Latin Conference & Awards

'Boys' Dominate Tony Awards

The boys ruled last night (June 11) at the 60th annual Tony Awards in New York, with "Jersey Boys," the jukebox musical following the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and "The History Boys,

The boys ruled last night (June 11) at the 60th annual Tony Awards in New York, with "Jersey Boys," the jukebox musical following the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and "The History Boys," British playwright Alan Bennett's comedy-drama about public school students cramming for acceptance at Cambridge or Oxford, taking top awards.

"Jersey" was named best musical, while "History" took six awards in the drama field, including best play, director (Nicholas Hytner), actor (Richard Griffiths), featured actress (Frances de la Tour), set and lighting design. The haul set a record for the most Tonys won by a straight play.

"Jersey" collected four prizes. In addition to best musical, it won for best actor in a musical (John Lloyd Young as Valli), lighting for a musical, and, in one of the few surprises of the evening, Christian Hoff for featured actor in a musical. Both Young and Hoff -- who plays Tommy DeVito, one of the original Four Seasons -- were tearful in their acceptance speeches, remembering parents who died young.

While "Jersey" nabbed the top musical prize, its nearest rival, "The Drowsy Chaperone," made a respectable showing of five citations, including original score, book of a musical, featured actress in a musical (Beth Leavel in the title role), costume and set design for a musical.

"Chaperone," a parody of frothy 1920s musicals, started life as a surprise wedding present performed for Martin and his wife. A fully staged version was brought to the Fringe in Toronto (the equivalent of off-Broadway), then Los Angeles, and finally Broadway. "I love my job," Leavel said.

In another surprise, the Roundabout Theatre Company staging of "The Pajama Game" was named best revival of a musical. After its limited run ends at the American Airlines Theatre, "Game" is expected to transfer to a commercial Broadway run.

The innovative production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," in which the actors also serve as the orchestra, was expected to win best revival. "Sweeney" did win for director of a musical (John Doyle) and orchestrations (Sarah Travis). Doyle's production of Sondheim's "Company," also featuring an instrument-playing ensemble, is expected on Broadway in the fall.

"The Color Purple," based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, was nominated for 11 Tonys but won only one, for LaChanze's lead performance as the downtrodden Celie. Producer Oprah Winfrey introduced a production number from the show.

Outside of the theater community, most of the acting winners are not well known. Aside from Winfrey, the biggest star at the Tonys, Julia Roberts, served as a presenter and wasn't even nominated for her performance in "Three Days of Rain," which has received mixed to bad notices. Cynthia Nixon, best actress in a play for David Lindsey-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole," was probably the best-known winner because of her role on the recent HBO hit "Sex and the City."

Numbers from nominated musicals provided the entertainment as well as a tribute to playwrights August Wilson and Wendy Wasserstein, who both died during the past year.

The three-hour ceremony, broadcast by CBS, had no host but boasted 60 stars in keeping with the Tonys' 60th anniversary. Clips from previous Tony telecasts were featured, along with reminiscences from past winners.