“Hadestown” took home the most Tony Awards Sunday, in a night that highlighted and challenged diversity and parity in the industry.
The musical, with a score and book by Anaïs Mitchell and direction by Rachel Chavkin, won eight awards, including best musical and awards for Mitchell and Chavkin.
“The Ferryman” won best play and “The Boys in the Band” won best revival of a play. “Oklahoma!” won for best revival of a musical.
It was not a total sweep for “Hadestown,” however, with acting awards given to Ali Stroker of “Oklahoma!” and Stephanie J. Block of “The Cher Show.” Sergio Trujillo of “Ain’t Too Proud” won for best choreography of a musical and “Tootsie’s” Robert Horn took home the award for best book of a musical.
Women’s rights and equal opportunity were a key theme at this year’s Tony Awards and in the speeches of several of the Tony Award winners.
Stroker, who won a Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical, said she feels honored to now act as a role model for others who are disabled. As an 11-year-old, Stroker said she yearned for someone who looked like her on stage.
“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, has a limitation or a challenge,” Stroker said after accepting her award.
Several of the winners spoke to the need to hire more women and people of color behind the scenes.
Jessica Paz was the first woman to be nominated and win for sound design, an award she won with her “Hadestown” co-sound designer Nevin Steinberg.
“I hope that it inspires any young woman who finds this field interesting to pursue it,” Paz said in the press room.
Mitchell, who won a Tony Award for writing the music and lyrics, was only the third woman to do so.
Chavkin, who won a Tony Award for her direction of “Hadestown,” was the only female director nominated this season.
“Our field is filled with progressive people and yet our field is not exemplary,” particularly in who is telling a story, Chavkin said in the press room.
Other “Hadestown” Tony winners, many of whom were wearing Planned Parenthood pins, spoke to a systematic need to bring in more women. While many have cited a pipeline issue, Bradley King, who won a Tony Award for his lighting of “Hadestown,” said it’s a matter of getting women and people of color in the room with producers, directors and artistic directors.
Bryan Cranston, who won a Tony Award for his role in “Network,” echoed that sentiment, saying to the press room that he believes what’s shown on Broadway can have influence beyond the theater.
“I embrace and rejoice in what’s happening here. I think this is a siren call to the rest of the country,” he said.