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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions