David Benedict on theatre

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The Independent Online
The whole of Broadway knew that Zoe Caldwell's powerhouse performance as Maria Callas in Masterclass was a dead cert for best actress at this year's Tony Awards. British producers have been winging their way across the Atlantic to put their bids in for the London production. British names suggested for the role include Frances de la Tour, Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg.

True to form, Caldwell won, but when the play's author, Terence McNally, picked up the award for best play, a deathly hush filled the room. Other plays were widely regarded as significantly more deserving, but hey, that's award ceremonies for you. No one ever agrees, and whether it's the Booker, the Oscars or the Eurovision Song Contest, the air in the behind-the-scenes voting is usually thick with the sound of axes being ground, usually into someone else's back.

This year's Tonys were a news item from the moment the nominations were announced. Julie Andrews (right) received a nod for Victor, Victoria, but refused to accept it as no one else on the production was so honoured. This translates as "Why didn't Blake Edwards, my director (and husband), get nominated?" To which New Yorkers replied "Did you not read the reviews?" Edwards is one of those people who have had their career in reverse. Imagine making Breakfast at Tiffany's near the beginning of your working life and ending up making SOB, Skin Deep and Switch. In the event, she lost out to Donna Murphy in the much garlanded revival of The King and I .

The season's hotly anticipated musical, Big, was passed over in favour of Rent, the "La boheme meets HIV" rock musical which is such a hit that Bloomingdale's have opened a Rent boutique. Only in America. The London production of An Ideal Husband won Drama Desk awards, but no Tonys. Competition was tough, mostly from Albee's A Delicate Balance. I mean, it's a great play and it stars Elaine Stritch. It's still running. Get on a plane.