The modern musical that explores depression, loneliness and teen suicide edged out its top competitor Come From Away, a Canadian musical about a Newfoundland town’s effort to help diverted travelers on Sept. 11, 2001. Come From Away still left with the title for Best Director of a Musical.
The Bette Midler-led Hello, Dolly! won Best Revival of a Musical, Oslo won Best Play and Jitney won Best Play Revival. The most nominated show this year, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 won two creative awards.
Kevin Spacey hosted the show, which was held in Radio City Music Hall in New York City and included a slew of appearances from celebrities in and out of the Broadway world like Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Lin Manuel Miranda and Whoopi Goldberg. A Tony winner himself, Spacey held his own in the theatre world and delivered an opening number that channeled each of the nominees for Best Musical. And while the number of political jokes were less frequent than those seen in other awards shows, nominees and winners voiced their support for funding for the arts in schools and around the country as potential cuts face the National Endowment for the Arts.
Here are the best — and worst — moments from the show:
Ben Platt: At just 23-years-old, Ben Platt won Best Actor in a Musical for his emotional performance of the titular character in Dear Evan Hansen. Platt stunned while leading his cast in a performance of “Waving Through a Window” before accepting his Tony. Platt’s mannerisms during his acceptance speech, of course, mirrored those seen in the character he plays eight times a week: A lot of tears, and an ability to talk really, really quickly. But perhaps his most memorable message came at the end of his speech, when he highlighted a key theme from the musical: You will be found. “Don’t waste any time being anyone but yourself because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful,” he said.
Kevin Spacey’s impressions: Spacey was not the the first pick to host the awards show. Singing and dancing isn’t his best known method of acting, and he made many self-deprecating jokes in his opening performance to make that clear. But Spacey threw in some remarkable impressions throughout the night, taking the stage as Johnny Carson and Bill Clinton. He made one of only a few political jokes throughout the night as Clinton, speaking to Dear Evan Hansen‘s Platt, who in the musical creates a fake email account: “Now, between you and me, you might be a better singer, but after seeing your show, there’s no doubt that Hillary is much better at creating fake email accounts than you.” While Spacey had many good moments, his role as host likely won’t top performances from past hosts James Corden or Neil Patrick Harris.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul: These two have had quite a year. The songwriting duo won Best Score for Dear Evan Hansen just months after winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for La La Land.
Rebecca Taichman: One of few women who have one the Best Direction of a Play, Rebecca Taichman took home the Tony for her work on Indecent, a play that retells the history of a controversial Yiddish play. “I hope this amazing thing that just happened helps encourage women all over—of every color and taste and style and viewpoint—to make theatre to tell stories that matter to them,” Taichman told the media of her win.
Alex Lacamoire: While his speech wasn’t televised, Alex Lacamoire won Best Orchestrations for the second year in a row — having a hand in both of the most recent Tony dominating musicals Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton. He also won his first Tony in 2008 for the same category for In the Heights.
Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.: The two 2016 Tony Awards winners returned for a stunning performance of “New York, New York” with the Radio City Rockettes. In 2016, Odom won Best Actor in a Musical for his complex portrayal of Aaron Burr in Hamilton, and Erivo won Best Actress in a Musical for her groundbreaking performance as Celie Harris in The Color Purple.
Falsettos reunion: The star-studded cast of the revival of Falsettos reunited in a performance at the Tonys this year, where it was also announced a taped version of the musical will hit movie theaters around the country this summer. Led by Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells, the cast performed the upbeat “A Day in Falsetto Land.”
Great Comet performance: While the most-nominated musical missed out on all of the top awards for the night, the cast of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 left its mark with a vibrant performance led by its star Josh Groban.
Bette Midler’s absence from Hello, Dolly! performance: Due to some behind-the-scene drama, the iconic star did not represent Hello, Dolly! in its Tonys performance. (David Hyde Pierce instead performed “Penny in a Pocket” from the musical’s revival.) Midler’s absence came as a result of a disagreement between the producers of the Tonys and Hello, Dolly!. Producer Scott Rudin offered Midler’s performance on the condition that it would be done at the Shubert Theatre — where it is performed. But the Tonys producers declined, Playbill reported. As expected, Midler won Best Actress in a Musical — and outlasted the orchestra trying to play her off during her acceptance speech. (“Shut that cr—p off!”)
Very predictable: Predictability with the Hamilton-dominated 2016 awards wasn’t surprising. But with a slew of competition this year it would’ve been nice to see some surprise wins for musicals. Though Dear Evan Hansen lost Best Director to Come From Away, it beat its fiercest competitor in every other top category. Even in the highly competitive Best Actress in a Musical field this year, the expected winner Bette Midler beat out performances from legends Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole.
Weak jokes: While Spacey did a decent job in his role as host, a few jokes fell flat. In his opening number, Billy Crystal offered some advice to the nervous host to “wear a dress” if all else fails. Spacey then immediately donned a dress and turban, a la Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. “I’m coming out,” Spacey belts. “No. Wait.” Especially during Pride Month, it’s unclear if jokes about coming out and cross-dressing were warranted.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the category Christian Borle was nominated for at the Tony Awards. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical, but he did not win, nor did he win for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
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