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TITANIC, BALLYHOO WIN TOP TONYS


By David Lefkowitz

Playbill.com
June 1, 1997


Titanic, a musical epic about the sinking of the luxury ocean liner, survived problematic reviews to win the 1997 Tony Award as Best Musical June 1, sweeping all five categories in which it was nominated, including Best Score for Maury Yeston and Best Book for Peter Stone.

The Last Night of Ballyhoo, the story of tensions between ethnic German Jews and ethnic Russian Jews in 1930s Atlanta, won Best Play for Alfred Uhry, who adds it to his Pulitzer Prize and Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy.

Walter Bobbie's stylish revival of Chicago won the most Tonys for a single show -- six, including Best Musical Revival, Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical for James Naughton and Bebe Neuwirth, respectively.

The British import revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, won Best Revival of a Play, plus Best Actress in a Play for Janet McTeer.

Several major musicals and plays were completely shut out of the Tonys, including Steel Pier, Jekyll & Hyde, Dream, Play On! and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner The Young Man From AtlantaChicago jazzed up the first hour of the Tonys, taking three quick Tonys for best choreography, lighting and director of a musical.

Chicago scored further victories for best actor and actress for James Naughton and Bebe Neuwirth, respectively. As expected, Christopher Plummer won his second Tony, for Barrymore (the show's only nomination), Janet McTeer and Owen Teale took acting honors for the Doll's House revival, which also earned best revival and best revival director.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was the appearance of presenter Mandy Patinkin, who arrived in dark glasses and explained that "11 days ago, I received a cornea transplant." Likely to wear dark sunglasses on Monday morning will be the producers of Jekyll & Hyde, The Gin Game and Steel Pier, which all got goose-egged.

On May 5, at Sardi's Restaurant in the New York theatre district, Rosie O'Donnell, Raquel Welch and Alec Baldwin announced the nominees for the 1996-1997 Tony Awards. The Life led the field with 12 nominations; Steel Pier followed with 11. The American Theatre Wing and League Of American Theatres & Producers bestowed the Tonys Sunday, June 1, 1997, at a ceremony televised first on PBS (8-9PM) and then on CBS (9-11PM), hosted by Rosie O'Donnell.

Titanic 1996-97 Tony Awards

BEST MUSICAL: TITANIC

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE: MAURY YESTON, (TITANIC)

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL: PETER STONE (TITANIC)

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: JONATHAN TUNICK (TITANIC)

BEST SCENIC DESIGN: STEWART LAING (TITANIC)

Titanic: 5 (Musical, Orchestration, Book-Musical, Original Score, Scenic Design); out of 5 nominations.



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