`THE PRODUCERS' shatters 'Hello Dolly!' record with 12 Tony Awards
Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Say goodbye, Dolly!
``The Producers,'' Mel Brooks' musical comedy about two showmen scheming to get rich by staging a theatrical flop about Nazis, shattered a Broadway record Sunday when it won 12 Tony Awards.
Sweeping every category in which it was nominated, including best musical, it topped the 10 Tonys that ``Hello, Dolly!'' won in 1964.
David Auburn's ``Proof,'' which earlier this year won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, won three awards, including best play.
But Sunday was Brooks' night. In between one-liners, he giddily found time to thank just about everyone for his musical juggernaut: cast, crew, supporters and family among them.
He also cracked, ``I want to thank Hitler _ for being such a funny guy on stage.''
With a torrent of gushing reviews and record box-office numbers, ``The Producers'' was an odds-on favorite to dominate the Tonys. And in quick succession Sunday, it swept a half-dozen of the coveted awards: for choreography, orchestration, direction of a musical, lighting design, costume design and scenic design.
Brooks clearly sensed the evening's inevitability. After one early acceptance speech, he cockily informed the Radio City Music Hall audience, ``I'll see you in a couple of minutes.''
Three of the musical's actors won Tonys: Nathan Lane (best actor-musical) for his portrayal of the creatively devious Max Bialystock; Cady Huffmann (best featured actress-musical) for her role as the sex-starved clueless blond; and Gary Beach (featured actor-musical) for his portrayal of self-absorbed director Roger De Bris, who flamboyantly leads the cast in ``Springtime For Hitler,'' the show's most famous number.
Susan Stroman accepted the awards for musical direction and choreography; the latter honor marked the second consecutive year she has won it, after last year's ``Contact.''
``May you all be blessed with the laughter I have had over this last year,'' she said.
Brooks, who first brought ``The Producers'' to audiences in the 1960s as a madcap movie, won for original score and, along with Thomas Meehan, for best book of a musical.
His voice cheery but scratchy, Brooks needled the losing nominees _ noting that they picked the wrong time to debut their work on Broadway.
``Any other year, you guys would have won _ I assure you of that. But ('The Producers') is a phenomenon, so forgive us for that,'' he said.
Most upstaged by ``The Producers'' was the musical ``The Full Monty,'' which won much critical acclaim and got 10 nominations. But it took home no Tonys.
Lane, who previously won a Tony for ``A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,'' dragged his co-star and fellow nominee, Matthew Broderick, on stage and accepted on behalf of both of them.
``We are very much a team ... believe me, without him, I'm nothing,'' Lane said with his arm around his co-star. Broderick quickly and politely backed off, though, allowing Lane to bask in the moment.
Daniel Sullivan, who took the direction-play award for ``Proof,'' feigned disbelief at the honor: ``There must be some mistake,'' he said. ``I had nothing to do with `The Producers.'''
Sullivan's leading lady, Mary-Louise Parker, took home the best actress-play award.
Other winners included ''42nd Street,'' for best musical revival; its star, Christine Ebersole, got the top female musical prize.
The play revival award went to ``One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.''
Richard Easton, who plays poet A.E. Housman in ``The Invention of Love,'' took the top actor-play prize, while Robert Sean Leonard, who plays a younger incarnation of the same character, won in the featured category.
Viola Davis, the fiery wife in ``King Hedley II,'' received the featured actress award.
Special awards included a regional theater prize to Victory Gardens Theater of Chicago and a lifetime achievement award to Paul Gemignani, veteran director of several Stephen Sondheim musicals.
The Tony Awards, which were founded by the American Theater Wing in 1947, are selected by 702 members of the theatrical profession and journalists.