New York — "In the Heights," a joyous celebration of Latino life in the upper reaches of Manhattan, was named best musical at Sunday night's Tony Awards, while "August: Osage County," Tracy Letts' scabrous tale of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family, took best play.
But the lavish production of "South Pacific" picked up seven prizes (more than any other show), including musical revival, actor-musical for leading man Paulo Szot, director-musical and four design awards - sets, costumes, lighting, sound.
Bartlett Sher, who oversaw "South Pacific," thanked the show's legendary creators, composer Richard Rodgers, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, its original director Joshua Logan and James Michener, who wrote the novel on which the show was based.
Yet "Gypsy," the main competition for "South Pacific," could cheer, too. It took three of the four musical performance awards.
Patti LuPone was cheered mightily as she won the actress-musical prize for her powerhouse performance as Rose, an indomitable stage mother. It was LuPone's second Tony, the first since 1980 when she won for playing another strong-willed woman, Eva Peron, in "Evita."
Her co-star, Boyd Gaines, did even better. He collected his fourth Tony, winning for his portrayal of Rose's gentlemanly candy-salesman suitor, Herbie. And Laura Benanti, who plays the ugly-duckling daughter who blossoms into Gypsy Rose Lee in the show, received the featured-actress award.
"It's such a wonderful gift to be an actor who makes her living on the Broadway stage and then every 30 years or so picks up one of these," said an exuberant LuPone. "I was afraid to write a speech because I had written a couple before and they never made it out of my purse. So I'm going to use one of the old ones and add a few names."
The win for "August" was not unexpected since it already has won most major theater awards including the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. It won five Tonys, all told, Sunday.
Thanking the show's producers, Letts said: "They did an amazing thing. They decided to produce an American play on Broadway with theater actors."
Deanna Dunagan, who portrays the play's acidulous matriarch, took the actress prize while Rondi Reed, who plays her flighty sister, won in the featured category.
List of winners of the 2008 Tony Awards
Final list of winners for the 62nd annual Tony Awards:
Play (and playwrights): "August: Osage County" (Tracy Letts).
Musical: "In the Heights."
Book-Musical: "Passing Strange" (Stew).
Original Score (music and/or lyrics): "In the Heights" (Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda).
Revival-Musical: "South Pacific."
Actor-Play: Mark Rylance, "Boeing-Boeing."
Actress-Play: Deanna Dunagan, "August: Osage County."
Actor-Musical: Paulo Szot, "South Pacific."
Actress-Musical: Patti LuPone, "Gypsy."
Featured Actor-Play: Jim Norton, "The Seafarer."
Featured Actress-Play: Rondi Reed, "August: Osage County."
Featured Actor-Musical: Boyd Gaines, "Gypsy."
Featured Actress-Musical: Laura Benanti, "Gypsy."
Direction-Play: Anna D. Shapiro, "August: Osage County."
Direction-Musical: Bartlett Sher, "South Pacific."
Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, "In the Heights."
Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, "In the Heights."
Scenic Design-Play: Todd Rosenthal, "August: Osage County."
Scenic Design-Musical: Michael Yeargen, "South Pacific."
Costume Design-Play: Katrina Lindsay, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses."
Costume Design-Musical: Catherine Zuber, "South Pacific."
Lighting Design-Play: Kevin Adams, "The 39 Steps."
Lighting Design-Musical: Donald Holder, "South Pacific."
Sound Design-Play: Mic Pool, "The 39 Steps."
Sound Design-Musical: Scott Lehrer, "South Pacific."
Regional Theater Tony Award: Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Special Tony Award: Robert Russell Bennett.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Stephen Sondheim.