Arts News

Tony Awards Wrap Up

By Amy Somensky Jun 9, 2004, 8:41 GMT

Hugh and the Rockettes
The 58th Annual Tony Awards (formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards) were given out in grand style at Radio City Music Hall. Hugh Jackman (the master of ceremonies for the evening) opened the show with a rendition of “One Night Only” from the musical Dreamgirls. He was joined onstage by a trio of trios from Broadway this year whom he dubbed as the “jackettes.” Later he was joined by the ensembles of Broadway and eventually by the actual rockettes, with whom he shared a kick or two.

Jackman was formally introduced by Kristin Chenoweth decked out in her Glinda gear descending to the stage in her famous bubble, urging Jackman to “call her.” Thus began the never-ending number of times Jackman was hit on. Just about every puppet from Avenue Q (gay and straight) joined the act.

The highlight of the performances from the nominated productions came from Jackman as he performed “I Am Not the Boy Next Door,” from The Boy From Oz. During which he plucked a unsuspecting Sarah Jessica Parker from the crowd, and urged her to join him in a sexy dance. Afraid of becoming the next Janet Jackson, she only obliged slighly , but not enough to actually cause a wardrobe malfunction. She was asked about the whereabouts of her husband, Matthew Broderick. She said he was on the west coast, prompting Jackman to say, “he’s bicoastal!”

Sarah and Hugh

As for the awards themselves, the shock of the evening came when Avenue Q was named best musical, beating out the highly favored Wicked. The upset became more likely after the show won the awards for Best Score and Best Book. One of Q’s producers, Robyn Goodman said, “It certainly doesn’t suck to be us tonight,” as she accepted the award.

Cast of Avenue Q

Wicked did not go home empty handed. It was up for 10 awards, and brought home 3. It won for Best Costume Design, Best Scenic Design, and in what was the hottest race of the evening, for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel plays the green girl Elphaba who goes on to become The Wicked Witch of the West. A emotional and teary eyed Menzel said, “I am so proud to be in a musical that celebrates women -- that celebrates their strengths and their differences.” She also gave a heartfelt tribute to her costar Kristin Chenoweth saying, “You are the grace and light on that stage every night. This is something we built together and I love you.”

The shoo-in award of the night went to Hugh Jackman for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for portraying Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. Jackman thanked his wife Deborra-Lee Furness and said while wiping away a tear, “I couldn’t have done this without you and even if I did it certainly wouldn’t have been as much fun. You’re the best musical theater widow a man could ever, ever have.” He ended his speech by paying tribute to Peter Allen, “you wrote this song ‘Making Every Moment Count’ -- you did it on stage and offstage. Peter, it’s an honor to play you and I dedicate this Tony to your memory.”

Hugh Jackman

Assassins won for Best Revival of a Musical. It follows the passions of would be presidential assassins. It took the crown for the most awards of the night with 5, which included Best Orchestrations, Lighting, Direction, and Best Featured Actor, Michael Cerveris, who remarked how odd it was that he was given the award by Sean Combs. He said jokingly, “this is a picture I never thought I would see -- me and Puff.” Puffy looked generally happy to be there.

On the play front, I am My Own Wife won for Best Play and Best Actor for Jefferson Mays who plays the late German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsorf along with 39 other parts, prompting it to be remarked that, “our entire cast won Tony Awards.”

Audra McDonald
Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad became the first African American actress to win for Best Actress in a Play. Rashad portrayed  Lena Unger in A Raisin in the Sun. Rashad thanked her mother for fighting “fearlessly, courageously, and consistently so that her children above all else could realize their potential as human beings.” Rashad’s costar, Audra McDonald won for Best Featured Actress in a Play, becoming the youngest, the only African American, and only the fourth actress in history to have won 4 Tony Awards.

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