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Once is the toast of Broadway as smash hit Irish musical picks up EIGHT stage Oscars

THE Irish drama Once swept the board at Broadway's Oscars, the Tony Awards.

The musical adaptation of an unlikely love story of a Dublin street performer and a Czech piano player won eight awards last night as Broadway honoured its best plays and musicals.

The wins for the humble, intimate stage musical adapted from the 2006 independent film Once included awards for best musical, best book, orchestrations, scenic design, sound design, best actor in a musical and best direction for John Tiffany in his first Tony victory.

"Once is a story about when people believe in each other, they can move on in life, and so many people have believed in this project," Tiffany said in his acceptance speech.


Actor Steve Kazee fought back tears as he thanked his cast members, including his leading lady Cristin Milioti, and said after his mother died early on in performances, they "carried me around and made me feel alive and I will never be able to fully repay them".

Clybourne Park, a satire on race relations, won best play, with playwright Bruce Norris telling the audience that since the play premiered more than two years ago off-Broadway: "I have made so many friends in regional theatres and in other theatres around the world who have worked on this play."

Brit James Corden upset Philip Seymour Hoffman to win best actor in a play for his comic turn in the London transplant spoof, One Man, Two Guvnors, while Nina Arianda won best actress in a play for her sexy performance in Venus In Fur.

Esteemed film and stage director Mike Nichols was an early winner for his direction of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman. Nichols has won a record-setting six Tony Awards for best direction of a play. He also has been honoured twice as a producer.

"You see before you a happy man," Nichols (80) said, thanking Miller's daughter Rebecca Miller for permission to stage the play that also won best revival of a play.

Nichols also thanked Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield as "a cast straight from heaven" and said the play, which premiered in 1949, "gets truer as time goes by".

The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess, a reinvention of the 1935 opera and comedy, won best revival of a musical and Audra McDonald won best actress in a musical for her stirring performance as Bess.

The awards show kicked off with host Neil Patrick Harris welcoming the audience to the 66th Tony Awards, "or as we like to call it, Fifty Shades of Gay," referencing Broadway's campy reputation and the popular erotic fiction novel, Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Judith Light of Other Desert Cities was an early winner for best actress in a featured role in a play.

"I feel like I am the luckiest girl in New York tonight," she said.