‘Ferryman’ snags best play
LOS ANGELES, June 10, (Agencies): “Hadestown”, a musical re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, was the big winner at the 73rd Tony Awards on Sunday, earning a leading eight awards, including a prize as the year’s best musical. It was followed by “The Ferryman”, a crackling thriller about a family man struggling to escape from his violent past with the IRA, that earned four awards, including best play and best director for Sam Mendes.
“Oklahoma!”, a dark and revisionist reinterpretation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s slice of Americana, picked up best revival of a musical over “Kiss Me Kate”, the only other show nominated in the sparsely populated category. “The Boys in the Band”, a pioneering look at gay life, nabbed best revival of a play. The honor comes more than five decades after the play about a group of gay friends premiered Off-Broadway — a time frame all the more remarkable considering that playwright Mart Crowley’s drama pre-dated the 1969 Stonewall Riots that triggered the modern gay rights movement.
It was an evening that combined showbiz razzle-dazzle courtesy of performances from several nominated musicals with impassioned political statements the agitated for greater representation for women and people of color.
It also marks the latest stop in a circuitous route to Broadway for “Hadestown”, a show that was first performed in 2006 in a refurbished school bus in Vermont. The show gradually built a following after it released an album in 2010 and mounted other productions in Edmonton, Canada and London’s National Theatre.
Much has changed in the time it took for “Hadestown” to open in New York, but producer Mara Isaacs sought to evoke parallels with the current fiery civic moment during her acceptance speech.
“If ‘Hadestown’ stands for anything it is that change is possible,” said Isaacs. “That in dark times spring will come again.”Elaine May, the 87-year old comic legend, won her first Tony Award for her work as a grandmother suffering from dementia in “The Waverly Gallery”. The play marked her first Broadway show in 52 years, and in a wry acceptance speech May thanked co-star Lucas Hedges for his monologue recounting her character’s death.
“He described my death so touchingly that watching from the wings, I thought I’m going to win this Tony,” May joked.
Bryan Cranston picked up his second Tony Award for leading performance as mad newsman Howard Beale in “Network.” He previously won the same award for 2014’s “All the Way”, a drama about Lyndon Johnson.
“Finally a straight old white man gets a break!,” Cranston joked before turning serious with a message aimed at President Donald Trump’s anti-press harangues. “The media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.”
Santino Fontana earned a best actor in a musical prize for playing an actor who pretends to be a woman in order to get a plum role in “Tootsie”, while Stephanie J. Block won best actress in a musical for her diva turn in “The Cher Show”.
Other top winners included Celia Keenan-Bolger, picking up best featured actress in a play for her performance as Scout in the blockbuster hit “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and Bertie Carvel earning a best featured actor in a play award for his portrayal of media baron Rupert Murdoch in “Ink”.
Andre De Shields, a theater legend whose resume includes the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”, scored a best featured actor in a musical prize for playing the Greek god Hermes in “Hadestown”.
The entertainment business may be youth-obsessed, but it was a good evening for octogenarians. In addition to May, 80-year old Bob Mackie won a best costume design Tony for “The Cher Show”.
“Hadestown’s” Rachel Chavkin earned a best direction of a musical prize.
It was a theme that Bradley King, her “Hadestown” colleague, picked up while accepting an award for lighting design. “We need to make Broadway less white, less cis, and less male,” he said.
“The Ferryman’s” Sam Mendes picked up his first Tony, earning the best direction of a play statue. Mendes was in post-production on his war drama “1917” and was not able to pick up the award in person. “It’s a little bit bonkers trying to make theater on Broadway — to be dealing with something so fragile in such a rough and tumble environment,” Mendes said in a statement. “But when it works, it’s like nowhere else in the world. So I’m hugely grateful for the embrace New York has given this play and this production.”
n Best Musical: “Hadestown”
n Best Play: “The Ferryman”
n Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Stephanie J. Block, “The Cher Show”
n Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Santino Fontana, “Tootsie”
n Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Bryan Cranston, “Network”
n Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Elaine May, “The Waverly Gallery”
n Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Ali Stroker, “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!”
n Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: André De Shields, “Hadestown”
n Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Celia Keenan-Bolger, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
n Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Bertie Carvel, “Ink”
n Best Direction of a Musical: Rachel Chavkin, “Hadestown”
n Best Direction of a Play: Sam Mendes, “The Ferryman”
n Best Revival of a Play: “The Boys in the Band”
n Best Revival of a Musical: “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!”
n Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater: “Hadestown”