Glee star Ali Stroker made history at the Tony Awards on Sunday night (June 9), as she became the first person in a wheelchair to be nominated for and win a Tony Award.
The annual celebration of Broadway’s finest, hosted by James Corden at Radio City Music Hall in New York, saw Stroker take home the trophy for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ado Annie in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
The 31-year-old, who was a finalist on the second season of The Glee Project and later appeared as a guest star on Glee as Betty Pillsbury in 2013, dedicated her award to children with disabilities.
“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,” she said during her emotional acceptance speech.
Stroker also performed a rendition of her musical number ‘I Cain’t Say No’, while Oklahoma! also won the trophy for Best Revival of a Musical.
Meanwhile, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston picked up the second Tony of his career, winning Best Leading Actor in a Play for his role as newsman Howard Beale in Network. He collected the same award in 2014 for his portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way.
He had some tough competition in the category, beating Adam Driver (Burn This), Jeff Daniels (To Kill a Mockingbird), Paddy Considine (The Ferryman) and Jeremy Pope (Choir Boy).
Cranston also got political in his acceptance speech, referencing US President Donald Trump’s frequent tweets about “fake news” and dedicating his win to the press.
“The media is not the enemy of the people,” he said. “Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.
“I would like to dedicate this to all the real journalists around the world, both in the press and the print media and also broadcast media, who actually are in the line of fire with their pursuit of the truth.”
He added backstage: “It’s absurd to think the media is the enemy of the people. The perception of the truth is often more important than the truth because if people believe it, it doesn’t matter really if it’s true or not – people believe it.”
Cranston also maintained that it’s vital we don’t try to “make enemies from people who have a different opinion”.
Corden was hosting the event for the second time and kicked things off with a nine-minute opening number poking fun at the battle between live TV and streaming.
Meanwhile, the coveted Best Musical award went to Hadestown and the Sam Mendes-directed The Ferryman won Best Play.
Here are the Tony Awards 2019 major category winners in full:
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
Hadestown – WINNER
Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth – WINNER
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Taylor Mac
Ink by James Graham
What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud
Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
Santino Fontana, Tootsie – WINNER
Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show – WINNER
Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate
Best Leading Actor in a Play
Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
Bryan Cranston, Network – WINNER
Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver, Burn This
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy
Best Leading Actress in a Play
Annette Bening, All My Sons
Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery – WINNER
Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me
Best Direction of a Musical
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown – WINNER
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Oklahoma!
Des McAnuff, Ain’t Too Proud
Casey Nicholaw, The Prom
Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, Ink
Sam Mendes, The Ferryman – WINNER
Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
Ivo van Hove, Network
George C. Wolfe, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater
‘Be More Chill’, Joe Iconis
‘Beetlejuice’, Eddie Perfect
‘Hadestown’, Anaïs Mitchell – WINNER
‘The Prom’, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Adam Guettel
‘Tootsie’, David Yazbek