The Washington Post

Ado An­nie rules the Tonys

‘Hadestown’ takes home eight awards, and ‘The Fer­ry­man’ wins best play and 3 other prizes

- BY PE­TER MARKS Entertainment · Celebrity Philanthropy · Movie Awards · Celebrities · Movies · Oklahoma · Northern Ireland · Island of Ireland · Sam Mendes · The Late Late Show · James Corden · The Beach Boys · Carlucci Weyant · Cher · Hamilton · Tina Fey · Samuel L. Jackson · Catherine O'Hara · Laura Linney · Sara Bareilles · Josh Groban · Matthew Bomer · Beetlejuice · Ali Stroker · Anais Mitchell · Jez Butterworth · Late Show with David Letterman · Kenneth Lonergan · Waverly · Elaine May · Scott Rudin · Lucas Hedges · Bryan Cranston · Ivo van Hove · Lyndon B. Johnson · Robert Schenkkan · Santino Fontana · Stephanie J. Block · André de Shields · Bertie Carvel · Rupert Murdoch · Dear Evan Hansen · Jake Gyllenhaal · Cynthia Erivo · Neil Patrick Harris · The Temptations

On a night of lit­tle drama, Ali Stro­ker’s win for “Ok­la­homa!” is a mile­stone for ac­tors with dis­abil­i­ties.

new york — “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s bluesy and stylish show based on a Greek myth about a smit­ten young man who tries to rescue his lover from hell, cap­tured the grand prize at the Tony Awards on Sun­day night, win­ning best mu­si­cal and seven other tro­phies, for di­rec­tion, score, lighting, sound, sup­port­ing ac­tor, or­ches­tra­tions and set de­sign.

In the other cat­e­gory with big box-of­fice im­pli­ca­tions — best play — the award went to “The Fer­ry­man,” Jez But­ter­worth’s sprawl­ing yarn of re­crim­i­na­tion and ret­ri­bu­tion in the time of North­ern Ire­land’s re­li­gious-tribal Trou­bles. The play nabbed three other Tonys, in­clud­ing one for di­rec­tor Sam Men­des.

The 73rd an­nual cer­e­mony, tele­cast from Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall and em­ceed by CBS “Late Late Show” host James Corden, spread the win­nings in 26 cat­e­gories over a dozen shows. A wildly reimag­ined “Ok­la­homa!” claimed the award for best mu­si­cal re­vival (in a race with only one other con­tes­tant, “Kiss Me, Kate”), and Mart Crow­ley’s “The Boys in the Band” won for best play re­vival.

A com­edy-drama that vied with “Band” in the re­vival cat­e­gory — Ken­neth Lon­er­gan’s “The Waverly Gallery” — yielded one of the evening’s most ex­hil­a­rat­ing vic­to­ries, as 87-year-old com­edy

leg­end Elaine May was an­nounced as best ac­tress in a play, for her ex­quis­ite turn as an older wo­man of fad­ing men­tal fac­ul­ties.

Ac­cept­ing the award on the arm of pro­ducer Scott Rudin, May paid trib­ute to her young co-star Lu­cas Hedges, who each night de­scribed May’s char­ac­ter’s death on­stage. “He was so touch­ing,” she said, “that watch­ing from the wings I thought, ‘I’m go­ing to win that guy’s Tony!’ ”

Per­haps even more mov­ing was a mo­ment that will be re­garded as a land­mark: the award for best sup­port­ing ac­tress in a mu­si­cal to Ali Stro­ker, who wheeled her­self up to the ros­trum to ac­cept the prize. Her por­trayal from a wheel­chair of Ado An­nie is a spir­ited high­light of the re­vival of “Ok­la­homa!,” and her de­liv­ery of a rous­ing “I Cain’t Say No” on the tele­cast demon­strated why she won the ac­co­lade.

In her ac­cep­tance speech, Stro­ker de­clared that the award was for any­one with a dis­abil­ity “who has been wait­ing to see them­selves rep­re­sented in this arena — you are!”

Bryan Cranston se­cured his se­cond best-ac­tor Tony in five years, for his bravura per­for­mance as Howard Beale in di­rec­tor Ivo van Hove’s stage ver­sion of the 1976 movie satire “Net­work.” He also won in 2014, for his canny im­per­son­ation of Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son in Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way.”

“Fi­nally, a straight old white man gets a break!” Cranston joked. On a more se­ri­ous note, he said he was ded­i­cat­ing his award to the press. “The me­dia is not the en­emy of the peo­ple,” he de­clared. “Dem­a­goguery is the en­emy of the peo­ple.”

In other note­wor­thy cat­e­gories: Santino Fon­tana was named best ac­tor in a mu­si­cal for his witty work as Michael Dorsey in “Toot­sie”; Stephanie J. Block took home the stat­uette for best ac­tress in a mu­si­cal as a mid­dleaged Cher in “The Cher Show”; and Celia Keenan-Bol­ger was sin­gled out as best ac­tress in a sup­port­ing role in a play for her em­bod­i­ment of Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird.” Veteran per­former An­dré De Shields scooped up the award for best sup­port­ing ac­tor in a mu­si­cal for “Hadestown,” and Ber­tie Carvel — who played Miss Trunch­bull on Broad­way in “Matilda” — re­ceived the Tony for best sup­port­ing ac­tor in a play for por­tray­ing Ru­pert Mur­doch in “Ink.”

Jeremy Pope was, re­mark­ably, a dou­ble nom­i­nee — for best ac­tor in a play (for “Choir Boy”) and best sup­port­ing ac­tor in a mu­si­cal (for “Ain’t Too Proud”), but he didn’t win in ei­ther cat­e­gory.

With the ex­cep­tion of “Mock­ing­bird” — strangely shut out by the Tony nom­i­na­tors of the best­play race — the 2018-19 Broad­way sea­son lacked a show with a block­buster fol­low­ing, such as “Hamil­ton” or “Dear Evan Hansen.” As a re­sult, de­spite Corden’s comedic aplomb and the celebrity wattage of such pre­sen­ters as Tina Fey, Jake Gyl­len­haal, Sa­muel L. Jack­son, Catherine O’Hara and Laura Lin­ney, the three-hour CBS tele­cast lacked drama. The Tony-nom­i­nated mu­si­cals were ac­corded cus­tom­ary show­cases, al­though the stand­out per­for­mance may have been by Cyn­thia Erivo, a 2016 Tony win­ner for “The Color Pur­ple,” who sang “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” to adorn the in-memo­riam seg­ment.

The preter­nat­u­rally cheeky Corden presided over a so-so open­ing salute to the ob­vi­ous: that Broad­way shows are pre­sented live. His host­ing du­ties in­cluded plug­ging his own talk show; a few cute, spoofy songs, in­clud­ing one with former hosts Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban and Neil Pa­trick Har­ris, and the de rigueur ban­ter­ing with celebri­ties in the front rows. Turn­ing to the cast of the last sum­mer’s re­vival of “The Boys in the Band,” he joked:

“I’m look­ing at Matt Bomer — and tech­ni­cally he and I are the same species.”

The sea­son that con­cluded in late April was a mid­dling one for new mu­si­cals. The choice of “Hadestown” — with the rare Broad­way dis­tinc­tion of win­ning with women as both di­rec­tor and au­thor/com­poser — sig­naled per­haps a shift­ing of taste among the 800-odd pro­duc­ers and the­ater artists who vote for the awards. It bested three mu­si­cal come­dies and a juke­box mu­si­cal: “Toot­sie,” “Beetle­juice,” “The Prom” and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temp­ta­tions.”

“Hadestown,” whose di­rec­tor, Rachel Chavkin, was among the night’s win­ners, is thick with at­mos­phere rather than plot; it will ap­peal, one suspects, to a nar­rower swath of the­ater­go­ers than a crowd-pleaser like “Ain’t Too Proud,” which out­sells it, week af­ter week. It will re­main to be seen if the Tony haul au­gurs a pro­tracted Broad­way life for the show.

Anaïs Mitchell her­self was rec­og­nized for her mu­sic and lyrics for “Hadestown,” and Robert Horn col­lected the Tony for his laugh-a-minute book for “Toot­sie.”

“Beetle­juice,” which be­gan life last fall in a dis­ap­point­ing try­out at Wash­ing­ton’s Na­tional Theatre, and emerged in a bit bet­ter shape at the Win­ter Gar­den Theatre this spring, failed to win in any of the five cat­e­gories in which it was nom­i­nated. Other promi­nently nom­i­nated shows that left empty-handed in­cluded “The Prom,” “Gary: A Se­quel to Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus” and Heidi Schreck’s widely ad­mired “What the Con­sti­tu­tion Means to Me.”

 ?? BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS ??
BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS
 ??  ?? CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ali Stro­ker achieved a land­mark for those with dis­abil­i­ties in win­ning best sup­port­ing ac­tress in a mu­si­cal as Ado An­nie in the re­vival of “Ok­la­homa!” An­dré De Shields won best sup­port­ing ac­tor for his role in “Hadestown.” Rachel Chavkin ac­cepts the best di­rec­tion of a mu­si­cal award for “Hadestown.” Bryan Cranston ac­cepts the best ac­tor in a play award for “Net­work.”
CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ali Stro­ker achieved a land­mark for those with dis­abil­i­ties in win­ning best sup­port­ing ac­tress in a mu­si­cal as Ado An­nie in the re­vival of “Ok­la­homa!” An­dré De Shields won best sup­port­ing ac­tor for his role in “Hadestown.” Rachel Chavkin ac­cepts the best di­rec­tion of a mu­si­cal award for “Hadestown.” Bryan Cranston ac­cepts the best ac­tor in a play award for “Net­work.”
 ?? PHO­TOS BY BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS ??
PHO­TOS BY BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS
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 ?? PHO­TOS BY BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS ?? TOP: Jez But­ter­worth and the cast and crew of “The Fer­ry­man,” which won best play. MID­DLE: Stephanie J. Block won best ac­tress in a mu­si­cal as a mid­dle-aged Cher in “The Cher Show.” BOT­TOM: Celia Keenan-Bol­ger ac­cepts the award for best ac­tress in a sup­port­ing role for play­ing Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird.”
PHO­TOS BY BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS TOP: Jez But­ter­worth and the cast and crew of “The Fer­ry­man,” which won best play. MID­DLE: Stephanie J. Block won best ac­tress in a mu­si­cal as a mid­dle-aged Cher in “The Cher Show.” BOT­TOM: Celia Keenan-Bol­ger ac­cepts the award for best ac­tress in a sup­port­ing role for play­ing Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird.”
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