NEW YORK – “Hadestown,” the brooding musical about the underworld, has reason to smile broadly: It's the best new musical Tony Award winner and nabbed eight trophies Sunday, including a rare win for a female director of a musical.
Playwright Jez Butterworth's “The Ferryman” was crowned best play. Bryan Cranston, Elaine May, Santino Fontana and Stephanie J. Block all won leading actor and actress awards.
The crowd at Radio City Music Hall erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. 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 told the crowd she was sorry to be such a rarity on Broadway.
“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 won the Tony for best leading man in a play award for his work as newscaster Howard Beale in a stage adaptation of “Network.”
The star, who wore a blue pin on his suit to support reproductive rights, 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.”
Fontana won his first Tony Award as the cross-dressing lead in “Tootsie.” Another first-time winner was Block, who earned her Tony Award for playing a legend – Cher – in “The Cher Show.”
May, 87, 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.
Celia Keenan-Bolger won for best featured actress in a play for her role as Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Bertie Carvel won best featured actor in a play for “Ink.”
Sam Mendes won his first directing Tony Award for guiding “The Ferryman.” “The Ferryman's” Rob Howell took home Tonys for best play set designs and costumes.
Robert Horn won for best book of a musical for “Tootsie.”
“Hadestown” wins included scenic design, sound design, lighting design, orchestrations and score.