Roger Robinson, the only African-American actor nominated for a Tony Award this year, WON!! Yes, Robinson, who has been acting for 46 years, walked away from the Radio City Music Hall stage with the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his character Bynum from the late August Wilson’s play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” now playing at the Belasco Theatre.

Robinson’s character is someone who binds people, whether it is a man to a woman or a mother to her child. And he portrays this character in such a real way, that while you watch this production, you believe that he has these powers and this wisdom to know who to bind together and who to keep separated.

Robinson was very excited when his name was announced. “It speaks volumes that I’m the only Black that was nominated this year and then to win on top of that. This award is special because a lot of your peers vote, and the Tony is the highest honor that the theater can bestow,” Robinson said.

Reflecting on his career, the veteran actor said, “I made my big debut in 1963 in a play that had non-traditional casting. I’m as surprised as anybody that I had this long career. But, I believed in it. I kept going. I’ve been blessed, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Discussing his character, this first-time Tony Award winner said, “I believe in Bynum. To me, he is real. I’ve seen people like

that in Haiti, in South America and Brazil. Also you must understand that what August has created is a world here. August incorporated the Native American Indian’s belief of the Shiny Man, and that was wonderful.”

As elated as Robinson was about receiving the Tony,he did have one regret. “I regret that the Tony Awards don’t have an Ensemble Award because we would have been nominated. The Olivier Awards in London and the Screen Actors Guild give ensemble awards for television and movies. I think we would have been in the ensemble category and my colleagues would have been [up] there tonight.”

“Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” also won for Best Lighting Design of a Play for Brian MacDevitt.

Best Revival of a Musical, went to “Hair,” and it should have. This is an amazing show, and it showcases a highly diverse cast. Jeffrey Richards, one of the show’s producers, told the AmNews that he loved when he had the chance to get involved with the show because he had seen it when he was younger and loved it.

African-Americans were also among the presenters at the 63rd Annual Tony Awards. Chandra Wilson took a break from rehearsing for her role as Matron Mama Morton in the hit Broadway musical “Chicago.” Wilson, who you may remember for her Broadway role in

“Caroline or Change,” was very excited about her chance to play Matron Mama Morton for five weeks, from June 8 to July 5. “I want to do justice to the show because it’s such a great show. Mama is willing to do anything to get paid. And I’m ready to open,” Wilson said.

This character has previously been played by a host of African-American actresses, including Roz Ryan and Jennifer Holliday, each bringing her own spin to it. “That’s the good part about the role–how everybody brings something to it. My way of doing things is that she will do whatever she has to do to get paid,” Wilson remarked.

Multiple Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald also presented, which served as a well-deserved break from rehearsals for Shakespeare in the Park’s “Twelfth Night,” which opened Wednesday. McDonald, who came to the Tonys with her 8-year-old daughter, Zoe, said she’s been enjoying her first experience working in an outdoor theater. But one of her concerns with Shakespeare is, “If you forget your lines, you can’t improvise. I don’t know Elizabethean,” she jokingly remarked.

The big winner at this year’s Tony Awards was “Billy Elliott, the Musical.” It won the following: Best Musical; Best Book of a Musical–Lee Hall; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical–Gregory Jbara; Best Scenic Design–Ian MacNeil; Best Lighting Design–Rick Fisher; Best Sound Design– Paul Arditti; Best Direction of a Musical–Stephen Daldry; Best Choreography–Peter Darling; and Best Orchestration–Martin Koch.

The show also made Broad- way history when its three young stars, who alternate in the role of Billy Elliott–David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish–all won Tonys for Leading Actor in a Musical in their Broadway debuts. Other Tony Award winners for the evening included: “God of Carnage” for Best Play; “Next to Normal” for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical–Alice Ripley and Best Original Score; “The Norman Con- quests”–Best Revival of a Play; “Liza’s at The Palace”–Best Special Theatrical Event; Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play–Geoffrey Rush for “Exit the King; “Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play–Marcia Gay Harden for “God of Carnage;” Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play– Angela Landsbury for “Blithe Spirit;” Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical– Karen Olivo for “West Side Story;” Best Scenic Design for a Play–Derek McLane for “33 Variations;” Best Costume Design of a Play–Anthony Ward for “Mary Stuart; “Best Costume Design of a Musical–Tim Hatley for “Shrek the Musical;” Best Sound Design for a Play–Grego- ry Clarke for “Equus;” and Best Direction of a Play–Matthew Warchus for “God of Carnage.” Special Tony Awards went to Jerry Herman for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, received the Regional Theatre Tony. The Isabelle Stevenson Award went to Phyllis Newman, and publicist Shirley Herz received an Excellence in the Theatre Tony Award. Audiences got a taste of Broadway shows, and it was delicious.

You should try to see one.