Winner: Special Tony Award (announced at nominations, June 3, 1999)
In the spring 1992 edition of Lincoln Center's Serious Fun! Festival, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Bill Irwin teamed up with Canadian Cirque du Soleil clown David Shiner for an hour or so of mostly wordless comedy, backed up by the washboard-style string band, The Red Clay Ramblers. Response was so explosive, Irwin and Shiner, backed by the Ramblers, found themselves on Broadway, Feb. 25, 1993, opening Fool Moon at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
Since then the show has twice returned to Broadway, the last being this season's holiday stint at the Brooks Atkinson. Popular skits in Fool Moon include Shiner's exasperated silent movie director (incorporating unwitting audience members), Irwin's commedia-based Pantalone, and the two-some's vying over a date in a fancy restaurant.
Irwin, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" Grant, developed his silent clown persona in The Regard of Flight and Largely New York. He directed and starred in an Off-Broadway production of Moliere's Scapin for Roundabout Theatre Company, co-starred in Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center, and recently directed A Flea in Her Ear, also for Roundabout.
Shiner resides in Germany and serves as guest director at Berlin's Wintergarden Theatre and Dusseldorf's Apollo Theatre.
The producers of this year's Fool Moon return are James B. Freydberg, Dori Berinstein, Jeffrey Ash and CTM Productions.
Shiner and Irwin opened the 1999 PBS Tony Awards broadcast with some non-mime tomfoolery, which included announcing a special award for actress Uta Hagen.