Millie knocks the Tony Awards for six

Thoroughly Modern Millie - the Jazz Age tale of an ambitious flapper - tapped its way to six Tony Awards last night, including best musical.

Thoroughly Modern Millie - the Jazz Age tale of an ambitious flapper - tapped its way to six Tony Awards last night, including best musical.

The Goat, Edward Albee’s comic drama about the unpredictable nature of love, was named best play.

Besides best musical, Millie received prizes at the awards ceremony in New York for lead actress-musical, Sutton Foster; featured actress-musical, Harriet Harris; choreography, Rob Ashford; costumes, Martin Pakledinaz and orchestrations, Doug Besterman and Ralph Burns.

For Sutton Foster, it was a Cinderella-inspired victory.

The 27-year-old actress, originally an understudy, was elevated to the starring role in Millie just before the musical, based on the 1967 Julie Andrews film, began its try-out at California’s La Jolla Playhouse in 2000.

‘‘To say that this is a dream come true is an understatement,’’ said Foster.

Albee’s win - for The Goat or Who is Sylvia? - was especially sweet for the playwright who last won a best-play Tony in 1963 for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Albee thanked his producers who, he wryly said, had ‘‘the faith, the outrageous faith, that Broadway was ready to see a play about love’’.

Urinetown, the satiric show about a city where everyone must pay to use toilets, received three major prizes - for direction of a musical (John Rando), best book (Greg Kotis), and score of a musical (shared by Kotis and Mark Hollmann).

Some of the night’s most tumultuous applause was reserved for Elaine Stritch, finally winning the Tony that has eluded her since 1956, when she received the first of her four previous nominations.

The 77-year-old performer got the special theatrical event prize for her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

The actress, who gave a 20-minute acceptance speech at the New York Drama Critics’ Circle awards ceremony last month, talked past a persistent orchestra that tried to drown her out.

‘‘Please don’t do that to me,’’ she said angrily as the televised proceedings cut to a commercial.

Alan Bates and Frank Langella - the two stars of Fortune’s Fool - received Tonys: Bates as best actor-play for his portrayal of an impoverished nobleman and Langella, in the featured category, for his portrait of an extravagant fop.

John Lithgow, who plays a powerful New York gossip columnist in Sweet Smell of Success, took the prize for best actor-musical.

‘‘There are four fantastic actors in this category and they all sing better than I do,’’ said Lithgow.

Mary Zimmerman who adapted and directed the myth-inspired Metamorphoses took the prize for direction of a play.

‘‘I would like to thank every person I’ve ever met in my life,’’ said Zimmerman.

Private Lives won for best revival of a play as well as for actress-play, Lindsay Duncan as Amanda, the world-weary sophisticate in the Noel Coward comedy, and for its settings designs by Tim Hatley.

Into the Woods upended Oklahoma! for the musical-revival prize and also garnered the lighting prize (Brian MacDevitt).

Katie Finneran, who starred in Noises Off, won in the featured actress-play category, while Shuler Hensley was chosen as featured actor in a musical for his role in Oklahoma!

Unlike last season, when The Producers took a record 12 of 22 competitive awards, this year’s prizes were shared among 11 shows.

‘‘This season was more evenly divided,’’ says Jed Bernstein, head of the League of American Theatres and Producers.

The Tonys are a joint presentation of the league and the American Theatre Wing, which founded the awards in 1947.

Nominees were chosen by the 27-member Tony nominating committee of theatre professionals. Winners then were voted on by 731 theatre professionals and journalists.

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