Brits Shunned at Tonys, First Best Black ActressDate: 7 June 2004
Despite more than a dozen individual nominations and multiple nods for UK-originated shows including Taboo and Jumpers, the British brigade went home empty-handed from this year’s Tony Awards ceremony, held yesterday (6 June 2004) at New York’s Radio City Music Hall (See News, 10 May 2004).
Amongst the British talent in the running for Broadway’s top prizes were actors Eileen Atkins, Simon Russell Beale, Alfred Molina, Euan Morton, Aiden Gillen, and Ben Chaplin, playwrights Bryony Lavery, William Nicholson and Martin Sherman, director David Leveaux, composer Boy George, designer Mark Thompson and choreographer Anthony van Laast, but the trophies went to their Stateside counterparts.
Those flying the Union Jack had to make do with more tenuous connections to triumph. Lavery’s Frozen earned non-Brit Brian F O’Byrne the award for Best Performance by a Feature Actor in a Play. And Australian Hugh Jackman, who went on to Hollywood fame and fortune after appearing in Trevor Nunn’s 1998 London production of Oklahoma!, won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for The Boy from Oz, which has a book by UK-based Sherman.
The most historic win at this year’s Tonys was for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play which went for the first time ever to a black woman, Phylicia Rashad, for the revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Her co-star Audra McDonald also won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.
Tally-wise, the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins came out tops with five wins overall, but the big winner in the musical stakes was Avenue Q, which surprised most by scooping the three key awards, for Best Musical (which had been hotly tipped for Wicked), Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. Doug Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winner I Am My Own Wife earned Best Play honours while its star Jefferson Mays won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.
- by Terri Paddock