Tony Awards 2016: Hamilton Sweeps with 11 Wins. including Best Musical

Hamilton won 11 trophies at the 2016 Tony Awards, including top prize for Best Musical.

Tony_awards_2016_2_stage_cordenThe ceremony struggled to achieve a balance between acknowledging the shootings in Orlando with the life-affirming impulse to go on with the show.



The big play winner was The Humans, snagging four trophies including new play, while the revival awards went to musical The Color Purple and play A View from the Bridge.

The even stood in stark contrast to this year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy by setting a new landmark in diversity, with all four musical acting trophies going to African-American performers — three from “Hamilton (Leslie Odom, Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs) and one from “The Color Purple” (Cynthia Erivo).

The live Broadcast on CBS opened with host James Corden making an impassioned speech about the tragic events in Florida, which had occurred less than 24 hours before the telecast. He pre-recorded his introduction in the half hour before the show went live, in order to make sure he got the important acknowledgment right.

Tony_awards_2016_1_hamilton_lin-manuel_miranda“Your tragedy is our tragedy,” he told Orlando from the stage of the Beacon Theater, the Upper West Side venue where the ceremony took place. “Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved,” he said. “Hate will never win. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.”

“Hamilton” creator-star Lin-Manuel Miranda also acknowledged the shootings in his first speech at the podium, accepting the award for best score. “I’m not freestyling. I’m too old,” he joked, in reference to his tendency to rap, and proceeded to read a sonnet. “When senseless acts of tragedy remind us nothing here is promised, not one day, this show is proof that history remembers,” he said, later adding: “Hope and love last longer. … Love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Jessica Lange accepts the award for leading actress in a play for "Long Day's Journey into Night" at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Jessica Lange accepts the award for leading actress in a play for “Long Day’s Journey into Night” at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Jessica Lange, accepting the award for best actress in a play for her performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, said, “This is such a dream come true, and it fills me with such happiness, even on such a sad day as this.”




Frank Langella, taking the lead actor in a play award for his turn in “The Father,” said from the podium, “I urge you, Orlando, to be strong. I’m standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on earth, and we will be there to support you every step of the way.”

The Orlando shootings were manifest in other ways. Nominees and other attendees sported silver ribbons to acknowledge the tragedy.

The producers of Hamilton chose to drop the use of musket props from its telecast performance of the song “Yorktown (The World Turns Upside-Down).”

The telecast was bound to have a political overtone even before the Florida shootings cast a shadow over the proceedings. “Hamilton,” the founding-father saga retold with hip-hop and a diverse cast, had such cultural pull that it warranted an introduction by President Obama and the First Lady, with the president, in a videotaped sequence, praising the show as “a civics lesson kids can’t get enough of.”

Trump and Hillary Clinton Impersonations

The upcoming presidential election provided fodder for the ceremony. One skit touted upcoming musicals “The Book of Moron,” featuring “Book of Mormon” original star Andrew Rannells in a bad blonde wig as Trump, and “A Clinton Line,” starring Glenn Close as Hillary Clinton quoting “A Chorus Line.” (“I really need this job,” she sang.)

Immigration got a handful of shout-outs, too. Emilio Estefan introduced Gloria Estefan and the cast of their bio-musical “On Your Feet!” with a gag about the show’s largely Latino cast being entirely legal. “We all have our papers,” he said. Later, one of the producers of “View from  the Bridge” called the Arthur Miller play “a great play about immigrants,” making it especially relevant today, while the song from “Hamilton” included the line, “Immigrants. We get the job done.”

Diversity had long been poised to be a hot topic at the ceremony, following a 2015-16 season widely celebrated for an inclusive slate that encompassed not only “Hamilton” but also “Shuffle Along,” “The Color Purple,” “Spring Awakening,” “Allegiance,” “Eclipsed” and “On Your Feet!” “Think of this as the Oscars, but with diversity,” Corden cracked early in the ceremony. “It is so diverse, Donald Trump threatened to build a wall around this theater.”

The emcee’s surprisingly heartfelt opening number culminated in a tribute to Broadway’s inclusiveness. In a song (written by Corden and “Finding Neverland” songwriter Gary Barlow) welcoming kids of “every color, class and race and face and shape and size” — as well as boys, girls and transgender kids too — he trotted out the 20 nominated musical actors. “Don’t wonder if this could be you. It absolutely could be,” he sang.

In a season that’s been all about “Hamilton,” the Tony telecast acknowledged the #HamilTonys phenomenon early. After Corden’s speech about the Orlando shootings, the ceremony launched with a spoof of the first song from “Hamilton,” performed by the musical’s cast with lyrics rewritten to intro Corden, the “upstart Brit” and “chubby dude from ‘Into the Woods’” and the host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show” whose gig as the Tony emcee made for “a classic exercise of corporate synergy” for CBS.

Corden joked, “I promise you, tonight’s show will not be all about ‘Hamilton.’ There will also be commercial breaks.”

A 2012 Tony winner for “One Man, Two Guvnors,” the Tony host then segued into his opener, which began by recounting his discovery of theater as a youth and his childhood dreams of being onstage. The tune reflected the origin story of most theater fans, who tend to become lifelong devotees following early exposure to the stage, and spiraled out into a sequence reminiscent of Oscar telecast openings, in which the emcee imagines himself in a series of iconic titles. In this case Corden found himself doing bits of “Les Miserables,” “The Lion King” and “Guys and Dolls,” among many others, ending in a Momma Rose-style breakdown a la “Gypsy.” “Here I am, hosting the Tonys, this time tomorrow I’m back at 12:30!” he finished in a panic.

The telecast nodded to “Hamilton” by recreating the Broadway musical’s “Ham4Ham” series of live afternoon mini-performances on the street outside the theater.

On an outdoor stage on the sidewalk outside the Beacon, Miranda led fellow nominees Andrew Lloyd Webber (“School of Rock”), Sara Bareilles (“Waitress”) and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (“Bright Star”) in a round of “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie.” Throughout the ceremony, subsequent outdoor sequences saw the casts of nominated shows riffing on Broadway’s greatest hits, with, for instance, the cast of “The Color Purple” singing some of “The Lion King,” “Hamilton” performers doing “Rent” and “She Loves Me” crooning from “Cabaret.”

“Hamilton” won the first award it was eligible for on the broadcast, with Goldsberry scoring for featured actress in a musical, and swiftly followed up with co-star Daveed Diggs nabbing featured actor in a musical and then Miranda taking the prize for score.

The Broadway smash had already kicked things off in the pre-telecast segment of the awards, winning the first competitive trophy announced for costumes of a musical (Paul Tazewell).

She Loves Me

The production picked up lighting of a music (Howell Binkley) as well, but as predicted by many in the industry, it didn’t take the award for set design. That went to Broadway veteran and first time Tony winner David Rockwell, for his sets to She Loves Me.

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