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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
British stars shine at Tonys
Stephen Dillane at the 2000 Tony Awards
Best actor: Stephen Dillane with his prize for The Real Thing
British talent took top honours at New York theatre's Tony Awards on Sunday - with director Michael Blakemore and actors Jennifer Ehle and Stephen Dillane among the winners.

Blakemore, 71, took best musical director for the night's most successful production - a revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate, and then repeated his triumph by winning the same prize for the play Copenhagen.

He is the first director to win both the musical and play honours since the award was split in 1960.

Michael Blakemore at the 2000 Tonys
Double winner: Michael Blakemore with his two Tonys

Meanwhile, Ehle and Dillane won best actress and actor for their parts in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing, which also won best play revival.

Ehle - best known for appearing in the film This Year's Love and the BBC's Pride and Prejudice - beat her mother, Rosemary Harris to the award.

In all, Kiss Me Kate took five honours, including best actor in a musical for Brian Stokes.

Accepting his award, Australian-born Blakemore said: "All I can say is, thank you America. And by America I mean New York. And by New York, I mean Broadway."

He told reporters after his double victory: "It's like having twins: you get it all over at once. I'm delighted and amazed, really a little stunned.

"If I'd known I was going to win two Tonys, I think I would have retired," he added.

Heather Headley at the 2000 Tony Awards
Aida star: Heather Headley thanked Disney

His other show, Copenhagen, about a mysterious World War II meeting between two physicists, also took best play, and best actress in a play for Blair Brown.

Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice's show Aida lost out to innovative dance production Contact for best musical, but the Disney show still took four prizes, despite a roasting from the critics.

Heather Headley, who took best actress, told her Disney bosses: "I will work with you for the rest of my life."

Contact - which has created a stir by featuring only pre-recorded music with no dialogue - also took four prizes.

Another British actor, Roy Dotrice, picked up the prize for best featured actor in a play for his role as a whisky-soaked father in A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Jennifer Ehle at the 2000 Tonys
Jennifer Ehle beat her mother to the best actress prize

On stage, the 77-year-old thanked American audiences, ending his speech with "God bless America".

But it took an Australian to steal the show as Barry Humphries - also known as Dame Edna Everage - won a special award for Dame Edna: The Royal Tour.

He accepted the prize as himself, quipping that Dame Edna was getting "prettied up" to present the Tony for best costume design.

Later, he emerged in full regalia as Dame Edna and planted a huge kiss on the cheek of Martin Pakledinaz, who won the costume award for Kiss Me Kate.

Smeared with lipstick, he had difficulty giving his acceptance speech, adding: "I hope this isn't coming out of my 45 seconds."

Click here to see a full list of winners.

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See also:

05 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Tony Awards 2000: The winners
05 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Broadway's curtain call
05 Jun 00 | Entertainment
In pictures: The 2000 Tony Awards
29 Apr 00 | Tom Brook
Acting across the ages
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