• Follow us


Tony Awards: A critic celebrates Broadway’s unabashed idealism

At a time in America when lies are rampant in public life and alternative truth has been adopted as a winning political strategy, the 2018-19 Broadway season will be remembered for those gripping moments of simple honesty when an actor, burrowed deep in a role’s human perplexity, revealed ourselves to ourselves.

Amid the crowds and costliness of Broadway theater, there’s still thankfully room for this kind of profound communication between actors and audiences. The Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, proudly flourished an array of progressive values. But it was in honoring the artists who brought theatergoers into their confidence that ideals were most powerfully articulated.

For her portrayal of a free-spirited grandmother who retains what is essential in her empathetic nature as dementia darkens her mind in Kenneth Lonergan’s autobiographical play “The Waverly Gallery,” Elaine May won for best lead actress in a play. Bryan Cranston, ferociously bringing to life anchorman-turned-rabid-prophet Howard Beale in an adaptation of “Network” that uncannily reflects our own unhinged media age, was named best lead actor in a play.

These two performances exemplify what stage acting at its best can offer: inescapable connection with a character living publicly what outside the theater would be suffered privately.


PHOTOS: The 2019 Tony Awards | Red carpet and show highlights »

The hallucinatory “Hadestown,” deservedly crowned best musical, offers truth of an archetypal kind. The female-led creative team of author Anaïs Mitchell, who won for her original score, and director Rachel Chavkin, who won for her staging, spliced ancient myths into a mesmerizing collage that had the gravitational pull of ritual.

There’s plenty of superlative showmanship on display at the Walter Kerr Theatre. But what sets “Hadestown” apart is the way it converts an audience of strangers into an impassioned community eager to ride the rhythmic waves of this New Orleans-style folk-jazz opera to hell and back.

André De Shields, who as Hermes invites theatergoers to journey once more through the sad tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, won for featured actor in a musical. The category, which included his sensational fellow cast member Patrick Page, was overstocked with excellence. But De Shields, a theater eminence both on and off-Broadway, incarnated in his slick style and bluesy sound the spirit of Mitchell’s bewitching score.


The Ferryman By Jez Butterworth Directed By Sam Mendes

A scene from "The Ferryman" by Jez Butterworth.

(Joan Marcus)

As expected, Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman,” a British import touted on both sides of the pond, won for best play. I’m not as impressed by my colleagues who declared it an “instant classic.” But hype aside, it’s an often-gripping drama that, set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, explores the cycle of political violence that, as in Aeschylean tragedy, keeps the dead from resting peacefully in their graves. All credit to Sam Mendes, who won for his direction, for so convincingly inhabiting this fictive Irish world with his impeccable ensemble.

The main lesson I hope Broadway producers take from this season’s best play nominees is that strategic risk can bring surprising rewards. Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy” and Taylor Mac’s “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” are not the type of works that have traditionally graced the Great White Way.

But the authors of these plays represent a more inclusive and tantalizingly unorthodox future for Broadway. And though James Graham’s nominated “Ink” may not live up to its London blurbs, it’s good to see there’s still a place on Broadway for large-scale drama dealing with contemporary concerns — in this case the manipulative, faux populist media strategy of an insurgent Rupert Murdoch, played with amoral cunning by Bertie Carvel, who won the Tony for best featured actor in a play.

Jukebox musicals will always be with us, as the producers’ bible proclaims. “The Cher Show” is hardly the most elevated example of this not-so-elevated form, but Stephanie J. Block winning for best actress in a musical is a reason to cheer. One of three Cher impersonators on display, Block stands out for the genuineness of her virtuosity. Pop stars, even the greatest, are partly manufactured, but Broadway talent of this magnitude doesn’t need Auto-Tune assistance.

73rd Annual Tony Awards - Media Room

Rachel Chavkin, winner for best direction of a musical for "Hadestown," in the Tony Awards press room.

(Jemal Countess / Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro)

RACHEL CHAVKIN: The director’s call for more inclusion »

Santino Fontana, who won the Tony for best lead actor in a musical for his reinvention of Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Tootsie,” further attests to the magnificent artistry underlying originality. How easy it would have been to settle for just another Broadway theme park facsimile. But working with Robert Horn’s brilliantly witty book (which picked up a Tony) and David Yazbek’s falsetto-friendly songs, Fontana made the Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels switcheroo smartly contemporary and completely his own.


“To Kill a Mockingbird,” the dramatic smash of the season, was shut out of the best play race and came up short in the most prominent categories. But there was karmic justice in Celia Keenan-Bolger winning for best featured actress in a play for her portrayal of Scout, as it was through this performance that Harper Lee’s voice came through most clearly.

Diversity remains a stubborn problem, but let’s pause a moment to consider the breathtaking breadth of the winners. May, evergreen at 87, proves it’s never too late to become a legend in one of your secondary careers. De Shields’ devotion to the stage, as evident when he was starring in Shakespeare at the Classical Theatre of Harlem as when he played the title role in the Broadway premiere of “The Wiz,” paved the way for this belated recognition.

ANDRE DE SHIELDS: Five facts on his epic career »

Ali Stroker, who bestows on Ado Annie in Daniel Fish’s Tony-winning deconstruction of “Oklahoma!” a new ribald lusciousness, made history by winning a Tony for best featured actress in a musical. She’s the first acting nominee to use a wheelchair and her deserved victory is a hopeful sign that Broadway is finally widening its casting horizons.

Chavkin, the only woman nominated for a directing award, won for her staging of “Hadestown” by unifying not only her company but also her audience. It’s a sad statistic that only one of the 10 nominated directors in the play and musical categories was a woman, but greatness wasn’t denied.

ALI STROKER: Actress makes history with her Tony win »

Mart Crowley

"The Boys in the Band" author Mart Crowley accepts the award for best revival of a play with a cast and crew onstage that included Zachary Quinto and Andrew Rannells, far left, and Ryan Murphy, far right.

(Charles Sykes / Invision / AP)

Broadway is hardly a utopia, but how moving it was to see Mart Crowley accept the Tony for best play revival for his groundbreaking gay drama “The Boys in the Band.” Chavkin, in her rousing acceptance speech issued a call to Broadway conscience for equity and inclusivity. And what stirring words were spoken by McCraney to advocate for black queer boys in his introduction to “Choir Boy.”


The sentiment behind these speeches informs the authenticity that is still more dazzling than any special effect in the theater. The Greek word for actor is “hypokrites,” but there’s nothing hypocritical about artful stage performers who dissemble through fiction to lay bare a deeper truth.

The Tonys ceremony, a local party opened to the nation by the patronage of CBS, is a more welcoming showcase for idealism than the billion-dollar business of Broadway. But in paying tribute to those artists who stopped our breath with the unimpeachable honesty of their gifts, the awards point the way forward.

Read More

Leave A Comment

More News

Just Jared

Riverdale's Vanessa Morgan is Engaged to Michael Kopech! 2019-07-03 19:47:53Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Morgan and Michael Kopech! The 27-year-old Riverdale actress and the 23-year-old baseball pitcher for the Chi

Did Nike Purposely Manufacture the Colin Kaepernick Betsy 2019-07-03 19:33:58This Shark Tank star believes Nike knew exactly what they were doing when they pulled the controversial Betsy Ross flag shoe, which Colin Kaepernick c

Celebs Applaud Halle Bailey's Casting as Ariel in 2019-07-03 19:17:04Celebs are reacting to Halle Bailey (not Halle BERRY) snagging the role of Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid. The 19-yea

Jenelle Evans Is Getting Custody of Her Children 2019-07-03 19:14:48Jenelle Evans will regain custody of her children. The 27-year-old Teen Mom star, who lost custody of her children back in May because of an incident

Liam Payne Drops His Capsule Collection With 'Hugo' 2019-07-03 19:01:46Liam Payne has teamed up with Hugo for his debut fashion campaign! The collection was unveiled at an event during Berlin Fashion Week tonight (July 3)

Rick & Kathy Hilton Sued for Allegedly Owing 2019-07-03 18:50:05Rick and Kathy Hilton, Paris and Nicky Hilton‘s parents, are being sued for allegedly owing their housekeeper thousands of dollars in unpaid wag

Zendaya Says Her Face 'Freezes' Before On-Camera Interviews 2019-07-03 18:34:07Zendaya has the perfect backdrop for these gorgeous photos during her trip to Paris, France on Tuesday night (July 2). The 22-year-old Spider-Man: Far

Sky Ferreira Sides With Taylor Swift in Scooter 2019-07-03 18:14:33Sky Ferreira is on Taylor Swift‘s side after she expressed how upset she is that Scooter Braun now owns her master recordings. The 26-year-old s

Halle Bailey, Not Halle Berry, Is Playing Ariel 2019-07-03 18:10:24Guys, it’s Halle BAILEY, not Halle BERRY, who is playing Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid. Fans have been confusi

Justin Bieber Joins Wife Hailey For Lunch Date 2019-07-03 18:03:19Justin and wife Hailey Bieber arrive with big smiles on their faces for a lunch date on Wednesday afternoon (July 3) in Beverly Hills, Calif. The twos

Dean McDermott Opens Up About His Gay Son 2019-07-03 18:01:08Dean McDermott is sharing his love for his oldest son, Jack, right in the wake of Pride Month. The 52-year-old actor spoke about his 20-year-old son d

Emma Roberts & Garrett Hedlund Catch a Flight 2019-07-03 17:29:02Emma Roberts and Garrett Hedlund couple up for a flight at LAX Airport! The 28-year-old American Horror Story actress and the 34-year-old Triple Front

Arts & Entertainment -

Why didn’t Disney just explain why it cut 2019-07-03 19:25:00Disney is not a company known for explaining itself, but why on earth it would do a good thing in a way that makes it look shady really is beyond me.

Halle Bailey will play Ariel in the live-action 2019-07-03 18:15:00Halle Bailey is your new Ariel. On Wednesday, Disney announced that the singer and actress has been cast as the lead of its live-action adaptation of

Taylor Swift, entitled millionaire, is the labor activist 2019-07-03 16:55:00Taylor Swift, one of pop music’s most polarizing superstars, is enmeshed in another very public battle, and the world has promptly, predictably,

Review: ‘Stranger Things 3’ finds new horrors at 2019-07-03 16:30:00Demogorgons. Mad scientists. A parallel universe. It’s seemed that Hawkins, Ind., had seen it all over the past two seasons of “Stranger T

Reviews: Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista in ‘Escape 2019-07-03 16:20:00'Escape Plan: The Extractors' In 2013, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger co-starred in “Escape Plan,” a two-fisted prison pic

Review: Before RuPaul, the documentary ‘Paris Is Burning’ 2019-07-03 15:40:00Over the past decade, Jennie Livingston’s landmark 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning” has had a renaissance of sorts, thanks in no

In action-comedy ‘Stuber,’ Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista 2019-07-03 14:55:00Theirs was a gentle friendship forged in the cozy confines of an eco-friendly Nissan Leaf, the electric car that serves as a roving setting for broman

‘Toy Story 2’ casting-couch outtake is not so 2019-07-03 14:30:00The far-reaching #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have hit the Walt Disney Co. yet again, resulting in the reported deletion of a 20-year-old cast

Best live music in L.A.: Nile Rodgers, Chrissie 2019-07-03 14:10:00Celebrate the long weekend in style with a full slate of July 4th festivities and gigs from hometown icons. July 4th Fireworks Spectacular with Nile R

Review: Getty Villa’s ‘Buried by Vesuvius’ is exquisite 2019-07-03 13:55:00When Mt. Vesuvius blew its top in AD 79, the now-fabled volcanic eruption began a winding sequence of events that, exactly 1,900 years later, heralded

ASAP Rocky is behind bars in Sweden after 2019-07-03 13:50:00ASAP Rocky was arrested early Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, on suspicion of gross assault after a Sunday altercation that was captured in part on vi

Dance studios are the latest pushed out by 2019-07-03 12:30:00For a room full of teenage tap dancers, the studio at Dance Arts Academy was surprisingly quiet. About 40 dancers were sitting on the wooden floor, ea

Reuters: Entertainment News

Japan sending patent officials to U.S. over Kim 2019-07-02 02:39:26Japan is to send patent officials to the United States to discuss the flap over Kim Kardashian’s Kimono brand underwear, the trade minister said

Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber at odds in 2019-07-01 21:28:25Pop superstar Taylor Swift has attacked Justin Bieber's manager for buying her music catalog, prompting Bieber to come to his defense in a heated onl

Lady Gaga, Letitia Wright among hundreds invited to 2019-07-01 16:55:15The group that hands out the Oscars said on Monday it had invited 842 new members from 59 countries including Lady Gaga, Sterling K. Brown and Letitia

Back to black for Christian Dior at sumptuous 2019-07-01 16:37:09With a series of all-black bustier gowns that would not have looked out of place on Grace Kelly, a vintage mood reigned on the catwalk at Christian Di

Giambattista Valli skips the runway for floral fashion 2019-07-01 15:21:27Known for his ultra-feminine, silhouette-driven gowns, couturier Giambattista Valli shook up Haute Couture fashion week in Paris on Monday with a bota

British singer Cliff Richard demands change to sex 2019-07-01 08:48:25British singer Cliff Richard joined forces with other high profile figures in the media on Monday to demand that those people accused of sexual offens

Indian actress draws fire for quitting over Islamic 2019-07-01 08:40:41A Muslim actress' decision to quit Bollywood, saying acting was taking her away from her faith, has triggered a backlash in India from fellow actors

Kylie Minogue sparkles on Glastonbury stage 14 years 2019-06-30 15:14:34Kylie Minogue delighted a huge crowd at Glastonbury with hits including "Spinning Around", "Shocked" and "Better the Devil You Know", 14 years a

David Attenborough thanks Glastonbury for plastic bottle ban 2019-06-30 13:41:14The world renowned naturalist David Attenborough appeared on the stage at Glastonbury on Sunday to praise its ban on single-use plastic bottles, delig

Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' bests 'Annabelle Comes 2019-06-30 13:02:40LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Forky are still ruling the box office. Despite solid debuts from newcomers "Annabelle Comes Ho

Glastonbury's plastic bottle ban tested by hot weather 2019-06-30 10:14:24Britain's Glastonbury Festival is greener and cleaner after banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles in the hope of inspiring long-term change

Stormzy's stab-vest for landmark Glastonbury gig designed by 2019-06-30 08:33:20A Union Jack emblazoned stab-proof vest worn by British rapper Stormzy for his history-making headline performance at the Glastonbury Music Festival w


Vinay Menon: Scooter Braun feud is part of 2019-07-03 13:28:23Even as her incredible talent drives her higher into the stratosphere, Taylor Swift insists others are holding her down, writes Vinay Menon.

Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road becomes longest-running 2019-07-03 12:07:22“Old Town Road” stayed at No.1 for its 13th consecutive week, beating out “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, &ld

Vancouver symphony’s park shows had delights and a 2019-07-03 12:00:00Becoming the backup band for a drag show is a surprising moment in the life of a classical musician, but summer is the time for such surprises, Willia

Roxodus music festival cancelled due to ill-prepared event 2019-07-03 09:28:21Organizers say the venue at Edenvale Airport “battled tremendous rainy weather” over the past several months, soaking the grounds and maki

BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg shines darkly in 2019-07-03 08:27:20The book proves Bob-Waksberg can conjure many modern miseries beyond those of a talking horse.

Controversial anti-abortion film Unplanned to hit more than 2019-07-03 08:15:19Top film critics on movie review aggregation websites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes have panned it, with many calling it propaganda. But audience sco

Jason Priestley leaves it on the dance floor 2019-07-03 06:00:00

Waterloo-raised comic Courtney Gilmour, born without hands and 2019-07-03 00:00:00Gilmour was the first female comic to win the Just for Laughs homegrown competition in Montreal in 2017.

Stranger Things is back. Here’s where Season 2 2019-07-02 21:40:14The Netflix series is steeped in nostalgia for the Spielbergian comforts of a suburban past but is really about the perpetual trauma of characters who

This year’s Toronto Fringe Festival has a Filipino 2019-07-02 17:59:11Annual fest includes the Filipinx shows Through the Bamboo, Tita Jokes and Monica vs. the internet, while Kanto by Tita Flips will serve food at the f

Wynonna Earp finally gets green light for fourth 2019-07-02 16:37:10

Does Mischa Barton-Perez Hilton fight The Hills reboot 2019-07-02 16:13:10The enmity between actress Mischa Barton and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton captured in The Hills reboot hearkened to the often relentlessly cruel cel

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.