The megahit “Hamilton” may have won best musical, but jubilation was tempered with sorrow at Sunday night’s 70th Annual Tony Awards, as the ceremony went on in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando.
“You’re not on your own right now — your tragedy is our tragedy,” said James Corden, opening the telecast standing alone on stage at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre to address those touched by the tragedy.
“All around the world people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” he said, noting that theater traditionally embraces all races, creeds, and sexual preferences. “Your tragedy is our tragedy,” said Corden. “Hate will never win.”
Corden had the especially delicate task of maintaining a certain gravitas, yet finessing the age-old show-biz trope, “the show must go on.”
And it did, with “Hamilton” also winning best score, book, director, costumes, lighting, orchestrations, choreography, best actor, featured actor and actress (11 in total, meaning it fell short of the record 12 won by “The Producers” in 2001). Cynthia Erivo kept “Hamilton” from a sweep of the acting awards, winning best actress in a musical for her performance in “The Color Purple.”
Stephen Karam’s drama “The Humans” won best play; Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge” won best revival of a play; and “The Color Purple” won best musical revival.
The awards show was dedicated to those affected by the Orlando tragedy, and various last-minute changes were made, both to the telecast (the “Hamilton” cast chose not to carry muskets in their production number) and winners’ acceptance speeches.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote, composed and stars in “Hamilton,” recited a sonnet to his wife on receiving his first award of the evening (for best score), noting how “senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised — not one day.”
Those in the audience wore silver ribbons in memory of the shooting, and the tragedy was touched on by a number of winners and presenters. Jessica Lange, best actress in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,”) said her award “fills me with such happiness even on a sad day such as this.” Barbra Streisand, presenting the best musical honor, said, “Tonight our joy is tinged with sorrow.”
But perhaps no one said it better than Frank Langella, who received the Tony for best actor in a play, playing a proud man with dementia in “The Father.”
“When something bad happens, we have three choices,” he said. “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 full of the most generous human beings on Earth. And we will be with you every step of the way.”
OTHER MEMORABLE MOMENTS
BAND-TASTIC. Riffing off a tradition started at “Hamilton,” where cast members step outside the theater before the show to serenade theatergoers, nominees performed outside the Beacon Theatre, including the songwriters nominated for best score, who formed an impromptu band, including Sara Bareilles on keyboard, Steve Martin on banjo, and Andrew Lloyd Webber on, yes, tambourine.
OH, TO HAVE BEEN THERE. Rapper Daveed Diggs, who plays both Gen. Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton,” in accepting his award for best featured actor in a musical, recalled his first performance — in a preschool gymnastics routine he created for him and his dad to perform . . . in matching rainbow tights.
AND THERE. We later were treated to video of Josh Groban, playing Tevye, at age 17, in his high school production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” “Ohhh, that just happened on the Tonys,” said Groban, chuckling.
WHO IS THAT WOMAN? Belgian director Ivo van Hove (who in the past year directed both Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and “A View from the Bridge,” winning best director for the latter) recalled coming to New York at age 20, and mentioning to a stranger he hoped to become a director. She promptly asked for his autograph. “You never know,’” she’d said. “She’s now thinking, ‘See? I was right.’ ”