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Tony Awards 2019: Bryan Cranston beats Adam Driver, but hit show Hadestown dominates the ceremony

All the latest updates from the 2019 ceremony

Bryan Cranston accepts the best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play for network onstage during the 2019 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on 9 June, 2019 in New York City.
Bryan Cranston accepts the best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play for network onstage during the 2019 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on 9 June, 2019 in New York City.

Hadestown triumphed during the 2019 Tony Awards, picking up the title of best musical among a long list of wins.

The brooding musical about the underworld, by singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, intertwines the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Hades and Persephone. It marks Mitchell’s Broadway debut.

Hadestown began as a series of songs presented in a community centre in Vermont in 2006. In 2010, it was a concept album; then, in 2016, it was presented at the New York Theatre Workshop. It went to Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in 2017 and to London’s National Theatre in 2018.

Mitchell, who grew up on a sheep farm in Vermont, has put out the albums Hymns for the Exiled, The Brightness and the collaboration with fellow singer/songwriter Rachel Ries on Country EP.

Hadestown beat out Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, Tootsie, Beetlejuice and The Prom.

It also won the awards for best original score, best featured actor, best scenic design of a musical, best lighting design of a musical, best sound design of a musical, best direction of a musical, and best orchestrations. This comes to a total of eight wins out of 14 nominations. Click here to read the full list of winners.

Bryan Cranston beat Adam Driver when he won the Tony Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play, for his performance in Network. Driver was nominated for Burn This. Elaine May, Santino Fontana and Stephanie J Block also all won leading actor and actress awards.

Sam Mendes picked up his first directing Tony for The Ferryman, a vigorous family epic set in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the Troubles. The Ferryman, which requires a 21-person cast, plus a baby and animals, was also named best play.

James Corden handled hosting duties for the second time during the ceremony at the Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.

The crowd erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. Stroker, paralysed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was two, won for featured actress 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 colour 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 The Ferryman playwright Jez 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.

Additional reporting by agencies.

Catch up on the 2019 Tony Awards as they happened:

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Leading tonight's awards race is the musical Hadestown, an adaptation of Anaïs Mitchell's folk opera album of the same name. The story is based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and takes place during a Great Depression-era inspired post-apocalypse. 

Eva Noblezada is up for best leading actress, while André De Shields is going head-to-head with co-star Patrick Page for actor in a featured role. 

j.shepherd9 June 2019 19:20

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, based on Dominique Morisseau's book, follows with 12 nominations, including Best Musical. The cast will also be performing at the event.

j.shepherd9 June 2019 19:40

Tottsie, the musical adaptation of Sydney Pollack's 1980s musical starring Dustin Hoffman, has the third most nominations, including Best Musical. 

Santino Fontana, who plays Hoffman's character on Broadway, is competing for leading actor.

j.shepherd9 June 2019 20:00

The Ferryman – The London production of which won multiple Evening Standard Theatre Awards – has been nominated for nine Tonys. 

The original West End production was directed by Spectre's Sam Mendes, which starred Paddy Considine. The actor also played the part on Broadway and will be hoping to take home the Leading Actor award tonight. 

j.shepherd9 June 2019 20:20

Read The Independent's review of the London production of The Ferryman below.

j.shepherd9 June 2019 20:40

With eight nominations is Beetlejuice, a musical adaptation of Tim Burton's film. Alex Brightman, who plays the eponymous character, is up for the leading actor award.

j.shepherd9 June 2019 21:00

Celebrities have started arriving on the red carpet!

Clemence Michallon9 June 2019 23:02

The Tonys are celebrating Pride with this beautiful rainbow over the red carpet: 

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions 

Clemence Michallon9 June 2019 23:11

Here is James Corden, our host for the evening, and his wife Julia Carey:

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions 

Clemence Michallon9 June 2019 23:23

Samira Wiley of Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid's Tale is one of the presenters tonight. She says on the red carpet that she's thrilled to reconnect with the New York theatre community.

Clemence Michallon9 June 2019 23:26

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