The audience at the awards learned that composer/lyricist William Finn could give lessons in speechmaking. As the guest of honor, the local-boy-made-good kept his remarks brief, witty, and gently self-deprecating. Following a curtain-opening excerpt from the Huntington Theatre's June 2005 production of his musical Falsettos (with rising young thespian Jacob Brandt reprising the role of Jason), the Tony Award winner deferred to his Natick High School speech teacher Gerry Dyer, who, he said, "imbued us with a ridiculous sense of our own self-worth."
Finn later brought his mentor onstage to share the podium in presenting the Outstanding Production by a Midsized Resident Company award to SpeakEasy for Five by Tenn, which also earned Scott Edmiston the Norton for Outstanding Director, Small/Midsized Company, Outstanding Design kudos for Janie E. Howland, and a citation of Outstanding Actor, Midsized Company for Allyn Burrows, who shone as the cross-dressing Candy Delaney in Tennessee Williams's poignant one-act "And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens." In addition, Burrows also played Teddy in The Homecoming at Merrimack Repertory and Kent in King Lear for the Actors's Shakespeare Project this past season (not to mention the title role in Shakespeare & Company's King John).
Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays -- all but unrecognizable "in trousers and facial hair" -- was on hand to receive recognition for his Outstanding Solo Performance in I Am My Own Wife, brought to town by Broadway in Boston (now Broadway Across America). In addition, the company's presentation of Monty Python's Spamalot snagged Outstanding Visiting Production. The award for Outstanding Musical Production went to Overture Productions' concert version of On the Twentieth Century, featuring Broadway stars Alice Ripley and George Dvorsky.
Outstanding Actor and Actress, Large Company both went to American Repertory Theatre performers: Bill Camp for Olly's Prison, and Karen MacDonald for both that show and No Exit (which will return to ART this summer). Outstanding Actress, Midsized Company went to British-born Sandra Shipley for her role as Mary Tyrone in Gloucester Stage Company's Long Day's Journey Into Night. Only one other regional theater outside metropolitan Boston received a nod: Brian McEleney of Providence's Trinity Repertory Company earned Outstanding Director, Large Company for Hamlet.
Boston Conservatory received a Special Citation "for training musical theater stars of tomorrow"; current students performed "This Is My Beloved" from Kismet. Also on hand for a special honor -- the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence -- was Spiro Veloudos, former head of the open-air Publick Theatre (whose Arcadia won a nod for Outstanding Production by a Small Resident Company). More recently, Veloudos was producing artistic director of Lyric Stage, and a selection from Lyric's recent rendition of Urinetown completed the evening's musical offerings.