- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — “Spring Awakening,” a pounding post-rock musical of teenage sexual anxiety, and Tom Stoppard’s “The Coast of Utopia,” a sprawling tale of 19th-century Russian intellectuals, dominated the 2007 Tony Awards last night.

“Spring Awakening” captured eight awards, including best musical, and “The Coast of Utopia” had seven, including best play, a Tony record. The previous record was six, held by “Death of A Salesman” and “History Boys.”

“Spring Awakening” picked up the best score award for Duncan Sheik and lyricist Steven Sater, who also received the prize for book of a musical. “Musical theater rocks,” said Mr. Sheik, who also won for orchestrations.

“Steven and I definitely set out to make a new kind of musical,” Mr. Sheik said. “We were trying to forge our own path. I think we got lucky timing wise — what’s happening politically. People were ready to deal with something that had teeth.”

Its director, Michael Mayer, also won as did John Gallagher Jr., who portrays a manic student in the show. He received the featured-actor musical prize.

“Heaven must feel like this,” enthused the 22-year-old Mr. Gallagher. Later backstage, he said, “I can’t feel anything right now, not even my arms. It’s an honor and a thrill that never in a million years would I dream for myself.”

Bill T. Jones danced down the aisle as he accepted his award for choreography for the musical.

“I am a happy man,” he said.

Mr. Stoppard’s epic was equally successful in picking up awards. Jack O’Brien, its director, won as did two of the featured players in its large cast — Billy Crudup and Jennifer Ehle.

“I know what Everest feels like,” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Utopia” swept the play technical awards, picking up prizes for sets, costumes and lighting. The musical technical nods were split three ways: with sets going to “Mary Poppins,” costumes to “Grey Gardens,” and lighting to “Spring Awakening.”

As expected, Christine Ebersole took home the actress-musical prize for her critically acclaimed performance in “Grey Gardens.”

Frank Langella, winning his third Tony, took the actor-play prize, for his sympathetic portrait of Richard M. Nixon in “Frost/Nixon.”

“I am very proud to work among you splendid people,” a gracious Mr. Langella said.

“I can’t believe anything,” said an emotional David Hyde Pierce, whose portrayal of a musical-theater loving detective in “Curtains” was a surprise winner of the actor-musical prize.

Also in something of an upset, an ebullient Julie White received the actress-play award for her portrayal of a conniving agent in Douglas Carter Beane’s satiric “The Little Dog Laughed.” Said a disbelieving Miss White, “You Tony voters — what a bunch of wacky, crazy kids.”

Equally overjoyed was Mary Louise Wilson, who copped the featured actress-musical prize for her role as the eccentric Big Edie in “Grey Gardens,” came on stage and said, “Everyone has been so articulate.”

Then she let out howl of delight as the audience for the 61st annual awards cheered.

Within hours of its final curtain yesterday, “Journey’s End,” R.C. Sherriff’s antiwar drama won the revival play award as producer Bill Haber came on stage with the entire cast to accept the award. Despite enthusiastic reviews, the production struggled at the box office and closed after a disappointing four-month run.

The musical revival prize went to “Company.”

Business was robust on Broadway during the 2006-07 season as both grosses ($939 million) and attendance rose, with the number of theatergoers topping the 12-million mark for the second year in a row.



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