Shields, Cumming co-host Lortel Awards

Why are the Lucille Lortel Awards more fun than the Tonys? Because they do things there that they just don’t on Broadway.

Early in Monday night’s fete honoring Off Broadway theater, Brooke Shields brought out what appeared to be two condoms. Co-host Alan Cumming wondered aloud, “What are those?!”

“These are nipple protection,” Shields replied from the stage. The items came courtesy of Chris Henchy, the actress’s new husband, who worried about the effect of the Lortel Theater’s air conditioning on Brooke’s bod in her see-through gown.

Moments later, presenter Hal Linden kissed Shields, who immediately revealed, “He said he liked my boobs.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” Linden asked rhetorically just before handing the best-actress award to Mary-Louise Parker (“Proof”), who displayed a real talent for “picking scripts,” the actor acknowledged, adding “It is a talent that has escaped me, this year being no exception.” Linden is starring in “The Gathering” — for just a few more days.

Other notable revelations:

  • According to best-director winner Dan Sullivan (“Proof”), Parker did David Auburn’s play because it presented the best “possibility for winning awards.” Sullivan added, “I didn’t realize at the time she was talking about winning me one.”

  • Polly Draper, in a form-fitting white sweater, presented the featured-actor award to Justin Kirk (“Ten Unknowns”), saying he had appeared in, among many other plays, “A Fair Country.” The actor corrected Draper: “I wasn’t in ‘A Fair Country’ — I did the workshop — but I should have been.”

  • Receiving her lifetime achievement award, Kitty Carlisle Hart enthused, “This makes all those trips to Albany worthwhile, fighting for arts legislation and defending Mapplethorpe and Serrano.” At 90, she urged everyone to stay young and never stop working.

Shields commented, “I’ve been working since I was 11 months old. That should be worth something!”

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