War Horse, The London National Theatre production, was a stand-out at the Tony Awards, New York theatre’s equivalent of the Oscars.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were also victorious, picking up nine Tony awards their musical, The Book of Mormon, an irreverent satirical musical which is due to hit London courtesy of producer Sonia Friedman.
War Horse, an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novel, won all five prizes it was nominated for at the awards in Manhattan.
A fusion of puppetry and live action, the play originated at the National in 2007 before transferring to the West End and then in April to Broadway where looks likely to replicate the success of its London run.
It was seen by more than a million Londoners.
National Theatre Director Sir Nicholas Hytner said it looked set to be a global juggernaut for the NT.
“I’m thrilled that what we did and produced has been re-produced here. I think this is going to run for an incredibly long time – as long as possible.
“It turns out that it has universal resonance. I’m beginning to think that what these guys have done- starting with Michael Morpurgo and going through the way it’s been adapted and directed and the way the puppets have been created – is they’ve found a form of storytelling that seems to transcend cultural differences.
“I think it’s going to go all the way round the world.”
War Horse’s English co-directors Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris won a Tony award for Best Director.
Morris joked afterwards: “We quite like it when people cry!”
War Horse also won for sound design, lighting design and scenic design while Handspring Puppet Company, which created the horses was given a special Tony.
Meanwhile, among the five Tonys received by the South Park creators for The Book of Mormon were gongs for Best Direction of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and the most coveted Best Musical award.
With the tagline “God loves Mormons and he wants some more”, The Book of Mormon is a religious satire but one that looks affectionately upon its targets.
It is described by the creators as “an atheist’s love letter to religion”.
Matt Stone said, “The official church response was something along the lines of ‘The Book of Mormon the musical might entertain you for a night, but the Book of Mormon will change your life through Jesus.’ Which we actually completely agree with.”
As reported by Playbill, Sonia Friedman is hoping to bring the show to London audiences in 2012.
British actor Mark Rylance, won his second Tony Award in three years for his role as Johnny Byron in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.
Having beaten off a challenge by Al Pacino, the former Globe Artistic Director continued his tradition of giving bizarre acceptance speeches.
Receiving his Tony, Rylance said: “Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot-making or driftwood lamps.”
As he did in the speech after winning his first Tony for Boeing Boeing, Rylance was quoting the work of Louis Jenkins, a little-known Minnesota poet.
Speaking backstage, he said: “I was getting a little bored. I always think you should prepare something to say.”
Guests at the Tony Awards included Bono, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Daniel Radcliffe who performed a number from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the Broadway musical he is currently starring in.