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British invasion launched on Tony Awards

Published 13 May 2008

Six London transfers have collected a total of 35 nominations between them for the 2008 Tony Awards, the Broadway equivalent of the Laurence Olivier Awards.

Sunday In The Park With George, which dominated the 2007 Laurence Olivier Awards, leads the pack with nine nominations, while Boeing Boeing, The 39 Steps and Macbeth have six each. Rock ‘N’ Roll and The Seafarer complete the high scoring British productions with four nominations apiece.

The domination of London transfers is seen most clearly in categories such as Best Play – in which August: Osage Country is the only American production vying against Rock ‘N’ Roll, The Seafarer and The 39 Steps – Best Direction of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Play, where all four nominations come from British productions.

Actors receiving nominations include Mark Rylance, Mary McCormack (both Boeing Boeing), Rufus Sewell, Sinead Cusack (both Rock ‘N’ Roll), Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood (both Macbeth), Daniel Evans, Jenna Russell (both Sunday In The Park With George), Conleth Hill and Jim Norton (both the Seafarer). British performers Eve Best (The Homecoming) and Ben Daniels (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) are also among the nominees.

Speaking to Official London Theatre about the nominations, Sonia Friedman, producer of both Boeing Boeing and Rock ‘N’ Roll said: “I’m really proud, actually, because Broadway has been the most competitive, fierce season ever with dozens of new productions, many many new plays, and loads of revivals, so to get 10 nominations across the two plays that I produced, it’s extraordinary actually.

“I think it has to be put into context that in any other season, this would be expected, but if you look at how many productions and plays have been on this year… when Rock ‘N’ Roll was on in the fall of last year, we were one of I think nine plays that season, which is huge in any event but for Broadway it was extraordinary. And then another swathe of plays came along in the spring. The Brits have done incredibly well; we continue to dominate Broadway in a brilliant way. It’s wonderful. Having said that, who knows what the winners will be? But I don’t think that really matters, I think just to be there is the important thing.”

The leading American productions at the prestigious stage awards include the Manhattan-set musical In The Heights, which collected 13 nominations including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. The revivals of South Pacific and Gypsy earned 11 and seven nominations respectively. Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County received seven nominations.

The Tony nominees will have to wait a little over a month to discover who will take away the celebrated gongs. The winners will be announced at a star-studded ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 15 June. The Tony Award-winning producer, actress, singer, writer and comedian Whoopi Goldberg will host the event.

The Tony triumph of five British plays comes during the Celebrate The Play initiative, which aims to draw attention to the diversity and quality of plays being staged in London, and serves to underline the importance of British drama on the world stage.

Friedman, talking about the secret of her play producing success, which most recently has seen That Face open at the Duke of York’s and will see Under The Blue Sky follow it in July, added: “The producer just has to work that bit harder to make their show special and an event, not just an also ran. It’s the average play that doesn’t survive. It’s the one that stands out from the crowd that is the survivor in this market. Maybe that was always the case.”

Full list of nominees

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