Last night The American Theatre Wing presented its 71st annual Tony Awards. The show, honoring the best offerings from Broadway, was full of warmth and great performances!
Tony Awards 2017: Host Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey was an excellent host, proving that his work in film and television have done nothing to rust his skills as the great stage performer that he is. His opening number, beginning with an homage to “Dear Evan Hansen” and working his way through other nominated shows, was seamlessly entertaining, and his impersonations through out the night, most notably his classic Johnny Carson, were spot on. He’s so natural in any part that you forget what an incredible range he has.
Tony Awards 2017: Jane Greenwood wins long overdue Design Award
Tony Awards 2017: Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tony Awards 2017: “Dear Evan Hansen”
“Dear Evan Hansen,” an unlikely hit about teen suicide, was the big winner, taking home six Tony’s, including awards for its book, score, orchestration, best featured actress in a musical for Rachel Bay Jones, and best actor in a musical for Ben Platt. Ben Platt gave a touching speech about his long-standing love of theater and offered some simple advice to wrap it up… “The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.” Indeed!
Tony Awards 2017: Political Speeches
This year only a few winners used their platform to make a political statement. It felt as if everyone was happy to relax and enjoy a night of celebrating art. The exceptions were on the understated side, with no major upset occurring through the night.
Cynthia Nixon, who was honored as Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in the revival of “Little Foxes” by Lillian Hellman, closed her speech by saying “…eighty years ago [Hellman] wrote, ‘there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it and other people who just stand around and watch them do it.” “My love, my gratitude, and my undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand around and watch them do it,” Nixon added.
Kevin Kline took home the award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in “Present Laughter.” He offered his thanks and also made mention of two organizations that effect the theater greatly: The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Though he remained gracious in his speech, he was no doubt referring to the fact that these are programs that are under threat from the current administration.
Many presenters and nominees also donned ribbons in support of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, two organizations that have been in headlines in the past several months.
And of course, when Stephen Colbert is on hand, there are bound to be jokes about politics. Though even he was restrained and kept it tame, comparing the current administration to an out of town run. “This D.C. production is supposed to have a four-year run, but reviews have not been kind,” Colbert said. “It could close early, we don’t know.”
Tony Awards 2017: New Works
This year all of the Best Play nominees were first time nominees. As many predicted, “Oslo” by JT Rogers, took home the award. A little known, true story about events leading up to the 1993 Oslo Accord, the play is the story of people coming together to fight for right in the political realm.
Theater veteran Laurie Metcalf, known widely for playing Jackie on the long running sitcom “Roseanne,” won her first Tony for her dazzling performance as Nora in A Doll’s House Part 2 by Lucas Hnath. The play picks up 15 years after the Ibsen classic and imagines what happened to Nora after she so famously walked out the door on her husband and children, and how the family was effected by it. The play contemplates the merits and pitfalls of marriage and divorce, simultaneously provoking contemporary questions and keeping the audience laughing uproariously. Laurie thanked the great Scott Rudin, playwright Lucas Hnath, director Sam Gold, her costars and, on a personal note, her children for letting her do what she loves most: acting on stage.
Tony Awards 2017: Performances
The night was peppered with fantastic performances, giving viewers a sample of the incredible work happening this season on Broadway. The show-stopping performances included the casts of “Bandstand,” “Come From Away,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Falsettos,” “Groundhog Day The Musical,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “Miss Saigon,” “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” and “War Paint,” along with additional performances by The Radio City Rockettes and Tony Award winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.
It’s always a revelation to see Broadway stars performing at full tilt in just one number, ripped out the context of a show and inserted into a night with so many moving parts. We see their talent and joy, but it’s the professionalism and work ethic of these performers that allow them to make it look easy. They work hard to entertain and believe in what they do.
Tony Awards 2017: La Bette
Bette Midler was, of course, the star of the show. Accepting her Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, she was both gracious and gritty. She referred to her experience working on the show as the best of her career, thanking Scott Rudin profusely, including a long list of costars, crew and former stars of the show alike, but also quipping with acerbic wit “I can’t remember the last time I had so much smoke blown up my a–.” Leave it to Midler to call out the vanity of the business with humor and fun.
It wouldn’t be the Tony’s without a diva moment, which Midler supplied by speaking over the music cueing her to wrap it up, and finally blurting out ”Shut that crap off!” The orchestra complied, bringing its song to a conclusion and letting Midler continue her speech for as long as she liked.
Tony Awards 2017: Finale
At the end of the night, Kevin Spacey welcomed nominee Patti LuPone to the stage and they closed the show out with a terrific musical number. The show was full of love of theater and across the board, winners thanks their families and communities for offering them the support they needed to rise to the top. Talent, hard work and gratitude wins!