After the Tony winners get their awards, they head over to the press room for some pictures and interviews. Here’s a backstage look at what went down last night after everyone picked up their Tonys.
Celia Keenan-Bolger won Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird; hers is the only award Mockingbird won. In the press room she talked about going to the South to do research, poignantly mentioning her grandparents and how they received hate because they were welcoming to black families in the neighborhood. She mentioned how when she heard about Mockingbird she thought of the lucky 8 year-old girl who was going to play Scout, but then decided she would steal the part, since Scout had been a favorite character of hers since childhood. When asked about how she connects playing a child and having a child she said she approaches this role from the perspective of a mother.
Bertie Carvel, who won Featured Actor in a Play for Ink (he was also the only winner for his play), talked about how exhausting and stressful the lead up to the Tony awards is, and said how happy and relieved he is for it to be over.
The famous fashion designer Bob Mackie won a Tony for Costume Design for his work on The Cher Show. In the press room he talked about how he recreated some iconic looks (like her famous Oscar dresses) because fans would notice if he changed anything, but he also had fun making new designs. When asked if he would design for the stage again he said he would, but that it wouldn’t include so much bare skin and glitter, since he’s done enough of that.
One of the big winners of the evening was Rachel Chavkin, who took the award for Best Director of a Musical for Hadestown (which won 7 other awards, the most of any show this season). She used her speech to talk about how we need more female directors and a more diverse group of people making Broadway shows, not just actors but designers, writers, and directors. In the press room she talked about her relationship with songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, who won the Tony for Best Score. She said that she had always been on her “list of people to work with,” and that after listening to the concept album they “dated” creatively for a while. Chavkin soon fell in love with the album, had a 4.5 hour Skype session, and begun their creative partnership. She noted how the process was “slow but incredibly organic,” saying that show has made changes even since London but she is very happy with how it is right now.
Ali Stroker made history as the first wheelchair-user to win a Tony award; she won Best Featured Actress in a musical for playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma! On the red carpet, in her acceptance speech, and in the press room she talked about how her win can help show disabled people out there that this is possible and how she hopes she can be a role model for disabled children who want to act, since growing up she didn’t have any. She also talked about wanting to make theater more accessible, particularly backstages, so disabled actors can actually be in shows. She discussed working with the director and choreography to integrate her movement vocabulary into the show and how important it was for her to make connections between her body, her chair, and her character’s very sexual body and relationship with two men. Her acceptance speech during the broadcast got cut off, so in the press room she made sure to thank her parents and her partner, both of whom have been so encouraging and supportive.
Anaïs Mitchell was so happy to win a Tony award and to be part of Broadway. She talked about her next project, which will be a touring folk band. Chavkin told us how Mitchell described Hadestown as a poem, not a prose piece, and that it has to be taken in slowly as a series of images. Mitchell clearly thinks about musical theater in a fresh new way, thus why her Tony is so deserved.
The Boys in the Band took home Best Revival of a Play, a surprise win because the show closed last summer. In the press room Mart Crowley talked about unique it is that the original production 50 years ago, with its gay cast, was made into a film with the original cast and that now this production, also with an all-gay cast, is also being being made into a film. Producer Ryan Murphy talked about how in the 50 years that have passed everything and nothing has changed for gay men: the outside world is quite different, but the way they treat each other and feel about each other has somehow stayed the same.
A crowd favorite, Andre de Sheild won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for playing Hermes in Hadestown. He sauntered into the press room with his famous jazzy, slow walk, saying how his agent calls him the energizer bunny, not for his walk but for his energy level. He went on to say how he got this award after several payment installments, but now the debt paid is in full and he can focus on the next part of his life and career. He said he wasn’t going to leave Broadway until he got what he thought he deserved — a Tony award. He mentioned being elated to also have won the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk awards, feeling finally validated for a career of hard work. Now he just wants to keep climbing, always gazing at the stars.
Broadway’s reigning queen Stephanie J. Block finally won her Tony award: Lead Actress in a Musical for being Cher. She entered the press room so excited, asking if she was supposed to sing. She told us how Cher (who has to be in Block’s phone under a different name in case she loses her phone) texted her before the show to wish her good luck. She talked about how growing up she was always a fan of Cher, but more so the movies and her Barbie than her music, which came later. Playing Cher was never on her radar, but neither was playing Liza, she told us. She said that she wants to quit theater a few times a year because it is so much work, but the amazing and supportive community keep her going. What a coincidence, because Stephanie J. Block is what keeps everyone else going.
Congrats to all the winners and to such an extraordinary Broadway season. In case you missed it, here is a complete list of winner of the 73rd annual Tony Awards.