Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 13 News List

‘Hadestown’ captures 8 Tony Awards, including best musical

The awards cap a season that showed Broadway is in good shape — with a reported record US$1.8 billion in sales, up 7.8 percent from last season

By Mark Kennedy  /  AP, NEW YORK

The cast and crew of Hadestown accept the award for Best Musical.

Photo: REUTERS

Hadestown, the brooding musical about the underworld, had a heavenly night at the Tony Awards, winning eight trophies Sunday, including best new musical and handing a rare win for a female director of a musical.

Playwright Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman was crowned best play. In the four lead actor and actress categories, Bryan Cranston won his second acting Tony, but theater veterans Elaine May, Santino Fontana and Stephanie Block each won for the first time.

The crowd at Radio City Music Hall erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony. Stroker, paralyzed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was 2, won for featured actresses in a musical for her work in a dark revival of Oklahoma!

“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena,” she said. “You are.”

Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to helm a new Broadway musical this season, won the Tony for best director of a musical for Hadestown. She became only the tenth woman to win as director of either a play or a musical on Broadway and told the crowd she was sorry to be such a rarity.

“There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many people of color who are ready to go.” A lack of strides in embracing diversity on Broadway, she said, “is not a pipeline issue” but a lack of imagination.

Cranston seemed to tap into the vibe when he won the Tony for best leading man in a play award for his work as newscaster Howard Beale in a stage adaptation of Network.

“Finally, a straight old white man gets a break!” he joked. The star, who wore a blue ribbon on his suit to support reproductive rights, also dedicated his award to journalists who are in the line of fire.

“The media is not the enemy of the people,” he said. “Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.”

The respect for women’s work also got a boost when Butterworth, who earlier asked the crowd to give his partner, actress Laura Donnelly, a round of applause for giving birth to their two children while working on the ensemble drama, handed his best play trophy to Donnelly. A Donnelly family story inspired him to write the play.

Fontana won his first Tony as the cross-dressing lead in Tootsie. Fontana, perhaps best known for his singing role as Hans in Frozen, won in an adaptation of the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film about a struggling actor who impersonated a woman in order to improve his chances of getting a job. It was the only win for Tootsie.

Another first-time winner was Block, who earned her Tony Award for playing a legend — Cher. Block, who has had roles on Homeland and Orange Is the New Black, is one of three actresses to play the title character in the musical The Cher Show. She thanked “the goddess Cher for her life and legacy.”

Other winners included the legendary May, who took home her first ever Tony for best leading actress, playing the Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother in Kenneth Lonergan’s comic drama The Waverly Gallery.

Andre DeShields captured featured actor in a musical for Hadestown, his first Tony at the age of 73. In his speech, he gave “three cardinal rules of my sustainability and longevity.

“One, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be, and three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.”

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