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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
Hairspray wins eight Tonys
Vanessa Redgrave at the ceremony
Redgrave won her first Tony award
Comedy Hairspray took centre stage at the 2003 Tony Awards on Broadway, winning in eight categories, while British actor Vanessa Redgrave won her first award.

The musical comedy about growing up in Baltimore in the early 1960s had led the nominations with 13, and won best musical, original score and both musical acting accolades.

Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's drama about a gay baseball player, was named best play.

Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night won best revival and earned a first Tony for Redgrave.

An emotional Redgrave, winning her first Tony, told the audience she had long been inspired by American actors, singers and dancers.

Her co-star Brian Dennehy took the male acting award. Long Day's Journey Into Night took three awards in all, as did Take Me Out.

Tony Winners (selected)
Best play: Take Me Out
Best musical: Hairspray
Best revival play: Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best revival musical: Nine
Best play actor: Brian Dennehy, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best play actress: Vanessa Redgrave, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best musical actress: Marissa Jaret Winokur, Hairspray
Best musical actor: Harvey Fierstein, Hairspray
Book of a musical: Hairspray, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Original score: Hairspray, Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Direction of a play: Joe Mantello, Take Me Out

The Tonys are the most coveted awards in US theatre, recognising all involved in staging musicals and plays.

Top billing this year went to Hairspray, which is based on the cult John Waters film celebrating the pop culture of his youth.

It has been a huge success since it launched in August 2002, helping to boost Broadway to a record season.

Marc Shairman shared Hairspray's music award with his co-lyricist and partner for 25 years, Scott Wittman.

Joel opening

Among its other winners were director Jack O'Brien and the two lead performers Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein.

"Boy am I glad this wasn't a beauty contest," said Fierstein, who plays the heroine's mother in drag.

Billy Joel opened the proceedings in Times Square by singing New York State of Mind, from Movin' Out, for which he won a pre-ceremony award for orchestrations.

Linda Hart and  Joel Vig in Hairspray
Hairspray buoyed the Broadway season

Redgrave's best actress victory came at the expense of fellow Briton Fiona Shaw, who was nominated for her performance in Medea.

Another British acting nominee, Eddie Izzard, in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, was also left empty-handed.

La Boheme, Baz Luhrmann's lavish retelling of the Puccini opera, picked up two design awards.

Star names who were nominated but failed to win included Antonio Banderas in Nine the Musical and 78-year-old Paul Newman for his role in Our Town.

Audiences 'mesmerised'

The awards ceremony crowned a record season on Broadway, despite being interrupted by the musicians strike, which shut down musicals in March.

Dennehy said the fact Long Day's Journey into Night, a 65-year-old play, had still "mesmerised" audiences showed theatre was still popular.

"There's an audience there. We just need the writers," he said.

That was joked about by composer Marc Shaiman, on receiving the award for the Hairspray score.

He said: "If anyone cuts me off, there's a virtual orchestra at Hairspray on Tuesday."

The awards were hosted by Australian actor and star of the X Men films, Hugh Jackman.

The BBC's Tom Brook
"The night's big winner was the musical Hairspray"

Press views: Hairspray
09 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Vanessa Redgrave's acting destiny
09 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Hairspray leads Tony nominations
12 May 03  |  Entertainment
Izzard eyes Broadway success
06 Nov 02  |  Entertainment
Broadway hits record takings
29 May 03  |  Entertainment
Redgrave: Actress and campaigner
06 Dec 02  |  Entertainment


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