NEW YORK – Two passionate works — "Spring Awakening," a pounding, post-rock musical of teenage sexual anxiety, and "The Coast of Utopia," Tom Stoppard's sweeping examination of 19th century Russian intellectuals — dominated the 2007 Tony Awards on Sunday.
"Spring Awakening," with a score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, was named best musical, taking home eight awards, and the trilogy "The Coast of Utopia" took best play honors, winning seven prizes. It was a Tony record for plays, topping six won in previous years by both Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" and Alan Bennett's "The History Boys."
Together, "Spring Awakening" and "The Coast of Utopia" received 15 of the evening's 25 competitive Tonys handed out during the ceremony at Radio City Music Hall.
A small, serious musical which began life last summer at off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company, "Spring Awakening" also took awards for score, book-musical, direction-musical, featured-actor, choreography, orchestrations and lighting-musical.
Its army of producers, numbering more than a score, all marched on stage to accept the best-musical prize.
"Steven and I definitely set out to make a new kind of musical," said Sheik, describing the edgy show, set among troubled teens in late 19th century Germany. "We were trying to forge our own path. I think we got lucky timing-wise — what's happening politically. People were ready to deal with something that had teeth."
"The Coast of Utopia," lavishly produced by Lincoln Center Theater for a limited engagement that ended last month, also won prizes for direction, featured actor-play and featured actress-play as well as sweeping the play technical awards for sets, costumes and lighting.
"I would be more than happy to have equaled the playwright of 'Death of a Salesman' and a contemporary of mine Alan Bennett," Stoppard said about setting a record with "Utopia."
The award was Stoppard's fourth best-play Tony, having previously won for "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" (1968), "Travesties" (1976) and "The Real Thing" (1984).
There were a few surprises, most notably in David Hyde Pierce's win as a musical-theater-loving detective in the Kander and Ebb musical, "Curtains."
Cradling his award, Pierce noted that he made his Broadway debut 25 years ago as a waiter with the line "I'm sorry, we're going to have to ask you to leave."
Of his Tony chances this year, he said: "I think, 'Oh yeah, they're going to call my name.' They're going to say, 'David Hyde Pierce, I'm sorry, we're going to have to ask you to leave."'
Also in something of an upset, an ebullient Julie White received the actress-play award for her portrayal of a conniving agent in Douglas Carter Beane's satiric "The Little Dog Laughed." Said a disbelieving White, "You Tony voters — what a bunch of wacky, crazy kids."
More expected was Frank Langella's triumph, winning his third Tony. He took the actor-play prize, for his sympathetic portrait of Richard M. Nixon in Peter Morgan's docudrama "Frost/Nixon." "I am very proud to work among you splendid people," a gracious Langella said.
"Grey Gardens" proved lucky for the two women who play mother and daughter in this musical about eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Christine Ebersole took the top musical performance prize in what many critics called the performance of the season.
Mary Louise Wilson, who portrays her mother in the show, received the featured actress-musical prize and some of the biggest laughs of the evening. She came on stage and said, "Everyone has been so articulate." Then she let out howl of delight as the audience cheered.
Within hours of its final curtain Sunday, "Journey's End," R.C. Sherriff's anti-war drama won the revival play award as producer Bill Haber came on stage with the entire cast to accept the award. Despite enthusiastic reviews, the production struggled at the box office and closed after a disappointing four-month run.
The musical revival prize went to "Company."
The 2007 Tonys, broadcast by CBS, were voted on by 785 members of the theatrical community. The awards were founded in 1947 by the American Theatre Wing which now produces the show with the League of American Theatres and Producers.