In the midst of all of the horrible tragedy that seemed to take over this past weekend, the 70th Annual Tony Awards, which aired on Sunday night, felt like a wonderful moment of lightness and hope. As always, the telecast celebrated the best of Broadway and, especially this year, the diversity found on Broadway. In a year that brought back the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, the Tonys showcased what we all already know: the best entertainment comes from a diverse collection of talented individuals.
In a move that surprised absolutely no one, “Hamilton,” the show that everyone and their cousin (and me) have been obsessed with for months, won 11 Tonys, including Best Musical. While they weren’t able to beat or even tie “The Producers” record of 12 Tony wins, the show’s cast and creative team were definitely some of the biggest stars of the night. (And deservedly so!)
The show started off on an understandably somber note, with host James Corden addressing the tragic happenings in Orlando, but then moved on to a hilarious and clever parody of “Hamilton’s” opening number as a way to re-introduce Corden to the stage. Corden was an excellent host, bringing the same energy and Broadway-caliber talent (as well as a delightful and heartwarming opening number) that Neil Patrick Harris was known for in his years hosting the show. I really hope that Corden will follow in Harris’ footsteps and host the show for multiple years, or at least long enough to keep this from happening again.
After that, the show went on in its traditional style, interspersing the awards with performances from the shows nominated for Best Musical and Musical Revival. Highlights included show-stopping numbers from “The Color Purple” (which went on to win Best Musical Revival and Leading Actress in a Musical for it’s incredible star Cynthia Erivo) and “Waitress.” You guys, I already wanted to see “Waitress” so much and after watching Jessie Mueller perform last night, I want to see it even more. Another great moment came from the cast of “Shuffle Along,” mostly because it included a PREGNANT Audra McDonald tap dancing up a storm. The 6-time Tony winner really can do anything.
And then, of course, there was the number from “Hamilton.” For their performance they did a duo of “History Has It’s Eyes On You” and “Battle of Yorktown.” It was a smart choice in the sense that it was something the viewing public who can’t afford $800 seats haven’t really seen before on the 86 other specials or segments about the musical that have aired in the last year, but it only really highlighted three of the seven actors from the show that were nominated in the acting categories. While it ultimately would have been impossible to find one number that gave each of the seven “Hamilton” nominees a moment in the sun, I was surprised that they didn’t do ‘Non-Stop,” the act one closer that would just about cover every base except for Jonathan Groff‘s King George. Don’t get me wrong; I loved their performance. I just wanted to see a little more of the fantastic Leslie Odom Jr., who ended up winning Leading Actor in a Musical later on in the night.
Now onto the awards. On the play side, things were somewhat split between “The Humans” and “Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.” There were a few exceptions; Frank Langella won Leading Actor in a Play for “The Father,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” won for Leading Actress in a Play (for Jessica Lange, who is now one Grammy away from an EGOT) and Lighting Design, and Clint Ramos won Costume Design for a Play for his work on “Eclipsed.” Everything else either went to “The Humans” (including Best Play, Featured Actor in a Play for Reed Birney, Featured Actress in a Play for Jayne Houdyshell and Scenic Design of a Play) or “Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge” (including Best Play Revival and Direction for Ivo Van Hove).
On the musical side there was a similar split of the awards between two shows, “Hamilton” and “The Color Purple,” although “Hamilton” clearly won the majority. The only deviation from those two shows came in Scenic Design, where “She Loves Me” won. As I mentioned earlier, “Hamilton” won 11 awards, including Best Musical, Book of a Musical, Score, Lead Actor in a Musical for Leslie Odom Jr., Featured Actress in a Musical for Renee Elise Goldsberry, Featured Actor in a Musical for Daveed Diggs, Costume Design for a Musical, Lighting Design for a Musical, Direction for a Musical for Thomas Kail, Choreography and Orchestrations. As I also mentioned earlier, “The Color Purple” won Best Musical Revival and Lead Actress in a Musical for Cynthia Erivo.
This was the first time in Tony history that all four of the musical acting awards went to people of color, a huge indicator of what Broadway is doing right that Hollywood seems somewhat incapable of replicating. The night ended with another performance from the now Tony-winning cast of “Hamilton,” this time singing “The Schuyler Sisters” in their Tony Awards finest. Much like the rest of the show, it was a lovely and joyful moment that seemed to counteract the darkness that had prevailed earlier in the day. Now all I want to do is go see a bunch of Broadway shows. If only my wallet felt the same way.
What were your thoughts on the Tony Awards? Liked James Corden as host? Thinking about selling a kidney on the black market to afford tickets for “Hamilton”? Totally understandable. Before you go set up that ice bath though…