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‘Awakening,’ ‘Utopia’ star at Tonys

Mon., June 11, 2007

NEW YORK – Two passionate works – “Spring Awakening,” a pounding, post-rock musical of teenage sexual anxiety, and “The Coast of Utopia,” Tom Stoppard’s sweeping examination of 19th-century Russian intellectuals – dominated the 2007 Tony Awards on Sunday.

“Spring Awakening,” with a score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, was named best musical, taking home eight awards, and “The Coast of Utopia” took best play honors, winning seven prizes. It was a Tony record for plays, topping the six won by Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys.”

Together, “Spring Awakening” and “The Coast of Utopia” received 15 of the evening’s 25 competitive Tonys handed out during the ceremony at Radio City Music Hall.

A small, serious musical which began life last summer at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company, “Spring Awakening” also took awards for score, book-musical, direction-musical, featured-actor, choreography, orchestrations and lighting-musical.

“The Coast of Utopia,” lavishly produced by Lincoln Center Theater for a limited engagement that ended last month, also won prizes for direction, featured actor-play and featured actress-play as well as sweeping the play technical awards for sets, costumes and lighting.

The award was Stoppard’s fourth best-play Tony, having previously won for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (1968), “Travesties” (1976) and “The Real Thing” (1984).

There were a few surprises, most notably in David Hyde Pierce’s win as a musical-theater-loving detective in the Kander and Ebb musical, “Curtains.”

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 White, “You Tony voters – what a bunch of wacky, crazy kids.”

More expected was Frank Langella’s triumph, winning his third Tony. He took the actor-play prize, for his sympathetic portrait of Richard M. Nixon in Peter Morgan’s docudrama “Frost/Nixon.” “I am very proud to work among you splendid people,” a gracious Langella said.

“Grey Gardens” proved lucky for the two women who play mother and daughter in this musical about eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Christine Ebersole took the top musical performance prize.

Mary Louise Wilson, who portrays her mother in the show, received the featured actress-musical prize and some of the biggest laughs of the evening. She came on stage and said, “Everyone has been so articulate.” Then she let out howl of delight as the audience cheered.

Within hours of its final curtain Sunday, “Journey’s End,” R.C. Sherriff’s anti-war drama won the revival play award.

The musical revival prize went to “Company.”


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