CONTACT AND COPENHAGEN WIN TOP 1999-2000 TONY AWARDS

Tony Awards   CONTACT AND COPENHAGEN WIN TOP 1999-2000 TONY AWARDS The 54th annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards ceremony were held June 4, 8-11 PM (EST), at newly-renovated Radio City Music Hall in New York City. As in the past three years, PBS television aired the first hour (though some cities, such as San Francisco, did not carry that broadcast), and CBS TV carried the rest of the ceremony. Rosie O'Donnell hosted the Tonys, with Nathan Lane serving as ubiquitous comic co-host on both the PBS hour and as "special guest" on the CBS hours.
Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell, Heather Headley, Jennifer Ehle and Stephen Dillane.
Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell, Heather Headley, Jennifer Ehle and Stephen Dillane. (Photo by Photo by Aubrey Reuben)

The 54th annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards ceremony were held June 4, 8-11 PM (EST), at newly-renovated Radio City Music Hall in New York City. As in the past three years, PBS television aired the first hour (though some cities, such as San Francisco, did not carry that broadcast), and CBS TV carried the rest of the ceremony. Rosie O'Donnell hosted the Tonys, with Nathan Lane serving as ubiquitous comic co-host on both the PBS hour and as "special guest" on the CBS hours.

Big winners were Copenhagen for Best Play and Contact for Best Musical. Kiss Me, Kate led in awards overall, with five: Revival of a Musical, Direction of a Musical, Actor (Brian Stokes Mitchell) Costumes and Orchestration. Copenhagen also picked up a Featured Actress Award for Blair Brown and direction honors for Michael Blakemore. Aida racked up three awards during the PBS hour: Original Score, Scenic and Lighting Design; and one more biggie late in the evening: for leading actress, Heather Headley. Blakemore was a double-direction winner, for both Copenhagen and Kiss Me, Kate. The Real Thing snagged Best Play Revival honors. A Moon for the Misbegotten's Roy Dotrice was named Best Featured Actor, with Jennifer Ehle picked as Leading Actress in a Play (over her mom, Waiting in the Wings' Rosemary Harris) for The Real Thing. Stephen Dillane, her co-star, picked up Best Actor honors. Contact's Karen Ziemba and Boyd Gaines won the featured acting in a musical honors, with Susan Stroman's choreography also winning for that show.

Though producers for the critically-drubbed Aida are no doubt celebrating their good fortune, some other shows that could have used a box office boost may find it rough going after coming away empty on Tony night. The Wild Party won none of its seven nominations, and composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa did no better for his earlier show, the five-time nominee Marie Christine. The Music Man, a critical favorite and nominated for eight awards and winner of none, is already drawing family audiences and likely to do well throughout the summer, while True West will face a box office test only when current stars (both nominees) Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly leave in mid-June.

Here are the 1999-2000 Tony Award nominees and winners:

[NOTE: The following awards, in the following order, were given during the PBS broadcast; winners are indicated by caps and boldface.] Best Choreography:
Kathleen Marshall, Kiss Me, Kate
SUSAN STROMAN, Contact
Susan Stroman, The Music Man
Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Swing!

Best Book of a Musical:
John Weidman, Contact
RICHARD NELSON, James Joyce's The Dead
Michael John LaChiusa, Marie Christine
Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe, The Wild Party

Best Original Score:
ELTON JOHN, TIM RICE, Aida
Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson, James Joyce's The Dead
Michael John LaChiusa, Marie Christine
Michael John LaChiusa, The Wild Party

Best Orchestrations:
Doug Besterman, The Music Man
DON SEBESKY, Kiss Me, Kate
Jonathan Tunick, Marie Christine
Harold Wheeler, Swing!

Best Scenic Design :
BOB CROWLEY, Aida
Thomas Lynch, The Music Man
Robin Wagner, Kiss Me, Kate
Tony Walton, Uncle Vanya

Best Lighting Design :
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, The Wild Party
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Marie Christine
Peter Kaczorowski, Kiss Me, Kate
NATASHA KATZ, Aida

Best Costume Design :
Bob Crowley, Aida
Constance Hoffman, The Green Bird
William Ivey Long, The Music Man
MARTIN PAKLEDINAZ, Kiss Me, Kate

Best Direction Of A Musical :
MICHAEL BLAKEMORE, Kiss Me, Kate
Lynne Taylor Corbett, Swing!
Susan Stroman, The Music Man
Susan Stroman, Contact

Best Direction Of A Play :
MICHAEL BLAKEMORE, Copenhagen
James Lapine, Dirty Blonde
David Leveaux, The Real Thing
Matthew Warchus, True West

Special Regional Theatre Tony
UTAH SHAKESPEAREAN FESTIVAL, Cedar City, UT.

[NOTE: The following awards, in the following order, were given during the CBS broadcast; winners are indicated by caps and boldface.]

Best Revival of a Play:
Amadeus
Moon for the Misbegotten
THE REAL THING
The Price

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play :
Kevin Chamberlin, Dirty Blonde
Daniel Davis, Wrong Mountain
ROY DOTRICE, A Moon for the Misbegotten
Derek Smith, The Green Bird
Bob Stillman, Dirty Blonde

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play:
BLAIR BROWN, Copenhagen
Frances Conroy, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan
Amy Ryan, Uncle Vanya
Helen Stenborg, Waiting in the Wings
Sarah Woodward, The Real Thing

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical :
Michael Berresse, Kiss Me, Kate
BOYD GAINES, Contact
Michael Mulheren, Kiss Me, Kate
Stephen Spinella, James Joyce's The Dead
Lee Wilkof, Kiss Me, Kate

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play :
Jayne Atkinson, Rainmaker
JENNIFER EHLE, The Real Thing
Rosemary Harris, Waiting in the Wings
Cherry Jones, A Moon for the Misbegotten
Claudia Shear, Dirty Blonde

Best Revival of a Musical:
KISS ME, KATE
The Music Man
Jesus Christ Superstar
Tango Argentino

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play:
Gabriel Byrne, A Moon for the Misbegotten
STEPHEN DILLANE, The Real Thing
Philip Seymour Hoffman, True West
John C. Reilly, True West
David Suchet, Amadeus

Best Play:
COPENHAGEN by Michael Frayn
Dirty Blonde by Claudia Shear
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan by Arthur Miller
True West by Sam Shepard

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical :
Craig Bierko, The Music Man
BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL, Kiss Me, Kate
George Hearn, Putting It Together
Mandy Patinkin, The Wild Party
Christopher Walken, James Joyce's The Dead

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical:
Laura Benanti, Swing!
Ann Hampton Callaway, Swing!
Eartha Kitt, The Wild Party
Deborah Yates, Contact
KAREN ZIEMBA, Contact

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:
Toni Collette, The Wild Party
HEATHER HEADLEY, Aida
Rebecca Luker, The Music Man
Audra McDonald, Marie Christine
Marin Mazzie, Kiss Me, Kate

Best Musical:
CONTACT
James Joyce's The Dead
Swing!
The Wild Party

Special Lifetime Achievement Tony
T. EDWARD HAMBLETON, founder of the Phoenix Theatre.

Excellence in Theatre
Actress EILEEN HECKART.

Special Awards
DAME EDNA, ENCORES! at City Center & agent SYLVIA HERSCHER.

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The PBS Tony broadcast opened with Nathan Lane singing parody lyrics to "Comedy Tonight," poking fun at the first hour being only on public television. Rosie then came out, bound and gagged, as if Lane had tied her up so he could host the evening. After that came the first documentary segment, "The Musical Season," with a video montage of clips and interviews with choreographers, composers and lyricists.

Bebe Neuwirth presented the Best Choreography Award, with Susan Stroman winning for Contact (and crediting her late husband, Mike Ockrent, in her speech). Neuwirth also presented the award for Best Book of a Musical, won by Richard Nelson for James Joyce's The Dead, and Best Original Score, won by Elton John and Tim Rice for Aida (though they were not present at the ceremony).

Kristin Chenoweth presented the award for Best Scenic Design, won by Bob Crowley for Aida. She also presented the Lighting Design Award (leading to Nathan Lane joking, "A lighting designer can change the mood faster than a bi-polar clown at a children's party."), which went to Natasha Katz (Aida). Dame Edna, in pink "Levolor" frock and trademark wisteria hair, presented the Best Costume Award -- as well as a big, lipsticky smooch -- to Martin Pakledinaz.

Ann Reinking presented the Director of a Musical award to Michael Blakemore (Kiss Me, Kate). Al Pacino announced the award for Best Director of a Play, which brought Blakemore back to the podium for his second nod.

The CBS broadcast began with Rosie leading a version of Jesus Christ Superstar's "Superstar" (with lyrics noting how famous TV and movie stars started in theatre), threading its way into Megan Mullally singing "Paris Original" and numbers by Jesse L. Martin and Grand Hotel's Jane Krakowski.

Announced by O'Donnell with "Taking on the Shuberts is like taking on The Sopranos," presenter Patrick Stewart strode on and added, "What can I say? ...Nothing." Producer Anita Waxman accepted the award for revival winner, The Real Thing. Dixie Carter presented the award for Featured Actor in a Play, which went to Roy Dotrice. Blair Brown's James Joyce's The Dead costar, Christopher Walken, presented Brown with the Best Featured Actress Award for her work in Copenhagen.

Susan Lucci presented the award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical to Boyd Gaines. American Theater Wing Board chairperson Isabelle Stevenson then introduced Barry Bostwick, who explained what the Wing does for the American Theatre. (The pairing led guest star Lane to compare them to filmdom's "Harold and Maude.") Matthew Broderick presented the Leading Actress in a Play Award to Jennifer Ehle. Carol Burnett (Moon Over Buffalo, Putting It Together) announced the award for Musical Revival: Kiss Me, Kate.

The Leading Actor in a Play award -- to Stephen Dillane -- was announced by Kathie Lee Gifford. Kelsey Grammer (Macbeth) announced the award for Best Play - Copenhagen. Sharon Lawrence presented the Leading Actor in a Musical Tony to Brian Stokes Mitchell. Jekyll & Hyde's Jack Wagner presented the Featured Actress in a Musical Award to Karen Ziemba. Bernadette Peters gave out the last award of the night: Best Musical, to Contact.

Amazingly, the CBS broadcast came in more than a minute under the time limit, leading Lane and O'Donnell to do their requisite ribbing on the perceived stinginess of producers Fran and Barry Weissler (look at their tours: "Guy and Doll," "Cat.").

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Production numbers on the CBS broadcast included:

Contact -- highlights from scene three, featuring Boyd Gaines and that Girl in the Yellow Dress, Deborah Yates, being "Simply Irresistible."
Kiss Me, Kate -- the ensemble did "Too Darn Hot."
Jesus Christ Superstar -- the ensemble performed "Gethsemane" and "Superstar."
The Music Man -- Craig Bierko led the troupe in "Seventy-Six Trombones."
The Wild Party -- Mandy Patinkin, Eartha Kitt and Toni Collette took part in a medley.
Swing! -- Ann Hampton Callaway and Laura Benanti led the ensemble in a medley, including "It Don't Mean A Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing."
James Joyce's The Dead -- Stephen Bogardus and Blair Brown sang "Parnell's Plight." (Bogardus took over for original cast member Christopher Walken shortly before The Dead closed.)


-- By David Lefkowitz
and Murdoch McBride, Robert Simonson