The 10 Best Quotes Heard Backstage at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

This year the press room at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards was buzzing with excitement as news of the winning recipients flooded in throughout the evening. The room was full of reporters from around the world, writing for all kinds of publications from print to broadcast. It was an honor to be inside, and I relished my contact with the journalists and performers who came through to speak to us. These are people who love theater as much as I do, if not more.

There weren’t too many surprises as far as awards, for me, anyway, as someone who has seen most of the nominees. Hadestown garnered eight awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, earned a spot as the only musical ever to be both directed and scored by women. Oklahoma!, which won for Best Revival of a Musical, also won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ali Stroker, who became the first wheelchair-using actor to ever win a Tony Award.  André  Shields won for Hadestown, his first win after a career on stage spanning over 50 years, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. The Ferryman picked up four awards, knocking expected winner What the Constitution Means to Me out of the competition. The Boys in the Band won for Best Revival of a Play” which was expected to go to The Waverly Gallery. However, Elaine May won for Best Actress for that show, her first ever Tony Award. Tootsie won a few awards, including one for its lead Santino Fontana. Other losers included Beetlejuice, Ain’t Too Proud (which won one award), and The Prom.

There’s nothing quite like seeing someone after receiving the biggest award of their career, and the stroll  into the media room is a special one. Here are some of our favorite quotes from the evening:

Eva Price, Best Revival of a Musical, Oklahoma!, on teaming up with anti-gun organizations:

“It was important to us to keep bringing our advocacy and the impact program that’s within our show as relates to gun neutral into our performance tonight. We had kids from Parkland, March for Our Lives, Everytown, mom groups against violence, actual victims, really inspiring people.”

Andre De Shields, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Hadestown, on what the award means:

“Part of what I said this evening is what I my promise to colleagues in Baltimore, particularly to my mother and father, who had dreams of being a performer.  Now I can go about my next 73 years doing what satisfies me. There are so many other adventures that I want to have.”

Celia Keenan-Bolger, Featured Actress in a Play, To Kill a Mockingbird, on the importance of this play:

“Right now it’s important because of Aaron {Sorkin}’s script which is asking big questions about our country’s relation to race and morality. I also have a 4 year old child. It’s about the character certainly. It’s also about this play in this culturemal moment we are living in right now. The award is meaningful because this role is very much tied to who I am and how I was raised. It’s also an award for my parents and grandparents who are such advocates for social justice.”

Bertie Cavill, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Ink, on how he feels about his Tony Award:

“It’s a great relief to have it out of the way. It’s not like back  home where everyone is demure. My adrenaline ended about 20 minutes ago.”

Fitz Patton, Best Sound Design in a Play, Choir Boy, on what makes his work unique:

“It’s about did the sound make you forget where you were?”  

Rachel Chavkin, Best Direction of a Musical, Hadestown,on being the only female director directing a musical this season:

“I wish I wasn’t the only woman directing a musical on Broadway  this season. There are so many women and artists of color ready to go. It’s a failure of imagination by a field whose job it is to imagine how the world could be.”

Bryan Cranston, Best Leading Actor in a Play, Network, on his mention of politics in his acceptance speech:

“It’s absurd to think that the media is the enemy of the people,” Cranston said. “If that message keeps getting propagated over and over and over again, sometimes it starts to seep in. And the perception of the truth is often more important than the truth, because if people believe it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. “So the opposite message has to continue to be put out there, whether it’s diversity or the fight against the media or women’s reproductive rights or voting rights,” Cranston continued. “It’s important to keep sounding the alarm.”

Ali Stroker, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Oklahoma!, On what needs to change on Broadway for people with disabilities:

“I would ask theater owners and producers to look into how they can make backstage accessible so performers can get around.”

Rachel Hauck, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Hadestown, on receiving recognition:

“To receive this recognition as a team is extraordinary.”

Jessica Paz, Best Sound Design of a Musical, Hadestown, on the importance of her Tony Award:

“I hope it inspires any young woman to pursue this field.”

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