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June 19th, 2008

THE 62ND ANNUAL TONY AWARDS.

by Joelle Panisch

The great irony of this year’s 62nd Tony Awards is that it received the lowest ratings on CBS ever (http://www.thrfeed.com/2008/06/abc-soars-with.html), yet the ceremony was decidedly one of its most entertaining. The buzz was of a remarkable Broadway season and the show didn’t disappoint.

Hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, the telecast was filled with spectacle and a record number of musical performances from productions that, overall, showcased the spectrum of subject and creativity that the Big White Way has to offer.

“The Lion King” and “Rent,” both longstanding and familiar to the Tony’s, featured numbers which showcased incredible choreography and showmanship, as did “South Pacific” and “Cry Baby,” Other performances showcased “Passing Strange,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Grease,” “A Catered Affair,” The Little Mermaid,” “In the Heights,” and “Gypsy.”

“In the Heights,” a musical about a Latino family in Washington Heights, took best musical with clear support from Broadway’s diversity-loving audience. In spite of winning the top honor, “In the Heights” only received four awards in total, including one for Creator Lin-Manual Miranda for best score. Giving one of the more noteworthy acceptance speeches of the night, he rapped his thank you: “I don’t know what else I got, I’m off the dome/ I know I wrote a little show about home.” Miranda even gave a nod to his heritage when he pulled out the Puerto Rican flag, bringing the audience to their feet.

Pulitzer winning play “August: Osage County” took the Tony for best play as well as an impressive four others for best director, best actress, best featured actress, and best scenic design. “August,” a dysfunctional family drama, has already been recast since two of the winners for the play, Deanna Dunagan (actress) and Rondi Reed (featured actress) will not be continuing on Broadway.

Best Lead Actress in a Musical went to “Gypsy”‘s Patti Lapone, whose rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” nicely complemented her enthusiastic acceptance speech. “It’s such a wonderful gift to be an actor making her living working on the Broadway stage and then every 30 years or so pick up one of these,” said Ms. LuPone who had picked up her first Tony 29 years prior. Best Lead Actor went to Paulo Szot of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.” Best Featured Actor and Actress both went to “Gypsy” castmates Boyd Gaines and Laura Benanti.

In addition, Best Lead Actor in A Play went to Mark Rylance of ’60’s comedy “Boeing-Boeing” and Best Featured Actor to Jim Norton of “The Seafarer.”

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