Triumph for Alan Bennett as 'History Boys' wins six Tonys and equals 50-year record

Not since Arthur Miller's seminal play Death of a Salesman triumphed in 1949 has a single drama stormed the Tony Awards so decisively.

On Sunday night, the power-brokers of American theatre handed The History Boys by Alan Bennett a total of six Tonys, matching the record for Miller more than half a century ago.

Against tough competition - much of it from fellow Brits - the Broadway transfer of one of National Theatre's biggest hits in years was named best play.

Nicholas Hytner, who runs the National in London and took the initial decision to stage the work, was named best director. Its stars, Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour, took acting honours against competition which included Ralph Fiennes and Zoe Wanamaker.

Julia Roberts, whose own Broadway debut was panned by the critics, graciously turned up to the ceremony to hand Griffiths his best actor award. She said: "You are insanely talented people."

The final two Tonys went to its designer Bob Crowley and lighting designer Mark Henderson, in a triumphant night for a play that has already won Oliviers and numerous other awards in London.

Reflecting on their victory yesterday, Hytner said they were "absolutely delighted" and very happy with their haul.

He said: "Frances de la Tour looked spectacular and if the orchestra hadn't played, Richard Griffiths would even now be regaling Radio City Music Hall with one of his magnificent anecdotes. It was a great night for the National Theatre."

Hytner extended wide thanks but was particularly effusive in praising Alan Bennett with whom he previously worked on projects including The Madness of King George. 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." In return, Bennett said simply: "It almost seems unfair to get prizes for something we have so much fun doing."

He had previously won a special Tony in 1963 for Beyond the Fringe, but his work had not been seen on Broadway for more than 30 years until now.

The 72-year-old Yorkshireman's distinctively witty take on the English education system could have seemed somewhat alien to a Broadway audience. Yet theatre-goers in New York have echoed audiences in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong in embracing the play which contrasts different teaching styles with immense wit.

Griffiths plays a maverick but inspirational teacher who wins the adoration of his sixth-formers as they study to win a place at Oxbridge.

The History Boys was not the only British triumph. Ian McDiarmid, the former co-director of the Almeida Theatre best known to film fans as Palpatine in the recent Star Wars films, won a Tony for his performance in the Brian Friel play Faith Healer.

McDiarmid paid tribute to his co-stars, Ralph Fiennes (who lost out as best actor to Griffiths), and Cherry Jones, and to Jonathan Kent, their director with whom he previously worked at the Almeida.

McDiarmid said: "Faith Healer had its debut on Broadway over 20 years ago and it was not a success. I am really proud to be associated with its triumphant return and restoration."

He said there was one word his character used often that seemed appropriate. "He is a London showbusiness manager and, therefore, totally unreliable and prone to wild exaggeration, but it fits the occasion and it's the way I feel tonight - fantastic!"

LEADING ARTICLE, PAGE 28

LEONARD QUART, PAGE 29

REVIEWS, EXTRA, PAGES 20-21

Prize performance

* THE LONDON PRODUCTION: Two 2004 London Evening Standard Awards for best play and best actor (Richard Griffiths).

Two Critics Circle Awards in 2004 for best new play and best actor (Griffiths).

Three Whatsonstage.com Awards in 2004 for best supporting actor (Samuel Barnett), London newcomer of the year (Barnett) and best new comedy.

Three 2005 Olivier Awards for best new play, best actor (Griffiths) and best director (Nicholas Hytner). The Society of London Theatre's special award for Alan Bennett for contribution to theatre. The South Bank Show Award for Theatre 2005 to The History Boys.

* THE NEW YORK PRODUCTION: Five 2006 New York Drama Desk Awards for outstanding new play, actor (Griffiths), featured actor (Barnett), featured actress (Frances de la Tour) and director.

Four 2006 New York Outer Critics Circle Awards for the play, director, featured actor (Griffiths) and actress (de la Tour).

A 2006 New York Drama Critics Award for best play of the 2005 to 2006 Broadway season.

2006 New York Drama League Award for distinguished production of a play.

Six 2006 Tony Awards for best play, best director, featured actress (de la Tour) and best actor (Griffiths), plus best design (Bob Crowley) and best lighting (Mark Henderson).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary