Amongst the other big British successes were four musical wins for the Menier Chocolate Factory, three for La Cage aux Folles and one for A Little Night Music, not least both Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (for Douglas Hodge in the former) and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (for Welsh-born Catherine Zeta-Jones in the latter). All three productions were seen first in London prior to their Broadway transfers.
In addition to Best New Play, Red, about the painter Mark Rothko, nabbed Best Featured Actor in a Play for Eddie Redmayne (who won the equivalent category at this year’s Oliviers for the London premiere), Best Scenic Design (Christopher Oram), Best Lighting Design (Neil Austin) and Best Sound Design (Adam Cork). It also earned Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage his first Tony Award, for Best Direction of a Play.
Grandage said: “One of the great joys for the Donmar is to take our work to America from time to time and to share it with such a vibrant theatre community - in the past year alone, we have transferred Red, Hamlet and Creditors to New York and Parade to Los Angeles. The fact that the Broadway community have now honoured us in such a remarkable way with Tony recognition is a joy for us all.”
(The Donmar’s two contenders for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play – Alfred Molina for Red and Whatsonstage.com Best Actor Jude Law for Hamlet - lost out to Hollywood’s Denzel Washington for August Wilson’s Fences, which also won Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Viola Davis and Best Revival of a Play.)
The musical hit factory
While its current production in London, the premiere of Paradise Found, mounted by a Broadway team, has suffered from damning reviews, at last night’s ceremony at Radio City Music Hall in New York, the Menier Chocolate Factory succeeded in converting three of its 11 nominations for two revivals of Broadway classics, Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles and Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, both of which started life at the 150-seater in Southwark before transferring to the West End and on to Broadway.
Added to the performance wins for Hodge and Zeta Jones, the Menier collected Best Direction of a Musical (Terry Johnson) and Best Revival of a Musical for La Cage aux Folles.
One of the other big musical winners was the Off-Broadway originated and now London-bound Fela!, which is set for its UK premiere at the National Theatre in November. The piece about Nigerian afrobeat musician and political activist Fela Kuti won three Tonys for: Best Choreography (Bill T Jones), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Robert Kaplowitz]) and Best Costume Design (Marina Draghici).
It was beaten to Best Musical by Memphis, set in the racially segregated 1950s, which also won Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations. The Green Day compilation musical American Idiot scored two technical wins, for Best Scenic and Lighting Design of a Musical.
In terms of star wattage, the biggest winner of the night was Hollywood siren Scarlett Johansson, who took home the gong for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her Broadway debut in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. As previously reported, Alan Ayckbourn, the UK’s most prolific playwright, was also awarded a Tony Award for lifetime achievement. Ayckbourn’s Broadway credits have included How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, By Jeeves, Bedroom Farce and the Old Vic revival of his trilogy The Norman Conquests, which won last year’s Tony for Best Play Revival.