Men-only Swan Lake and Dame Judi each win Tony

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The Independent Online
CRITICS HAD dubbed it the "British Invasion", but the welter of imports from London on Broadway this season collected only a few honours in the annual Tony Awards ceremony. Saving the day, however, was the ever-dependable Dame Judi Dench and a radical all-male version of Swan Lake.

Dame Judi won the best actress award for her role as an actress in David Hare's Amy's View. It was the only major award for an all-British production on the Great White Way. Most surprisingly, the Tony judges passed over the Howard Davies revival of The Iceman Cometh, starring Kevin Spacey as Hickey. .

The other British winner was Matthew Bourne of the London dance troupe Adventures in Motion Pictures. He won best direction and best choreography for his troupe of male swans in the ballet Swan Lake. His ballet, which featured feathers, leathers and whips, also won a Tony for costume design.

The best actor award went to Brian Dennehy for his role in a revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Dennehy beat off Spacey who had widely been touted as the favourite to receive the award.

Miller, 83, received a standing ovation as he rose to accept a lifetime achievement award. Noting the volume of British productions in New York Miller later told reporters at Sunday night's ceremony: "We have a big problem. Opening a new play on Broadway is next to impossible, so we bring a lot from London."

But in a night that was notable for favouring American productions over British ones, Patrick Marber's Closer was squeezed out as best play by Warren Leight's Side Man, a story of a jazz musician who sacrifices family for art. There was some surprise that not one of the three plays by British playwright David Hare, including Amy's View and his one-man work on observations from the Middle East, Via Dolorosa earned a nomination for best play.

Dame Judi won her Tony by beating Stockard Channing, Zoe Wannamaker and Marian Seldes. It was her first appearance on Broadway for 40 years and opened just after her success at the Oscars in March for her performance in Shakespeare in Love. Dame Judi said her award was for everyone in the play: "The winning bit is not the best, the nominating bit is the best - there is no such thing as doing a performance on your own, unless you are doing a one-woman show."

The other performance to grab attention came from Julie Andrews who sang a few notes on stage for the first time since undergoing nodule surgery on her throat two years ago. Andrews had been told she might never sing again. But as she sang with presenter Carol Burnett, Burnett joked about her hitting the odd bum note, saying: "Don't you like these keys?"

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