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Bennett’s History Boys sweeps the Tony Awards

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Alan Bennett’s The History Boys has dominated the 2006 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards, taking home six prizes – the most of any production – including Best Play.

The revival of Brian Friel’s Faith Healer scored the first win of the evening, with Ian McDiarmid taking home the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play on his Broadway debut. In his acceptance speech, McDiarmid acknowledged his co-stars, Ralph Fiennes and Cherry Jones, as well as the play’s director, Jonathan Kent, who “enabled us to give life to one of the most emotionally intricate and musically perfect pieces of writing for the stage in the English language – written, unsurprisingly, by an Irishman, Brian Friel.”

However, it wasn’t long before The History Boys, which began life at London’s National Theatre, started its winning ways, as Frances de la Tour picked up the award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. This was de la Tour’s first Broadway appearance in 35 years – she was last seen in 1971’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Next, Nicholas Hytner won for Best Direction of a Play. Thanking writer Bennett, he said “over the past few years we’ve done four plays and two movies together and he is the best luck I’ve ever had.”

History Boys also won Best Lighting Design for a Play (Mark Henderson, who also did the lighting design for Faith Healer), and Best Scenic Design for a Play (Bob Crowley). Richard Griffiths took the Leading Actor award and in his acceptance speech Griffiths, who triumphed over Ralph Fiennes (Faith Healer) and David Wilmot (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) thanked his wife for “persuading me not to quit the show.”

In the musical categories The Drowsy Chaperone was the leader, taking home five prizes, winning for Best Book, Score, Costume Design and Scenic Design, as well as Featured Actress in a Musical. However, right on its heels was jukebox musical Jersey Boys, with four wins including the big prize of Best Musical, as well as Best Actor, Featured Actor and Lighting Design.

Other musical winners included John Doyle for his direction of the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which originated at Newbury’s Watermill Theatre, which also won the Tony for Best Orchestrations by Sarah Travis. However, Sweeney Todd lost out in the musical revival category to The Pajama Game, which also won for Best Choreography. Another upset was LaChanze from The Color Purple, winning for Best Actress in a Musical (the only award that show received out of 11 nominations) beating, among others, Patti LuPone (Sweeney Todd) and Sutton Foster (Drowsy Chaperone), both of whom were considered the top contenders for this award.

Winning for Best Actress in a Play was Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon for David Linsday-Abaire’s drama Rabbit Hole. Nixon’s competition in this category included Lynn Redgrave and Kate Burton for W Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife. Best Revival of a Play went to Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing!, which also won for Costume Design.

The Tony Regional Theatre Award, accompanied by a $25,000 grant, went to the Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Washington, while receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award was director/producer Harold Prince, who has won 20 Tony Awards during his career – far more than anyone else.

The full list of Tony winners follows:

Best Play: The History Boys

Best Musical: Jersey Boys

Best Revival of a Play: Awake and Sing!

Best Revival of a Musical: The Pajama Game

Best Book of a Musical: Bob Martin and Don McKellar, The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: The Drowsy Chaperone – Music & Lyrics: Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: Richard Griffiths – The History Boys

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: John Lloyd Young – Jersey Boys

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play: Cynthia Nixon – Rabbit Hole

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: LaChanze – The Color Purple

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: Ian McDiarmid – Faith Healer

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical: Christian Hoff – Jersey Boys

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: Frances de la Tour – The History Boys

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical: Beth Leavel – The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Direction of a Play: Nicholas Hytner – History Boys

Best Direction of a Musical: John Doyle – Sweeney Todd

Best Choreography: Kathleen Marshall – The Pajama Game

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Bob Crowley – The History Boys

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: David Gallo – The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Costume Design of a Play: Catherine Zuber – Awake and Sing!

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes – The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Mark Henderson – The History Boys

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Howell Binkley – Jersey Boys

Best Orchestrations: Sarah Travis – Sweeney Todd

Regional Theatre Tony Award: Intiman Theatre in Seattle, WA

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Harold Prince

Special Tony Award: Sarah Jones, for her one-woman show, Bridge and Tunnel

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