Unlike the Oscars from this past year, the only drama we saw at the Tony Awards was on the stage during the actual performances from some of Broadway's best last night.
Host Kevin Spacey ushered in the 71st Tony Awards, parodying some of this season's big musicals like "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Groundhog Day The Musical." Though the lyrics in the songs he sang implied that he was not the first choice for the event, nor totally confident in his abilities, he had nothing to fear (and also got by with a little help from his friends). Among cameo appearances were Stephen Colbert and Billy Crystal, giving their own two cents.
Spacey also incorporated a number of impressions in his hosting performance throughout the evening, among them being a not-so-funny Jimmy Carson (but to be fair, Carson was never all that funny himself), former President Bill Clinton, and the role that most millennials know him for, Frank Underwood from House of Cards.
However, the focus of the evening was not on the host, but instead on the actors and actresses themselves, who not only performed but won big.
The big names of the evening were right in line with what critics had anticipated leading up to the show. "Dear Evan Hansen," a musical about a teen suicide, took home six awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Ben Platt of Pitch Perfect fame. The show was a frontrunner, only in contention with "Come From Away," a Canadian musical about a small town in Newfoundland that welcomed passengers stranded there on September 11th, which ended up being a quiet presence for the evening.
In his acceptance speech, Platt encouraged young people to be strange, because "the thing that make you strange are the things that make you powerful." His co-star in the show, Rachel Bay Jones, took home the top award for an Actress Featured in a Musical, and thanked her grandmother for selling her engagement ring in order to pay for her ticket to move to New York, despite her parents' doubts about the decision.
Other winners of the night included Kevin Kline for Best Actor in a Play for his work in the revival of "Present Laughter," and Cynthia Nixon with the second Tony of her career for Best Featured Actress in a play in the revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes."
Politics also played a role in the evening. Many stars in attendance could be seen wearing pins on their lapels showing support for organizations such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Some award winners, such as Nixon and Rebecca Taichman, who took home the trophy for Best Play Directing for her work on "Indecent," a play looking at an obscenity case bringing about the arrest of a troupe of actors. Colbert also brought his usual political flair to the stage, referencing the way that plays can be closed early in relation to what he insinuated could be a shorter term for President Trump than expected.
However, the real scene stealer of the evening was, unsurprisingly, Bette Midler. Everyone appropriately assumed she would take home the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for a musical. Her work in the revival of "Hello, Dolly" has led to millions of dollars in pre-sale tickets (and therefore also no surprise it also banked the Best Revival of a Musical award). Midler took to the stage to accept the award and gave a speech well exceeding the allotted amount of time for winners. When they attempted to play her off, she told the sound crew to "turn that crap off!"
Some shows, however, were completely disregarded for the evening. "Groundhog Day The Musical," the adaptation of the popular film, was nominated but took home no shiny statues. Many also felt Danny Devito should have taken home the award for Featured Actor in a Play for his work in "The Price." And of course, there was much discussion as to whether or not the Rockettes should have had a chance to perform in a season littered with interesting shows that could've used the screentime for promotional purposes instead.
Well, as the saying goes, all the world's a stage, and everyone's a critic. The real test will see how well these shows perform during the summer season after Broadway has finished its biggest night across the country.