“The Phantom of the Opera” swooped down on the 1988 Tony Awards on Sunday, carrying off seven Tonys, including the award for best musical, while “M. Butterfly,” David Henry Hwang’s exotic love story, was chosen best play.
Besides its best musical prize, “Phantom” captured musical prizes for best actor, Michael Crawford; director, Harold Prince; featured actress, Judy Kaye, and swept all three technical awards: Maria Bjornson for sets and costumes and Andrew Bridge for lighting.
“There are so many ups and downs in this business. Well, the time I have had here in New York,” said an emotional Crawford. “I know by the law of averages I must be due to be knocked down by a truck.”
Although “Phantom” captured the big musical prize, it failed to win awards for score and book, which went to Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, the composer and author of “Into the Woods,” a fairy tale musical.
“M. Butterfly,” the true story of a love affair between a French diplomat and a transvestite singer in the Beijing Opera, picked up two other awards besides best play, winning prizes for director John Dexter and B. D. Wong, an actor who plays the exotic singer.
Ron Silver was named best actor in a drama for his portrayal of a cut-rate Hollywood mogul in David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow,” while Joan Allen won the best actress nod for her portrait of a bereaved dancer in Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This.”
Joanna Gleason of “Into the Woods” was the winner of the best actress in a musical award, edging out Patti LuPone of “Anything Goes” in a close contest.
This year’s special Tony Awards went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for its innovative theatrical presentations and the South Coast Repertory Theater of Costa Mesa, Calif., for outstanding regional theater.
Bill McCutcheon, a comic gangster on the lam in “Anything Goes,” received the featured actor in a musical award.
Named Best Revival
“Thank God for letting me live this long to be here,” said McCutcheon in one of the evening’s shortest speeches. The 1934 Cole Porter musical was also named best revival and also received the choreography award, which went to Michael Smuin.
L. Scott Caldwell received the featured actress in a play prize for her portrayal of the boarding house owner’s wife in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson.
The season, which ended May 29, was one of Broadway’s best in a long time despite a drop in the total number of plays and musicals produced. Ticket sales climbed to more than $253 million, a record, and attendance jumped from nearly 7 million the previous season to 8.1 million, a hike of almost 17% and the best since the early 1980s.
Much of the increase can be attributed to a quartet of big British musicals. They include “The Phantom of the Opera” and a trio of long-running hits--"Les Miserables,” “Me and My Girl” and “Cats.”
But all four of this year’s best play and best musical nominees are still running, something of a rarity on Broadway that in the past has seen shows that disappeared in a week nominated for top awards.
The Tonys are named for the late Antoinette Perry, a major figure in the American Theater Wing, which held the first Tony Awards show in 1947.