"South Pacific" wins big at Tony Awards

Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:45am EDT
 
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By Michelle Nichols and Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific" dominated Broadway's top honors, the Tony Awards, with seven prizes on Sunday, followed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "August: Osage County" with five wins.

"South Pacific," nominated for 11 Tonys, picked up awards for best musical revival, best musical director (Bartlett Sher), best leading actor in a musical (Paulo Szot), scenery, costume, lighting and sound.

Sher said audiences seemed to find contemporary resonance in the show's themes of racial tension at a time of war -- issues of heightened interest in the U.S. presidential election campaign with black candidate Sen. Barack Obama winning the Democratic nomination.

"The reception was completely overwhelming," Sher told reporters, adding the show happened "to hit this weird crease in the culture around the election."

"August: Osage County," the Tracy Letts play that won the Pulitzer Prize for drama this year, won Tonys for best play, best featured actress (Rondi Reed), best leading actress (Deanna Dunagan), scenic design and direction (Anna D. Shapiro).

Cast members signaled that the sprawling drama about a dysfunctional family in rural Oklahoma could transfer to London's West End later this year.

Broadway veteran Patti LuPone won best actress in a musical for her role in "Gypsy," while her co-stars won best featured actor (Boyd Gaines) and featured actress (Laura Benanti).

The show is a revival of a musical suggested by a stripper's memoir with Stephen Sondheim lyrics. It was the second Tony for LuPone, who last won for "Evita."   Continued...

 
<p>(L-R) Paulo Szot, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical "South Pacific," Patti LuPone, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for "Gypsy," Deanna Dunagan, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for "August: Osage County" and Mark Rylance, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for "Boeing-Boeing" pose backstage at the 62nd Annual Tony Awards in New York June 15, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>