Hadestown, the brooding musical about the underworld, had a heavenly night at the Tony Awards, winning eight trophies Sunday, including best new musical and handing a rare win for a female director of a musical. Playwright Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman was crowned best play. In the four lead actor and actress categories, Bryan Cranston won his second acting Tony, but theater veterans Elaine May, Santino Fontana, and Stephanie J. Block each won for the first time. The crowd at Radio City Music Hall erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony, the AP reports. Stroker, paralyzed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was 2, 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 became only the tenth woman to win as director of either a play or a musical on Broadway and told the crowd she was sorry to be such a rarity. 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. (Click for a list of winners.)