Musical set in Hell wins eight Tony Awards

Host James Corden sings the praises of live theatre at the annual Tony awards in New York.
Host James Corden sings the praises of live theatre at the annual Tony awards in New York.

Hadestown, a musical which debuted off-Broadway before finally making it there, was the big winner with eight award - including the best musical - at the 73rd Tony Awards.

The musical, which tells a re-imagined story of the Greek myth about Orpheus and Eurydice to the rhythm of folk and blues, was the favourite to win at the awards.

On the big night for the American theatre, apart from taking home the best musical, Hadestown won best original score, best director and best featured actor, among others.

Its director, Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to be nominated in her category, used her victory speech to denounce the lack of diversity in the awards.

"There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of colour who are ready to go. And we need to see that racial diversity and gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment too," Chavkin said.

Among the actors, Santino Fontana (Tootsie) won the leading actor in a musical category award, while Stephanie J Block took home the best leading actress in a musical award for The Cher Show.

The biggest cheer of the night was for Ali Stroker from Oklahoma who won the best featured actress in a musical and became the first performer in a wheelchair to win a Tony.

"The Ferryman" won the best play award, while Bryan Cranston was award the best actor in a play for Network.

Cranston dedicated his award to real journalists. In a veiled reference to repeated attacks on the press by US President Donald Trump, Cranston said the media "is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people".

Elaine May, 87, was named best actress in a play for her moving performance as a mentally declining woman in The Waverly Gallery.

Comedian James Corden hosted the show once again and opened the gala with a musical number in tribute to theatre and encouraged television viewers to watch live theatre.

Cracking jokes on the success of television series, the high prices of Broadway and low wages of theatre workers, the number made those present burst out in laughter several times.

Several others stars, including Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L Jackson, Lucy Liu and Sara Bareilles, also appeared along with Corden, to present the awards at Radio City Music Hall.

Before the show, the red carpet was dominated by rainbow colours, in a floral tribute to the World Pride, which this year is being celebrated in New York to commemorate the Stonewall Inn raid which set the stage for the Gay Pride.

Australian Associated Press