love.

Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, the two authors of "Hairspray," consciously talked over each other while proclaiming the need for collaboration and listening to each other.

Jack O'Brien, the show's director, also was honored as was featured actor Dick Latessa, who portrays Harvey Fierstein's diminutive husband.

Jane Krakowski, the voluptuous mistress in "Nine," received the featured-actress award.

In an upset, a visibly shocked Joe Mantello received the direction prize for his work on "Take Me Out" -- an award that Robert Falls of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" was favored to win.

"Acting is a team sport and we have the best team in the world," said an enthusiastic Denis O'Hare as he picked up the prize for featured actor. O'Hare plays a nebbish business manager who discovers the joys of baseball in "Take Me Out."

Michelle Pawk, who played Carol Burnett's alcoholic mother in the short-lived "Hollywood Arms," won the featured-actress prize.

"I have never ever been more proud to be a member of this community," said Pawk. "Men kissing each other on stage, drag queens, children -- it a perfect world. As it should be."

Billy Joel, who won a pre-telecast award for orchestrations, opened the 2003 Tony ceremonies in Times Square, singing "New York State of Mind."

The song is featured in "Movin' Out," a dance celebration of songs by Joel, who, along with Stuart Malina, won the award for best orchestrations. The show's creator, Twyla Tharp, also garnered the award for choreography.

"La Boheme," Baz Luhrmann's lavish retelling of the Puccini opera, picked up two design awards, one for sets, created by Luhrmann's wife, Catherine Martin, and the other for lighting, by Nigel Levings.

William Ivey Long's outlandish 1960s clothes for "Hairspray," won the costume prize.

"Hairspray" was expected to pick up more prizes as the night went on.

It was a strange, unevenly divided Broadway season with two of its biggest hits -- "Hairspray" and "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" -- arriving last August. Then there was nothing that made both the critics and box-office receipts really jump until the appearance of Banderas in the revival of "Nine" in early April and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" a month later.

Between last fall and this spring, Broadway suffered through continuing economic doldrums, unusually severe winter weather, the musicians strike and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- not to mention such expensive musical flops as "Dance of the Vampires" and "Urban Cowboy," and tepid revivals of "Flower Drum Song" and "The Boys From Syracuse."

But thanks to ever-rising ticket prices (most musicals are now $100 a ticket and so is "Long Day's Journey Into Night"), Broadway grossed a record $720.9 million for the season ending May 31, up 12 percent from the previous year.

Attendance topped 11.4 million, up 4.3 percent from the previous year, the season that included the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Tonys, chosen in 22 categories, are voted on by more than 700 members of the theatrical community and journalists.

The Winners


Best Musical: Hairspray

Best Play: Take Me Out

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: Harvey Fierstein for Hairspray

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: Marissa Jaret Winokur for Hairspray

Best Revival of a Musical: Nine The Musical

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play: Vanessa Redgrave for Long Day's Journey into Night

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: Brian Dennehy for Long Day's Journey into Night

Best Revival of a Play: Long Day's Journey Into Night

Best Direction of a Musical: Jack O'Brien for Hairspray

Best Special Theatrical Event: Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Jane Krakowski for Nine The Musical

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Dick Latessa for Hairspray

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: Michele Pawk for Hollywood Arms

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: Denis O'Hare for Take Me Out

Best Direction of a Play: Joe Mantello for Take Me Out

Best Choreography: Twyla Tharp for Movin' Out

Best Original Score: Scott Whittman, Marc Shaiman for Hairspray

Best Book of a Musical: Thomas Meehan, Mark O'Donnell for Hairspray

Best Scenic Design: Catherine Martin for La Bohème

Best Costume Design: William Ivey Long for Hairspray

Best Lighting Design: Nigel Levings for La Bohème

Best Orchestrations: Stuart Malina, Billy Joel for Movin' Out

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Cy Feuer

Regional Theatre Tony Award: The Children's Theatre Company

Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre: The principal ensemble of La Bohème Paul Huntley Johnson-Liff Casting Associates The Acting Company

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