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The Best and Worst of the Tony Awards 2019


Swinging lights. Broadway beefs. Words of wisdom. And a restroom serenade. If only some of the highlights were on TV.
Ms. Stroker, who won for best featured actress in a musical as the man-crazy Ado Annie in Daniel Fish’s iconoclastic revival of “Oklahoma!,” exuded confidence and clarity, as well as sentiment and gratitude, in accepting her Tony. “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 as represented in this arena,” said Ms. Stroker, who has been in a wheelchair since she was two. “You are.” Though her speech was relatively (and refreshingly) short by awards show standards, she gave weight and substance to each of her words, as if all of them were of undeniable importance. They were. BEN BRANTLEY
“Hadestown” was the night’s big winner, but the performance of “Wait for Me” didn’t — couldn’t? — capture the show’s real calling cards, namely its knack for catharsis and a fabulous performance from Amber Gray as Persephone. The swinging lights are sensational in the theater, giving a sense of both climax and danger, but on the broadcast the technique came across as sort of puny. MARGARET LYONS
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Considering the strong season for plays on Broadway, what a shame that the Tonys once again could not figure out how to represent them. This year was better than last: The playwrights were at least invited to speak (for 55 seconds) about their work. Yet Jez Butterworth, the author of “The Ferryman,” wasted his minute with a uxorious tribute to his partner and star, Laura Donnelly — sweet, I guess, but useless as a way of letting viewers know what his play, which later took home the big prize, is really about.
The only nonmusical work that really had a chance to shine was Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy,” about a gay, black prep school singer.

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