Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
With the cultural phenomenon Hamilton leading the way, the 70th Annual Tony Awards were filled to the brim with outstanding performances, first time winners and touching tributes. Hosted by the incomparable, James Corden, the 2016 Tony Awards celebrated the very best theatre had to offer during the 2015-2016 season.
The groundbreaking production that swept the nation, Hamilton walked away with ELEVEN Tony Awards including Best Musical. Visionary Lin-Manuel Miranda took home 2016 Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score while Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, Paul Tazewell and Howell Binkley all snagged wins for Best Choreography, Best Orchestration, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Costumes of a Musical and Best Lighting Design of a Musical. On the acting side of Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs all took home acting awards for their career-defining portrayals of Aaron Burr, Angelica Schuyler and Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson respectively.
While Hamilton was clearly the musical to beat this year, the stunning revival of The Color Purple took home the award for Best Revival of a Musical while leading lady Cynthia Erivo picked up her well-deserved Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of She Loves Me also picked up Best Scenic Design of a Musical.
Although Hamilton did not break the record for most Tony Awards in a single season, history was still made at the 2016 Tony Awards. For the first time in Tony Awards history, a person of color won all four major musical acting categories. The last time a feat like this was achieved was in 1982 when Jennifer Holliday, Ben Harney and Cleavant Derricks all won for their work in Dreamgirls.
On the play side of the 2016 Tony Awards, The Humans earned four Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress of a Play for Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge also received some much deserved praise. The revival walked away with Best Revival of a Play as well as Best Direction of a Play for Ivo van Hove. Jessica Lange also received her first Tony Award for her marvelous turn in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Long Day’s Journey into Night while Frank Langella snagged his fourth Tony Award for his remarkable work in The Father.
James Corden led a very poignant and heartfelt Tony Awards as the community and the nation mourned the loss of those affected by the Orlando shooting earlier that day. He opened the show with a heartfelt moment telling fans at home and in the Beacon Theatre, “Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, embraced and loved. Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, Frank Langella, Jessica Lange and countless others also helped mourn those lost during their acceptance speeches. Members of the community also wore ribbons in support.
The Tony Awards also proved that this is the year of Corden just as much as it’s the year of Hamilton. Corden’s opening number showcased the magic of theatre as he lived his Tony Awards dream. He brought fans through the journey of falling in love with live theatre and believing that you can be up on this stage one day. He also sang classic numbers from The Lion King, The Music Man, Phantom of the Opera and many more. Is there anything Corden can’t do?
On the performance side of things, Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, Heather Headley and the cast of The Color Purple brought the audience to their feet with a glorious performance of “I’m Here.” Tony Award nominated musical Waitress wonderful medley including a duet of “She Used to Be Mine” between Tony Award nominees Sara Bareilles and Jessie Mueller. The hit revival Spring Awakening, which wowed audiences this year, showed the world anything is possible by performing “Bitch of Living” with voice and American Sign Language. Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein also led the company of Fiddler on the Roof in a knock-out rendition of “Sunrise, Sunset.”
Other performances during the evening included Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s nominated musical Bright Star, Laura Benanti and the company of She Loves Me, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock, Gloria Estefan’s On Your Feet!, Audra McDonald and the cast of Shuffle Along and even a special tribute to Chicago by Bebe Neuwirth.
Each nominated musical, including their nominated composers, also honored past Broadway shows in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Tony Awards. She Loves Me took on Cabaret, School of Rock sang Annie and the cast of Hamilton brought fans to tears by honoring the late Jonathan Larson and Rent.
Of course, Hamilton brought fans inside “the room where it happens” by performing “History Has Its Eyes on You,” “Yorktown” and they even closed the Tony Awards after their Best Musical win with “Schuyler Sisters.” The year of Hamilton indeed.
For the full list of winners of 2016 Tony Award winners, check out the list below!
Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton
Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Best Director of a Musical
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Best Book of a Musical
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Best Leading Actor in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father
Best Leading Actress in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Best Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Best Featured Actress in a Play
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Best Director of a Play
Ivo van Hove, A View From the Bridge
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Best Scenic Design of a Play
David Zinn, The Humans
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton
Best Costume Design of a Play
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night