Ali Stroker made history last night as the first wheelchair user to take home a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Stroker won for her scene-stealing turn as Ado Annie in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, a dark, sexy revival some are calling “the horny Oklahoma!”
Stroker wasn’t only the first wheelchair user to win on her category, she’s also the first person in a wheelchair to ever be nominated for a Tony, making her victory even more historic. Stroker is also bisexual — she once dated her Glee Project castmate Dani Shay.
“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 represented in this arena, you are,” Stroker said in her acceptance speech.
The actress treated the audience (and viewers at home) to her show-stopping number “I Cain’t Say No” earlier in the evening as part of the Oklahoma! performance, and to anyone watching, it was clear how deserved this honor was. Her growling, energetic rendition of the musical theater classic was just as compelling on a TV screen as it was from the third row of the theater.
Oklahoma! also took home the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, another incredibly deserved win. The revival is a sharp, seductive reimagining of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, which redefined contemporary musical theater as we know it. The revival, open now at Circle in the Square, sets the action in a community hall, with some audience members sitting onstage at picnic tables. There’s even chili and cornbread served at intermission — who doesn’t like a snack between acts?