Out of all the winners (and losers) in the 26 competitive categories at the 2019 Tony Awards, 24 stand out as particularly noteworthy when considered in the context of history. So what were this year’s most interesting facts, records and milestones? Check out the complete list of winners here.
Rob Howell is the first person to have won multiple design awards in the same night since Bob Crowley back in 2007. That year Crowley won Best Scenic Design of a Play (with Scott Pask) for “The Coast of Utopia” and Best Scenic Design of a Musical for “Mary Poppins.” This year Howell won Best Costume Design of a Play and Best Scenic Design of a Play, both for “The Ferryman.”
Bob Mackie (“The Cher Show”) is the first person to win Best Costume Design in a Musical for a show that wasn’t nominated for Best Musical or Best Musical Revival since Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner for “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” back in 2011.
Fitz Patton (“Choir Boy”) is the first person to have won Best Sound Design of a Play for a closed show since Gregory Clarke for “Equus” in 2009.
Jessica Paz (“Hadestown”) is not only the first female sound designer to have ever received a Tony nomination, but also a win. She shared the award with her co-sound designer, Nevin Steinberg.
Neil Austin (“Ink”) is the first person to win Best Lighting Design of a Play two years in a row. He won last year for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and he won another time before that, for “Red” in 2010.
Sergio Trujillo (“Ain’t Too Proud”) is the first Latinx winner for Best Choreography. “Ain’t Too Proud” is also the second consecutive production playing at the Imperial Theatre to have won this award following Justin Peck for “Carousel” last year.
Celia Keenan-Bolger (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) is the first performer to win Best Featured Actress in a Play for a show that wasn’t nominated for Best Play or Best Play Revival since Angela Lansbury for “Blithe Spirit” back in 2009.
At the age of 87, Elaine May (“The Waverly Gallery”) is now the second oldest performer to have won a Tony Award for acting. That record is still held by Cicely Tyson, who won at the age of 88 for “The Trip to Bountiful” in 2013.
At the age of 73-years-and-five-months, André De Shields (“Hadestown”) is now the second oldest Tony winner for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. That record is still held by the late Dick Latessa, who won at the age of four months older when he won for “Hairspray” in 2003.
Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) is now the fourth woman to win Best Direction of a Musical. The first three were Julie Taymor for “The Lion King” in 1998, Susan Stroman for “The Producers” in 2001, and Diane Paulus for “Pippin” in 2013.
Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”) is not only the first disabled performer to have ever received a Tony nomination, she’s also the first a win. She is also the third person this past decade to win Best Featured Actress in a Musical for a Rodgers & Hammerstein show, following Ruthie Ann Miles for “The King and I” in 2015 and Lindsay Mendez for “Carousel” last year.
“The Boys in the Band” is the third production this past decade to win Best Play Revival and nothing else. “Skylight” in 2015 and “Jitney” in 2017 did the same.
Sam Mendes (“The Ferryman”) is now the fifth person to have won both an Oscar and a Tony for directing. He won the Oscar for “American Beauty” (1999) and now he’s the champ for Best Direction of a Play for “Ferryman.” Perhaps surprisingly, the theater vet had never won a directing Tony before. His four other Tonys have been for producing. The first four to win Oscar and Tony directing prizes were Elia Kazan, Jerome Robbins, Mike Nichols and Bob Fosse. Coincidentally, Fosse won his Oscar for the 1972 film adaptation of “Cabaret” while Mendes was Tony-nominated for co-directing (with Rob Marshall) the 1998 Broadway revival of that same musical.
Anaïs Mitchell (“Hadestown”) is the second solo woman to win Best Original Score. The first was Cyndi Lauper for “Kinky Boots” back in 2013.
“Oklahoma!” is the second consecutive Broadway production playing at Circle in the Square to win Best Musical Revival following “Once on This Island” last year. It is also the very first Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 classic to have ever won a top honor from the American Theatre Wing. The original production predated the Tonys while the last Broadway production from 2002 lost Best Musical Revival to “Into the Woods.”
Bryan Cranston (“Network”) is the first performer to win Best Actor in a Play for a show that wasn’t even nominated for Best Play or Best Play Revival since James Corden for “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012.
For the second year in a row, a British import won Best Play. Last year, it was “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” This year, it’s “The Ferryman.” Both productions also have the same lead producer in Sonia Friedman.
Santino Fontana (“Tootsie”) is the second consecutive performer to win Best Actor in a Musical for a David Yazbek show and the third overall. Tony Shalhoub won last year for “The Band’s Visit” while Norbert Leo Butz won in 2005 for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Coincidentally, Fontana is also the first performer to have won the Tony in this category without his show going on to win Best Musical or Best Musical Revival since the aforementioned Norbert Leo Butz for “Catch Me If You Can” in 2011.
Stephanie J. Block (“The Cher Show”) is the first to win Best Actress in a Musical for a show that wasn’t nominated for Best Musical or Best Musical Revival since Heather Headley for “Aida” back in 2000. Coincidentally, both of those winners also ended up beating an actress taking on the roles of Lilli Vanessi/Katharine in “Kiss Me, Kate.” Headley beat the late Marin Mazzie for the last Broadway revival in 2000 while Stephanie J. Block beat Kelli O’Hara for the current Broadway revival.
“Hadestown” is the first Best Musical winner to have not also taken Best Book of a Musical since “Kinky Boots” in 2013. It is also the first Best Musical winner to have only taken home one acting prize (for André De Shields) since “Fun Home” back in 2015. That show also won Best Actor in a Musical for Michael Cerveris.
The following winners who (so far) now have perfect track records at the Tonys are lighting designer Bradley King (“Hadestown”) and actor Bryan Cranston (“Network”). King previously won in 2017 for “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” while Cranston won in 2014 for his Broadway debut as Lyndon B. Johnson in “All the Way.”
Here is an interesting connection between two of this year’s Tony winners: Robert Horn won Best Book of a Musical for “Tootsie,” while Best Actress in a Play winner Elaine May (“The Waverly Gallery”) did some uncredited rewrites on the screenplay for the original 1982 film.
The following Tony winners who are repeats from last year’s Laurence Olivier Awards in London are: Bertie Carvel (“Ink”), Sam Mendes (“The Ferryman”), Bryan Cranston (“Network”) and “The Ferryman” for Best Play.
Two of this year’s acting winners were able to topple their co-stars: André De Shields (“Hadestown”) beat Patrick Page for Best Featured Actor in a Musical while Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”) beat Mary Testa for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
The following Broadway productions that had multiple Tony nominations yet went home empty-handed were “All My Sons,” “Beetlejuice,” “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” “Burn This,” “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” “King Kong,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “The Prom,” “Torch Song” and “What the Constitution Means to Me.”