"Billy Elliot" dances away with 10 Tony Awards

Mon Jun 8, 2009 1:28am EDT
 
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By Michelle Nichols and Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Billy Elliot The Musical" swept the top U.S. theater honors on Sunday, winning 10 Tony Awards for a Broadway season that defied a recession with record ticket sales.

"Billy Elliot" is based on Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry's 2000 film about a ballet dancing schoolboy in a mining town in northern England. Elton John, who suggested the film be adapted for theater, wrote the music for the production.

"We came here at a hard time economically, you opened your wallets and your hearts to us and we love you for it," said John, one of Britain's best-known musicians whose hit songs include "Candle in the Wind" and "Rocket Man."

"Billy Elliot" was named best musical and the three teenage actors who play the title role -- David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish -- were all named best actor in a musical, the first time three actors have shared the award.

"We want to say to all the kids out there who might want to dance, never give up," Kulish said.

Daldry, who won best musical director, said the boys were "three great gifts of Broadway" and that he was "blessed in the past 10 years of my life to be working on 'Billy Elliot.'" The show has also played in Britain and Australia.

Gregory Jbara won best featured actor in a musical for his role as Billy's father and the show also won best book of a musical and scenic, lighting, sound and choreography awards. It tied with "Next to Normal" for best orchestration.

Alice Ripley was named best actress in a musical for her role as a bipolar suburban housewife in "Next to Normal," which also picked up best original score, beating nominees including Elton John and Lee Hall for "Billy Elliot" and Dolly Parton for "9 to 5: The Musical."   Continued...

 
<p>Musician Elton John (C) accepts the Tony for best musical for "Billy Elliot, The Musical" as stars of the musical (L-R) David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish look on at the 63rd annual Tony Awards ceremony in New York, June 7, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>