Hadestown Sweeps the Tonys, Plus Our Fave Moments from the Awards Show
Last night's Tony Awards, (aka James Corden's three-hour attempt to persuade TV-streaming-binge-watchers to put down the remote and see some live theater, for gosh sake) had a bit of everything: wisdom from celebrated actors, cheeky laughs, political quips, historical victories and, our favorite, incredible performances. Unsurprisingly, Tony frontrunner Hadestown took home eight awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction for a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
Relive the night with some of our favorite moments from Broadway's big night, in order of appearance.
Tina Fey Asked Why We Still Have Gendered Awards
Before Fey announced the winner of Best Actress in a Play, she asked an important question: Why is the category still separated by gender? And, she quipped, if there have to be two categories for best actor, why aren't they humans and puppets?
Ain't Too Proud's Performance...Followed by a Spoiler for Best Choreography
The cast of Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations was the first show to share a live snippet, and they were on fire. Call it the night of the drop split—we see you, Ephraim Sykes. (And we see you, James Corden—the host made his own attempt in the broadcast's opening number.)
But did you catch the bling that Sergio Trujillo was holding when the camera panned to him after this performance? His Tony for Best Choreography. Though this award is not presented during the broadcasted portion of the show—a decision we lament annually—it wasn't actually mentioned until 10:21 pm, more than two hours into the broadcast. Catch Trujillo's full acceptance speech below, including his shoutout to immigrants: "I arrived in New York City over 30 years ago as an illegal immigrant," he said. "And I stand here as proof for all those Dreamers...that the American dream is still alive."
André De Shields' Sage Advice
At 73, De Shields won his first Tony, namely Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Hadestown's Hermes. Just when we didn't think we could adore him any more, he revealed his trade secrets. Here are De Shields' "Three Cardinal Rules of My Ability and Longevity":
1. Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming.
2. Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be.
3. The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.
Hadestown's Rachel Chavkin Wished She Wasn't Alone
In her acceptance of Best Direction for a Musical, Chavkin said she wished she wasn't the only woman directing a musical on Broadway this season. "There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of color who are ready to go," she said. "And we need to see that racial diversity and gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment, too. This is not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be."
Ali Stroker Made History
Earlier in the evening, Stroker sang an infectious "I Cain't Say No" from Oklahoma!, easily outshining the rest of the cast. She made history as the first wheelchair user to win a Tony, snagging Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She dedicated her award to "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."
Choir Boy's Performance Left Us Wanting More
We were thrilled to see "Rockin' Jerusalem" from Choir Boy, which featured stepping that was at once powerful, nuanced and soulful. Choreographer Camille A. Brown has done it again.
Side note: Did you catch Brown sitting behind Andrew Rannells in the audience looking absolutely incredible?
"James in the Bathroom"
In a nod to Be More Chill's "Michael in the Bathroom," Corden's hilarious rendition remarked on his insecurities as a host. Also hiding in the Radio City Music Hall restroom were last year's hosts, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, who quickly joined in. And in an adjacent stall? Former host extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris, who quickly clarified that he wasn't feeling unsure of himself. He just needed to use the restroom.
As much as we loved this, we can't help but ask: Where was George Salazar's cameo?
The Hadestown Scene We Were Waiting For
Though we would have preferred a broader montage including Patrick Page in the chilling "Why We Build the Wall," and, well, basically anything with more stage time for Amber Gray and fellow nominee Eva Noblezada, we can't complain. Five stars for David Neumann's swinging lamp choreography and the Tony-winning scenic and lighting designs.
Kiss, Me Kate Brought the Heat
Warren Carlyle's dance-battle of the sexes, "Too Darn Hot", was smooth as ever and full of swagger, spins and deft footwork. The fact that Corbin Bleu was noticeably enjoying himself only added to the magical ensemble of dancers.
Oklahoma! Won Best Revival of a Musical
Producer Eva Price shared an important message based on Oklahoma!'s themes: "When we try to define who we are as a community by creating an outsider, it can end in tragedy."
The Cher Show's Surprise Win
Stephanie J. Block, who plays Star, the oldest of three Chers in The Cher Show, won Best Actress in a Musical. Though we didn't expect the jukebox musical to snag this primo category—it beat out Eva Noblezada (Hadestown), Kelli O'Hara (Kiss Me, Kate), Caitlin Kinnunen (The Prom) and Beth Leavel (also in The Prom)—Block, a seasoned actress, proved her mettle in a show that wasn't necessarily showstopping.
Hadestown Is "Livin' It Up on Top"
To cap off the night, Hadestown was announced as winner of Best Musical, showing that the little-concept-album-that-could did indeed turn into an incredible musical.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.