Lightning struck twice for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at the Tony Awards Sunday night in New York City, with the OSF-commissioned "All the Way" taking the Tony for Broadway's best play and the production's star, Bryan Cranston, of TV's "Breaking Bad," winning Best Actor.
"I feel so proud of our company and our audience in Ashland tonight," OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said in a telephone interview after the winners were announced. "It's the result of the hard work of hundreds of people at the festival and thousands of audience members."
Rauch commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan to write the play, which dramatizes the first year of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency and his efforts to pass landmark civil rights legislation, as part of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, a 10-year project to produce up to 37 plays dramatizing key moments in our nation's history.
In his acceptance speech for the Best Play award, Schenkkan praised Rauch's directing ability, saying Rauch was the finest director he had worked with in 20 years.
Critics gave both "All the Way" and Cranston good chances to win Broadway's biggest awards, but Rauch wasn't necessarily buying it going in.
"I had no confidence whatever," he said.
In the wake of the twin triumph, he was frankly excited about the exposure that comes with Broadway's biggest night.
"People watching TV heard 'Oregon Shakespeare Festival' a couple times," he said. "It's just getting the news about what we're doing out to the people."
Bill Varble writes about arts and entertainment for the Mail tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org