Billy wins big at Tonys

Published June 8, 2009

Billy Elliot The Musical picked up a record 10 Tony Awards at a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, New York, last night.

The British musical, which had been nominated for 15 awards, was not the only British production to win; God Of Carnage, The Norman Conquests, Mary Stuart and Equus were all recognised in what was a very successful night for British theatre, with a total 16 wins from 39 nominations.

Richard Pulford, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre, commented: “This has been an amazing night for British theatre on Broadway. To have garnered 16 Tony Awards – more than half the awards available to Broadway shows – is unprecedented. I cannot recall there ever having been such strength of British offerings across the board. Of course the 10 awards for Billy Elliot are a very particular achievement, but four other British productions, all of them plays, also won awards. A great outcome for everyone involved.”
 
Composer Elton John, book writer Lee Hall and director Stephen Daldry were at the ceremony in New York to collect the Best Musical award for Billy Elliot The Musical, the tale of a young boy’s dreams to become a ballet dancer which premiered at London’s Victoria Palace theatre in 2005 before transferring to Broadway last year.

Hall, Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Ian MacNeil all triumphed in their respective categories, while the three young stars who alternate in the role of Billy also collected Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, echoing 2006 when the three leads in the UK premiere production were all honoured with a Laurence Olivier Award. The musical’s Tony tally also included wins for sound, lighting, orchestrations and in the category of Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Gregory Jbara. John, however, missed out on a Best Original Score award, which went to the composers of Broadway musical Next To Normal.

Director Matthew Warchus, who was nominated twice for his direction of Yasmina Reza’s God Of Carnage and Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, beat himself to collect Best Direction of a Play for God Of Carnage. Reza’s comedy, which was originally staged at the Gielgud theatre last year, also won Best Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Marcia Gay Harden, while the Old Vic revival of The Norman Conquests collected Best Revival of a Play.

Anthony Ward won the Best Costume Design of a Play for the Donmar Warehouse production of Mary Stuart while Gregory Clarke won Best Sound Design of a Play for Thea Sharrock’s revival of Equus, which played at the Gielgud in 2007.

CB