Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tony Kisses 'Kate' with 5 Awards

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tony Kisses 'Kate' with 5 Awards

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Copenhagen was chosen best play and Kiss Me, Kate won best musical real last nightSunday, as Michael Blakemore scored a Tony first -- winning the awards for his direction of both. Contact, a daring dance play about relationships, was named best musical.

Kiss Me, Kate, the Cole Porter musical, was the night's big winner, picking up five Tonys, the same number the show won when it first opened on Broadway in the 1948-49 season. Besides director, Kate won prizes for its leading man, Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as for costumes and orchestrations. 'All I can say is 'Thank you, America.' And by America, I mean New York. And by New York, I mean Broadway," the 71-year-old director said during his second trip to the podium. A double victory has been possible only since 1960, when the direction prize was split into play and musical categories. Blakemore was nominated for both in 1990 with Lettice & Lovage and City of Angels, but he didn't win for either. Copenhagen playwright Michael Frayn thanked the drama's audiences, who defied critics' assessment that the difficult drama about the morality of physics and friendship would be too much for theatergoers. Blair Brown, who portrays physicist Niels Bohr's skeptical wife in the production, was named best featured actress-play.

Besides musical, Contact won the choreography prize for its director Susan Stroman and for two of its featured performers, Boyd Gaines and Karen Ziemba.

"Dance has lifts and dips and unexpected turns just as real life does. Had I not fallen in love with Mike Ockrent, I could have never have written Contact," said an emotional Stroman, referring to her husband, a director who died in December of leukemia.

Aida wasn't nominated for best musical, but the Disney-produced show tied Contact with four Tonys.

Its radiant star, Heather Headley, was named best actress in a musical to the biggest cheers of the night. A tearful Headley told Disney: "I will work for you for the rest of my life." Elton John and Tim Rice picked up an award for their pop-flavored score for Aida, and the lavish musical, set in ancient Egypt, also got Tonys for scenic and lighting design. …

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