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'Hadestown' Wins 8 Tony Awards Including Best Musical


Broadway celebrated a record-breaking season in terms of audience and box office with the Tony Awards last night. And two shows came up big, as Jeff Lunden reports.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: Broadway went to hell last night when "Hadestown," a folk-and-blues-inflected retelling of the Orpheus myth, won eight awards, including best musical. The show reimagines hell as a factory town run by a god who builds a wall around it.


REEVE CARNEY: (As Orpheus, singing) Wait for me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As Fates, singing) I'm coming.

CARNEY: (As Orpheus, singing) Wait...

LUNDEN: The musical was helmed by two women, singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin. Both won awards. And Chavkin noted...


RACHEL CHAVKIN: I wish I wasn't the only woman directing a musical on Broadway this season.


CHAVKIN: There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of color who are ready to go. And we need to see that racial diversity and gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment, too.


CHAVKIN: This is not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be. So let's do it.


CHAVKIN: Thank you.

LUNDEN: In the best play category, "The Ferryman," Jez Butterworth's sprawling drama set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, won four awards, including best play. It features a cast of 21, as well as a baby, a rabbit and a goose. A radical reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic "Oklahoma!" was named best revival of a musical.


ALI STROKER: (As Ado Annie, singing) I'm just a girl who cain't say no. I'm in a terrible fix. I always say, come on - let's go - just when I oughta say nix.

LUNDEN: And in one of the night's most emotional moments, Ali Stroker or received best featured actress in a musical from her wheelchair. The 31-year-old lost the use of her legs after a car accident when she was 2 and plays the sexy Ado Annie in the revival.


STROKER: This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are.


LUNDEN: Best revival of a play went to a 50th anniversary production of Mart Crowley's groundbreaking gay play "The Boys In The Band." Crawley got teary-eyed when he recalled the actors in the first production, most of whom died of AIDS.


MART CROWLEY: And I'd like to dedicate this award to the original cast of nine brave men who did not listen to their agents when they were told that their careers would be finished if they did this play. And they did it. And here I am. Thank you.

LUNDEN: The 83-year-old playwright was not the only senior to take a trophy home. Eighty-seven-year-old Elaine May, who returned to Broadway after more than 50 years, won best actress as a grandmother with Alzheimer's in "The Waverley Gallery." And 80-year-old Bob Mackie won for his costumes in "The Cher Show." For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROXY MUSIC'S "INDIA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.