Billy leads Tony nominations

Published May 5, 2009

The Broadway production of Billy Elliot The Musical has picked up a total of 15 nominations for this year’s Tony Awards, leading a British-dominated field which also includes the transfers of West End hits Mary Stuart, God Of Carnage, The Norman Conquests and Equus.

The British productions, which have collected a total of 39 nominations – four more than last year – are competing against Broadway shows including Next To Normal (11 nominations), Shrek The Musical, Hair (eight nominations apiece) and 33 Variations (five nominations) for the coveted prize – the American equivalent to the UK’s Laurence Olivier Awards – which will be announced in a ceremony in New York on 7 June.

Richard Pulford, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre, commented: “This is a fantastic achievement that demonstrates the strength and breadth of British theatrical talent. To have secured 39 nominations out of a total of 111 in all categories is unprecedented, certainly in my recollection. We eagerly await the final outcomes to be announced in New York on 7 June, when many representatives of British theatre will be in New York for the ceremony at the Radio City Music Hall.”

Billy Elliot The Musical’s 15 nominations include Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical for Lee Hall, Best Original Score for Elton John’s music and Best Direction of a Musical for Stephen Daldry. The trio of young boys who originated the title role on Broadway – David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish – also share a nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, while Haydn Gwynne, who received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her performance as Mrs Wilkinson in the London production, now collects a Tony nomination for recreating that performance on Broadway.

Based on the film of the same name, also directed by Daldry, Billy Elliot The Musical began life at London’s Victoria Palace theatre in 2005, winning four Laurence Olivier Awards the following year, including Best New Musical.

Both God Of Carnage (six nominations) and The Norman Conquests (seven nominations) were big hits in London last year, with God Of Carnage winning the Best New Comedy Laurence Olivier Award this year. The productions also share a director, Matthew Warchus, who receives two Tony nominations in the Best Direction of a Play category. His revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, which played at the Old Vic last autumn, transferred to the Great White Way with the same cast, of which Stephen Mangan, Paul Ritter, Jessica Hynes and Amanda Root all receive nominations, along with designer Rob Howell.

However, Yasmina Reza’s comedy God Of Carnage, which starred Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Ken Stott and Janet McTeer in London, received a new cast for its Broadway transfer. Now the quartet – Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and James Gandolfini – join Warchus in the nominees list.

McTeer, meanwhile, has been nominated for her performance in Schiller’s Mary Stuart, the Donmar Warehouse production which played in London in 2005 before transferring to Broadway earlier this year. The production receives seven nominations, including Best Revival of a Play and recognition for McTeer’s co-star Harriet Walter and director Phyllida Lloyd.

Peter Shaffer’s Equus and Ambassador Theatre Group’s production of Guys And Dolls complete the haul with two nominations apiece. Equus, nominated for Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design of a Play, enjoyed a West End run at the Gielgud theatre in 2007 before its Broadway transfer in September of last year. Guys And Dolls competed against Billy Elliot in the 2006 Laurence Olivier Awards and now goes up for Tony awards in the categories of Best Revival of a Musical and Best Scenic Design of a Musical.

CB