The Producers Scores Record Number of Tony Awards

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The Producers, a musical satire of Broadway that makes fun of Jews, gays, old women, and Hitler, high-kicked its way to a record 12 Tony Awards Sunday night in what amounted to a coronation of the biggest theater hit in New York in 25 years.

Film director Mel Brooks' adaptation of his 1968 movie met all expectations of critics and theater audiences by eclipsing the 10 Tony Awards bestowed on the musical Hello, Dolly! in 1964. The Producers has been described as the most widely praised and watched Broadway show since A Chorus Line raised the roof in 1975.

The Producers won in the Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Director, and Best Leading Actor categories, among others. Brooks won the trophy for Best Original Score ahead of a field of musicals — including the critically acclaimed The Full Monty, A Class Act, and Jane Eyre — that Brooks himself said would have walked away with the prizes had it not been for the phenomenal appreciation for The Producers.

"In any other year, you guys would have won, I assure you," Brooks said after accepting the Tony for the Best Score at a Radio City Music Hall gala, referring to the other contenders. "But this is a phenomenon, so forgive us for that."

The show, which includes a kick-line of Nazi stormtroopers, is a comedy about two losers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, played by Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who seek financial success by putting on the worst musical of all time, titled Springtime for Hitler.

Lane and Broderick were both nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor, but the 705 producers, theater owners, journalists, and others who vote for the Tony Awards gave Lane the nod.

Lane, in accepting the award, said he wanted to share it with Broderick. "We are very much a team, and believe me, without him, I am nothing."

Daniel Sullivan won the Tony for directing Proof, a play about a young mathematical genius plagued by fears of inheriting her father's mental illness along with his mathematical talent. "There must be some mistake; I had nothing to do with The Producers," Sullivan told the audience.

Proof added to its honors with Mary-Louise Parker winning the Tony for the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play and author David Auburn, who earlier this year won a Pulitzer Prize for the same work, winning the Best Play award.

The revival of the musical 42nd Street won two Tony Awards, one for the Best Revival of a Musical and another for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Christine Ebersole).