Award for 'Faith Healer'actor


Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid paid warm tribute to playwright Brian Friel on Sunday night as he kicked off the acceptance speeches at the Tony Awards in Radio City Music Hall on Broadway.

Visibly moved at winning the Featured Actor award for his role as Teddy in the Gate Theatre production of Friel's Faith Healer, McDiarmid finally closed the door on memories of the play's unhappier debut on Broadway 27 years ago, when it ran for just 20 performances.

"I am proud to be associated with its triumphant return and restoration," he said, describing the play as "one of the most emotionally intricate and musically perfect pieces of writing for the stage in the English language".

It was unsurprising, he added wryly, that such a play should have been written by an Irishman.

Though the three Irish plays on Broadway - Faith Healer, Conor McPherson's Shining City and Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore - garnered 11 nominations between them, including a nomination for each play in the Leading Actor category, McDiarmid's was the only win among them.

However, Cork native Bob Crowley won the award for scenic design for his work on Alan Bennett's The History Boys. This was the third time that Crowley (38), a Broadway regular, has won in this category.

The History Boys won six awards, including best play.

"You couldn't ask for more," McDiarmid said, "to make your Broadway debut at 61 and to get this award. I count myself doubly fortunate."

With that, he was whisked off by Michael Colgan, artistic director of the Gate and co-producer of Faith Healer, to teach Manhattan a thing or two about partying.

Any Tony win will certainly boost ticket sales, but Faith Healer doesn't need that - its run has been sold out for months. "You can't even get close to it now," said McDiarmid, adding that he wished Friel could have been there to see his play triumph.

Although this year's Broadway season has officially ended with the announcement of the Tonys, the shows will go on, with nominees and winners returning to their stages tonight.

Other winners included Cynthia Nixon, best known for her TV role in Sex and the City, who won in the best actress category for her performance as a grieving mother in David Lindsay- Abaire's Rabbit Hole, and British director John Doyle, for his staging of Stephen Sondheim's 1979 musical Sweeney Todd.