Entertainment Theatre & Arts

Tuesday 15 October 2019

The Ferryman triumphs at the Tony Awards

Sam Mendes also won best direction of a play.

Jez Butterworth, and the company of The Ferryman, accept the award for best play at the 73rd annual Tony Awards (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Jez Butterworth, and the company of The Ferryman, accept the award for best play at the 73rd annual Tony Awards (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

By Ellie Cullen, Press Association

Northern Irish drama The Ferryman picked up the prestigious accolade for best play at the Tony Awards, while its director Sam Mendes was also honoured.

The production, penned by James Bond co-writer Jez Butterworth, tells the tale of a former IRA man in rural Co Armagh during The Troubles.

It was transferred to Broadway with much of the same cast after a sold-out year in the West End.

The drama, which also earned three Olivier awards, beat four other nominees – including fellow British playwright James Graham’s Ink – to scoop the best play honour.

Accepting the award on stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York, Butterworth dedicated the gong to all the families who had lost loved ones in the Troubles.

Earlier in the night, Mendes was named winner in the best direction of a play category to scoop his first directing Tony Award.

Despite not attending the ceremony, a message from the director was posted on The Ferryman’s Twitter page, which read: “I have lost count of the times on this job that I’ve counted my lucky stars.

“And now, again, I’m left to reflect on what a privilege – what an absolute privilege it is – to be able to tell stories for a living.”

The production also picked up the awards for best scenic design and best costume design.

Ahead of the ceremony, Butterworth told the Press Association he was feeling “extremely honoured and grateful” that the play had been nominated in nine categories.

He said: “Plays are hard, and plays this big with this many people are harder still, but when those people are as talented, inspiring and just plain ready as the Ferrymen and Ferrywomen and Ferrychildren and Ferrybabies have been, it somehow seems effortless.

“When (theatre producer) Sonia (Friedman) and I did Jerusalem on Broadway the other end of this decade, I told myself on the plane home that I’d never experience anything like that again. I’m wrong a lot.”

Laura Donnelly – whose family story inspired the play – was beaten by Elaine May in the best actress in a leading role category, while Paddy Considine and Fionnula Flanagan also missed out on gongs.

British comedian James Corden hosted the 2019 awards, kicking the night off with a nine-minute musical tribute to Broadway.

Other winners included English actor Bertie Carvel, who picked up best featured actor in a play for his portrayal of Rupert Murdoch in Ink, and Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, who scooped the lead actor in a play award.

Hadestown was named best musical.

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