x

Embed

x

The victims of the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting were on the hearts of many at the Tony Awards.

NEW YORK — Can a victory as utterly predictable as the bounty of Tony Awards reaped by Hamilton still be sweet? The answer, on Sunday night, was an unequivocal yes.

The hip-hop-infused blockbuster— which already had won the Pulitzer Prize and, in its earlier off-Broadway incarnation, pretty much every award available to it — made its presence felt early in the broadcast. Members of the company joined this year’s host, Tony winner turned TV personality James Corden, in a parody of Hamilton’s opening number. “We like to give the little guys a leg up here,” Corden joked, referring to the production’s record-setting 16 nominations.

The musical wound up winning 11 in all, stopping just short of The Producers‘ record 12 — no mean feat, given that three of Hamilton‘s actors ran against each other in one category, performance by a featured actor, and two in another, leading actor. Leslie Odom Jr., who as Aaron Burr is a blazing foil to creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton, won in the latter category, over Miranda.

Miranda, as predicted, collect awards for his book and score, with Hamilton also winning in the categories of featured actor and actress in a musical, director, orchestrations, choreography and costume and lighting design and, of course, musical.

Despite the celebratory atmosphere, there were nods throughout to the tragedy that shadowed the ceremony: the mass shooting that killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. Jessica Lange, collecting her first Tony for playing —  for a beautifully textured turn as tortured matriarch Mary Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night —  said in her acceptance speech, “This is a dream come true and it fills me with such happiness on a sad day like this.”

Frank Langella, named best leading actor in a play for his equally harrowing portrait of an aging man inThe Father, urged those in the Florida city “to be strong, because I am standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on Earth, and we will be with you every step of the way.”

The issue of tolerance was particularly relevant at this ceremony. The diversity embodied by Hamilton’s casting — Miranda is the son of Puerto Rican natives, and the multi-racial company features black actors as other founding fathers, including a few presidents — was typical of this Broadway season, and reflected in other nominated productions, among them Eclipsed and the 10-times-nominated musical (but not awarded) Shuffle Along. Corden suggested that the audience think of the Tonys as “the Oscars with diversity”

A revelatory staging of The Color Purple (by Scottish director John Doyle) earned best revival of a musical, and another Tony for its powerhouse of a leading lady, Cynthia Erivo. With Odom and Hamilton‘s featured actor and actress, Daveed Diggs and Renée Elise Goldsberry, joining her, that made this the first year that all awards for performances in musicals were given to actors of color.

The Humans, Stephen Karam’s witty, sobering portrait of a modern middle-class family facing numerous challenges, won best play, with beloved stage veteran Jayne Houdyshell winning her first Tony, for featured actress in a play, and costar Reed Birney winning featured actor. Belgian director Ivo Van Hove took home an award for his stark revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, named best revival.

Miller and O’Neill were not the only great old-school scribes recognized at the Tonys. Winners announced prior to the broadcast included legendary lyricist Sheldon Harnick, represented on Broadway this season in revivals of both She Loves Me and Fiddler On The Roof, one of the many ambitious, socially conscious musicals that helped pave the way for Hamilton. Accepting a special award for lifetime achievement, the 92-year-old Harnick quipped, “If I didn’t deserve it, this would be embarrassing.”

Contributing: Brian Truitt

x

Embed

x

In accepting the Tony Award for Best Score, Lin-Manuel Miranda talked about the power of love in the wake of the deadly gay nightclub shooting in Orlando.