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<i>Spamalot</i>, <i>Doubt</i> Earn Top Tony Awards

A goofy musical look at the legend of Camelot and a hard-hitting drama about the sexual abuse scandal that has roiled the Roman Catholic Church have won the top honors on Broadway for the 2004-2005 theater season, as the most prestigious awards in U.S. theater, known as the Tonys were handed out.

Cast members from nominated musicals Spamalot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee perform at 2005 awards ceremony; At center is Tim Curry as King Arthur in Spamalot
Monty Python's Spamalot has been a sold-out hit since it opened on Broadway in March. The much anticipated musical comedy is based loosely on the popular 1975 British cult movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It won the the Antoinette Perry Awards, the Tonys, for best musical, and for director and featured actress in the musical category. With $27 million in advanced sales, Spamalot is already a solid Broadway hit.

A movie also spawned the musical that won the award for the best revival of a musical, La Cage Aux Folles, introduced during the Tony award ceremony by leading man Robert Goulet.

This year's Tonys did not, however, represent a clean sweep for any one musical. A new musical, The Light in the Piazza, won the largest number of awards, six, including several in the musical score and orchestrations categories for Adam Guettel, the grandson of Broadway legend Richard Rodgers.

Broadway's top dramatic honors went to the much-acclaimed play, Doubt, A Parable. The story of a nun's suspicion of child abuse at a parochial school won the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year after switching to Broadway from a successful off-Broadway run. Veteran actress Cherry Jones and director Doug Hughes also took home the top honors in the dramatic category. Mr. Hughes says the reason John Patrick Shanley's play has been so widely honored is clear.

"What happened with Doubt is very, very simple," he said. "John Patrick Shanley wrote a play for our time, and I was given the opportunity to work on it every day in the company of geniuses."

Playwright Edward Albee, the author of Broadway classics, such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance and The Zoo Story, was presented with a special Lifetime Achievement Award.

"I think the virtue of being given a lifetime achievement award before you have necessarily achieved your lifetime work is probably because, if you wait until you have achieved all of your lifetime work, you probably will have died," he said. "This is better."

The 59th annual Tony awards ceremony was broadcast nationwide, from Radio City Music Hall. More than 700 theater professionals vote on the awards in over two dozen categories.