In what could be billed the most star-studded Tony Awards in years, the show turned out to be just mildly entertaining. Kevin Spacey did what he could to keep both the theater audience and home audience entertained, however most of the bits including the opening musical number fell mostly flat despite being littered with cameos by stars such as Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, and the greatest Oscars host of all time Billy Crystal. An excellent Johnny Carson impersonation from Spacey almost salvaged his performance as the host, although much of the self-deprecating humor throughout the show still left much to be desired. The closing number, a duet between Kevin Spacey and Patti LuPone, summed up the nights as all of the night’s winners were called to the stage where they stood awkwardly unsure of what to do or where to stand.
The cast performances on the other hand show how the theatre and musicals remain transcendent among modern entertainment choices. From the beautiful and soul filled vocals of Eva Noblezada as Kim in the revival Miss Saigon to the choreography of Natasha Pierre’s the Great Comet of 1812 and how incredible it is to see such a large ensemble move in unison undoubtable left its mark on this viewer. All this, despite the fact that the Hello Dolly production only managed to produce a solo from David Hyde Pierce (rumored to be due to difficulties in re-staging for Radio City). Much to the disappointment of the audience there was no performance from Bette Midler which, according to my Broadway Insider, was a questionable move when she had an audience clamoring to see her.
Speaking of Bette Midler, she followed up her non-performance with an acceptance speech that was teetering on obnoxious. Her acceptance of her Tony, which many considered to be a shoe in was at times funny, but her refusal to be played off almost seemed self-serving and ungracious.
Some of the highlights of the night also included:
• An amazing performance from Eva Noblezada from the revival of Miss Saigon, who at the young age of 21 earned her first Tony nomination and has a bright future on the stage.
• Stephen Colbert provided some relevant and political laughs at the expense of the current administration.
• Cynthia Nixon who won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play gave an acceptance speech in which she reminded us how “eerily prescient” her play The Little Foxes is in the current political landscape and how currently powerful people “eat the earth and the people on it.”
• Ben Platt who won for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical struck as both as sincere and heartfelt, while delivering a great message to the young and old alike “the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”
• Good Ole Aunt Jackie finally won her Tony in her fourth nomination. Laurie Metcalf a great stage actress better known by her beloved role in TVs “Roseanne” finally came away with a Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Lastly there was indeed a Frank Underwood citing near the end of the night, in what should have been saved as the show capper. Frank Underwood delivered the line of the night joking, “I want to get the hell out of here, before Bette Midler thanks anyone else,” then adding “Oh damn! I think I said that one out loud.”
A further round up of the winners include:
Best Play: Oslo
Best Musical: Dear Evan Hansen
Best Book of a Musical: Dear Evan Hansen — Steven Levenson
Best Original Score: Dear Evan Hansen — Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Best Revival of a Play: August Wilson’s Jitney
Best Revival of a Musical: Hello, Dolly!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Michael Aronov, Oslo
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Best Scenic Design of a Play: Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Best Costume Design of a Play: Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Best Direction of a Play: Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Best Direction of a Musical: Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Best Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Best Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen