“The Band’s Visit,” the quietly seductive musical about an Egyptian police band that gets stranded for a single night in a tiny Israeli town, was named best musical at the 72nd annual Tony Awards Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall. The musical was the evening’s big winner, taking home 10 awards, including best actor, Tony Shalhoub, best actress, Katrina Lenk, and director, David Cromer.
The two-part “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” was named best play, and Jack Tiffany won best director.
The revival of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” won best revival of a play, as well as top acting awards for Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane. Garfield, best actor, implored people to think about the sanctity of the human spirit, “the spirit that says no to oppression . . . no to bigotry, no to shame, no to exclusion. It is the spirit that says we are all made perfectly and we all belong,” concluding, “let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked.”
In winning best supporting actor, Lane thanked Kushner for “being such an adorable genius, even his emails are Pulitzer worthy. I’m standing here because Tony wrote wrote one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, and it is stlll speaking to us as powerfully as ever in the midst of such political insanity.”
Other winners spoke of diversity. Lindsay Mendez, best featured actress in a musical for “Carousel,” talked about being told she needed to change her name to Matthews when she first moved to New York. “I just want to say how proud I am to be part of a community that celebrates diversity . . . And to all of you artists out there, be your own true self and the world will take note.” And Ari’el Statchel, best featured actor in a musical for “The Band’s Visit,” sung the praises of “a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time when we need that more than ever.”
As expected, Glenda Jackson was named best actress in a play for Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” and Laurie Metcalf, who won last year for “A Doll’s House, Part 2” won best featured actress. “Once on This Island” was best musical revival.
Numbers from the nominated musicals didn’t hold a candle to the performance everyone had to wait nearly three hours for, as Bruce Springsteen performed a soulful “My Hometown.” He offered thanks “for making me feel so welcome on your block,” accepting a special Tony from Billy Joel. “Being part of the Broadway community has been a great thrill,” he said, thanking “our wonderful audiences who’ve made these shows so exciting and fulfilling.”
Here are some other memorable moments:
TEARS OF LOVE Theater students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, performed “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” after their teacher, Melody Herzfeld, received this year’s award for excellence in theater education, given to a teacher who “has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students.” Few dry eyes in the house.
AN HONOR TO BE NOMINATED The first-time hosts, Sara Bareilles, a nominee herself this year as one of the “SpongeBob” songwriters, and Josh Groban, nominated last year for “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” opened the show with an ode to those who won’t “go home with that glorious ornament.” Noting that neither of them had won a Tony or a Grammy, they sung in honor of the 90 percent of those nominated who would leave empty-handed: “This is for the people who lose, both of us have been in your shoes.”
HER SHIP HAS SAILED Tina Fey, introducing a scene from her nominated musical “Mean Girls,” noted that all four of the nominees were based on movies. But, she quipped, only one “paid for my boat.”
SAY AGAIN? Robert De Niro was onstage to introduce the long-awaited performance by Bruce Springsteen, but there were no words. Turns out it’s because the actor was getting bleeped, as he hurled multiple profanities at President Donald Trump. The audience, meanwhile, was cheering wildly.