The Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of The Color Purple led the British charge at last night’s Tony Awards, hosted by fellow British import James Corden at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
The Color Purple, which started life at the Menier’s home base in London Bridge in 2013, won awards for Best Musical Revival and Best Actress in a Musical for British star Cynthia Erivo (pictured), reprising her role as Celie in the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel.
There were also two successes for the London-originated revival of Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic A View from the Bridge. Led by Mark Strong, the production first opened at the Young Vic in 2014 before transferring to the West End and then Broadway in 2015. Last night, it won Tony Awards for Best Play Revival and Best Director of a Play for Ivo von Hove.
The big winner of the night was Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rap musical about American founding father Alexander Hamilton. It won 11 awards last night (having been nominated for 16), including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Director of a Musical (Thomas Kail) and Best Actor in a Musical (Leslie Odom Jr).
Hamilton is due to receive its West End premiere at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre in October 2017. Miranda’s earlier musical In the Heights won three gongs at this year’s Olivier Awards, including Outstanding Achievement in Music for Miranda, and continues to run at London’s King’s Cross Theatre.
Speaking of the success for The Color Purple at the Tony Awards, Menier Chocolate Factory Artistic Director David Babani said today:
“We are enormously proud of everyone involved with the production of The Color Purple on Broadway – and it’s an honour to be recognised in this way by the theatre community in New York with the production winning Best Musical Revival, and the very brilliant Cynthia Erivo winning Best Actress in a Musical for her Broadway debut. It’s a wonderful time for the Menier at the moment with productions on both sides of the Atlantic playing to critical acclaim.”
Funny Girl, albeit currently without its star Sheridan Smith, continues at the West End’s Savoy Theatre until October, with another Menier production, Florian Zeller’s The Truth, transferring to the West End later this month. At the Menier’s Off-West End home now is David Baddiel: My Family Not the Sitcom.
In her acceptance speech, Cynthia Erivo thanked the book’s original author Alice Walker, US producers including Oprah, British director John Doyle, the cast including Jennifer Hudson and Heather Headley and the award organisers “American Theatre Wing for making a London theatre girl very very happy”.
Babani added, of the shooting in a gay night club in Florida the night before: “However wonderful the events of tonight, they are overshadowed by the tragedy in Orlando, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this awful event.” The victims of the shooting were honoured in the Awards opening.