The 73rd annual Antoinette Perry Awards were celebrated Sunday June 9, 2019 Radio City Music Hall in Midtown Manhattan. The Tony Awards had very few surprises, with runaway hit Hadestown winning the most awards of any show with eight wins out of fourteen nominations. All of Broadway had reason to cheer as the 2018-2019 season represented a record year with a gross of $1.829 billion in ticket sales and 14,770,000 in theatregoers and 38 opening nights, according to the Broadway league. The classiest awards event of the year, the Tony’s are always the most fun too, as theatre people can get together and honor their hard work, talent, and dedication to their art.
The biggest award of the evening is always best musical which, as expected, went to Hadestown. It’s creative team, director Rachel Chavkin and writer, composer, and lyricist Anaïs Mitchell won for their work. Chavkin was the only woman to direct a musical this season and the tenth ever to win. Mitchell is the first woman ever to win for writing the book music and lyrics for a show. Chavkin is a secular Jew, like many Broadway talent happens to be.
One of the most emotionally moving moments of the evening came with André De Shields win at age 73. This marks his third nomination and first win, this time for best actor in a musical for his role of Hermès in Hadestown. De Shields offered life advice for all those watching, “one, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be. And three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing”.
History is always made when the Tony Awards are presented. Last night was especially historic with Ali Stroker becoming the first actor to win for featured actress in a musical for the role of Ado Annie in Oklahoma, which also beat out Kiss Me Kate for the Best Revival of a Musical trophy. Stroker was the first actor to use a wheelchair on Broadway when she made her debut in the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening in 2015. Stroker spoke out in her speech, dedicating it to “every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, a limitation, a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are”.
The second most nominated show of the season, Ain’t Too Proud, had a disappointing night, winning only one award out of twelve nominations.
The fantastic King Kong was given a special Tony for the creature effects in the musical featuring a 2500-pound gorilla.
James Corden, the British born CBS TV late night talk show host crafted a hilariously funny presentation. The opening was a huge production number featuring cast members from just about every show singing about the joys of live theatre versus film/television. It was a high energy way to kick off the evening and filled Radio City with a joy that only “show people” can give.
In recent years, Vogue editor Anna Wintour has teamed up with the Tony production team to make sure that the nominees and everyone who walks the red carpet is appropriately glamorous, and this was no exception. The presenters, performers, nominees, and winners all looked amazing. While many took risks and had edgy or avant- grade attire, all wore looks that flattered and elevated the evening.
The usually very somber portion of the event where respect is paid to the artists and professionals, we have lost in the past year was especially beautiful due to the incredible vocal talent of Cynthia Erivo. Erivo sang Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John, from Disney’s The Lion King while wearing a stunning white gown and feathers in her hair and looked and sounded like an absolute angel. One artist who passed recently, Marin Mazzie, a three-time Tony nominee, was posthumously awarded a special Tony.