Brits reign at the Tonys – Six, Company and The Lehman Trilogy all pick up nominations
It was a big day for Brits on Broadway
Want some Tony Awards in numbers? Well you only need two – the first being three – as Ben Power's English-language adaptation of The Lehman Trilogy soared to success with eight nominations – the highest of any play of the season.
The National Theatre sure knows how to charm Tony voters – Angels in America, also first seen at the Lyttelton before making its way to Broadway, broke records for Tony nominations a few years back, so it's intriguing to see the trend continue. But with the star power being served (all three actors got nods!) and a riveting tale grounded in real-life consequences, it's no surprise it's proved a front-runner.
The second number is Six – the blockbuster hit has cooked up a royal storm with eight nominations – fourth highest for any new musical. It was, in general, a much more galvanising shortlist of new musicals this side of the Atlantic compared to UK fare – with a large number not leaning too heavily on existing properties – including the frontrunner A Strange Loop. If Six didn't have such an intrinsically company-led focus (all of the queens had to go head-to-head for nominations), it would have picked up more nods in the performance categories.
As someone who first saw the piece in a hotel conference room in Edinburgh back in 2017, the last half-decade of charting Six's meteoric rise has been a heartwarming experience – we even exclusively released the official first listen to the show that winter. With solid box office figures for Broadway, Six is reaching Hamilton levels of hype – helped by the stellar new cast album, released last week.
Composers Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow remarked: "We'd just love to give a major shout out to the American accent. In our own accents (the accent in which this music was originally written), the word ‘category' is absolutely not stressed like it is, repeatedly, in our show's final number but having the opportunity to bring the show to Broadway really has allowed that lyric to blossom from noticeably shoddy writing to a seemingly innocuous rhyme. So, thanks America."
Marianne Elliot's award-winning production of Company also won big with nine nominations, including the near-inevitable nod for Patti LuPone. With the goodwill surrounding Sondheim, even the mighty Music Man may have a tough time claiming the Best Musical Revival Tony.
Exciting news also for Girl from the North Country, which originated at the Old Vic almost five years ago – it's remarkable to see how much of a journey this show has been on – as producer Tristan Baker mentioned to me earlier today, by the time the Tonys run around, the piece will have opened three times on the Great White Way.
It was a joy to talk to the transformative North Country orchestrator Simon Hale, fresh off the back of his success at the Oliviers with Get Up, Stand Up!, saying how "I've not met Bob Dylan, but if I do one day, I'm sure he'd appreciate everything we've done with his songs – working with our instincts in a truthful, liberal, honest space." Sound in general was a big winner for British creatives – four of the five nominees for sound design in a musical are British, including WhatsOnStage Award-winner Gareth Owen (MJ).
Elsewhere it was an exciting day for Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, or Change, (one of three nods for the show – with Clarke surely the favourite) – with the award-winning performer remarking: "I'm ecstatic. Like a giddy young school girl. It's absolutely wonderful. I'm still reeling from it, really. The fact that, as a British woman, going to New York with this much-loved and celebrated show, and then have Broadway say "We see you," is absolutely wonderful thing. I am elated and humbled."
Martin McDonagh's Hangmen, which started life at the Royal Court, also picked up nominations, with actor Alfie Allen saying: "I'm in shock a little bit, if I'm being honest, but I've got a big, massive smile on my face, and I'm gonna go have pancakes with my mate Gabriel."