- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” an irreverent romp celebrating the boisterous British comedy troupe, was named best musical last night at the 2005 Tony Awards.

“Spamalot” also earned Mike Nichols the Tony for best director of a musical.

Mr. Nichols appeared flustered and told the audience he had forgotten what he intended to say, but went on to thank his company and Eric Idle, “from whom all blessings flow.”

Sara Ramirez, the divalike Lady of the Lake in the show, received the prize for featured actress in a musical.

“Here’s the deal, we’re all working really, really hard and it’s just an honor to be part of the theater community,” said Miss Ramirez, who thanked her cast producers and Mr. Nichols for giving her the “opportunity of a lifetime. You’ve changed my life completely.”

“Now for something completely different, let’s not thank Eric Idle, who was the genius behind this, and Monty Python,” said Bill Haber, the show’s producer.

Mr. Idle, ever the clown, slid through the crowd on stage and fell to the floor.

“Doubt,” John Patrick Shanley’s drama of suspicion and certainty set in a parochial school in the Bronx, New York, was named best play.

“Happy. Joy. Fleeting,” Mr. Shanley began his acceptance speech, adding: “I want to thank the Sisters of Charity for teaching me how to read and write. I want to thank the Irish Christian Brothers for throwing me out of high school.”

The season’s most honored play, it already had picked up the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and several other top play prizes.

“Doubt” also captured two acting Tonys — for star Cherry Jones and for featured performer Adriane Lenox.

Miss Jones, winning her second best-actress Tony, was honored for her fierce, yet often funny portrait of a determined, unrelenting nun. Miss Lenox plays the mother of a boy who may have been molested by a priest. The director of “Doubt,” Doug Hughes, also was honored.

“It must seem like a wild act of Oedipal revenge for the son of two actors to become a director, but I assure you that’s not the case,” said Mr. Hughes, the son of theater veterans Barnard Hughes and Helen Stenborg.

In somewhat of a surprise, Bill Irwin captured the actor/play prize, winning for his portrayal of the henpecked George in a blistering revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

“The Light in the Piazza,” a tale of young love in Old Europe, took six Tony Awards last night, including best score for composer Adam Guettel.

Liev Schreiber won a Tony for his portrayal of a sleazy real estate salesman in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

“To be part of this ensemble is an amazing experience for me,” Mr. Schreiber said after receiving the featured actor/play prize for his part in a show whose cast also includes Tony nominees Alan Alda and Gordon Clapp. “I’m so grateful.”

“The Pillowman” won two design/play awards: for sets, Scott Pask; and lighting, Brian MacDevitt. Jess Goldstein received the costume/play award for his work on Lincoln Center Theater’s production of “The Rivals.”

The musical-book prize was won by newcomer Rachel Sheinkin, who wrote “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

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