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'Hairspray' is Big Hit at Tony Awards - 2003-06-09

Sunday was Broadway's biggest night out, the Tony Awards Show, when New York's glamorous theater community doles out accolades for the year's best shows and performances. This year, the smash hit Hairspray proved the darling of the Great White Way, taking home seven of the coveted awards, including best musical.

It was the biggest of nights for Hairspray, the new musical based on the cult hit film by director John Waters, and no less so for its star, Harvey Fierstein, who took home another of the evening's crown jewels, the award for leading actor in a musical.

Four-time Tony Award winner Fierstein won for his role as the loud and lovable Edna Turnblad. "The theater community is just a huge, loving family and I am blessed every day of my life to just be part of you people. I adore each and every one of you," he said. "I want to have your children! And, I promise to raise them well. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Marissa Jaret Winokur, who plays opposite Fierstein in the Hairspray, received the award for leading actress in a musical. She says she is living proof that you do not have to be perfect to make it on Broadway. "My sister made me a painting years ago that said, "Fairly tales do come true." And, if a 4-foot-11, chubby New York girl can be a leading lady in a Broadway show and win a Tony, then anything can happen.," she said. "Thank you!"

The big-selling Hairspray also took home the awards for original score, featured actor in a musical and costume design. Show Director Jack O'Brien won for best direction of a musical.

It was also a big night for Take Me Out, the Richard Greenberg drama about a gay baseball player. The show won the Tony for best play, for featured actor in a play and for direction of a play, accepted by Take Me Out Director Joe Mantello.

The Eugene O'Neill classic, Long Day's Journey Into Night was expected to win for direction. Instead, it won for best revival and its leading actors, Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave, received the awards for leading actor and actress in a drama.

Nine, starring a singing and dancing film star Antonio Banderas, won the musical revival award in a season full of revivals.

The 57th Annual Tony Awards capped off a big year for Broadway, which grossed a record $720 million for the season ending May 31, up 12 percent from the year before. Attendance topped 11 million people, up more than four percent from the previous year, which included the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Tonys are voted on by more than 700 journalists and members of the theatrical community.