Musical 'Hairspray' takes firm hold on 2003 Tony Awards

Monday, June 9, 2003

NEW YORK -- "Hairspray" took firm hold of the 2003 Tony Awards Sunday, winning eight, including best musical and prizes for its full-figured stars, Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

"Take Me Out," Richard Greenberg's drama about a gay baseball player, was named best play.

Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece "Long Day's Journey Into Night" was named best revival, while Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave, the play's tortured parents, received the other top acting honors.

An emotional Redgrave, winning her first Tony, recalled all the American actors, singers and dancers who inspired her over the years as she accepted her award.

"Nine" took the musical revival award, while Jane Krakowski, the voluptuous mistress in the show, received the featured-actress award.

Winokur gushed as she picked up the actress-musical prize for "Hairspray":

"If a 4-foot-11, chubby, New York girl can be a leading lady in a Broadway show and win a Tony," she said to raucous cheers, "then anything can happen."

When he took the stage, Fierstein said, "Boy, am I glad this was not a beauty contest," looking at his main competition, the Spanish heartthrob Antonio Banderas, star of "Nine."

Marc Shaiman, composer of "Hairspray," jokingly referred to the short musicians strike that shut down Broadway musicals in March during his acceptance speech.

"If anyone cuts me off, there's a virtual orchestra at 'Hairspray' on Tuesday," he said, alluding to how the threat of virtual computer-driven orchestras was an issue in the dispute.

Shaiman shared the award with co-lyricist Scott Wittman, with whom he's been partners for 25 years and to whom he declared his continued love.

Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, the two authors of "Hairspray," consciously talked over each other while proclaiming the need for collaboration and listening to each other.

Jack O'Brien, the show's director, also was honored as was featured actor Dick Latessa, who portrays Fierstein's diminutive husband.

In an upset, a visibly shocked Joe Mantello received the direction prize for his work on "Take Me Out" -- an award that Robert Falls of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" was favored to win.

'A team sport'"Acting is a team sport and we have the best team in the world," said an enthusiastic Denis O'Hare as he picked up the prize for featured actor. O'Hare plays a nebbish business manager who discovers the joys of baseball in "Take Me Out."

Michele Pawk, who played Carol Burnett's alcoholic mother in the short-lived "Hollywood Arms," won the featured-actress prize.

"I have never ever been more proud to be a member of this community," said Pawk. "Men kissing each other on stage, drag queens, children -- it's a perfect world. As it should be."

Billy Joel, who won a pre-telecast award for orchestrations, opened the 2003 Tony ceremonies in Times Square, singing "New York State of Mind."

The song is featured in "Movin' Out," a dance celebration of songs by Joel, who, along with Stuart Malina, won the award for best orchestrations. The show's creator, Twyla Tharp, also garnered the award for choreography.

"La Boheme," Baz Luhrmann's lavish retelling of the Puccini opera, picked up two design awards, one for sets, created by Luhrmann's wife, Catherine Martin, and the other for lighting, by Nigel Levings.

William Ivey Long's outlandish 1960s clothes for "Hairspray," won the costume prize.

It was a strange, unevenly divided Broadway season with two of its biggest hits -- "Hairspray" and "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" -- arriving last August. Then there was nothing that made both the critics and box-office receipts really jump until the appearance of Banderas in the revival of "Nine" in early April and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" a month later.

Between last fall and this spring, Broadway suffered through continuing economic doldrums, unusually severe winter weather, the musicians strike and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- not to mention such expensive musical flops as "Dance of the Vampires" and "Urban Cowboy," and tepid revivals of "Flower Drum Song" and "The Boys From Syracuse."

But thanks to ever-rising ticket prices (most musicals are now $100 a ticket and so is "Long Day's Journey Into Night"), Broadway grossed a record $720.9 million for the season ending May 31, up 12 percent from the previous year.

Attendance topped 11.4 million, up 4.3 percent from the previous year, the season that included the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Tonys, chosen in 22 categories, are voted on by more than 700 members of the theatrical community and journalists.


Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.

included the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Tonys, chosen in 22 categories, are voted on by more than 700 members of the theatrical community and journalists.


Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.

2003 TONY AWARD WINNERS

  • Best Musical:"Hairspray"

    Best Play: "Take Me Out"

    Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: Harvey Fierstein, "Hairspray"

    Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:

    Marissa Jaret Winokur, "Hairspray"

    Best Revival of a Musical: "Nine The Musical"

    Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play: Vanessa Redgrave, "Long Day's Journey into Night"

    Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: Brian Dennehy, "Long Day's Journey into Night"

    Best Revival of a Play: "Long Day's Journey Into Night"

    Best Direction of a Musical: Jack O'Brien, "Hairspray"

    Best Special Theatrical Event: "Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway"

    Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Jane Krakowski, "Nine The Musical"

    Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Dick Latessa, "Hairspray"

    Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: Michele Pawk, "Hollywood Arms"

    Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: Denis O'Hare, "Take Me Out"

    Best Direction of a Play: Joe Mantello, "Take Me Out"

    Best Choreography: Twyla Tharp, "Movin' Out"

    Best Original Score: Scott Whittman, Marc Shaiman, "Hairspray"

    Best Book of a Musical: Thomas Meehan, Mark O'Donnell, "Hairspray"

    Best Scenic Design: Catherine Martine, "La Bohème"

    Best Costume Design: William Ivey Long, "Hairspray"

    Best Lighting Design: Nigel Levings, "La Bohème"

    Best Orchestrations: Stuart Malina, Billy Joel, "Movin' Out"

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