Lithgow was the host of the event and, rather than tell a joke or two as most masters of ceremony do, he penned a 80-line poem of 40 rhyming couplets eulogizing the 2001-02 season. The verse is reprinted below:
By John Lithgow
Let us boldly proclaim, in rhyme if not reason,
The thespian joys of this theatre season.
Hit or miss was determined by various factors,
But never in doubt was the clout of these actors. Oklahoma could boast of that bluff Wilson feller,
Shuler Hensley's Jud Fry and Ms. Martin's Aunt Eller.
Among all the stars with which Urinetown's laden
The youngest of all was young Spencer Kayden.
All in red, Molly Ephraim delivered the goods
With wicked witch Williams in Into the Woods.
Making ABBA a habit in musical theatre,
That Gallic seductress, la belle Louise Pitre.
The sexiest gag in the funniest play?
Katie Finneran sporting her black lingerie.
And in three different plays, an Off-Broadway sym-phony:
Hallie Foote, Laurie Williams and Kristin Maloney.
An edgy ex-con with a way with a song,
Who else but The Spitfire Grill's Garrett Long?
The Iliad got a post-modern retellin',
With fair Donna Murphy on hand as its Helen.
As half of an agoraphobic matched set,
The Collyer boy, Mr. Peter Frechette.
And providing the pleasures that great acting brings:
Fritz Weaver's A Life and Paul Rudd's Shape of Things.
In The Women, each role was a gossipy vixen,
Except for the amiable Cynthia Nixon.
With the wit and the wisdom of George Bernard Shaw,
Dana Ivey's performance had nary a flaw.
And in Metamorphoses, soaked to the marrow,
Were strapping Doug Hara and Lisa Tejero.
A brunette Laura Linney was judged by a jury
Empannelled by Puritan scourge Brian Murray.
And subject to Salem's most stringent policin',
As stalwart John Proctor, the stout Liam Neeson.
In a role not intended for Puritan prigs,
Robust Kathleen Turner and shy Jason Biggs.
Brian d'Arcy James has suffered unduly,
Enduring those months on the stage with yours truly.
As Topdog and Underdog, snarling all night,
The bulldog Mos Def and that pug Jeffrey Wright.
The Smell of the Kill was the year's biggest shocker,
With Claudia Shear and her handy meat locker.
And oozing with evil from every fiber,
Othello's Iago as played by Liev Schreiber.
The explosive Esparza walks into a room:
Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick....BOOM!!
And that beauty Kate Burton, along for the ride,
Having polished off Ibsen's irate suicide.
This spring a recidivist couple was plighted:
Rickman and Duncan, once more reunited.
And preventing Charles Dickens from languishing fallow,
The protean wit of that Brit Simon Callow.
In roles by Turgenev two actors were stellar:
The drunk Alan Bates and the fop Frank Langeller.
And Bill Pullman ignited a marital duel,
Preferring a goat over Mercedes Ruehl.
Elizabeth Franz was in Morning's at Seven
Amidst an ensemble assembled in heaven;
A heaven of angels distinctively pagan
Like Steve Tobolowsky and Frances Sternhagen.
And running the gamut from angel to bitch,
Unrivaled survivor, the great Elaine Stritch.
And with talent this dame is too classy to flaunt,
That American Angel, Wit's Kathleen Chalfant.
And Marian Seldes, great star and good sport,
Who's already bounced back from a run far too short.
And now as our season approaches its end,
Acknowledge each colleague, each co-star and friend.
Think of each comrade as sister or brother,
Be proud of yourselves and be proud of each other.
Give thanks for all the fulfillment and fun,
Happy season to all, and to all a good run.