Broadway's biggest night ended in dramatic fashion when stage legend Barbra Streisand announced that "Hamilton" would indeed win the Tony Award for best musical. That made 11 wins for Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking production, just shy of the record of 12 Tonys won by "The Producers."
And on a night when so many were thinking of the victims of the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, it’s fitting that Miranda’s “Hamilton” company sang the number “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” to introduce the musical.
First-time Tonys host James Corden began the night with a message for the Orlando victims: “Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved. Hate will never win.” A few notable and moving speeches paying tribute to the Orlando victims were given by Miranda, Jessica Lange, Frank Langella and others. Overall, though, the show largely stuck to its original script of laughs and plenty of music. Plus Andrew Lloyd Webber on tambourine.
Broadway’s acclaimed smash “Hamilton” pushed the ratings for the annual Tony Awards telecast Sunday to its highest level in 15 years.
The ceremony from the Beacon Theatre that aired from 8 to 11:15 p.m. averaged 8.73 million viewers, an increase of 35% over the 2015 ceremony. The preliminary figure from Nielsen does not include the last 15 minutes of the broadcast, which aired outside of prime time.
The Tony Awards telecast is a must for theater fans but has typically been a modest ratings attraction when compared with other major awards shows. But it clearly received a boost from offering performances by the cast of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop musical on the nation’s founding that has become the most coveted ticket on Broadway.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical “Hamilton” won 11 Tony Awards on Sunday night, falling short of a record but still carving out its place in Broadway history on an emotional night in which speeches delved deeply into equality, freedom and the anguish related to the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.
Here are the 70th Tony Awards winners:
Lead actress in a musical
- Cynthia Erivo, "The Color Purple"
Lead actor in a musical
- Leslie Odom Jr., "Hamilton"
Revival of a musical
- "The Color Purple"
- "The Humans"
Revival of a Play
- "Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge"
Lead actor in a play
- Frank Langella, "The Father"
- Andy Blankenbuehler, "Hamilton"
Lead actress in a play
- Jessica Lange, "Long Day's Journey Into Night"
Book of a musical
- Alex Lacamoire, "Hamilton"
Featured actor in a play
- Reed Birney, "The Humans"
Direction of a musical
- Thomas Kail, "Hamilton"
Direction of a play
- Ivo Van Hove, "Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge"
Original score (music and/or lyrics)
- Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Hamilton"
Featured actor in a musical
- Daveed Diggs, "Hamilton"
Featured actress in a play
- Jayne Houdyshell, "The Humans"
Featured actress in a musical
- Renée Elise Goldsberry, "Hamilton"
Scenic design of a play
- David Zinn, "The Humans"
Scenic design of a musical
- David Rockwell, "She Loves Me"
Costume design of a play
- Clint Ramos, "Eclipsed"
Costume design of a musical
- Paul Tazewell, "Hamilton"
Lighting design of a play
- Natasha Katz, "Long Day's Journey Into Night"
Lighting design of a musical
- Howell Binkley, "Hamilton"
"What is it that makes this year's Tony Awards different from other years'?" is the opening line I'd prepared for this review. The answers were going to be "Hamilton" and host James Corden, because he is new. Those answers are still correct, and we will get to that.
But what also, unfortunately, unexpectedly distinguished Sunday's ceremony and its CBS broadcast was that it came on the heels of the shootings in Orlando, Fla., that targeted a community central to and inextricable from the life of the theater. There was a question of how this would be addressed in the ceremony. We will get to that too.
First, I find the Tonys reliably the most moving, exciting, inspirational and well-paced and the least pretentious of awards shows. Not every year is equally well written or ably hosted, but it always feels sincere and real and somehow representative of the fans, who get seats in the room, as well as the people they’re fans of.
"Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s landmark musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, had its coronation Sunday at the 70th Tony Awards. As expected, the show won for best musical, capping a triumphant season that seized the attention not just of Broadway but of the entire nation.
The ceremony, which was held at New York’s Beacon Theatre, was muted by the devastating attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Host James Corden prefaced the evening with an expression of sympathy for all “affected by this atrocity.”
He went on to affirm the theater as “a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved.” References to the tragedy were contained, but Miranda, in accepting the award for best original score, addressed the heart of the matter in a sonnet he wrote for his wife that reminded everyone that “love is love is love is love” and “cannot be killed or swept aside.”
A beacon of diversity, “Hamilton” was the right recipient of adulation on this somber night. The musical deploys the language of hip-hop to interpret America’s founding as an immigrant tale. The historical roles — all those illustrious freedom fighters we first encountered in our social studies textbooks — are performed by actors of color.
"History has its eyes on you,” Christopher Jackson’s George Washington sang in one of the most anticipated moments of the highly anticipated Tony Awards on Sunday night.
The general was facing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton, but he could have been addressing the nation he and Hamilton helped form. Reeling from the news of the deadliest mass shooting in our history, many had spent the previous hours wondering what was to be done in this time of seemingly endless gun violence, of terrorism perpetrated by Americans against Americans.
Hope, and a reminder that we have overcome times even worse than these came from the most unlikely place: the Tony Awards.
The extraordinary talents competing for lead actress in a musical must have left Tony voters bewildered by the task of selecting only one winner. Jessie Mueller's performance in “Waitress” might make her the musical theater performer of her generation. The exquisite work of Laura Benanti in “She Loves Me” has us all eager to find out what this sublimely mellifluous actor’s next role will be. Their performances on the Tony telecast were two of the best I can recall on the show.
But the winner, Cynthia Erivo for her portayal of Celie in John Doyle’s revival of “The Color Purple,” was a revelation in her Broadway debut. And she took the roof off the Beacon Theatre in her performance on the telecast. It was an impossible choice but an inevitable one.
After a golden night with 11 trips to the winners' stage, the "Hamilton" cast and behind-the-scenes team spoke backstage about the show's amazing run, the tragedy Florida and more.
Producer Jeffrey Seller on the show's origins: "We told Lin-Manuel [Miranda], if you’re going down that road, we’re going with you. As he started to write songs and formulate what he thought was going to originally be a concept album, we were getting more and more excited. ’This will be a pretty good show.' Every passing week, we were astounded by the way 'Hamilton' has reached out its tentacles and roots and affected so many people in America."
Seller on the shooting in Orlando: “I think we all have dealt with tragedy in a personal way — as a gay man, as a part of that community, as a citizen of this country. It has reminded me yet again of how all of our lives are intersections of joy, and tragedy. The tragedy has dampened [the Tonys] a little bit, made it tougher. I’ve lost my good friend [composer] Jonathan Larson on the day of our first preview of 'Rent.' [Seller chokes up and then goes on.] And the only way to honor Jonathan was to go, and the only way to honor what has transpired is to go on.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda on Orlando: “I hadn’t learned of today’s events until after the Tony rehearsal. We live in a world where beautiful and horrible things exist and sometimes happen on the same day. You can’t let that moment go by. Theater is a cornerstone of the LBGT community. Theater doesn’t exist without it.” Speaking in Spanish, he continued: “This lies heavily in my heart. This is a day of sadness, and we mourn the victims. But at the same time, it also a day of celebration, not only for me but for creative partners and my family.”
Leslie Odom Jr., Tony winner for his role as Aaron Burr in "Hamilton": “When Phylicia Rashad won [in 2004], she said she wondered “What would it take?” [to win a Tony]. I wondered the same thing. And the most interesting thing was because only one person gets up to accept, I thought you get it for a solo effort. You were so fabulous on your own. I didn’t realize what a team of people it would take and all the people that I’m leaning on.”
Odom on giving up hope on his career: “You need to put your head down and ... try not to lose hope. Somewhere I lost the way, I lost this vision. Meeting this material awakened me again. This show has so helped me find some direction and some purpose. And this is what I always felt that I was meant to be doing and waiting for Lin to write it. That’s the gift.”
Daveed Diggs, winner for featured actor, about all the acting awards in musical categories going to actors of color: "Growing up I felt that there was no place for me here. But this place is so inclusive. Not just culturally but in terms of ability, and in terms of age. There is so much diversity on Broadway now. I’m so proud to be a part of it, so happy to see so many kids around. ... Theater feels more mainstream and lot more inclusive that it did when I was a kid. And that’s because 'Hamilton' allows us to put so much of ourselves into the show."
Diggs on the celebrity attention "Hamilton" is getting: "People often ask me, 'What is the most surreal moment?' And I say, 'Meeting Barack for the second time.' The day we spent at the White House with them, the day they opened the White House to us. We were teaching workshops for kids. This president — it’s not going to happen again. ... Wherever you stand politically, they represent a kind of heart we need very badly right now. They manage to see themselves in what we’re doing."
— Patrick Pacheco
An air of both celebration and sobriety hung over the Tony Awards on Sunday, as one of the biggest hits in Broadway history was honored hours after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton" took 11 prizes, including director, score and the top honor of best musical. The hip-hop history piece, which began at downtown New York's Public Theater in early 2015 and opened on Broadway last summer, capped its remarkable run with one of the biggest nights in Tonys history – though it fell just short of "The Producers'" high mark of 12 wins in 2001.
“Hamilton’s” presence could be felt throughout the evening, from a parody that introduced host James Corden at the start of the show to a swirling medley midway through to the final award of the night and a closing number that followed.
Watch Tonys host James Corden's showstopping opening number:
The mass shooting in Orlando was not far from people's thoughts throughout the Tony Awards with presenters and winners alike offering powerful words as tribute to those affected by the events. Here are some of the most poignant messages of love, strength and hope sent during the awards show.
Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, embraced and loved. Hate will never win.
When something bad happens we have three choices: We let it define us, we let it destroy us or we let it strengthen us.... Today, in Orlando, we had a hideous dose of reality. And I urge you, Orlando, to be strong. Because I’m standing in a room of the most generous human beings on Earth, and we will be with you every step of the way.
This show is proof that history remembers we live through times when hate and fear seem stronger, we rise and fall and light from dying embers remembrances that hope and love last longer.
Like all of us, it’s stayed with me all day. None of us can stop thinking about it. It’s been devastating. I'm just glad to be a part of ‘Hamilton' that is about life and life going on.
Let me just say this, no child was ever born to hate. The only way to take on these appalling acts is to continue with what we believe, that arts have always been so ahead and we must continue to pursue what we most believe in.
Although Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical "Hamilton" may not have broken "The Producers" record tonight, it still went home with 11 Tony Awards including best musical. Many in Hollywood took to Twitter celebrate the show's big win.
It's only fitting that "Hamilton," the musical about the Founding Fathers, got an introduction from the president and first lady.
In a videotaped message, the Obamas paid tribute to the blockbuster musical, recalling how composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda had performed a piece from what would become "Hamilton" for them seven years ago.
" 'Hamilton' has become not only a smash hit but a civics lesson our kids can't get enough of," said President Obama. "One with fierce musical energy, one where rap is the language of revolution and hip-hop its urgent soundtrack."
First Lady Michelle Obama continued: "It’s a musical about the miracle that is America, a place of citizenship where we debate ideas with passion and conviction."
After the Obamas' remarks, rapper-actor Common introduced the cast of "Hamilton" for a performance of "History Has Its Eyes on You" and "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)."
Leslie Odom Jr. seemed genuinely surprised taking the stage after his Tony win for lead actor in a musical for “Hamilton.” “Thank you so much,” he said, looking around the room, which was erupting with applause.
“Lin-Manuel, God bless you, man,” he said to the production’s creator (and his competitor in the category). “You’ve given us a new vision of what’s possible. I thank God for your mission, for your calling in life.”
Then he referred to the cast of the production about America’s Founding Fathers, adding: “I wanna talk about my Cabinet, which was this brilliant group of actors,” he said, later adding, “You are limitless.”
Odom said there were “a lot of question marks” at the start of the production. “And what cleared it away was love,” he said. “I could hang this whole performance on love.”
Is anyone surprised that the New York theater community really, really hates Donald Trump? On Sunday, Broadway expressed its unfiltered contempt for the Republican presidential candidate no fewer than three times during the Tony Awards.
Host James Corden kicked off the evening with a jab at Trump on the subject of diversity and immigration. The comedian quipped that the Tonys are so diverse that Trump wants to build a wall around the theater.
The joke was a reference to Trump's assertions that he would like to see a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, paid for by Mexico.
Later in the evening, actor Nathan Lane took his own shot at Trump.
Winning an award means everything, said Lane. "It's the first lesson I learned at Trump University."
Near the end of the ceremony, actor Andrew Rannells appeared in Trump drag as a character from "The Book of Moron." (Not "Mormon.")
"Hello! My name is Donald Trump! And I would like to build a wall that goes straight through your house," he sang.
He was followed by Glenn Close impersonating Hillary Clinton in a send-up of "A Chorus Line."
In 1970, Trump made a bid at Broadway glory with the long-forgotten comedy "Paris Is Out!" The 23-year-old Trump was a producer on the play, which flopped and remains his sole Broadway credit to date.
Actors of color made Tony Awards history tonight, taking home all four musical acting categories. Cynthia Erivo won lead actress for "The Color Purple," while Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs -- all from "Hamilton" -- won lead actor, featured actress and featured actor, respectively.
The last time a feat like this was achieved was in 1982, when three actors of color -- Jennifer Holliday, Ben Harney and Cleavant Derricks -- won three of the four musical performance awards for their work in "Dreamgirls."
This feat comes just months after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trended, critiquing the film academy and broader Hollywood's lack of diversity.
Accepting the evening’s final and most anticipated prize, best musical, for “Hamilton” (yeah, we we saw it coming, but still), producer Jeffrey Seller gave a shout out to the country’s titular founding father.
“Alexander Hamilton was a dreamer,” he said, adding, among others, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to the list. “I stand on this stage tonight, and in this theater, surrounded by dreamers.”
Among those dreamers, he also mentioned the production’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “supportive” audience and the "Hamilton" company for “sharing their vision of America.”
That vision, he added, “embodies the best values, the best impulses that make our nation a beacon to the world: inclusiveness, generosity, ingenuity and the will to work hard to make our dreams come true.”
That sent the room into roaring applause.
But the noise was not loud enough to deter Seller, who emphatically added one last comment that seemed especially resonant this evening.
“Look around, look around," he said, quoting a lyric from the show, "how lucky we are to be alive right now!”
"Hamilton" has won 11 Tony Awards in total, falling just short of the record set by "The Producers" in 2001.
It won the big prize of the night for musical and also racked up victories in the categories for lead actor in a musical (with Leslie Odom Jr. beating Lin-Manuel Miranda in a minor upset), choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire), book of a musical, best score of a musical (both to Miranda), costume design (Paul Tazewell), lighting design (Howell Binkley), featured actress (Renee Elise Goldsberry), featured actor (Daveed Diggs) and direction (Thomas Kail).
The musical lost in just two categories, scenic design and lead actress in a musical.
The other nominees were:
- "Bright Star"
- "School of Rock — The Musical"
- "Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed"