NEW YORK » An air of both celebration and sobriety hung over the Tony Awards today, as one of the biggest hits in Broadway history was honored hours after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” took 11 prizes, including director, score and the top honor of best musical. The hip-hop history piece, which began at downtown New York’s Public Theater? in early 2015 and opened on Broadway last summer, capped its remarkable run with one of the biggest nights in Tonys history — though it fell just short of? “The Producers’” high mark of 12 wins in 2001?.
“Look around. Look around. How lucky we are to be alive right now,” said producer Jeffrey Sellers as he accepted the musical prize, alluding to one of the show’s signature numbers.
“Hamilton’s” presence could be felt throughout the evening, from a parody that introduced host James Corden at the start of the show to a swirling medley midway through to the final award of the night and a closing number that followed.
But a somber tone also infused the ceremony at New York’s Beacon Theatre in the wake of the events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., earlier in the day. Many nominees and presenters wore silver ribbons, designed by costume designer William Ivey Long, to commemorate the victims.
Corden began the night by pre-taping a moment from the stage that dedicated the show to those affected by the massacre.
“You are not on your own,” he said. “Your tragedy is our tragedy. Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that.”
Jessica Lange, winning her first Tony ?for her performance in “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” said that the honor “fills me with such happiness on even a sad day like this?.”
And Frank Langella, taking lead actor in a play for his role as a man suffering from dementia in “The Father,” gave one of the most heartfelt speeches about the shootings — after previously ?noting that his brother was suffering from dementia.
“When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us,” he said.? “Today in Orlando we had a hideous dose of reality. And I urge you Orlando to be strong. .?.. We’re with you every step of the way.”
Those moments alternated with a coronation of sorts for “Hamilton,” which saw a special? video from Barack and Michelle Obama. The president said the show has “become not only a smash hit but a civic lesson (children) can’t get enough of?.” Stephen Karam’s “The Humans” (new play) and “Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge” (revival of a play) took top dramatic prizes.
Diversity was a theme of the evening — “The Color Purple” won best revival of a musical?, while star Cynthia Erivo won lead actress in a musical for her turn as Celie in the actress’ Broadway debut. All four musical acting winners, in fact, were black; they also included “Hamilton’s” Renee Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.
“Think of tonight like the Oscars — except with diversity,” Corden joked as the evening began.
In a moment that brought the two themes of the evening together?, Miranda offered a “Hamilton”-worthy sonnet that paid tribute to Orlando victims.
“When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised. Not one day,” he said, in a sonnet during his acceptance of the best score prize. “The show is proof that history remembers we live through times when hate and fear seem stronger, we rise and fall and light from dying embers remembrances that hope and love last longer?.”
He ended it with? an impassioned repetition of the LGBTQ rallying cry “Love is love.”
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