Tony Awards 2019: Start Time, Red Carpet and Nominees

The Tony Awards, the annual ceremony recognizing musicals and plays staged on Broadway, are taking place Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall. James Corden is the host.

Among those expected to appear at this year’s ceremony, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Eastern: the pop singers Cher, Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles and David Byrne; the film and television stars Tina Fey, Danai Gurira, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson and Lucy Liu; and theater favorites Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

CBS is live-streaming the Tonys red carpet arrivals on Twitter.

The contest that drives the most ticket sales is for best new musical, and the leading contender is “Hadestown,” based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The Tony Awards, named for the actress and philanthropist Antoinette Perry, are presented by the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing.

The recipients are chosen by 831 Tony voters, many of whom work in the theater industry and have a financial connection to one or more nominated shows. To be eligible, the shows must have opened by April 25 in one of the 41 Broadway theaters located in and around midtown Manhattan.

Winners will get an eight-inch high statuette featuring a circular silver medallion with the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and information about the winner on the other.

The awards ceremony takes place at a time when Broadway is booming. Attendance is at record levels — 14,768,254 seats filled during the season that just ended — and so is the total box office, which was just over $1.8 billion.

Broadway has for years been flooded with shows based on movies and song catalogs — big-brand shows that hope fondness for their titles will help them sell tickets.

But Tony voters have in recent years chosen to reward creativity over commerce, and seriousness over comedy, in the race for best new musical.

That bodes well for “Hadestown,” the artiest and most adventurous of the nominees. Conceived and written by Anaïs Mitchell, a singer-songwriter with no ties to Broadway (besides a childhood affection for “Les Misérables”), the show began as a DIY community theater project in 2006, touring small Vermont venues in a silver school bus packed with props.

If “Hadestown” wins, it will be the sixth year in a row that the prize went to a show developed at a nonprofit theater (or, in this case, three nonprofits in three countries — New York Theater Workshop; Citadel Theater in Edmonton, Canada; and the National Theater in London).

“Hadestown” offers a contemporary take on mythology, alluding to climate change and industrialization while intertwining two love stories: the doomed romance of Orpheus and Eurydice and the fraught marriage between the gods Hades and Persephone.

One song, “Why We Build the Wall,” is especially resonant in the Trump era, though it was written long before; in the number, Hades, the autocratic ruler of the underworld, makes the case for building a physical barrier to enclose his realm.

The show, directed by Rachel Chavkin, who previously brought “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” to Broadway, is shaping up to be a hit, despite a lack of name recognition and a very crowded theatrical marketplace. Since opening in April it has been selling well, and word-of-mouth appears strong.

The front-runner in a two-way race for best musical revival is a provocative production of “Oklahoma!” — a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that first opened in 1943 and has never before won a competitive Tony contest, although it was honored with a special prize in 1993 for its 50th anniversary. The new production is dark and violent, doubling down on questions the show has always asked about America, and features video and contemporary dance in ways that are startling to those accustomed to more traditional versions of the musical.

The other contender in the race is a Roundabout Theater Company revival of “Kiss Me, Kate,” starring Kelli O’Hara. The original production of that musical, which features music and lyrics by Cole Porter, was the first show to win a best musical Tony Award, in 1949.

The best play revival contest is led by a starry staging of “The Boys in the Band,” a pioneering gay drama by Mart Crowley first presented in 1968; a moving production of “The Waverly Gallery,” the 2000 family drama by Kenneth Lonergan; and the classic “All My Sons,” Arthur Miller’s 1947 play about a family undone by its role in a military parts scandal.

Each year, noncompetitive Tony Awards are doled out, some of them noted on the televised broadcast, and others presented at earlier ceremonies or during commercial breaks.

The biggest winner this year, at least as measured by tonnage: King Kong. The massive animatronic marionette at the heart of a new stage musical, “King Kong,” is being honored with a special Tony, given to his Australian creators, Sonny Tilders and Creature Technology Company.

This Kong is not ambulatory — he’s tethered by cables to the show’s set — so he won’t be able to travel to Radio City Music Hall. But watch for him to make some kind of remote appearance on the broadcast.

The industry’s annual lifetime achievement awards are going to Rosemary Harris — a veteran stage actress, now featured on Broadway in a revival of “My Fair Lady,” who played Aunt May in three Spider-Man films; to the playwright Terrence McNally, whose “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” is now running on Broadway; and to the musician Harold Wheeler, best known for his years as musical director of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Among the other honors:

  • Madeline Michel, the theater director at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Va., is getting the Excellence in Theater Education Award. Ms. Michel’s program used drama to explore racial inequality after violence followed a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

  • The actress Judith Light, a two-time Tony winner, is getting the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award, which recognizes volunteerism, in honor of her work on H.I.V./AIDS issues and her support for gay rights.

  • Marin Mazzie, a beloved stage actress who died of ovarian cancer last year, is getting a posthumous special Tony Award in recognition of her advocacy for women’s health.

  • Jason Michael Webb, a composer and musical director, is also getting special Tony Award for his arrangements of the gospel songs and hymns sung in the play “Choir Boy.” The cast of that play, which closed in March, will reunite to perform at the award ceremony.

  • The annual Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater were given to the choir Broadway Inspirational Voices; to Peter Entin, retired vice president of theater operations for the Shubert Organization; to Joseph Blakely Forbes, the founder and president of Scenic Art Studios, Inc.; and to the Theater District’s firehouse, FDNY Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9.

  • And the annual regional theater Tony Award is going to TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a nonprofit founded in 1970 that is one of the nation’s few major regional theaters located in suburbia.




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