- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — “Jersey Boys,” the fast-moving musical biography of pop icons Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, won best musical last night at the 2006 Tony Awards, while “The History Boys,” Alan Bennett’s witty dissection of British education, was named best play.

“The History Boys” received six Tonys, more than any other production, also taking home prizes for actor, Richard Griffiths; director, Nicholas Hytner; featured actress, Frances de la Tour; and two design prizes, sets and lighting.

While “Jersey Boys” picked up the top musical prize and received four Tonys, its main competitor, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the Canadian-born musical that affectionately celebrates Broadway’s past, won more awards — five — including best book and score.

“You are insanely talented people,” said Julia Roberts before giving the best-actor prize to Mr. Griffiths for his portrayal of an unorthodox yet beloved teacher in “The History Boys.”

In his Broadway debut, John Lloyd Young, who plays Mr. Valli in “Jersey Boys,” took the top actor-musical award and dedicated the prize to his father. LaChanze won for her portrayal of the courageous Celie in “The Color Purple” in the actress-musical category.

“Thank you, America,” exulted “Drowsy Chaperone” star Bob Martin, who co-wrote the book with Don McKellar.

The Canadian winners said they were proud that the show originated in Toronto.

“It’s the longest-running show in Canadian history — 12 performances — we celebrated that,” Mr. Martin said with a laugh.

Their Canadian cohorts, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, received the prize for music and lyrics. And an exuberant Beth Leavel, who portrays the show’s inebriated title character, scooped up the featured-actress musical prizes.

Cynthia Nixon, playing a distraught mother who loses a young son in an auto accident, won the best actress-play prize for her performance in “Rabbit Hole.”

Ian McDiarmid, who plays Ralph Fiennes’ fey, funny manager in “Faith Healer,” yelped out a “fantastic” as he ended his speech thanking voters for his featured-actor prize.

John Doyle received the prize for direction of a musical for his work on “Sweeney Todd,” in which the cast plays the show’s instruments. The revival also grabbed an award for its new, spare orchestrations.

Christian Hoff, who plays tough, wise-guy Tommy DeVito in “Jersey Boys,” won the featured actor-musical prize.

The Lincoln Center Theater production of Clifford Odets’ stirring 1935 drama “Awake and Sing!” received the prize for play-revival as well as a costume-design prize.

The Roundabout Theatre Company production of “The Pajama Game” took home the musical-revival prize and the award for choreography for Kathleen Marshall.

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