If there was a Tony Award for best dress worn by a presenter, then actor-director Billy Porter would have taken the prize. His flowing custom-made ballgown (created from the curtain of Broadway’s Kinky Boots) – the show that won him his Tony Award – was just one more bold choice by the star of TV’s Pose. Porter will be in Boston late this summer directing the world premiere of Dan McCabe’s The Purists at the Huntington Theatre Company.
At the award ceremony, the most-talked about outfit was worn by singer-songwriter/playwright Taylor Mac, who was on stage in a full-fledged costume created by Matthew Flower, who is known as Machine Dazzle. Mac, who wrote the Tony-nominated Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. He became a hit in Boston for his five-hour show that played at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon in Cambridge in 2012.
It was a good night for Bryan Cranston, who won for his role as Howard Beale in the stage adaptation of the film Network. Cranston won a Tony two years ago for his portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson in All the Way, which got its start at the American Repertory Theater (ART) in Cambridge before heading to Broadway. In his acceptance speech, Cranston used the moment to reflect on the state of things, which was very “Howard Beale” moment: “The media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.”
And while, the Northern Ireland drama The Ferryman won the best play Tony, it was Hadestown, conceived and written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, who won a Tony for her score that stole the night with eight total awards. Also winning for Hadestown was director Rachel Chavkin, who was at the ART a couple of years ago with Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and returns to the ART this summer to open the 2019-2020 season with Six, a musical about the merry wives of Henry VIII.
Berklee College of Music and its sister school Boston Conservatory at Berklee College alumni and faculty were involved in various capacities with other Tony Award-winning shows this season, including Oklahoma! Hadestown, The Cher Show, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ain’t Too Proud, Ink, and Tootsie.
Sergio Trujillo received the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography in a Musical, for the show Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations. He, too, had success in Boston as the director and choreographer for the stunning Arrabal, at the ART for which he won Elliot Norton Awards.
Also – finally – winning a Tony for his turn on Hadestown was Broadway veteran André De Shields, the narrator of the show. De Shields stole the show in the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of The Jungle Book in which he played King Louie. The Huntington had a lot to celebrate on Sunday night with 23 of its alumni receiving Tony Awards nominations this year.