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 woman 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 broke out in cheers 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 actress 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.
"Finally, a straight old white man gets a break!" he joked. The star 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."
Butterworth, whose partner, actress Laura Donnelly, gave birth to their two children in two years while working on The Ferryman, handed the best play trophy to Donnelly. A Donnelly family story inspired him to write the play.
Fontana won his first Tony Award 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.
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.
Other winners included 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.
Host James Corden kicked off the show with a nine-minute opening number that served as a full-throated endorsement of the live experience, with Corden beginning it seated alone on a couch in front of a TV, overwhelmed by his binge options, before taking flight with dozens of glitzy dancers from this season's shows, all filling the Radio City stage with an unprecedented volume.
The first acting award went to Celia Keenan-Bolger, who won for best featured actress in a play for her role as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. She noted that her parents read her the book when she was a child in Detroit and had burning crosses put on their lawn because they helped blacks.
Bertie Carvel won best featured actor in a play for Ink.
Oscar-winning director and producer Sam Mendes won his first directing Tony Award for guiding The Ferryman.
The Ferryman's Rob Howell took home two Tonys -- for best play set designs and costumes. Robert Horn won for best book of a musical for Tootsie.
Early Hadestown wins were for scenic design, sound design, lighting design and orchestrations. It would also go on to earn singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell a Tony for best score.
Legendary designer Bob Mackie won the Tony for best costume designs for a musical for The Cher Show, getting laughs for saying "This is very encouraging for an 80-year-old."
The dark retelling of Oklahoma! beat the lush and playful revival of the rival Golden Age musical Kiss Me, Kate took the Tony Award for best musical revival. The Boys in the Band was crowned best play revival.
Sergio Trujillo won the best choreography prize for Ain't Too Proud -- The Life and Times of the Temptations.
Information for this article was contributed by Leanne Italie and Jocelyn Noveck of The Associated Press.
A Section on 06/10/2019
Print Headline: Hadestown wins 8 at '19 Tony Awards