Millie Is Big 2002 Tony Award-Winner; The Goat Grabs Best Play

By Kenneth Jones
03 Jun 2002



Tony Winners John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Sutton Foster and Alan Bates
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

In contrast to last year, when everything was thoroughly modern Mel, with a record 12 Tony Awards going to Mel Brooks’ The Producers, the 2002 Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards spread the spotlight more widely — although Thoroughly Modern Millie won six awards out of its 11 nominations at the June 2 ceremony.

Millie won the most awards of any play or musical nommed this season, taking Best Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster), Best Costumes (Martin Pakledinaz), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Harriet Harris), Best Orchestrations (Doug Besterman and the late Ralph Burns) and Best Choreography (Rob Ashford). Ashford, making his Broadway choreography debut, was not the favorite to win; it was thought Susan Stroman would be recognized for her new dance work in Oklahoma! Ahsford is a protégé of Stroman’s and worked in her choruses.

In its only win out of two nominations (for Best Play and Best Actress in a Play), Edward Albee’s provocative The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, about a man who threatens his family and career by falling in love with a goat, won for Best Play. The show was seen as a tough-sell to audiences and Tony voters because it’s so challenging and controversial. Albee has always maintained the plays should shake you up, cause debate and make you a different person on the way out than you were going in. Expect the box office to get busy at the John Golden Theatre, where The Goat is penned up.

Into the Woods skunked the lauded revival of Oklahoma! to win Best Revival of a Musical, and the elegant British import, Private Lives, won for Best Revival of a Play, Best Scenic Design (Tim Hatley) and Best Leading Actress in a Play (Lindsay Duncan).

The Mike Poulton adaptation of a little-known Ivan Turgenev play, Fortune’s Fool, allowed two choice actors to win Tonys: Alan Bates for Best Leading Actor in a Play and Frank Langella for Best Featured Actor in a Play. That limited-run production’s fortunes are now raised with the awards, and one might assume the staging at the Music Box may be extended deeper into the summer.

There was genuine suspense this year leading up to the Best Musical announcement: As Urinetown, the satiric musical comedy that many see as the funniest new show this side of The Producers, picked up major Tonys for Best Score (Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann), Best Book (Greg Kotis) and Best Direction of a Musical (John Rando), you couldn’t help but wonder if Tony voters might find this darkly comic brew their cup of tea in the Best Musical category. The fresh-faced Millie won the award, however. Both shows will benefit from the awards and from the broadcast exposure. Both shows have also announced they will launch national tours in 2003.

John Lithgow was the sole winner in Sweet Smell of Success (for Best Leading Actor in a Musical), which earned seven nominations, including Best Musical. Other shows that won a single Tony Award this year: Oklahoma! (Best Featured Actor in a Musical, for Shuler Hensley), Elaine Stritch At Liberty (for Special Theatrical Production), Noises Off (Best Featured Actress in a Play, for Katie Finneran), Metamorphoses (Best Direction of a Play, for Mary Zimmerman, who choked back tears) and the aforementioned The Goat (for Best Play).

Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, which lit up like a roman candle earlier this year by winning the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, fizzled at the Tonys. It was nommed for Best Play and Best Leading Actor in a Play (Jeffrey Wright). Likewise, the respected staging of The Crucible went home empty-handed, as did Thou Shalt Not, The Elephant Man (which closed June 2), the brash and popular hit, Mamma Mia! and the critically embraced Morning’s at Seven.

Here’s the tally of awards, by production:

With 6 awards: Thoroughly Modern Millie
With 3 awards each: Urinetown, Private Lives
With 2 awards each: Into the Woods, Fortune’s Fool
With a single award: Elaine Stritch At Liberty, The Goat, Oklahoma!, Sweet Smell of Success, Noises Off, Metamorphoses

Here’s the complete list of nominees, with winners indicated, shown in descending order of how they were announced 8-11 PM (ET) June 2, at Radio City Music Hall:

BEST MUSICAL:
Mamma Mia!
Sweet Smell of Success
WINNER! Thoroughly Modern Millie
Urinetown

BEST PLAY:
Fortune's Fool by Ivan Turgenev, adapted by Mike Poulton
WINNER! The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? by Edward Albee
Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman
Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL:
WINNER! Into the Woods
Oklahoma!

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
WINNER! Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Nancy Opel, Urinetown
Louise Pitre, Mamma Mia!
Jennifer Laura Thompson, Urinetown
Vanessa Williams, Into the Woods

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY:
WINNER! Alan Bates, Fortune's Fool
Billy Crudup, The Elephant Man
Liam Neeson, The Crucible
Alan Rickman, Private Lives
Jeffrey Wright, Topdog/Underdog

SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT:
Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends
WINNER! Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Barbara Cook: Mostly Sondheim
Sexaholix....A Love Story

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY :
Kate Burton, Hedda Gabler
WINNER! Lindsay Duncan, Private Lives
Laura Linney, The Crucible
Helen Mirren, Dance of Death
Mercedes Ruehl, The Goat

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL :
Gavin Creel, Thoroughly Modern Millie
John Cullum, Urinetown
WINNER! John Lithgow, Sweet Smell of Success
John McMartin, Into the Woods
Patrick Wilson, Oklahoma!

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Morning's at Seven by Paul Osborn
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
WINNER! Private Lives by Noel Coward

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Norbert Leo Butz, Thou Shalt Not
Gregg Edelman, Into the Woods
WINNER! Shuler Hensley, Oklahoma!
Brian d'Arcy James, Sweet Smell of Success
Marc Kudisch, Thoroughly Modern Millie

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY:
WINNER! Frank Langella, Fortune's Fool
William Biff McGuire, Morning's at Seven
Brian Murray, The Crucible
Sam Robards, The Man Who Had All the Luck
Stephen Tobolowsky, Morning's at Seven

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY:
Kate Burton, The Elephant Man
WINNER! Katie Finneran, Noises Off
Elizabeth Franz, Morning's at Seven
Estelle Parsons, Morning's at Seven
Frances Sternhagen, Morning's at Seven

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Laura Benanti, Into the Woods
WINNER! Harriet Harris, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Spencer Kayden, Urinetown
Judy Kaye, Mamma Mia!
Andrea Martin, Oklahoma!

REGIONAL THEATRE (Previously Announced):
Williamstown Theatre Festival

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL :
James Lapine, Into the Woods
Michael Mayer, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Trevor Nunn, Oklahoma!
WINNER! John Rando, Urinetown

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY :
Howard Davies, Private Lives
Richard Eyre, The Crucible
Daniel Sullivan, Morning's at Seven
WINNER! Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses

BEST COSTUME DESIGN :
Jenny Beaven, Private Lives
Jane Greenwood, Morning's at Seven
Susan Hilferty, Into the Woods
WINNER! Martin Pakledinaz, Thoroughly Modern Millie

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN :
Paul Gallo, The Crucible
David Hersey, Oklahoma!
Natasha Katz, Sweet Smell of Success
WINNER! Brian MacDevitt, Into the Woods

BEST SCENIC DESIGN :
John Lee Beatty, Morning's at Seven
WINNER! Tim Hatley, Private Lives
Daniel Ostling, Metamorphoses
Douglas W. Schmidt, Into the Woods

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Harry Connick, Jr., Thou Shalt Not
Marvin Hamlisch, Craig Carnelia, Sweet Smell of Success
WINNER! Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, Urinetown
Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, Thoroughly Modern Millie

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL:
John Guare, Sweet Smell of Success
Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia
WINNER! Greg Kotis, Urinetown
Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, Thoroughly Modern Millie

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS:
Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Martin Koch, Mamma Mia!
WINNER! Douglas Besterman and Ralph Burns, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Bruce Coughlin, Urinetown
William David Brohn, Sweet Smell of Success

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY:
WINNER! Rob Ashford, Thoroughly Modern Millie
John Carrafa, Into the Woods
John Carrafa, Urinetown
Susan Stroman, Oklahoma!