To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the megamusical The Producers took the lion’s share of Tony Awards on Sunday night. That extended to the design categories, where scenic designer Robin Wagner, costume designer William Ivey Long, and lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski all won for their work on Mel Brooks’ smash hit musical. It was a record-breaking win, as The Producers took 12 awards, surpassing Hello, Dolly’s previous haul of ten awards in 1964.
In other less than startling news, Proof was selected best play, with awards also going to star Mary-Louise Parker and director Daniel Sullivan. Proof’s major competition, The Invention of Love, was awarded in the best actor and best featured actor categories, for Richard Eason and Robert Sean Leonard, respectively. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won for best revival and 42nd Street for best musical revival.
As always, the design awards were exiled to the first hour of the broadcast, which was aired on PBS. However, a series of short documentary films presented the work of each designer and provided a bit of insight into his or her creative approach. The other benefit of the PBS pre-broadcast is that designers get to give their thank-you speeches on the air, which means that many of their associates and vendors are also recognized.
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of The Producers, hosted the celebrity-studded event, which ranged from big theatre names like Bernadette Peters and Glenn Close to passing names like Eric McCormack and Gina Gershon. Despite a fast-moving, generally well-drilled production, which included musical numbers from all the nominated musicals and musical revivals, and scenes from the nominated plays, overnight Nielsen ratings indicated only a tiny increase over last year’s low viewership.
A completed list of winners follows:
Musical: The Producers
Book of a musical: The Producers
Original score: The Producers
Revival of a play: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Revival of a musical: 42nd Street
Actor in a play: Richard Easton, The Invention of Love
Actress in a play: Mary-Louise Parker, Proof
Actor in a musical: Nathan Lane, The Producers
Actress in a musical: Christine Ebersole, 42nd Street
Featured actor in a play: Robert Sean Leonard, The Invention of Love
Featured actress in a play: Viola Davis, King Hedley II
Featured actor in a musical: Gary Beach, The Producers
Featured actress in a musical: Cady Huffman, The Producers
Scenery: Robin Wagner, The Producers
Costumes: William Ivey Long, The Producers
Lighting: Peter Kaczorowski, The Producers
Choreography: Susan Stroman, The Producers
Direction of a play: Daniel Sullivan, Proof
Direction of a musical: Susan Stroman, The Producers
Orchestrations: Doug Besterman, The Producers
Regional theatre: Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago, IL
Lifetime achievement: Musical director Paul Gemignani
Other awards, for excellence in theatre, went to Betty Corwin and the Theatre on Film and Tape Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New Dramatists, and the reference work Theatre World.
Look for full coverage of both The Producers and 42nd Street in the September issue of ED.