Briton Vanessa Redgrave was crowned the queen of Broadway last night when she scooped the prize for the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play at the 57th annual Tony Awards, the most prestigious American theatre awards, which were presented last night at the Radio City Music Hall in New York (See News, 12 May 2003).

Redgrave triumphed in a category that was dominated by UK talent with four out of five nominees British: in addition to Redgrave, Victoria Hamilton (nominated for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg), Clare Higgins (Vincent in Brixton, for which she has already won the triple crown in London of Olivier, Standard and Critics' Circle Awards) and Fiona Shaw (Medea).

While the other UK actresses nominated featured in productions originated in London, Redgrave won for her performance as Mary Tyrone in the American revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, which won three trophies in total, the others being for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (for American Brian Dennehy) and Best Revival of a Play.

Despite numerous nominations, only one UK-originated production scored at the 2003 Tonys: Richard Greenberg's baseball-inspired Take Me Out, which was first seen last year at London's Donmar Warehouse, though co-produced with New York's Public Theater, where it subsequently transferred ahead of Broadway. Last night, it took home three trophies for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Joe Mantello) and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (Denis O'Hare).

Nine, which was directed by Briton David Leveaux, won two awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. But the evening's big winner was the screen-to-stage adaptation of Hairspray, directed by American Jack O'Brien (whose current London production of His Girl Friday has just opened at the National). It won eight awards in total, including Best Direction for O'Brien, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Leading Actor (Harvey Wierstein) and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Marissa Jaret Winokur).

Other British contenders for this year's Tonys had included Eddie Izzard (who originally took over from Clive Owen in the West End production of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg) for Leading Actor in a Play, David Leveaux (Nine) for Best Direction of a Musical, Laurence Boswell and Deborah Warner, nominated for their productions of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Medea (both first seen in London) for Best Direction of a Play, Nicholas Wright's Vincent in Brixton for Best Play and the Right Size's The Play What I Wrote for Special Theatrical Event.

- by Terri Paddock