‘Hamilton,’ Streisand and diversity stir up Tony Awards

By Daniel Morgan, Editor

It was all lights, razzle-dazzle, and history at New York City’s Beacon Theatre for the 70th annual American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

The Show opened live on CBS with a touching tribute to the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida by Tony-winning host James Corden. It was announced earlier that day that the ceremony would be dedicated to those affected by the events.

“Your tragedy is our tragedy,” Corden said. “Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved. Hate will never win.”

The broadcast then shifted to the usual larger-than-life opening spectacle of the most entertaining, and most diversity-inclusive, annual awards ceremony in the United States. According to the official Tony Awards Twitter account, this is the first year that all four awards for acting in a musical were presented to people of color.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary hit Hamilton, of course, was the talk of the night, winning 11 awards out of its record 16 nominations. It didn’t tie or break the record of 12 Tony wins by The Producers as many predicted, but it will still go down in history.

Hamilton’s wins include the following: Best Musical; Best Book of a Musical (Miranda); Best Original Score (Miranda); Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Leslie Odom Jr.); Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Daveed Diggs); Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Renee Elise Goldsberry); Best Costume Design of a Musical (Paul Tazewell); Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley); Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail); Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler); and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire).

Even a video message from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance to pay homage to the company of Hamilton, who seamlessly pulled-off the most anticipated performance of the show.

However, the most celebrated person in the theater was not even a nominee. Entertainment legend Barbra Streisand presented the final award of the night, Best Musical, making it her first Tony appearance in 46 years. She arguably received more applause than Hamilton’s awards combined.

Rounding out the rest of the musical Tony wins are The Color Purple for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Cynthia Erivo), and She Loves Me for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (David Rockwell).

The Humans won four Tonys: Best Play; Best Featured Actor in a Play (Reed Birney); Best Featured Actress in a Play (Jayne Houdyshell); and Best Scenic Design of a Play (David Zinn).

Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge won Best Revival of a Play and Best Direction of a Play (Ivo Van Hove). Long Day’s Journey Into Night won Best Lighting Design of a Play (Natasha Katz) and Best Leading Actress in a Play (Jessica Lange). “Eclipsed” won Best Costume Design of a Play (Clint Ramos).

Frank Langella also made Tony history with his win for Best Actor in a Play in “The Father.” He is tied with Boyd Gaines for four male acting wins.

Of the many other Tony highlights was the groundbreaking performance by the cast of Best Revival of a Musical nominee Spring Awakening. Presented by Marlee Matlin, the performance featured deaf actors performing American Sign Language entirely throughout, as it is regularly done every night on Broadway.

Corden brought the same bubbly spirit and entertainment throughout as he does every night on The Late Late Show. His opening monologue consisted of a musical montage of songs from The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Dreamgirls, and more.

Two fake musicals were also introduced by Corden during the broadcast to play off of the 2016 presidential election. Andrew Rannells played as Donald Trump in The Book of Moron and Glenn Close played Hillary Clinton in The Clinton Line.

The musical performances throughout the ceremony, which were held on stage and outside of the theater, included, in order, the casts of School of Rock – The Musical, Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, She Loves Me, Fiddler On the Roof, Bright Star, The Color Purple, On Your Feet, Spring Awakening, Hamilton, and Waitress.

A tribute was also made by Bebe Neuwirth to honor the musical Chicago, the longest running American musical of all time, which has ran on Broadway for 20 years.

The cast of Hamilton rightfully closed the show with one final performance, thus ending a spectacular Tony Awards ceremony.