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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
History Boys star at Tony Awards
Richard Griffiths
The History Boys first won plaudits at the National Theatre in London
Alan Bennett's The History Boys and a biographical musical about 1960s group The Four Seasons have dominated this year's Tony Awards in New York.

There were six trophies for The History Boys, including best play. Best actor was Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour was named best supporting actress.

Jersey Boys - about Frankie Valli's band - won four categories in total.

Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon took best actress for Rabbit Hole, a play about a bereaved mother.

She paid tribute to foreign imports such as The History Boys, saying: "Other countries, particularly Britain, invest in their theatres in the way our government doesn't."

The cast of The Jersey Boys
The Jersey Boys' director said his musical had face deep prejudices
Nicholas Hytner was named best director for The History Boys and the play - which premiered at the National Theatre in London in May 2004 - also received two design prizes, for sets and lighting.

"You are insanely talented people," said actress Julia Roberts before giving the award for best actor to Griffiths for his portrayal of an unorthodox yet beloved teacher.

Although The History Boys dominated the drama categories, the honours for musicals were more evenly divided.

'Overcame prejudice'

Jersey Boys' awards included best actor for John Lloyd Young in his Broadway debut, and best supporting actor for Christian Hoff.

Three of the original members of the Four Seasons - including Valli - were in the audience and director Des McAnuff said the production had overcome a deep prejudice against musicals based on existing popular music.

Cynthia Nixon (right) receives her Tony Award
Cynthia Nixon criticised a lack of investment in theatre in the US
"I think we were a little bit tainted by this 'jukebox musical' term," he said, adding he preferred to think of Jersey Boys as a history play along the lines of Shakespeare, with celebrities as the new royalty.

Its main rival, The Drowsy Chaperone, took five awards.

The parody of 1920s musicals was named best book and best score, with Beth Leavel as best supporting actress.

The Canadian team behind The Drowsy Chaperone said they were proud the show had originated in Toronto.

Record year

Best actress in a musical went to LaChanze, the star of The Color Purple, a show based on Alice Walker's novel that ended up with just one award despite 11 nominations.

Frances de la Tour
The History Boys received more awards than any other production
A new production of Sweeney Todd first seen in London won best director of a musical, for John Doyle.

Despite high-profile flops such as Lestat and the John Lennon musical, Lennon, this has been a record year for Broadway theatre.

The number of theatregoers topped twelve million for the first time, and ticket sales earned $861.6m (462m) during the 2005-6 season.

The ceremony - the 60th in the history of the awards - was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The winners were chosen by more than 750 theatre professionals including actors, producers, writers, stagehands and theatre owners.


SEE ALSO
Tony Awards: Full list of winners
12 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
Broadway boasts record new season
01 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
History Boys wins best play award
22 May 06 |  Entertainment
Bennett play nominated for Tonys
16 May 06 |  Entertainment
Actor's reprimand wins applause
23 Nov 05 |  London

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