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.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"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.