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Billy Porter rocks the red carpet

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.  

Sergio Trujillo accepts the Best Choreography award for “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.” REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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.

SAN DIEGO — It’s a good thing that the Oscar ceremony is on a Sunday night as we all seem to need a little bit more time to get ready for a party that celebrates the best in film and the best (and worst, gulp) in fashion.

We just wish that we got another day after the festivities to rest up. This year looked like it might be a quiet evening (no hosts, no controversy) but that quickly proved to be wrong, thankfully.

So, the anticipation and guess work on who would win which award was palpable from LA to Boston for the 91st Academy Awards. The San Diego Film Foundation did not disappoint on the party spectrum as it threw its best and biggest annual signature fundraiser that night, held at the Scripps family estate in Rancho Santa Fe. The SDFF used the event as a fundraiser for its highly successful “Impact On Film Tour,” which brings socially impactful films to thousands of high schoolers in the San Diego area in an effort to educate and create a call to action for the youth of the city.

The splashy event was done in true Hollywood style with a Maserati Levante and a Maserati Quattroporte lining the driveway and a Gran Torismo and Ghilbli at the red carpet. Gorgeous women and men turned out in gowns and tuxedos and everyone had a favorite going into the evening, but as we all know Oscar always surprises.

Meanwhile, up the road a bit, things at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles got rolling early with a slate of dynamic interviewers handling the “heavy lifting” for ABC along the red carpet: Medford, MA, native Maria Menounos in a stunning Celia Kritharioti yellow and white gown with Chopard jewelry; Tony Award-winner Billy Porter in a custom (is there any other kind on Oscar night?) tuxedo-gown by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano; Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth also wearing a Celia Kritharioti gown; and supermodel Ashley Graham wearing Zac Posen and dripping in $1 million worth of jewels on loan from Martin Katz.

The only thing we think could live up to the Porter moment was Lady Gaga‘s breathtaking — and nearly blinding — diamond pendant. If you thought it looked like something familiar, indeed it is: that rock is The Tiffany Diamond, worth an ice-cold $30 million. (It had a previous brush with Hollywood when it was used for the promotional photo shoot for Audrey Hepburn’s turn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Careful viewers of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA will remember that Kenny Loggins predicted Gaga’s Oscar success while walking the carpet for the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival. View his prediction below; he was spot on!

Gaga, of course, won the Oscar for best original song for “Shallow,” which she co-wrote with Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, and longtime Boston music maker Anthony Rossomando, best known for the bands The Damn Personals and Dirty Pretty Things.

When the first 8.5-pound golden statue was handed out to Regina King as “best supporting actress” for her star turn in If Beale Street Could Talk, it was Boston native Chris Evans who chivalrously helped King navigate the steps up to accept her award. Yahoo caught the image, you can view it here.

Another high point for those of us following the theater and fashion scenes in the Northeast as well as those around the world who are fans of her work, was when Ruth E. Carter got an Oscar for costume design for her work on Black Panther. Carter, who on stage gave a shout-out to her 97-year-old mother back in Massachusetts, has been toiling away in productions large and small for decades. She is a Springfield, MA, native, who apprenticed at the former StageWest in Massachusetts. MassLive had a great story on Carter, which you can read here.

And if you can stand us having one more fan moment from the Oscar night, it was when Peter Farrelly, a Rhode Island native whose parents live on the South Shore of Massachusetts, won the Oscar as part of the team who wrote the screenplay and the prize of the night, “best picture,” for Green Book. “I want to thank the whole state of Rhode Island,” Farrelly said during one of his acceptance speeches.

FUN FACT: If you thought it seemed like just about every movie that was nominated won something, you were onto something. At least with the “best picture” nominees. Since the number of potential nominees in the best picture category was expanded from five to 10 in 2010, this was the second time that every nominee got at least one award. Second fun fact: Five times in the last six years the “best director” trophy has gone to a Mexican director.

ColoredMuseum Billy Porter

Billy Porter, Tony-winning star of the colorful musical “Kinky Boots,” trades his drag gown for the director’s chair with Huntington Theatre Company’s production of “The Colored Museum,” a scathing comedy that cycles through nearly a dozen vignettes that explore slavery, modern gender roles, beauty standards, and other issues as they relate to the African-American culture. Each theatrical exhibits offers a chance to comment, critique, and frequently satirize — as any good “Museum” would.

WHERE: Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre
WHEN: March 6 — April 5