NEW YORK — "Hadestown," the brooding musical about the underworld, has reason to smile broadly: It's the best new musical Tony Award winner and nabbed eight trophies Sunday, including a rare win for a woman director of a musical.
Playwright Jez Butterworth's "The Ferryman" was crowned best play. Bryan Cranston, Elaine May, Santino Fontana and Stephanie J. Block all won leading actor and actress awards.
The crowd at Radio City Music Hall erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. Stroker, paralyzed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was 2, won for featured actresses in a musical for her work in a dark revival of "Oklahoma!"
"This award is for 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," she said. "You are."
Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to helm a new Broadway musical this season, won the Tony for best director of a musical for "Hadestown." She told the crowd she was sorry to be such a rarity on Broadway.
"There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many people of color who are ready to go." A lack of strides in embracing diversity on Broadway, she said, "is not a pipeline issue" but a lack of imagination.
Cranston seemed to tap into the vibe when he won the Tony for best leading man in a play award for his work as newscaster Howard Beale in a stage adaptation of "Network."
"Finally, a straight old white man gets a break!" he joked. The star, who wore a blue pin on his suit to support reproductive rights, also dedicated his award to journalists who are in the line of fire. "The media is not the enemy of the people," he said. "Demagoguery is the enemy of the people."
The cheers for women also got a boost when Butterworth, who earlier asked the crowd to give his partner, actress Laura Donnelly, a round of applause for giving birth to their two children in two years while working on the ensemble drama, handed the best play trophy to Donnelly. A Donnelly family story inspired him to write the play.
Fontana won his first Tony Award as the cross-dressing lead in "Tootsie." Fontana, perhaps best known for his singing role as Hans in "Frozen," won in an adaptation of the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film about a struggling actor who impersonated a woman in order to improve his chances of getting a job.
Another first-time winner was Block, who earned her Tony Award for playing a legend — Cher. Block, who has had roles on "Homeland" and "Orange Is the New Black," is one of three actresses to play the title character in the musical "The Cher Show." She thanked "the goddess Cher for her life and legacy."
Other winners included the legendary May, who took home her first ever Tony for best leading actress, playing the Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother in Kenneth Lonergan's comic drama "The Waverly Gallery."
Andre DeShields captured featured actor in a musical for "Hadestown," his first Tony at the age of 73. In his speech, he gave "three cardinal rules of my sustainability and longevity.
"One, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be, and three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing."
Corden, in his second stint as Tony host, was at his fanboy best, whether anxiously hiding in a bathroom with previous hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareillies or trying to provoke a Nicki Minaj-Cardi B-style beef between usually overly polite and supportive Broadway figures (Laura Linney and Audra McDonald finally obliged). He also asked celebrities to sing karaoke during the commercials.
He kicked off the show with a massive, nine-minute opening number that served as a full-throated endorsement of the live experience, with Corden beginning it seated alone on a couch in front of a TV, overwhelmed by his binge options, before taking flight with dozens of glitzy dancers from this season's shows, all filling the Radio City stage with an unprecedented volume.
"Live!/We do it live/And every single moment's unrepeatable," he sang. "Live!/We do it live/It can't be hashtagged and it isn't tweetable." But the song ended with an acknowledgement that appointment TV — Corden mentioned a long list that included "Game of Thrones," ''Fleabag," ''Black Mirror" and "The Walking Dead," among the options — is irresistible. He apologized to TV and blamed McDonald for making him criticize the small screen.
The first acting award went to Celia Keenan-Bolger, who won for best featured actress in a play for her role as Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird." She noted that her parents read her the book when she was a child in Detroit and had burning crosses put on their lawn because they helped African Americans.
Bertie Carvel won best featured actor in a play for "Ink." He said he wished he could be with his mother, hospitalized in London: "I love you, mum."
Oscar-winning director and producer Sam Mendes won his first directing Tony Award for guiding "The Ferryman."
"The Ferryman's" Rob Howell took home two Tonys — for best play set designs and costumes. Robert Horn won for best book of a musical for "Tootsie."
Early "Hadestown" wins were for scenic design, sound design, lighting design and orchestrations. It would also go on to earn singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell a Tony for best score.
Legendary designer Bob Mackie won the Tony for best costume designs for a musical for "The Cher Show," getting laughs for saying "This is very encouraging for an 80-year-old."
The dark retelling of "Oklahoma!" beat the lush and playful revival of the rival Golden Age musical "Kiss Me, Kate" to the Tony Award for best musical revival. "The Boys in the Band" was crowned best play revival.
Sergio Trujillo won the best choreography prize for "Ain't Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations," saying in his speech that he arrived in New York decades ago without legal permission. "I'm here to tell you the American dream is alive," he said.
The awards cap a season that showed Broadway was in good shape. The shows this season reported a record $1.8 billion in sales, up 7.8 percent from last season. Attendance was 14.8 million — up 7.1 percent — and has risen steadily for decades.
Stars arrive at the 2019 Tony Awards
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
What the Constitution Means to Me
Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller's All My Sons
The Boys in the Band
The Waverly Gallery
Best Revival of a Musical
Kiss Me, Kate
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Best Book of a Musical
Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Be More Chill
To Kill a Mockingbird
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 Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Rodgers & Hammerstein's 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 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 Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
André De Shields, Hadestown
Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Jeremy Pope, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Ephraim Sykes, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Ali Stroker, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
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 Scenic Design of a Musical
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Peter England, King Kong
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
David Korins, Beetlejuice
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 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 - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Ink
Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Peter Mumford, The Ferryman
Jennifer Tipton, To Kill a Mockingbird
Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden, Network
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, The Cher Show
Howell Binkley, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Bradley King, Hadestown
Peter Mumford, King Kong
Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice
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 Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice
Peter Hylenski, King Kong
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Drew Levy, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown
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 Direction of a Musical
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Des McAnuff, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Casey Nicholaw, The Prom
Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
Denis Jones, Tootsie
David Neumann, Hadestown
Sergio Trujillo, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations
Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown
Simon Hale, Tootsie
Larry Hochman, Kiss Me, Kate
Daniel Kluger, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Harold Wheeler, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations