Best and worst moments at the 2016 Tony Awards? On an emotion-filled history-making night, there were plenty.
Best: Let’s start with host James Corden’s hilarious opening number, which blitzed through decades of Broadway musical history — “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Annie,” “Cats,” “Evita,” “Dreamgirls,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” (“Spoiler: He died”) — and proved why at this awards show, you really need a legit theater pro at the helm.
Worst: The tragedy of the Florida shooting that weighed heavy on the Tonys all night, prompting host Corden to balance the levity of his opening number with the somberness of a message to viewers: “On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. All we can say is you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win.”
Best: As the “Hamilton” train moved forward, collecting trophies at various stops, individual winners gave props to their teammates in an admirable show of unity. In a year when Times theater critic Charles McNulty noted that the best acting was indeed a team effort by ensemble casts, it was fitting that the Aaron Burr of “Hamilton,” Leslie Odom Jr., said during his acceptance speech: “I wanna talk about my Cabinet, which was this brilliant group of actors,” he said, later adding, “You are limitless.”
Best: Cynthia Erivo deserves two mentions here, one for a rousing live performance that gave the Beacon Theatre audience goosebumps. And the other for her win in the category of lead actress in a musical. Though her win over Phillipa Soo meant “Hamilton” wouldn’t set a record for most Tony wins, most Broadway watchers thought it was deserved.
Worst: Jessica Lange was the favorite for lead actress in a play, but on a “Hamilton” night of few surprise winners, some watchers (including McNulty) wished the award would have gone to Michelle Williams instead.
Best: One pleasant surprise: Ivo van Hove’s win for his daring direction of “A View From the Bridge,” a welcome vote for risk-taking on the Broadway stage.
Best: After #OscarsSoWhite, the Tonys got to gloat that all four winners in the musical acting categories were people of color. Were you watching, academy?