Honoring the American Dream: Baseball and Hairspray Rack Up the Pre-Tony Awards in New York City

By Hart, Sarah | American Theatre, July-August 2003 | Go to article overview

Honoring the American Dream: Baseball and Hairspray Rack Up the Pre-Tony Awards in New York City


Hart, Sarah, American Theatre


The whirlwind of New York's 2003 awards season--which began in early May with the Off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Awards and culminated in early June with Broadway's Tony festivities--reads like a love letter to classic Americana, from rock-and-roll, to Billy Joel, to the old ballgame. For complete listings of the season's honorees, go to www.tcg.org.

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The big winner of the year, of course, also had the biggest hair: The musical remake of John Waters's campy, Cinderellameets--"American Bandstand" film Hairspray took best-musical laurels from the Drama Desk, Drama League, New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle. Director Jack O'Brien and the show's lead actress, newcomer Marissa Jaret Winokur, scored as well at the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards, and Winokur added a Theatre World Award for a major New York debut to the pile.

Richard Greenberg's paean to America's pastime, Take Me Out, hooked top dramatic honors across the board (including the Lortels' Off-Broadway prize, since the show began its U.S. run at the Public Theater), and its director, Joe Mantello, followed suit with three wins of his own. But Take Me Out's success was all but overshadowed by one of its supporting players: Denis O'Hare's ebullient, show-stealing turn as accountant-turned-aficionado was recognized at almost every major award event of the season, Broadway and Off Broadway, including the downtown Village Voice Obies and the Clarence Derwent Award for the season's most promising male performance.

Other more hotly contested acting races pitted best-revival hopefuls against best-new-play candidates. Robert Falls's Long Day's Journey into Night and its leading lady, Vanessa Redgrave, took Drama Desk plaudits (though Enchanted April's Jayne Atkinson charmed the Outer Critics Circle). Nine was unanimously dubbed best musical revival, but its ladies' man Antonio Banderas went neck-and-neck with man-as-lady Harvey Fierstein (Hairspray), topping off in a tie at the Drama Desks. British crossdressing comediancum-heartrending thespian Eddie Izzard fared more comfortably in the best-actor-drama category, resting easy with both the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk awards for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which was revival du jour for the Drama League and the Outer Critics Circle. …

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