Jez Butterworth ‘extremely honoured’ after The Ferryman scoops nine Tony nods

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Jez Butterworth (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Jez Butterworth has thanked the “talented, inspiring and just plain ready” cast of The Ferryman after the Northern Irish drama scooped nine Tony Award nominations, including one for best play.

The production, by James Bond writer and director team Butterworth and Sam Mendes, transferred to Broadway with much of the same cast after a sold-out year in the West End.

Butterworth told the Press Association he was feeling “extremely honoured and grateful” after the nominations were announced on Tuesday morning.

He said: “Plays are hard, and plays this big with this many people are harder still, but when those people are as talented, inspiring and just plain ready as the Ferrymen and Ferrywomen and Ferrychildren and Ferrybabies have been, it somehow seems effortless.

“When (theatre producer) Sonia (Friedman) and I did Jerusalem on Broadway the other end of this decade, I told myself on the plane home that I’d never experience anything like that again. I’m wrong a lot.”

The Ferryman, which tells the tale of a former IRA man in rural Co Armagh during The Troubles, followed in the footsteps of Jerusalem, Butterworth’s modern fable of a dying England, in transferring to the US.

Butterworth’s latest effort, which also earned three Olivier Awards, was the joint largest recipient of nominations in the play categories alongside To Kill A Mockingbird.

Fra Fee played Michael Carney during The Ferryman’s run at the Royal Court Theatre, the Gielgud Theatre in the West End and for a time at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre after it transferred to Broadway.

Fee, who is Northern Irish, described it as a “special play” full of “wonderful performances”.

The Ferryman on Broadway
Fra Fee, left, as Michael Carney in The Ferryman on Broadway (Joan Marcus/PA)

He said: “Awards are often silly things. It’s so subjective and there just aren’t enough to go around for all the great things that are being made and the wonderful performances given.

“But The Ferryman is a special play, a beautiful story that will stand the test of time – so to see it being recognised, particularly as an Irish play, in New York is a great feeling.”

Asked how he thought it would fare when the winners were announced, he replied: “I reckon it’ll win as well!”

Elsewhere, musical Hadestown, singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell’s Broadway debut, earned a leading 14 nominations, followed by the jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud, built around songs by The Temptations, which received a dozen.