June 20, 1988 12:00 PM

The telecast of Broadway’s 42nd annual Tony Awards was over. All but the most diehard autograph hounds had decamped from the environs of Manhattan’s Minskoff theater, and now it was time for the winners and non-winners(there are no losers, darling) to head over to the New York Hilton’s grand ballroom, break out the bubbly and kick out the jams for a glorious midnight supper party.

The jubilation was general and justified, as pronouncements of the American theater’s demise had once again proved blessedly premature. Broadway’s bottom line for the season just ended showed an all-time box office record: 8.1 million warm (and prosperous) bodies paid $253 million for seats to hits including The Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods.

As for the awards, the keenly competitive Yanks and Brits cut the Broadway baby in half. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera spirited away seven Tonys, including Best Musical, but the Americans, led by such first-time winners as Joan (Burn This) Allen, Ron (Speed-the-Plow) Silver and David Henry (M. Butterfly) Hwang, swept the prizes for drama. For this one night, though, stars from both sides of the pond put aside their egos and celebrated their common heritage as theater people.

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