As Broadway's biggest night plays out on the Radio City Music Hall stage June 9, the excitement continues close by in the Tony Awards’ media room. Playbill Managing News Editor Ryan McPhee and Senior Features Editor Ruthie Fierberg are on hand to capture reactions from the winners, share breaking news, and more throughout the night.
Stay in the know with their live blog below.
11:45 PM: And that's a wrap on the 73rd Annual Tony Awards! Stay tuned as Playbill continues to dive deep with analyses of the night, get an inside look at the shows' afterparties, and more.
11:40 PM: After giving his Best Play Tony Award for The Ferryman to his partner and star Laura Donnelly (who herself lost family members in the events explored in the play) on air, Jez Butterworth expanded upon his decision to the press. “I’ve never written a play that is based on someone else’s life that I’m that close to,” he says. “It was as if from the beginning I was borrowing from her family’s loss and family’s grief that I was never entirely comfortable with.” He says he was only once before as inspired to write specifically for someone: Mark Rylance in Jerusalem.
11:10 PM: Stephanie J. Block—now forever Tony Award winner Stephanie J. Block—comes full circle, thinking back on making her Broadway debut as Liza Minnelli in The Boy From Oz to now winning a Tony for playing Cher: "To go from Liza 15 years ago and to say yes again to playing another icon? I may be a masochist, but here I stand." Before then, (in California, as Stephanie Block), she was used to doing revivals. "That’s one of the reasons I moved to New York, and the idea of bringing someone like Cher to life certainly wasn’t on my radar in any way shape or form... Her tenacity and resilience has brought me here."
11:06 PM: Bryan Cranston is now two-for-two, having won Lead Actor in a Play for Network. His previous win was in 2014 for All The Way. “It drains the hell out of me,” he said of his current role. “I seem to be attracted to really damaged characters. I keep thinking of a comedy where I’m sipping tea, thinking, Oh that’d be nice.” Alas, Cranston is attracted to difficult characters. “Unless something really catches me and I sense a journey for someone—even if it’s unattainable—I am attracted to that damage,” he said.
10:55 PM: Oklahoma! lead producer Eva Price enters, holding her own Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, but said she was happier with a different win. “I think I was happier than when we won the Tony [when Ali Stroker won],” she said. “She is so strong and so powerful and so beautiful as both a performer and a person, and she has taught me so much about accessibility and disability—and I thought I was progressive.” Price also spoke about the onstage audience during the show's Tonys performance: “Everyone in that onstage audience are either victims, advocates, or have a connection to a family connected to gun violence. Oklahoma! is the first Gun Neutral show on Broadway …It was really important to us to bring the advocacy program in our show to our performance tonight.”
10:40 PM: André De Shields, a true Capricorn (or "energizer bunny," as he says his sister calls him), echoes his acceptance speech, insisting that despite earning his first Tony tonight, “the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next.” He reflects on his own parents, who were both performers. "When you see me dancing, I’m using my mother’s feet. When you hear me singing, I’m using my father’s voice. This, after so many installment payments, is that cosmic debt paid in full. Now, I can go about my next 73 years doing what satisfies André."
10:06 PM: Hot off the heels of winning a Tony for the revival of The Boys in the Band, Ryan Murphy and David Stone are preparing to bring the Mart Crowley play to Netflix (with Joe Mantello reprising his role as director). "It's one of the first things I set up when I did my Netflix deal," Murphy tells reporters. "This is the 50th year of this play, and what I'm excited for are the 165 million people all over the world who will have access to it." He continues, referencing the original film: "It was the only group of gay men I had ever seen." Stone, who wins his first Tony tonight, reflects on what's changed (or hasn't) in the past 50 years: "I think what happens outside of that apartment has changed drastically, but I think the way gay men treat each other and how they feel about themselves hasn’t necessarily changed."
9:56 PM: Ali Stroker made history as the first performer in a wheelchair to be nominated for (and win) a Tony Award. When she entered the press room, she continued the end of her acceptance speech (which had been cut off in the broadcast): “I was thanking my partner David, who has stuck by me for so many years and has believed in me for every single part of my career He reminds me every day to let my light shine, and I really want to make sure that is known.” Stroker has been breaking barriers since she made her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. Inclusion has been a theme of tonight’s awards, and when asked what her first step would be to making theatre and Broadway more accessible, she answered, “For the [theatre] houses where all the audience comes in, that is all made accessible. But the backstages are not. So I would ask theatre owners and producers to really look into how they can make the backstage accessible so that performers with disabilities can get around.”
9:30 PM: Continuing the Hadestown train, director Rachel Chavkin enters the press room, Tony in hand. "Inclusion has long been a particular passion of mine," she says, expanding on her acceptance speech. "Our field is filled with progressive people, but our field is not exemplary …I think we’re seeing this incredible renaissance of voices. [This is] not a call for altruism; it’s a call for hiring people." Chavkin also noted that circa 2010, she had a list of people she would potentially like to collaborate with, and at the bottom was songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. "In retrospect, it feels like kismet."
9:12 PM: Hadestown duo Jessica Paz and Nevin Steinberg speak after their shared win for Best Sound Design of a Musical. Paz is the first female artist to be nominated in the category—and, of course, the first to win. "I hope it inspires any young woman who feels it’s interesting to pursue it, and there’s success here." Speaking of her own interest in the field, she says, "I found music interesting. I wanted to pursue a field in music, and I sadly was not a musician, so this was my way to pursue that field. I found it by accident. It was my way to connect to music without being a musician."
9:08 PM: Harold Wheeler, Special Tony Award honoree for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, accepted his honor during a commercial break, having worked on 30 Broadway shows throughout his career. "My role in the music theatre business has been to try to support what’s going on stage through my orchestrations. I hope the music continues to do that. It has been my pleasure to be a member of the Broadway community.”
8:54 PM: Fitz Patton, winner for Choir Boy for Best Sound Design of a Play, spoke to what people should pay attention to when it comes to theatrical sound design—a category famously jettisoned and re-added: “You have to think, ’Was I immersed in it; was it transporting; did the theatre vibrate with an energy I’d never heard before? ...Did it bring you so close to the actors and take you so far inside the world that you were transported—but more to it—you became thoroughly lost in the adventure of it?"
8:50 PM: Bob Mackie enters the press room, a first time Tony Award winner at age 80, saying that he’d dreamed of being a costume designer on Broadway since he was 10 years old. Having done The Cher Show, Mackie says he’d love to work on another musical. “Hopefully not one with bare tummies and too much glitter, I think I’ve done enough of that in my life,” he said.
8:42 PM: During the commercial break, Judith Light accepts the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her humanitarian efforts in the Broadway community. In her speech, she recalls working with many artists suffering during the HIV/AIDS crisis: "So many people in our theatre family were dying. Even as they suffered the ravages of this disease, they demonstrated courage, the likes of which I had never seen before." Light name checks some of the organizations that were subsequently formed such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well as plays that "alerted the world to the devastation of AIDS and homophobia." She finishes with a prolonged quote from George Bernard Shaw, including, "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live."
8:48 PM: Rachel Hauck designed sets for a play (What the Constitution Means to Me) and a musical (Hadestown) this year, the latter which earned Hauck her nomination and first win. When Hauck entered the press room, she addressed Hadestown’s journey from Off-Broadway to Canada to London and Broadway and the drastic changes in her design along the way. “Anaïs [Mitchell] will always work on this piece, Rachel [Chavkin] will always work on this piece,” she said. “But I think that what we found is a way to hold that poetry and to ground the story without trying to be literal in any way...And I think what’s on Broadway is the richest most beautiful version of that yet."
8:35 PM: Lighting designer Bradley King speaks to the press fresh off his Hadestown win. On the topic of the show's evolution from Off-Broadway to the Great White Way, he references a crowd favorite moment from the frontrunner musical: the swinging lamps that propel past the proscenium and into the house, citing them as "the first visual impulse Rachel Chavkin ever had with the show, and with New York Theatre Workshop, that was two little lamps flown in by hand, and they got bigger and bigger and more complicated, like the whole lighting design."
8:25 PM: Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout, is the first winner to enter the media room. Addressing the press, the four-time nominee, who is no stranger to playing children on stage, notes, "This is the first time I've been nominated when I had a four-year-old child, so this is the first time things are being filtered through the eyes of a parent." So how does it feel to finally win? "Someone asked me 'Do awards matter?' And I was like, 'I'll let you know when I get one.' Right now, I'm pretty fucking excited."
8:00 PM: And we’re live! Host James Corden kicks it off with an epic opening that honors that “liveness” of theatre, with a special cameo by Best Actor nominee Bryan Cranston with a riff on his “Mad as Hell” line from Network. The number also featured appearances by the ensembles of the nominees for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical.
7:49 PM: "I stand here as proof for all those DREAMERs; I stand here as proof that the American Dream is still alive," Sergio Trujillo says, winning his first Tony Award (for his choreography for Ain't Too Proud), noting that he arrived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. "You just have to keep fighting, because change will come." He receives a standing ovation as he continues to addresses the audience in Spanish.
7:33 PM: Rob Howell wins the first competitive award of the night: Best Costume Design of a Play for The Ferryman. He takes the stage with his associate, Lucy Gaiger, noting the hard work that associates do but frequently goes unnoticed or uncredited. Bob Mackie, winner of Best Costume Design of a Musical for The Cher Show, keeps his speech short: "This is very encouraging for an 80-year-old." Howell doesn't stay off the stage for too long, going back up to win for Best Scenic Design of a Play. "I feel strangely balanced," he says, holding a Tony in both hands.
For the complete list of winners (updating live), click here.
7:25 PM: Madeline Michel of Monticello High School accepts the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. In her speech, she thanks several of her students who tapped into their own experiences with racial injustice to create art, from those who suffered through the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to those who encountered peers wearing Confederate flag shirts, to DREAMers who discovered a newfound love for theatre in her class. She finishes by plugging her class' Instagram: @MonticelloDrama19.
7:20 PM: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Artistic Director Robert Kelley, Executive Director Phil Santora and Board Chair Judy Heyboer accept the Regional Theatre Award. Kelley, who prepares to step down after founding the company in 1970, thanks the thousands of theatre makers who found a home with the west coast venue and helped develop over a hundred new works (including the 2010 Tony-winning Memphis).
7:15 PM: Aaron Tveit, Karen Olivo, and Danny Burstein, soon to star in Broadway's Moulin Rouge! enter stage left as emcees of the Creative Arts Tony Awards. They lay down the rules for those in the audience: don't be on your phone during the broadcast, winners shouldn't touch the mic during their speech, et cetera. Burstein has a delightful mustache.
7:05 PM: And we're off! David Henry Hwang, Heather Hitchens, Charlotte St. Martin, and Thomas Schumacher of the Broadway League and American Theatre Wing kick off the proceedings on the Radio City Music Hall stage as attendees continue to take their seats. The presentation of honorary awards and Creative Arts Tonys are on deck.
7:00 PM: Thanks to a new ruling from the Tonys’ Administration Committee, we could see a playwright accept an award for Best Revival of a Play. Per the recent determination, Mart Crowley, Kenneth Lonergan, and Harvey Fierstein are each included in the nomination
6:55 PM: Each of the shows nominated for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical are set to perform during the broadcast, as is The Cher Show. And no, you’re not seeing double: Jeremy Pope is indeed performing as part of two shows tonight (Ain’t Too Proud and Best Play nominee Choir Boy, which will perform one of its a cappella gospel arrangements by honorary Tony recipient Jason Michael Webb).
6:45 PM: Of the 118 nominated artists this year, 28 are first-time nominees. More than half of them (17) are making their Broadway debuts—including Best Play nominees Tarell Alvin McCraney (Choir Boy), Taylor Mac (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus) and Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me).
6:30 PM: Greetings from the press room! As we prepare for the festivities to start, let’s get a refresher on this year’s nominations. Hadestown leads the pack with 14 nods, followed by Ain’t Too Proud and Tootsie with 12 and 11, respectively. The three are all nominated for Best Musical alongside Beetlejuice and The Prom. For the plays, The Ferryman and To Kill a Mockingbird top the list with nine nods, though of the two, only the former is up for Best Play.