The Best and Worst of the 2019 Tony Awards


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

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.

Though neither woman was a Tony nominee, Laura Linney and Audra McDonald gave the evening’s wittiest performance (sorry, James Corden) as they faced off in mock hostility in an otherwise lame segment about too-nice theater folk learning to vent. Though it was hard to top Ms. Linney’s malevolent coolness, Ms. McDonald held her own and then some, as she started to tear off her earrings to do battle. The evening could have used some more of their ripe theatricality. BEN BRANTLEY

Is it possible the best parts of the ceremony didn’t air and were never meant to? There was audience karaoke at Radio City during the commercial breaks, which included Mr. Corden and Ben Platt duetting on “Tomorrow” from “Annie” and Billy Porter singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy.” Televise this! MARGARET LYONS

“Be More Chill” only had one nomination, but its breakout song “Michael in the Bathroom” got a whole terrific spoof. Mr. Corden, holed up in a men’s room stall inside Radio City Music Hall, sang wistfully about his insecurities as M.C., and then last year’s hosts, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, joined in with laments of their own. A surprise, slick cameo from Neil Patrick Harris (and his mustache) capped off the song, making the bit funnier and snappier than the ceremony’s opening number. MARGARET LYONS

Mr. Corden asking stars in the crowd to practice their “losing faces” promised to be run-of-the-mill comic padding, but Kristin Chenoweth, Andrew Rannells and Jeff Daniels made the most of it, earning hearty laughs with their terrifyingly frozen smiles. SCOTT HELLER



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