The Latest: Ali Stroker makes Tonys history with win
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):
Ali Stroker has made history as the first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award.
Stroker, paralyzed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was 2, is one of the stars of the new edgy revival of “Oklahoma!” She won the fest featured actress in a musical award for playing Ado Annie.
After graduating from New York University, Stroker was in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey as well as “The Glee Project” and “Glee” on TV.
She dedicated her win to every child who has a disability and has been waiting to see themselves represented in theater.
She made her Broadway debut in a revival of “Spring Awakening” in 2015, becoming the first Broadway actor who uses a wheelchair.
The 31-year-old has said she believes it’s high time the disabled are represented on stages and sound stages authentically, noting that one in five Americans lives with a disability.
Rachel Chavkin has won the Tony Award for best director of a musical — the only woman to helm a new Broadway musical this season.
Chavkin won for directing “Hadestown,” singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s folk-opera that intertwines the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Hades and Persephone.
Chavkin was previously nominated as director of “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” She becomes only the tenth woman to win as director of either a play or a musical on Broadway.
She said in her acceptance speech that the industry needed to do more to have more female directors on Broadway. She said it is not a “pipeline issue” but “It is a failure of imagination.”
Of the 37 shows currently on Broadway, only three musicals are directed by women. Other than Chavkin’s show, there’s also Diane Paulus’ “Waitress” and Julie Taymor’s “The Lion King.”
The legendary Elaine May has won her first Tony Award playing the Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother in Kenneth Lonergan’s comic drama “The Waverly Gallery.”
The 87-year-old May first made audiences roar with laughter in her 1960 Broadway debut, “An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May.”
As the screenwriter who adapted “Heaven Can Wait,” ”The Birdcage” and “Primary Colors,” and the script doctor who saved “Reds” and “Tootsie,” May won a 2016 career achievement award from the Writers Guild of America.
She was also an actress in such films as “A New Leaf,” ”Enter Laughing,” ”California Suite” and “Small Time Crooks.” In 2013, President Barack Obama presented her with a National Medal of Arts.
She beat out Annette Bening, Laura Donnelly, Janet McTeer, Laurie Metcalf and Heidi Schreck.
The first Tony Award of the night has gone to Celia Keenan-Bolger, a first-time winner.
Keenan-Bolger won the award for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play for playing the girl Scout in a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
She previously was nominated for “The Glass Menagerie,” ”Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Her brother is Broadway star Andrew Keenan-Bolger.
Lee’s book was a crucial part of Celia Keenan-Bolger’s upbringing with politically active parents in Detroit. She originally was asked to read for the role of Scout, assuming an age-appropriate actor would eventually assume the role.
But the modifications she made to her voice, posture and demeanor convinced the creators to give her the role.
Tony Award host James Corden has kicked off the telecast with a massive, nine-minute opening musical number that served as a full-throated endorsement of the live experience.
He started 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 a remarkable volume.
Corden sang: “Live! We do it live. And every single moment’s unrepeatable.”
But the song ended with an acknowledgement from the CBS talk show host that appointment TV — “Game of Thrones,” ”Fleabag,” ”Black Mirror,” ”The Walking Dead,” among the options — is irresistible, especially in terms of pay.
Pride Month was on full display at the Tony Awards, with a red carpet background of the rainbow flag done in flowers.
It was a busy parade of fashion and celebrity before the telecast. The evening’s host, James Corden, summed it up best when he told The Associated Press the Broadway community “historically has excluded no one. Race, gender, sexuality. They’ve opened their arms to everybody. Always have.”
Pride Month this year is marked by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that helped spark the LGBTQ rights movement.
“It’s important for us to keep moving forward,” Aasif Mandvi says.
The crowded red carpet is under way at the Tony Awards and Billy Porter slayed once again.
Porter wore a bright red look crafted out of the velvet curtain used during his Broadway run as Lola in “Kinky Boots.” The bedazzled Elizabethan-inspired outfit came with pants and pink tulle on the sides of a skirt. It’s the latest in a series of looks in what Porter describes as an ongoing conversation about what masculinity looks like.
He says: “Representation matters, visibility matters.”
Porter walked in a black fitted tuxedo jacket with a full, matching gown at the Oscars. For the Meta Gala, he was a golden sun god, carried on a litter by six shirtless men. He wore a 24-karat gold head piece and unfurled huge wings.
Porter earned a Tony for his star turn in more than 1,000 performances of “Kinky Boots.” He is a presenter at this year’s awards ceremony.
The Tony Awards dress rehearsal — normally with few actual stars in attendance — got a shock of A-listers this year, including Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, LaTanya Richardson, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Samira Wiley, Danai Gurira, Christopher Jackson, Lucy Liu and Marisa Tomei.
Shirley Jones, 85, was on hand to practice introducing the musical “Oklahoma!” — the same show she starred in on film back in 1955. Catherine O’Hara was doing the same for “Beetlejuice,” the 1988 film she starred in.
Some of the Broadway stars who practiced included Ben Platt, Andrew Rannells, Billy Porter, Darren Criss, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Music stars David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Vanessa Carlton also got up early to attend.
The big question at this year’s Tony Awards is whether hell can triumph.
The arty and original “Hadestown,” which takes place in the underworld of Greek mythology, has a leading 14 Tony nominations going into Sunday night’s CBS telecast.
That’s followed by the jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud,” built around songs by The Temptations, which received a dozen nominations. The other best musical nominees are the stage adaptations of the hit movies “Tootsie” and “Beetlejuice,” and the giddy, heartwarming “The Prom.”
James Corden, host of “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and a Tony winner in his own right, will be the host of the 73rd annual Tony Awards, which start at 8 p.m. Sunday at Radio City Musical Hall in New York.