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The Tony Awards 2019: Inclusive and Inspiring

Tony Awards 2019
By Mena Buscetto

The 73rd Annual Tony Awards certainly did not disappoint. An evening of glamour, show stopping performances, breathtaking speeches and even some commercial-break-karaoke, set this year’s awards show apart from the 72 that preceded it in more ways than one. Decorated and celebrated in the spirit of Pride Month, the Tony Awards and greater theater community exhibited very clearly that they walk the walk in terms of the diversity and inclusion of LGBTQ actors, actresses, theater professionals, fans and other identifying community members.

As a theater fan and audience member of the Tony’s (unfortunately from my living room and not Radio City Music Hall), this night never fails to both excite and humble me at the immense amount of diverse art that is at my fingertips each and every day as a New Yorker. Though not every show nominated was recognized with a golden statue, each nominee and performer was cause for celebration that night, and I am fortunate enough to have seen several of the nominees this year. I can attest, they were all deserving and then some.

The evidence that Broadway had major success this year was proven monetarily, as 2019 was undeniably the biggest year for Broadway at the box office, bringing in $1.829B.

This announcement at the Tony’s brought applause and cheers. This massive, incomprehensible number is a testament to the phenomenal works of art that were brought to the table this year by dedicated and talented artists, proving that live theater is alive and more than well; it’s thriving.

Per usual, chief New York Times theater critics Ben Brantley and Jesse Green predicted the Tony winners. Considered to be the ultimate experts in this arena, their predictions generated a lot of buzz leading up to the ceremony. But how accurate were they? Let’s take a look at some of the major award predictions and actual winners from Ben Brantley.

Tony Award Predictions vs. Winners


BEST PLAY
Prediction: The Ferryman
Winner: The Ferryman

BEST MUSICAL
Prediction: Tootsie
Winner: Hadestown

BEST PLAY REVIVAL
Prediction: The Waverly Gallery
Winner: The Boys in the Band

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL
Prediction: Oklahoma!
Winner: Oklahoma!

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Prediction: Jeff Daniels (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Winner: Bryan Cranston (Network)

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Prediction: Elaine May (The Waverly Gallery)
Winner: Elaine May (The Waverly Gallery)

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Prediction: Santino Fantana (Tootsie)
Winner: Santino Fantana (Tootsie)

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Prediction: Stephanie J. Block (The Cher Show)
Winner: Stephanie J. Block (The Cher Show)

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Prediction: Bertie Carvel (Ink)
Winner: Bertie Carvel (Ink)

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Prediction: Celia Keenan-Bolger (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Winner: Celia Keenan-Bolger (To Kill a Mockingbird)

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Prediction: André De Shields (Hadestown)
Winner: André De Shields (Hadestown)

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Prediction: Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!)
Winner: Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!)

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Prediction: Sam Mendes (The Ferryman)
Winner: Sam Mendes (The Ferryman)

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Prediction: Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown)
Winner: Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown)

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Prediction: Robert Horn (Tootsie)
Winner: Robert Horn (Tootsie)

BEST SCORE OF A MUSICAL
Prediction: David Yazbek (Tootsie)
Winner: Anaïs Mitchell (Hadestown)

So I guess there’s a reason he’s called the “chief theater critic”, right? Ben Brantley was pretty spot on as this year’s Tony Awards were somewhat predictable, but not at all unexciting. History was made as Ali Stroker became the first handicapped Tony Award-recipient. Stephanie J. Block, a household name in the theater community, received the first Tony Award of her illustrious career. The speeches were, in my opinion, some of the best ever delivered and perfectly encapsulated the spirit of theater and the widespread impact it has on people. Some of my favorite quotes were:

“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation, who has a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are.” – Ali Stroker

“Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you come in. Slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be. The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.” – André De Shields

On that note, I leave you with another amazing year for theater and the excitement that we will undoubtedly be in for even more life-changing performances, stories and music in the 2019-2020 season.

Now, please excuse me while I attempt to get tickets to Hadestown this summer.

Also by Mena Buscetto:

Broadway Workshops and Labs: Why We Need Them

For the Theatre Lover: Becoming a “Play” Person

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