Roaring past early wins for Ragtime, The Lion King took the Best New Musical Tony Award, June 7, with Yasmina Reza's international hit Art taking the Tony as Best Play of 1997-98.
The Lion King also won the most awards of the night, 6, including two nods to Julie Taymor for her direction and costumes. Taymor was the first woman ever to win a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical. Moments earlier, Beauty Queen of Leenane's Garry Hynes became the first woman ever to win as Best Director of a Play. Beauty Queen won 3 other Tonys, all for acting.
Ragtime had led the field with 13 nominations, but won only 4 awards.
It was also Wilkommen - Bienvenue for Cabaret, winner of the Best Revival of a Musical Tony Award, along with 3 other Tonys. Todd Haimes accepted the award from presenter Angela Lansbury, who noted that 18 musicals are currently running on Broadway. Natasha Richardson won the award for Best Actress in a Musical, thanking choreographer Rob Marshall, "whose work takes down and dirty to an all-time high." The award was presented by James Naughton.
Towards evening's end, Scottish actor Alan Cumming thanked his many agents when taking the honor for Best Actor in a Musical. His award brought Cabaret's total to 4, including Ron Rifkin's Featured Actor win. Playwise, it had been a Leenane night until Art won the Best Play Award for author Reza, who thanked her "very attractive producers" (among them Sean Connery).
As for The Beauty Queen of Leenane, lead actress Marie Mullen, featured performers Anna Manahan and Tom Murphy, and director Garry Hynes all won Tonys. Christine Lahti presented the Best Featured Actor Tony to newcomer Tom Murphy of Leenane. Murphy beat out cast-mate Brian F. O'Byrne for the honor, as well as Max Wright and Sam Trammell. The actor also shocked the crowd a bit by using Beauty Queen's Irish-ized curse, "feck," a few times in his acceptance speech. Joel Grey gave the award to Manahan, who made note of her recovery from an illness, thanking her doctor and those who lit candles for her.
Gerry Hynes, winning Best Direction of a Play for her work on The Beauty Queen of Leenane, paid special tribute to Galway's Druid Theatre and the Atlantic Theatre, instrumental in bringing Martin McDonagh's play to Broadway.
In other big Tony news, it's a triple play! Audra McDonald has won her third Tony Award, winning for Carousel, Master Class and now Ragtime. Like Leenane and Cabaret, Ragtime won 4 Tony Awards.
The Roundabout Theatre Company and director Michael Mayer had a good view of the Tony Awards -- literally. A View From The Bridge won the Best Play Revival honor, beating out Anne Frank, Ah, Wilderness! and The Chairs. John Lithgow presented the award -- the first given in the 9 PM, CBS portion of the 3-hour Tony broadcast. Later on, Anthony LaPaglia called it "mind-blowing" when he won the Award for Best Actor.
Cabaret won its first Tony at 9:30, with Ron Rifkin taking the Featured Actor honor, presented by Bebe Neuwirth.
The first 1998 Tony Award was given to Garth Fagan, choreographer of The Lion King. Fagan took a moment took a moment to remind audiences he believed in the not-for-profit theatre and exhorted the audience to "feel the love." Winning for Best Score were Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of Ragtime. Nell Carter presented the award.
Carter also presented the award for orchestrations -- and she kept the award for William David Brohn, who wasn't in attendance. Best Book of a Musical went to Ragtime's Terrence McNally. In his speech, McNally didn't mention his embattled Manhattan Theatre Club play, Corpus Christi, by name, but he did thank the theatre community for standing up for artistic freedom and helping reinstate the show despite threats from the religious right.
Mark Linn-Baker gave the award for costume design to Julie Taymor, who took the stage again a few minutes later, accepting the Best Direction of a Musical award from Sandy Duncan. Taymor stressed the importance of not-for-profit theatre to her work.
Punning wildly on the word "lighting," Swoosie Kurtz gave out the Best Lighting Tony to Donald Holder for The Lion King and then went on to present the Best Set Award to Richard Hudson for the same show.
The Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards began at 8 PM (EST) tonight, June 7, on PBS-TV. Ten awards were distributed during the first, mostly documentary- style hour. The second two hours, 9-11 PM (EST) were broadcast on CBS-TV.
Here is the complete list of winners (in bold) for the 1998 Antoinette Perry Awards:
THE LION KING
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
The Diary of Anne Frank
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY
ANTHONY LAPAGLIA, A View From The Bridge
Richard Briers, The Chairs
John Leguizamo, Freak
Alfred Molina, Art
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
MARIE MULLEN, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Jane Alexander, Honour
Allison Janney, A View From the Bridge
Geraldine McEwan, The Chairs
BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
GARRY HYNES, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Matthew Warchus, Art
Michael Mayer, A View From the Bridge
Simon McBurney, The Chairs
GARTH FAGAN, The Lion King
The Forever Tango Dancers, Forever Tango
Graciela Daniele, Ragtime
Rob Marshall, Cabaret
LYNN AHRENS and STEPHEN FLAHERTY, Ragtime
Paul Simon and Derek Walcott, The Capeman
Henry Krieger and Bill Russell, Side Show
Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer, The Lion King
TERRENCE MCNALLY, Ragtime
Nan Knighton, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, The Lion King
Bill Russell, Side Show
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
TOM MURPHY, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Brian F. O'Byrne, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Sam Trammell, Ah, Wilderness!
Max Wright, Ivanov
BEST PEFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
ANNA MANAHAN, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Enid Graham, Honour
Linda Lavin, The Diary of Anne Frank
Julyana Soelistyo, The Golden Child
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
JULIE TAYMOR The Lion King
William Ivey Long, Cabaret
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Martin Pakledinaz, Golden Child
William David Brohn, Ragtime
Robert Elhai, David Metzger and Bruce Fowler, The Lion King
Michael Gibson, Cabaret
Stanley Silverman, The Capeman
A special Tony for regional theatre was presented to the Denver Center Theatre Company, accompanied by a $25,000 grant from Clairol. Jane Seymour presented the Award to the theatre, founded in 1979. Artistic director Donovan Marley and chairman Donald R. Seawell accepted the prize, with Seawell punning on Clairol's "Nice n' easy" slogan.
Other special awards went to theatrical attorney Edward E. Colton and set designer, Ben Edwards.
A Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre was also given to the International Theatre Institute of the United States.
Here are the winner totals:
Art - 1 (Play)
The Beauty Queen of Leenane - 4 (Director, Actress, Featured Actor (Murphy), Featured Actress)
Cabaret - 4 (Musical Revival; Actor, Actress, Featured Actor)
The Lion King -- 6 (Musical, Director, Choreography, Set, Lighting, Costumes)
Ragtime -- 4 (Musical Featured Actress, Orchestrations, Musical Book, Score)
A View From The Bridge - 2 (Play Revival, Actor)
Playbill On-Line broadcast over the internet via the RealAudio technology from backstage at Radio City Music Hall throughout the 52nd annual Tony Awards ceremony. Edited clips will be available on this website starting 6 PM (ET) June 8.
O'Donnell opened the CBS broadcast with a spoof-medley of Chicago's "Roxie," sadly noting that she sang like "Rhoda Morgenstern." She then introduced three true Divas: Patti LuPone followed with an excerpt of her signature tune from Evita, "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina." Jennifer Holliday then arrived with Dreamgirl's "And I Am Telling You, I Am Not Going," followed by Betty Buckley singing Cats' "Memory."
In her opening remarks, O'Donnell joked about the rebirth and family-friendly reshaping of 42nd Street, saying, "Last night I saw four hookers dressed like Teletubbies." She also spoke few sentences that included the title of every nominated show.
Highlights of the PBS hour included segments on the creation of Capeman, an interview with Terrence McNally, Ragtime's librettist, and choreographer Garth Fagan explaining how he integrated The Lion King's costumes into dance numbers.
The evening's first production number was the title tune of Ragtime, causing O'Donnell to joke that a musical about House Speaker Newt Gingrich might be titled "Gagtime." The Sound Of Music later arrived with a medley, including "Do-Re- Mi" and the title tune. Later, "Wilkommen" welcomed Cabaret (" a show that needs no Viagra," kidded O'Donnell.
Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner sang together -- literally - "I Will Never Leave You" from Side Show, in which they played Siamese twins. Douglas Sills and company offered "Into The Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Introducing the opening segment from 1776, O'Donnell joked that the musical's title could also refer to Tony Randall and his wife (making fun of their wide age difference). O'Donnell also joked that Carol Channing would make a great new Spice Girl "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta do it more than twice in 40 years!"
In a pre-taped interview on the PBS broadcast, Julie Taymor said, "She wanted to keep humanity involved. Costuming is the art of manipulation. You know it's not an animal, but you forget about that and the audience fills in the blanks."
Her words were borne out later in the evening by the extraordinary opening sequence of The Lion King, which dazzled the Tony audience into a standing ovation. O'Donnell joked that Tony-nominated actress Tsidii Le Loka should be used as a tape in NYC cabs to sing, "Hey numbskull, fasten your safety belts!"
Lion King fans watching the Tonys at home also were treated to a commercial for an upcoming Disney sequel to the animated film, subtitled "Simba's Pride."
Joking about the Tony broadcast sponsors, O'Donnell noted that next year's musicals would include The Scarlet Pimple from Clearasil, A View From the Bridge via Poli-Grip, and Ragtime...from Tampax.
To give a taste of the nominated plays, Alec Baldwin read a synopsis for Art (playwright Reza and actor Alan Alda had reportedly declined to do a scene from the play), then introduced monologues by Manahan from Leenane and nominee Julyana Soelistyo from The Golden Child, explaining their plays in character.
The oddest moment of the night came during a two minute gap when television sets went dead at 9:31 PM, returning at 9:33PM. Another minor technical glitch forced John Leguizamo to use a hand-mike during his monologue from Freak. The only other negative aspect of Tony night was unavoidable: not everyone can win. Among nominated shows that came away empty-handed were Freak, Triumph of Love, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Golden Child, Ah, Wilderness!, The Chairs, Side Show, Honour, The Sound of Music, 1776, Forever Tango, The Capeman, High Society and Ivanov. The 21 Tony categories were won by just six shows overall.