The 1993 Tony Awards Afterward
"Tony taker McAnuff had enough of fuss"
By Burl Stiff
San Diego Union-Tribune, June 13, 1993


"I didn't bring my tickets," Des McAnuff confided when he
arrived at the Gershwin Theatre for the 1993 Tony Awards. "So tell us how it goes.
We'll be down at the corner in Howard Johnson's."

But Des and his wife, actress Susan Berman, were, of course, admitted without having
to produce their tickets, and Des, of course, came away with one of the night's top
prizes -- the Tony for Best Director of a Musical. His was one of five awards earned by "The Who's `Tommy,' " a Broadway
phenomenon spawned at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Only "Kiss of the Spider Woman" did better, and not by much.

Des admitted he's weary of the hoopla that comes with a Broadway smash.
"We opened more than a month ago, and the first part is OK -- but now it's
enough already! I want to get back to work. I miss being in rehearsal, in design

He said he had prepared a speech accepting the special regional Tony award
to La Jolla Playhouse, "but I didn't rehearse anything else. Because I don't think
I'm going to win." Happily, he was wrong.

Supporting cast La Jollans in New York for the Tonys included Dorothy and
Harry Johnston (Dorothy literally jumped for joy when McAnuff was announced
as Best Director), Amy Carson-Dwyer and Terrence Dwyer (he's managing director
of the La Jolla Playhouse), Robert Blacker (he's associate artistic director),
and Playhouse benefactor David Copley.

(Copley's New York agenda included dinner at Grenouille with international
bon vivant Alecko Papamarkou and lunch at Harry Cipriani with cabaret
star Bobby Short.)

San Diegans in New York but not for the Tonys included Shelia and Larry
Lawrence and Jenny and Sid Craig, here to catch the Belmont Stakes, and
Kay North, Donis Lovett and Linda Eves, here to do the town.

Some of the standouts in the tony Tony crowd were Kathleen Raitt (John's former wife),
Altovise Davis (Sammy's widow), restaurateur Bob Nahas with costume designer
Florence Klotz (she won a Tony for her "Spider Woman" creations), nominee Lynn
Redgrave, nominee Stephen Rea, and nominee Natasha Richardson, a vision in pink

Seated a row in front of the Harry Johnstons, nominee Joe Mantello ("Angels
in America") gnawed a red licorice twist when the televised awards show broke for

Big winner Chita Rivera ("Kiss of the Spider Woman") wore a black sheath by
Christian Lacroix, a short and snappy wig much like the bob immortalized by
silent-film star Louise Brooks, and a knockout rhinestone dog collar borrowed from
copycat jeweler Kenneth Jay Lane.

Diamond czar Harry Winston had offered to send over Something Suitably Important for
Chita to wear on the telecast, but she went for the fakes instead. She also declined Giorgio
Armani's offer of a beaded jacket (ticketed at $15,050), but "Spider Woman" director
Harold Prince said yes to an Armani tuxedo. Not beaded.

For Chita, it was a night of divided loyalties and mixed emotions. Her daughter,
Lisa Mordente, is the assistant choreographer for "Tommy," and Lisa will marry
Donnie Kehr of the "Tommy" company in July. (Lisa's mother and father met while they
were appearing in the original Broadway production of "West Side Story.")
Liza Minnelli will be one of the bridesmaids.

At Tony time, Liza wore assorted black outfits from Donna Karan, on stage and off.
(After the awards, Liza and pianist Billy Stritch looked in on a "Spider Woman" victory
party at the Symphony Cafe, then capped the night with their entourage at P.J. Clarke's.)

Nominee Bernadette Peters was barely contained by a black Bob Mackie design
reminiscent of Sargent's "Portrait of Madame X," and Mercedes Ruehl was a far cry from
Yonkers in Valentino's sensational black bra, latticed rhinestone pullover and ruffled
organza pants.

Affairs to remember
When the last trophy had been presented, the crowd ambled down the street to
Times Square for the traditional Tony Supper Ball at the Marriott Marquis.
Most of the big names made a token appearance, stood still for the paparazzi,
then hightailed it to smaller, livelier parties at restaurants and clubs.

There was no reason to linger. The ball was a lackluster affair -- but the bag of
take-home stuff was a lalapalooza. Among the souvenirs were stuffed animals,
Tony Award key rings, assorted toiletries, hair dryers, cassettes and CDs.

The "Tommy" celebration -- noisy, exuberant and exhilarating -- packed a
theater district club called Laura Belle from 9 p.m. Sunday till 3:30 Monday morning.

(Back home in La Jolla, Playhouse partisans were celebrating at Sluggo's.)

"Phantom of the Opera" Michael Crawford was one of the 500 revelers who
turned up at the Laura Belle bash.

In the wee hours, "Tommy" composer and co-author Pete Townshend gave the
victory party a fitting finale when he hopped onto the bandstand with
Michael Cerveris and Donnie Kehr to play, sing and shout "Pinball Wizard."

Add that to your list of Historic Moments in Showbiz.


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