Fiery Finish: ‘Hadestown’ lights up Tony Awards with 8 wins

Hadestown, a left-of-center musical based on a concept album by an indie-rock singer-songwriter, won the coveted best musical trophy at the 73rd Tony Awards Sunday night. A critical and commercial hit, the show was nominated for 14 awards. It won eight, for acting, direction and for several technical categories.

The show is a musical adaptation of a folk-opera concept album by Vermont-based singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, in which the singer reimagines the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Mitchell herself won for best score. She was also nominated for best book but lost to Tootsie’s Robert Horn – one of two awards given to Tootsie, a musical revamp of the hit 1982 film.

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, a jukebox musical chronicling the rollercoaster career of Detroit R&B ensemble The Temptations, came into the awards with an impressive 12 nominations. It won only one, though, for best choreography.

In the play categories, The Ferryman was the night’s big winner. The show about a former IRA activist won four awards, including best play and best direction.

tony-awards-2019-ali-stroker

As usual, many of the award-winners used their acceptance speeches to offer words of inspiration or personal thoughts on the theater industry. In what may have been the most emotionally enthralling moment of the event, actress Ali Stroker (pictured above), who won the Tony for best featured actress in a musical for her performance in the revival of Oklahoma!, dedicated her award to young people with disabilities. “This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation, who has a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena – you are.” Stroker made Tony Awards history, becoming the first actor or actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to win a Tony.

Likewise, 73-year-old Hadestown actor Andre DeShields – a veteran actor whose career stretches back to playing the title role in 1975’s The Wiz – offered a three-prong secret to longevity: “Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be. The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.” DeShields won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.

Rachel Chavkin was the only female director nominated this year – a fact she mentioned during her acceptance speech for winning the best director award for Hadestown. “This is not a pipeline issue,” she said, referring to what she called a lack of gender and racial diversity in the theater industry. “It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be.”

There were several rousing performances from the casts of Kiss Me Kate, Choir Boy, Oklahoma!, The Prom and Ain’t Too Proud, and the entertaining hijinks of host James Corden gave the show a lighthearted touch.

The full list of winners (*** denotes winner):

Best Musical
Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations
Beetlejuice
*** Hadestown
The Prom
Tootsie

Best Play
Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
*** The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Taylor Mac
Ink by James Graham
What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck

Best Revival of a Musical
Kiss Me, Kate
*** Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
*** The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley
Burn This
Torch Song by Harvey Fierstein
The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
*** Santino Fontana, Tootsie

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
*** Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
*** Bryan Cranston, Network
Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver, Burn This
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Annette Bening, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
*** Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

Best Book of a Musical
Ain’t Too Proud, Dominique Morisseau
Beetlejuice, Scott Brown and Anthony King
Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell
The Prom, Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
*** Tootsie, Robert Horn

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Be More Chill, Joe Iconis
Beetlejuice, Eddie Perfect
*** Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell
The Prom, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
To Kill a Mockingbird, Adam Guettel
Tootsie, David Yazbek

Best Direction of a Musical
*** Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Oklahoma!
Des McAnuff, Ain’t Too Proud
Casey Nicholaw, The Prom

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, Ink
*** Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
Ivo van Hove, Network
George C. Wolfe, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
*** Andre De Shields, Hadestown
Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud
Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
*** Ali Stroker, Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Oklahoma!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
*** Bertie Carvel, Ink
Robin De Jesús, The Boys in the Band
Gideon Glick, To Kill a Mockingbird
Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
Benjamin Walker, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Fionnula Flanagan, The Ferryman
*** Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird
Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ruth Wilson, King Lear

Best Choreography
Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
Denis Jones, Tootsie
David Neumann, Hadestown
*** Sergio Trujillo, Ain’t Too Proud

Best Orchestrations
*** Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown
Larry Hochman, Kiss Me, Kate
Daniel Kluger, Oklahoma!
Simon Hale, Tootsie
Harold Wheeler, Ain’t Too Proud

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Ain’t Too Proud
Peter England, King Kong
*** Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, Oklahoma!
David Korins, Beetlejuice

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Miriam Buether, To Kill a Mockingbird
Bunny Christie, Ink
*** Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Santo Loquasto, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Jan Versweyveld, Network

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Michael Krass, Hadestown
William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
William Ivey Long, Tootsie
*** Bob Mackie, The Cher Show
Paul Tazewell, Ain’t Too Proud

Best Costume Design of a Play
*** Rob Howell, The Ferryman
Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Clint Ramos, Torch Song
Ann Roth, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Ann Roth, To Kill a Mockingbird

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice
Peter Hylenski, King Kong
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ain’t Too Proud
Drew Levy, Oklahoma!
*** Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork, Ink
Scott Lehrer, To Kill a Mockingbird
*** Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
Nick Powell, The Ferryman
Eric Sleichim, Network

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, The Cher Show
Howell Binkley, Ain’t Too Proud
*** Bradley King, Hadestown
Peter Mumford, King Kong
Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice

Best Lighting Design of a Play
*** Neil Austin, Ink
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Peter Mumford, The Ferryman
Jennifer Tipton, To Kill a Mockingbird
Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden, Network

Honorary 2019 Tony Award recipients included Terrence McNally, Rosemary Harris, and Harold Wheeler, who each received a Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre distinction; Judith Light, named this year’s Isabelle Stevenson Award honoree; and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, which received the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

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